The time for David Moyes to showcase his managerial nous is now, with the boss set to be put through his most testing period as West Ham manager.
There aren’t many that can argue that the Scot has, overall, an excellent record as a football manager. He is one of the games rare breeds that has continued to manage in the top leagues in the game, despite making his move to the highest tier in England with Everton now over 20 years ago.
Moyes’ time at Goodison Park was one that saw him, on the whole, deliver consistently. He managed to turn Everton into a regular top half side in the league that nobody ever looked forward to facing, home or away. Whilst also guiding the Toffees to appear in Europe, including the Champions League.
The fact Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in the history of the sport, handpicked Moyes to succeed him at his beloved Manchester United only proves how highly regarded the current West Ham boss is within the game.
Of course, things didn’t work out for Moyes so well after the move to Old Trafford, as he was dismissed after 51 games in all competitions. However, looking back now and considering the turmoil that has engulfed the Red side of Manchester ever since – maybe sacking a man who had a 54% win ratio at that time maybe was too hasty.
But all things happen for a reason I believe and ultimately, Moyes’ downturn in fortunes ultimately lead to the blessing of the cockney boys in East London.
Moyes arrived on the scene with the club in utter disarray, having just sacked the out-of-depth Slaven Bilic and staring another relegation in the face. However, the Scot got the players on side and fitter almost immediately – and successfully lead our club to survival and it has to be said – quite comfortably in the end.
The Scot was then, now looking back, harshly dismissed. With the club looking to go for more ‘statement’ move in bringing in Premier League winner in Manuel Pellegrini. This however, didn’t work out well, and ultimately lead to the club going back to Moyes with cap in hand.
Since his return to the London Stadium nobody could have predicted the turn in fortunes we as fans have experienced. Moyes has guided us though the most exciting and successful spell most fans have ever witnessed in our lifetimes, with back-to-back top 7 Premier League finishes, both resulting in European football qualification – not to mention reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League.
This has been the stuff of dreams and one that has since lead the club to seek to push on further, by backing the Scot with a £180m war chest in the summer, that has seen the arrival of Italys main striker and Brazils number one playmaker.
West Ham should be flying, with the top 4 in our sights as we continue to solidify our place amongst the elite in the Premier League after years of yearning for those days to finally arrive. But we’re not. In fact, we are doing the complete opposite.
David Moyes and his team are struggling, in every department. A bedding-in period was expected but the fact we are now just a point above the drop zone with 40% of the season played has alarm bells ringing – from the fans to the boardroom.
This wasn’t part of the plan. Yes, there is an argument that we are a club in transition with the volume of change, at all levels, and that needs to be taken into account. I believe it is, but to be so far off the pace isn’t acceptable.
The reality is that West Ham are not far away from being sucked into a full-scale relegation battle this season. Yes the table is tight, but that won’t last and sooner or later, our sights on the top 7, or even 10, will be a distant memory.
Moyes, despite all the successes he has achieved at the club, is now under mammoth pressure. With even his most loyal of fans starting to lose patience with the Scot as he continues to be wanting for ideas as to how to get this new team of his to click.
Things couldn’t have gone worse in the final days leading to the World Cup break. Knowing that a strong finish was desperately needed to lift the mood and pressure, our Hammers lost 3 home games on the spin, including one against a Blackburn Rovers B Team. There is no disguising this, the situation is dire.
The club though, and maybe rightly, have warranted the boss with time to turn this around, with a 6-week break followed by 3-5 games to show that Moyes’ plan with this group of players is finally working. But make no mistake, the pressure is very much on and he knows it.
When things are going well it’s easy to be labelled a top manager and enjoy the plaudits that success brings, but it’s when things aren’t happening that managers get tested to their abilities – and this is now the time for Moyes to prove just how good he is.
Moyes though has done this before, many times in fact. There were numerous occasions in his time at Everton when the Toffees struggled at the first half of seasons to then go on to finish at the high ends of the table. This and the fact of the success to date would have played a part in the boards thinking to retain the Scot for now.
For the boss though there are no more excuses, no more ‘back luck’ lines to call upon after another defeat. West Ham simply have to hit the ground running on Boxing Day with a performance against the current league leaders Arsenal that we are back on track and will climb the table fast under one of our most successful managers in recent history.
Fans may be frustrated, but many would be back on-side fast if they start seeing the performance levels reach the heights we have become accustomed to under Moyes. The time is now though. The ice is thin. But Moyes, maybe, just maybe, might pull this off.