Since being appointed Slaven Bilic’s replacement on Tuesday, David Moyes has received a muted reception from West Ham fans. Here are five things the Scot needs to do improve the Hammers’ short-term fortunes.
Slaven Bilic was often the subject of rumours that his training methods were lax. This was evidenced by West Ham’s failure to defend in the later stages of matches. Moreover, comments by Reece Oxford and Pablo Zabaleta indicated their surprise at other club’s vigorous training regimes. Moyes has already had one double session this week, and has stated he will make players ‘cry’ if needed. Harder training will hopefully instil some grit into a side that has often looked disinterested so far this season.
Another key issue that bedevilled Bilic’s reign were failed transfers. The glory days of signing Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini have been obscured by failure. Simone Zaza, Jonathan Calleri, and especially Marko Arnautovic have all failed to perform, despite high wages. Indeed, the latter is West Ham’s record signing, but has yet to net for the Hammers.
Many outlets are reporting that Moyes has permission to offload Arnautovic in January. It seems that a central task for Moyes will be to offload the dead weight from West Ham’s bloated squad. This might allow for youth to be given opportunities. Toni Martinez has enjoyed a scoring streak for the U21s, whilst Declan Rice has performed admirably amidst pressure. Offering places in the squad for such players would no doubt help in gaining Moyes some good-will.
No team has conceded more goals than West Ham in this Premier League season. Though emphasis is often placed on West Ham as an attacking team, defence must be prioritised in the coming weeks. Moyes has speculated that he will take time to establish whether a back three or four is preferable. Given that West Ham have recently tried a three under Bilic, expect Moyes to opt for a four against Watford next Sunday.
Moyes cannot, however, afford to spend too long deciding on a formation for his defence. West Ham’s fixtures necessitate a strong November. December sees early visits to Manchester City and Arsenal, with Chelsea at home. New Year’s Eve will be an away derby against Tottenham Hotspur. West Ham need points before then. To rely on these fixtures for points is simply not feasible.
Morale at West Ham is at an all-time low. Comparisons are being drawn on social media with the 2010/11 season, which saw the Hammers relegated. Hard work and shifting the dead weight will improve the quality of the squad. Starting strong is essential, however, as all that will be for nought if morale does not improve the atmosphere at the stadium and training ground.
If comparisons are being drawn to 2010/11 in terms of relegation, then it is also so with the manager. Moyes has already been unfavourably compared to Avram Grant, with both taking over West Ham after relegation the previous season. Since succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, the Scot has hopped from disaster to disaster. His appointment was consequently met with bemusement and anger by West Ham fans on social media. Even co-chairman David Sullivan admitted that Moyes represented a ‘gamble’. David Gold meanwhile mutely admitted that Moyes was the ‘best available’, hinting at preferable options. A strong start would wipe away such concerns, and remind the footballing world why Moyes was seen as a reliable successor to Ferguson. Anything less would almost certainly finish the Scot as a Premier League manager, and further damage West Ham United’s future.