How do you feel about David Moyes staying on as West Ham boss? That’s a question from every person I know who follows the sport, but supports another team. And after a deep sigh, then through clenched teeth I always answer: ‘He’s doing a great job – he’s getting things done. We’ll see.’
West Ham fans have become a mixed bunch where consistency and real results are in conflict with our desire for the West Ham Way’s attacking style of free flowing, inconsistent football. Or, we’ve gotten so used to complaining we don’t realise how successful we’ve become.
At David Moyes’ feet sits our first trophy in over 40 years, three European tours, and the most points before the winter break that we have seen in the Premier League era. Yet with all that it’s still up for debate.
Forgetting the flub at Fulham, We’ve beaten Spurs, Man United, and Arsenal, as well as drawing with bogey team Brighton and yet for many West Ham fans the verdict on Moyes is out. And as the announcers prattle on with one of their fun stats to say we have the most points since before break in the Premier league – a follow up from the 2021 season when Moyes had broken that record, I stand astonished at what David Moyes has done with the team.
We’re currently sitting in the top six after winter break with 34 points; 33 after the season was half over, our injuries are low, and our form is high. This is higher than the final season at the Boleyn in 15/16 when Payet had helped us get 29 points by game 19.
When was the last time we blamed David Sullivan and Karen Brady for the poor training conditions at Rush Green for our injury record? If you’ll remember with Pellegrini one December we had 11 injuries to the first team, and Robert Snodgrass was leading the line to save us from a relegation fall.
Having once again conquered the group stage in European competition, we’re on break from Europe until the other teams have to qualify, yet we still squeamishly watch week-to-week expecting things to turn for the worse. Is it our Bubbles bursting legacy that is ingrained in our systems, or can we point to last season’s relegation flirtation despite our European success.
At the beginning of this season I’d argue that at least 70% of the fan base was against Moyes and judging his tenure on a game-by-game basis due to the fact that we dropped to 14th place and for a minute were touching relegation last season. We gave up more goals (55) than we scored (42), Declan Rice was leaving, the team seemed unhappy, Soucek and Coufal had lost all form, and the European successes actually started to feel below our status.
But we recovered quickly from Rice’s departure, our midfield and forward line is looking better, and whilst we’re securing who our first team defenders will be more permanently, Moyes has recovered from the failures of 2021/22. The Arsenal win marked his first standard season win over a top six team at an away game, and his win over Man United is the first win over Man United in the actual season.
Not only is it a renaissance for West Ham, but a personal renaissance for the man himself. With our current goal tally sitting at 33 goals for and 30 goals against, our strength is that we’re playing in an even keeled manner.
We’d have to score as many goals in the second half of the season to equal our 2020/21 tally – 30 goals in 18 games would be near our goals tally for 2021 (60) or 2016 (65) score. The inevitable “three points to safety” posts will happen with our next win and it will be a relief that West Ham don’t have to worry about our perpetual state of relegation battle, midseason.
Now we will start to feel the pain we did two years ago with the other top six teams when we’re feeling heartache for achieving high results rather than escaping damnation. And though we may still bemoan Moyes’ late submaking, his refusal to test academy players, his unrelenting benching of first team strikers, and his defensive style of play, I think we can soon expect a contract renewal for Moyes.
Savour the Christmas gift of wins at Arsenal, Man U and Spurs, and until Moyes starts shipping goals, he will not be shipped out. If we continue our form, we could see ourselves in the Europa League again in 6th place. I’m hoping for a win in the Europa League to put us in the Champions League, but until those goals look closer, I will cling to one and utter one simple phrase: Three points to safety.