‘Moyes took West Ham to new places, and he did so when no-one backed him and people laughed’

The Blowing Bubbles team sit down to reflect on two spells of the Moyesiah at West Ham

David Moyes (West Ham manager) at the West Ham United v Leicester City EPL match, at the London Stadium, London, UK on November 12, 2022.

What was your initial reaction when you heard Moyes was leaving, and how do you feel about it now?

Meirion Williams: At last was my simple answer. I know he helped win us a trophy but I’ve struggled to attend games this year due to the tactics we have employed. I never missed a game under Alan Curbishley and that football at times was pretty dire, but I think Moyes took it to another level. I feel it is the right decision. The last game against Luton was a prime example. We were clueless in the first 45 minutes and we’d seen it before. Only time will tell if it’s the right decision.

Geoff Hillyer: I can’t say I was massively surprised – I think the writing has been on the wall for a little while now. I wouldn’t say that I feel it is the right decision, I’d say that, given the circumstances, it’s probably the only decision that could have been made. I think with this change though, comes risk.

Marcus Johns: Much like Meirion, it was kind of a relief. I do think his time was up, but the constant division between fans who backed him and those who didn’t was turning toxic. Now we’ve got the chance to have the element of optimism ahead of a new season with a fresh impetus and new ideas to maximise this attacking threat we carry.

David Meagher: Moyes has done a fantastic job over the four and a half years but with a style of football that just isn’t Hammers traditional fare. Most ‘real’ West Ham fans don’t mind if we don’t always win but definitely do want the entertainment of the circus. We are football fans rather than trophy-hounds. Averaging 30 to 40% possession with walls of defence is simply not a sustainable ethos at our club. That said, Moyes has brought greater steel and discipline which has often been lacking in the past. It’s a good time for all parties as the squad is aging and must expand and with no European commitments next season, a new manager will have time to develop our hopefully more adventurous style.

Bradley Holland: I agree with the rest of the team. There was an odd sense of relief and also sadness. More than the trophy, and Europe, there’s a sense of honour and loyalty for someone who saved us from relegation when we were in trouble, and then doing it again after he’d been stepped over and chosen for another more exciting manager. There’s a sense of dedication to someone who has saved you when you were in trouble, and for that I’ll always honour Moyes. My biggest contention with him was that he didn’t learn and that he wasn’t willing to change.

Were you pleased that it was announced before the Luton game so the fans were able to say goodbye properly?

MW: Partly but if I was him, I would have taken the club for contractual dismissal and jumped as soon as Sky announced our new manager before an announcement on David not returning. As usual it was a PR disaster. I am pleased though that we have him a good send off after the Luton game.

GH: The announcement should have been made much sooner in my opinion, with all the news swirling round. But yes, at least fans had the chance to say goodbye with a win.

MJ: I think I’d have preferred the announcement to have been made sooner. June 8th 2023 ideally. The second half of the season has been a write off on account of the uncertainty so clarity would have been much better. That being said, the club has mismanaged the situation and I felt leaking the replacement search to the press was awful PR. I did like the fact that Moyes got his lap of appreciation, and was rightly applauded by the crowd.

DM: I think the timing was as good as it could have been and yes I did make the arduous trip to London to give thanks and wish him well.

BH: I would have liked a more favourable exit march for Moyes but to have one last home game to be cheered on was a good move.

Looking back to when Moyes first came to us as manager, what were your thoughts?

MW: I didn’t want him, it’s as simple as that. Did he change my mind? Not really and I was amazed he was asked back. It really felt like a Sullivan cheapest option. Hindsight shows that he should have been given the opportunity then but to get rid and then reappoint when all was not well was simply embarrassing.

GH: My own opinion, and I know this may not be the common view, is that he has had a very rough ride with us in both stints. Losing his job after keeping us up I thought was madness, the allure of ‘a bigger name’ eventually falling flat. He should have stayed then, but that’s easy to say with hindsight.

MJ: At the time, I saw him as a steady pair of hands who’d bridge a gap. I was disappointed as I honestly felt Bilic would have still kept us up, but didn’t find the appointment inspiring, so I was glad it was only for six months.

