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West Ham United and the scale of David Moyes’ task

Following West Ham’s toxic defeat to Watford at the weekend, the full scale of David Moyes’ task is painfully clear. The away fans spent much of the game calling for the owners to leave West Ham. Goodwill towards Moyes in his new post remains similarly lacking. Where West Ham go from here in this new season could well be determined in the next week.Mistakes on field

Last week, I noted that Moyes would have to work towards restoring defensive stability to his new side. The attempt at a flat back four was a return to basics that might yet bear fruit. The sooner the better, for West Ham have conceded more goals than any other team in the league. Lapses in concentration, however, led to Watford’s first goal, and such actions are all too common amongst relegated teams. Note Aston Villa in particular during the 2015-16 season. Like West Ham, they had a talented squad that included Scott Sinclair and Joleon Lescott. An apparent lack of commitment was ultimately their undoing, rather than simply being unsuited to the top flight.

In the case of West Ham, however, it appears more the result of disorganisation than indifference, though this can prove similarly damaging. Andy Carroll was fired up Sunday, but allowed his temper to flare on a number of occasions. Indeed, the striker was lucky not to pick up another red card, often leading with his elbows in aerial duels. Elsewhere, a desire to demonstrate commitment to the cause left West Ham shapeless, and prone to mistakes.

Crucial mistakes were also prevalent in attack. Cheikhou Kouyate missed a chance to level it after the break, spooning a shot from 12 yards over the bar.

More worryingly, Marko Arnautovic squandered a golden opportunity to score his first goal for his new club. West Ham’s record signing has simply failed in his months at the London Stadium, and will (hopefully) be concerned about his future at the club. Moreover, his is yet another name on a list of failed strikers during the Gold and Sullivan era of West Ham.

Off-field toxicity

Which brings discussion neatly to the boardroom, as is so often the case with West Ham.

The past two seasons, which saw the Hammers flirt with relegation, have ended hope of reconciliation between board and fans. The loss of the Boleyn Ground, now more than ever a symbol of better times, is felt more keenly than ever. Yesterday, banners and chants were directed less at the players, and instead at David Gold, David Sullivan, and Karren Brady. The result was a toxic atmosphere that no doubt impacted performances on the pitch. It epitomised how far West Ham have fallen since the optimism with which they left the Boleyn.

Over the next week, David Moyes must focus on bringing organisation and composure to his defence. A positive result in his first home game cannot solve the mood at West Ham. Bitterness is simply too ingrained now. It would, however, give the supporters and players a ray of hope going into a difficult December.

Nevertheless, Moyes can only do so much. The boardroom must, this week, start a dialogue with supporters that is honest about the current situation and atmosphere. Meaningless platitudes on social media will not stabilise this ship. Instead, honesty and integrity must win out, and West Ham act as an example to all clubs with a disconnect between hierarchy and terraces. Maybe then this season can finally begin anew for West Ham.

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