Three European seasons on the bounce, a first trophy in over 40 years, and the best squad in some time, surely a manager that provides this deserves a new contract? Not at West Ham. David Moyes. Despite his success, still splits the fanbase.
Many point to the Europa Conference League trophy, to three years of European adventures, to the stability he has brought, and that he ‘saved us’ from relegation. Others point to the 20 league losses last year, his inability to win away in the league at Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool in nearly 80 games, his poor in-game management, and his refusal to come up with a plan B that doesn’t involve Michel Antonio as the striker.
Sullivan is notorious for waiting until the last minute to offer managers a new contract. He will be currently sitting in his Essex mansion pleased with the start to the season, but it is early days, and much can happen.
We still rely on a 33-year-old Michel Antonio for the game plan to work. If he gets a serious injury, we could move Bowen or Kudus there, but would that work long-term? Do we give Moyes a new deal? For me, I would like to see us part ways at the end of the season, and employ a younger, more progressive coach to work in tandem with Tim Steidten.
I can already hear the ‘be careful what you wish for brigade’, shouting no because Moyes has won a trophy, and brought some success to the club, and why that does not mean we can’t push on further. Last season the style of play was at times turgid; going to The Bowl felt like a chore, and we really weren’t that far from relegation.
Of course, I was ecstatic we won that first trophy in 40 years, but we mustn’t forget the league form and how we played for the best part of the season. The signs this season have so far been relatively positive, but there have also been the odd signs of negative Moyes – the Nunez goal against Liverpool – where all our players were behind the ball, and we still conceded from a 20-yard ball that took out nine of our players in an instant.
We followed up this defeat at Anfield by just squeaking past Lincoln in the League Cup with Danny Ings huffing and puffing up front, until being replaced by Mubama on 66 minutes. Why is Ings getting the minutes, not Mubama? Moyes, allegedly blocked Mubama going on loan, but if he’s not going to play the lad, what’s the point?
This is one of the things I have always struggled with Moyes. His apparent conservatism, his inability to take even a small risk. There is always the accusation, and most managers get it at some point, of favouritism – it didn’t matter how Tomas Soucek played last season; he would always start. I speak to fans of other clubs, and some ask why we would even consider letting Moyes go.
Others understand, and wouldn’t want his perceived negative football and dour nature anywhere near their club. If we don’t offer Moyes a contract, would another club jump in? Now Everton have Dyche, that option has gone. Maybe a Wolves, a Burnley, but a top 10 club? Can’t see it myself.
Would a ‘progressive’ club like Brighton or Brentford hire him, I can’t see that either. If we want to be a top 10 club, do we continue with him? I had a conversation with a fellow fan after the Man City and Liverpool games, saying: ‘Judge him after the Sheffield United game’ – is that really where we are, where we want to be – using Sheffield United as a benchmark?
So, what to do? For me, I would say thanks and goodbye at the end of the season, regardless of what happens this season. If we have a top 10 finish, and go far in one of the cup competitions, no doubt Sullivan will offer him a two-year deal, but again that will be short-termism.
He won’t have a list of managers drawn up to replace Moyes, if it comes to that, it will be whoever has Premier League experience, is available because we don’t pay for managers, and ideally someone British. We need a change in infrastructure at West Ham, and that isn’t going to happen until Mr Sullivan and his sidekicks move on, and that doesn’t look like happening any time soon.
So we will go from season to season, without an eye on the future, hoping it works. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the season pans out, and when and if Moyes is offered a new deal. I expect Moyes to do OK, and for Sullivan to offer him a two-year deal, which Moyes will accept. Can Moyes progress the club any further? Maybe. Maybe not.