In the past few years West Ham’s owners have made knuckle-whitening incompetence something of a speciality; whether it’s how they handled the ground move from Upton Park to the Olympic Stadium to David Gold’s often ill-advised attempts at social media.
Well, another week goes by and another dose of buffoonery from the Hammers’ chiefs has come to pass.
Sacking Slaven Bilic was probably the right thing to do, truth be told. The club’s on-field fortunes have faded in the past season and a bit under the Croatian’s guidance, and the desired upswing to go with the move to the new ground has not materialised. As it stands, they boast the worst defensive record in the Premier League this season, and so change was absolutely necessary.
What was less than ideal was the owners’ decision to all but announce David Moyes as new manager – before they had actually sacked the previous incumbent. The decision to appoint the Scot has been met with almost universal dismay from West Ham fans, and has opened the club up to further ridicule after owner Karen Brady’s attack in a newspaper column on Moyes after he allegedly threatened to ‘slap’ a female BBC reporter while Sunderland manager.
“I would like to think that any man who worked for me — no matter how wound up they feel by a reporter who is simply doing her job well — would not threaten to slap a woman,” Brady wrote.
Well, it would seem that she might have to eat a slice of humble pie after Moyes’ odds of becoming West Ham manager were slashed to 1/12 – a done deal, in other words.
So is he the right man for the job, or will he plunge the Hammers deeper into the relegation more?
Past Indiscretions Hard to Shake
It was at Preston and Everton where Moyes forged a name for himself as a young manager of some repute, and credit to the Scot for taking on what was always likely to be a poisoned chalice at Manchester United in the immediate aftermath of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
That didn’t go to plan, but really did anybody expect Sir Alex’s immediate successor to have any joy in the role?
Moyes’ biggest mistake was not waiting for another job in the Premier League through which he could revive his career. Instead he took on the Real Sociedad position without knowing a word of Spanish. He wasn’t exactly known for his free-flowing approach at Everton, and so his appointment was something of a head-scratcher.
The Scot lasted a year in the job but was sacked in November of his second season at the club after a start to the season which featured just two wins in eleven league matches.
If you thought that might have been the end of Moyes’ malaise then you are sadly mistaken. He took over at Sunderland thereafter, and while the Black Cats were almost doomed to relegation the manner in which they succumbed – winning just 6/38 matches and failing to score in more than half – confirmed what many already knew: Moyes was unable to motivate an admittedly average bunch of players into performing at a top flight level.
David Moyes will be an unmitigated disaster at West Ham. They couldn’t make a worse appointment. #opinion
— Dan Kennett (@DanKennett) November 6, 2017
But football management is a funny old game, with a sacking or three on your CV doing very little to persuade decision-makers that maybe you’re not cut out for a manager’s role at the top level.
So Moyes takes the Hammers job despite a win ratio of roughly half at Manchester United – and remember, the Red Devils had won the title by eleven clear points the year prior to his appointment, and further win percentages of just 28% at Real Sociedad and 18% at Sunderland.
Final Nail in Hammers’ Coffin?
The good news for Moyes is that this West Ham is significantly better than the shambolic Sunderland outfit he inherited, but even so the Scot must get the players working harder for him. That could be a battle of wills, as much as a need to show off any tactical acumen.
What he will try to do is make the Irons tougher to beat, especially at home, and improve an awful defensive record that makes them the worst side in the division for conceding goals.
It’s easy to forget that the Hammers have the likes of Carroll, Chicarito, Lanzini, Antonio and Arnautovic at their disposal, and so the dreaded ‘r word’ should not even be entering their lexicon.
But with the fans less-than-pleased with the appointment of Moyes, you wonder how long they will give the new an before the atmosphere at home takes a turn for the toxic worst.
Make no mistake, there are worse bets out there than the 5/2 odds currently available on West Ham to be relegated.