DM: He’s a good manager who insists on professionalism and is always dignified and honest. He is a victim of our success in recent years as we inevitably want more. I am pleased for him that his difficult spells at Man Utd and Sunderland have been put to bed but in reality he’s just not West Ham at heart.

BH: My first match was under Moyes’ regime when we beat Southampton 3-1. I thought we looked like a giant block in the midfield except for a brilliant and wandering Lanzini, and everything went through Noble. It looked like midfield survival with limited movement. That was my impression of Moyes’ management and it hasn’t changed.

How did you feel about his return for a second spell?

MW: No surprise but I didn’t want him. I thought there were better options out there. I expected league safety and little else so he did exceed my expectations and I’m the first to admit I was wrong. But at what cost? Exciting football was often nonexistent and I don’t think I’m the only one who decided a trip to London to see West Ham wasn’t the best use of my time this year.

GH: I never saw us competing in Europe for three seasons in a row, and I never saw us winning a trophy. I’d have settled for mid table and a cup run, and in truth I never really thought about how long he would stay for. He’s overachieved though, of that there’s no doubt in my mind.

MJ: I was disappointed as I felt it lacked ambition by our board to return to a ‘steady pair of hands’. Some of the old issues – inability to alter approach during a game, negative tactics etc – were still in full force, and as we know, never really left. My expectations were low, but blimey he exceeded them. I’ve never been so pleased to be wrong, and I’ll admit he’s put our entire club on a much stronger footing.

DM: I knew that he would put an end to our yo-yo relegation-promotion pattern but I really didn’t think we’d be so Europhillic. He can be very proud of a tremendous spell at the club and I will always be grateful for all those great Thursday nights of European action. That said, his repeated lack of ambition in the domestic cup competitions was disappointing but i guess while fans are dreamers he, I guess, is a realist at heart.

BH: I loved the sexy saxophone meme of ‘Careless Whisper’ to Moyes’ return. I wasn’t excited about it, but also I thought, ‘you deserve this’. He came back and I thought drilled the team into shape, and the patented formula that is purely Moyes moved us further than we have been. Moyes is just missing the final touch to go further

How will his time at the club be remembered?

MW: ‘Winning is what I do’ I think he said and on the whole he did. Rose-tinted glasses says he took us repeatedly into Europe and we had a great day in Prague. But also he will be remembered as being too one dimensional with no Plan B. Delivering boring football and not utilising the players he had at his disposal and failing to give any squad depth.

GH: Moyes had his limitations. But he should be remembered as one of our greatest achieving managers – I mean, West Ham were in Europe for three seasons in a row and won a trophy. If I had said that would happen five years ago, you would have laughed me out of the room.

MJ : I don’t buy the ‘saved us twice’ narrative as I don’t think we were going down either time, but there is no doubting that he has brought a lot of structure to the club when we needed it most. Whilst I wasn’t a fan of his approach, there’s no denying he’s given me the best years of my West Ham-supporting life, moments that my young son and I can already bond over and discuss, and the chance to witness us lift a trophy. For that, I will always respect him and be grateful for. History will look kinder on him than those of us who are living the football week in week out. He’s probably our third best ever manager.

DM: You can’t argue with results and his record has been excellent. The club is in a much stronger place than when he arrived – financially but also in terms of reputation for attracting top players. After our European exploits, incoming players no longer have to throw out how happy they are to play for Bobby Moore’s team as we now have a recent history of note too. That said, I think it’s been achieved at the cost of discarding the fabled West Ham way and we have gone seriously backwards in terms of bringing on academy players. There’s an irony that one of the final goals we scored under his reign was by an academy graduate.

BH: Moyes took West Ham to new places; a trophy, two relegation saves, and he did so when no-one backed him and people laughed. He did it after Pelligrini was appointed over him. He did it when the fans were not excited to have him back and when we were in chaos, when GSB out rang through the terraces, coins were thrown, and the club was rotten. He withstood constant stupid marketing tactics by GSB and still pushed through. His stubbornness, inability to grow or accept advice, and not obeying obvious tactical and management cues aside; this is how I will remember him.

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