What can we take away from our results in December?
Geoff Hillyer: I think we’ve done as well as could be reasonably expected. My big takeaway from the month is that our squad depth is not good enough. Look at the squad for the Brighton game – I could count at least six players who shouldn’t be near the starting lineup, and that’s likely to be an issue as we head into the business end of the season.
Marcus Johns: I think it sums up West Ham in a nutshell. We upset the applecart in games we’re not expected to produce in, but fall foul to the teams we’d be favoured against. The biggest disappointment for me was the Liverpool cup game. I can’t help but feel we had a real opportunity to progress, but all in all, we are 6th, and in the last 16 of the Europa. We’d all take that.
Meirion Williams: Some of those results hid a multitude of sins. Let’s be honest here, we were lucky against both Spurs and Arsenal. As for Manchester United, it was probably the poorest United team I have ever seen. Liverpool and Fulham were embarrassing and as for Brighton, they were more like the home team than us. The month summed up Moyes for me, a lucky manager who promotes boring football.
David Meagher: December was very West Ham indeed. I think that the Fulham game was just one of those you put down to experience and rumours of a virus in the camp make it more understandable. The surrender at Liverpool was upsetting as a win would have left us in a modest last four and a chance of winning a domestic trophy. Otherwise, we have had a mixture of good fortune and ruthless finishing, but the bottom line is that we need a deeper squad if we want to compete in Europe as well as in the Premier League.
Chris Wheal: The Brighton game summed why people hate Moyes. It was a return to dull football where we can have the ball in the opponent’s penalty area and, unchallenged, pass it all the way back to our keeper. I’ve submitted Moyes and that match to Facebook’s Dull Men’s Club.
What are your hopes for the January transfer window?
GH: I’d like to see quality players added to the wider squad. The likes of Ings, Fornals and sadly Cornet are clearly not, or no longer good enough. Defensively, Ogbonna’s been great recently but is ageing, and Cresswell’s best is past him. But, Moyes has already said there is little to spend so to be honest, I don’t expect many reinforcements, which is a shame.
MJ : In all honesty, I don’t think we’ll do much. The Brighton game showed the drop off in performance when we miss our key players. As much as the likes of Fornals and Benrahma have done for us, I think we need to look at stronger squad options, especially on the left wing. I’d like to see another centre half come in especially with Kehrer leaving, and maybe an out-and-out striker with Ings departing.
MW: The reality is we will be linked with several players who will never come to us and will pick up someone late on just to appease the fan base.
DM: January is a transfer market for the desperate and the doomed. The vast majority of January arrivals don’t work out. However, we need a striker. Also, it’s a good time to let some players, such as Cornet, Benrahma, Cresswell and Johnson, go to new pastures. The reported £30M transfer fund equates to one or two decent signings, depending on additional funds from sales, but Steidten has proven that he is a sharp operator in the middle zone of the market, so fingers crossed.
CW: That somebody buys Danny Ings off us.
Conference League final aside, what were your West Ham highlights of 2023?
GH: December was a highlight, taking nine points off Tottenham, Manchester United and Arsenal. Winning the Europa League group was a highlight, too. Overall, 2023 was great – a significant improvement on 2022, and when we look back, we will view these as the good times.
MJ: Like Geoff, I think the victories against those sides are always a highlight. For me though, and it’s a personal one, it’s the fact that my five-year-old son has been bitten by the West Ham bug – in part helped by the Conference win being on his birthday – but getting to share the love of West Ham with someone far less cynical is a reaffirmation of what football is all about.
MW: I struggle to find any other than those away days at Arsenal and Tottenham. My decision to go to more away games than home ones seems to be paying off.
DM: The rediscovery of form by our two Czech lads, along with the realisation that Kudus and Paqueta are world class has been really pleasing. I think we can beat anyone when we are on form but we need to believe.
CW: Getting my whole family to a match together. My daughter and I have season tickets but my son came home briefly from travelling so we had some juggling to do. But a couple of less-well supported games meant we could get two spare tickets and all four of us went. A pic of us outside the ground is now my computer wallpaper.
What are your hopes for West Ham in 2024?
GH: After such a good start to the season, it would be a shame for us to fade in the league. However, if this happened because we won the FA Cup or Europa League, then I couldn’t care less. Otherwise, I think we are capable of obtaining sixth or seventh place this season, and who knows what next season.
MJ: Unlike Geoff, I’m not so sure we are capable of obtaining 6th owing to the squad depth. If Kudus picks up an injury, or we’re offered huge money for Paqueta, I can see us faltering. That said, top 10 is nothing to be sniffed at. If we can keep our current 11, plus add to it in the summer, then I really believe we can push into that top 6. Another trophy would be amazing, but signs we’re evolving will do me. In Tim we trust!
MW: I hope that we keep our star players and that at the end of the season bid a farewell to Moyes and for once Karren Brady not to get a bonus for just doing her job.
DM: To win the Europa League in Dublin thus sealing our first ever Champions League campaign would be marvellous.
CW: We come down with the Christmas decorations, so my hopes are not on the Premier League position but on Europe and cup wins – I was particularly disappointed that Moyes seemingly instructed the team not even to try against Liverpool despite 6,000 travelling away fans making the journey.
Do you think West Ham will or should part ways with David Moyes in 2024?
GH: No, I don’t think they should. He has achieved more with this team in the last few years than others achieved for decades, and yes I’m aware of other views. Will they? No, I don’t think they will either. It’s a results business, and he’s getting results.
MJ: The million dollar question and the truth is I just don’t know. I’ve previously described myself as Moyes-Indifferent, and I still am. Results like Liverpool in the cup frustrate, as does the inability to take the attacking impetus or influence a game with subs – but at the moment, I think things are going OK. Players seem to play for him, and we’re getting results. Review later in the season for me, and compare against who else is out there. But for now, I’m just about content.
MW: Absolutely. I think he has taken us as far as he can. The results hide the performances. The older fan supported West Ham not because we won things but because we entertained. Entertainment is sadly lacking these days.
DM: I’m a conservative when it comes to manager changes and I find it hard to reach a firm position on this without really knowing what our best players think about playing in the Moyes system. His transfer cautiousness has been overcome by the arrival of Steidten but do Bowen, Paqueta and Kudus really believe that his programme will bring us to Champions league level, which in my opinion is the ultimate issue for the club? I’m staying on the fence.
CW: How can we get rid of our most successful manager ever? I’d be happy to see us get back to being a club that didn’t chop and change managers all the time. But someone needs to have a word with him about motivation.