Pub Talk: ‘Moyes needs to get us working again & he needs to get more from Antonio…’

The Blowing Bubbles team sit down to put the West Ham world to rights...

Michail Antonio (WHU) at the Brentford v West Ham United EPL match, at The G-Tech Stadium, Brentford, London, UK on 4th November, 2023.

Was October a bit of a reality check for Moyes and Co in the Premier League?

Meirion Williams: I’m not sure it has been as I don’t think Moyes is willing to learn. Winning is what he does isn’t it? Problem is West Ham only won once in the whole month of October. The predictability is alarming. Antonio will start regardless of form, Ings will come on late on and do nothing and Benrahma will be a substitute who will keeping running but can’t cross the ball. I don’t think we deserved anything from the games we have lost. Moyes will not accept that Antonio is not a striker and doesn’t deserve to start every game.

David Meagher: It was a messy month, Newcastle are a decent side so a draw was reasonable, the Villa defeat was poor but in fairness the scoreline flattered them, but losing to Everton at home was really poor. More worrying is that we lack any attacking edge and poor return from set pieces despite having Ward-Prowse as our launching pad. Dare I say it, we are missing Declan Rice’s leadership.

David Blackmore: After the start we had, the end of October, certainly leaving the stadium after the Everton game, I definitely felt like I needed to re-evaluate what we might be capable of achieving this season. Teams have figured us out. Snuff out the counter attack, let us have the ball up, and we struggle to open teams up. We are so pedestrian at times it’s painful. As soon as Calvert-Lewin scored, I felt that it was it. They’d dig in and fight even more and we lacked any attacking intent. Moyes needs to come up with something to turn this ship around.

We secured an impressive victory away at Freiburg but were poor in our defeat against Olympiacos – which ended our unbeaten run in Europe. Who should shoulder the blame for our defeat in Greece?

MW: There’s one answer and not wishing to sound like a broken record, it all comes down to Moyes and his loyalty to out-of-form players. It was good to see Kudus start against Everton but Antonio still started up front. Look at the substitution in the second half against Everton, Moyes takes off Antonio and even though we are losing, he’s replaced by Benrahma whilst Ings sits on the bench. Madness! Will we get stronger this month? That will only happen if Moyes admits he’s wrong, and I’m not sure he will.

DM: We played like a team that felt entitled to get a result in Athens. Moyes was quite right to tap into the depths of our squad, but will feel disappointed at the lack of passion. I would expect a desire for revenge when Olympiacos visit.

DB: I disagree David, I think it was Moyes’ fault for not playing a stronger side in Athens. Moyes underestimated them. They were up for it, they knew we were weaker and that gave them confidence. After the defeat at Villa, he should’ve opted for a stronger side. We were unlucky at Villa and a win in Athens could’ve helped given us some confidence. But I do agree David, I was really disappointed about the lack of passion from those fringe players given a chance.

He made an awful error to gift Backa Topola the opening goal in our first Europa League tie, and scored an own goal in our defeat to Olympiacos. Are we starting to see the end of the road for Ogbonna?

MW: Ogbonna has been a great servant and when he regularly starts, he looks very reliable. I do think his time is finally up and he will be jettisoned at the end of the season if not before. As for Dinos – his centre back partner in Europe, we’ve not seen enough to make a real opinion on him.

DM: As Meirion says, Oggy has been a great servant but with Zouma, Aguerd and Mavropanos as competition he will surely only get increasingly rusty. Let’s hope he closes out a fine career without any more costly errors.

DB: It’s got to the stage now where I dread seeing his name on the teamsheet. I put his errors down to lack of game time. I think he’d be OK if he is stepping in to cover an injury over a few weeks but coming in and out of the team clearly doesn’t suit him. He was also never blessed with much pace and now with his age and lack of minutes, he looks slower than ever. Sorry Oggy but I think we’ve reached the end of the road.

We’ve seen a good bit of our summer signings now so who makes your starting XI?

MW: Alvarez and Ward-Prowse look the cream of the crop. As for the rest, we’ve seen very little. Kudus could be a real star but could go the way of all those before him, in that with a lack of playing time, he will depart with all that early promise not fulfilled.

​​DM: Ward-Prowse has been brilliant but struggled in recent games. Alvarez has slotted in well and is better on the ball than Soucek in a holding role, Kudus is finding his feet but looks sharp, Mavropanos has been decent too. Paqueta is much improved having passed the first season adjustment test. Similarly, Areola has been excellent and Emerson has surprised me with his good form.

DB: I agree with you both about Ward-Prowse. His start to life with us was amazing but he’s gone off the boil in recent weeks. I wonder if that’s got to do with Moyes playing him in different roles? Also, is he ever going to score a free kick ever again? Have we cursed him? Alvarez has looked decent too and I think Kudus showed some great touches and skill against Everton but needs to get up to speed with the physical side of the Premier League if he wants to thrive. I think Dinos will struggle for game time until Zouma or Aguerd get injured, which could be any game now.

November is going to be a key month both in the Premier League and in Europe. Based on what you’ve seen over the past couple of weeks, what are you hoping for and what do you think we’ll end up with?

MW: I think we will be OK in Europe as the toughest away games are behind us. Brentford away will be tough but home games against Forest and an away game at Burnley could be the turning point. If we get little out of those two games it could be the start of a winter of discontent.

DM: After the manner of our defeats in the Villa, Olympiacos and Everton games, you’d have to be worried that we might fail to seize upon a series of very winnable games. Hopefully, Moyes can get us working again. Central to that is to get better form from Antonio as Ings looks totally off the pace. You’d hope for six points from Brentford, Forest and Burnley but right now we can’t buy a result.

DB: I agree with Meirion, I’m hoping we can get two wins in our Europa League games, which would also hopefully result in us securing top place before we face Freiburg. But I am worried about our games against Brentford, Forest and Burnley. Like David, I hope for six points but the way things are going at the moment, we might get one.

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