David Moyes’ Second Act Has West Ham Punching Above Its Weight

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Back in August, if anyone had suggested that with a third of the season remaining, West Ham would be sitting 4th in the Premier League they would have been cruelly mocked. The Hammers lost their opening two games at home to Newcastle and away to Arsenal and the conventional wisdom was that it was to be another season with Premier League survival the goal.  

But with just 13 games left West Ham occupies one of the four Champions League positions and only Leicester City and the two Manchester teams have better records than the Hammers. Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Arsenal can only gaze enviously upwards at West Ham’s record of 45 points from 25 games.

Central to West Ham’s improvement is Manager David Moyes. Moyes spent 13 years in charge of Everton between 2002 and 2013. During his time at Everton Moyes gained a reputation for squeezing the best out of his players and as a manager with an eye for a bargain.

Then came the opportunity of taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

It was the offer that couldn’t be refused but Moyes probably should have. Taking charge of Manchester United was a bridge too far and despite being given a 7-year contract, Moyes lasted less than 10 months before being shown the door. It was the Peter Principle in action.

There followed two painful one-year stints at Real Sociedad in Spain and at Sunderland. He started well at Sociedad but Moyes was sacrificed after the team started the 2014/15 season with just a single win in the first 10 league games.

Things were much worse after Moyes signed on at Sunderland. Just 6 wins in 38 games and 24 points saw Sunderland relegated at the end of the 2016/17 season and Moyes was fired again.

From one dysfunctional organization to another it seemed when Moyes replaced Slaven Bilić as manager of West Ham in November 2017.  The team was stuck in the relegation and the situation looked desperate. If David Moyes was the answer a lot of West Ham fans were trying to guess the question.  

But Moyes did pull West Ham clear of the relegation zone.  But even then, his performance did not impress the West Ham board. Moyes was overlooked and instead, Manuel Pellegrini was handed the reins.

A 10th place finish in 2018/19 vindicated that decision or so we thought. However, by the time New Year 2020 arrived West Ham was in another relegation fight, Pellegrini was gone and Moyes was back.

West Ham avoided the drop and this time Moyes stuck round.

Moyes has West Ham playing disciplined soccer and there is a clear parallel with the Everton side Moyes molded during his 11 years on Merseyside.

It is not a team designed to score many goals, but the team is still on track to score 60 goals this season – a tally West Ham has only exceeded once in the Premier League and that was 2015/16 with Dimitri Payet running the show.

At the other end West Ham has a shot at setting a club record for fewest goals allowed in a Premier League season.

The one player who has stood out for me this season is Tomas Soucek, the Czech international midfielder. With 8 Premier League goals to date there is something very Tim Cahill about Soucek.

Cahill was a key player during Moyes time at Everton. A hard-nosed player who gave everything, Cahill was brilliant at timing his runs into the opposition’s penalty box and was fantastic in the air.

Can West Ham finish in the top 4?

West Ham do not have an easy run from now until the end of the season. It starts with a trip to Manchester City and matches against Leeds United, Manchester United, Arsenal, Wolves and Leicester City are on the schedule between now and mid-April. There are also matches against Chelsea and Everton before the season finishes on May 23.

Read more at www.forbes.com

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