Is David Moyes' emergence as West Ham manager a setback or step forward?
Slaven Bilic joined the list of managers relieved from their office this season. West Ham showed him the axe after the 4-1 home loss to Liverpool. Like it or not, David Moyes has now been appointed his successor.
This was a foreseeable future for the Croatian manager. The team has lacked enthusiasm since the beginning of 2016-17.
However, Bilic will counter that he did right by the Hammers. His Premier League points per game average (1.33) was the best recorded by any manager in the club’s history.
Overall, he holds a fair Premier League record, registering 30 wins in his 87 matches, leaving him with a 34% win rate. That is not such a bad record for a team outside the top six. Bilic’s only shortcoming was his inability to replicate his debut season.
In 2015-16, he led the team to a 7th place finish, finding 16 of his 30 wins. The Hammers exuded great confidence during their final year at Upton Park, managing to earn Europa League qualification, a club milestone.
Few teams had more wins than West Ham that season. Foundations were laid that supporters believed could threaten the big six. Relocation to the Olympic Stadium rendered it important they continue in the same vein, but a dismal summer of recruitment dented supporters’ hopes. Simone Zaza, Gokhan Tore, Sofiane Feghouli and Alvaro Arbeloa made no difference at the club, while Andre Ayew has failed to justify his £21.7 million transfer fee.
Dimitri Payet’s unhappiness compounded their problem. The star player looked uninspired. His attitude infiltrated the whole squad. A quick exit from the Europa League and a substandard Premier League campaign saw the club regain their mediocre status.
That summer was an opportunity that should have been grabbed with both hands. Bilic never recovered. Although the team had some good results, especially the home win over Tottenham in May, it was clear the Croatian was clueless as to the way forward.
It became clear to supporters, the wider public, and the club’s hierarchy that a new manager had to step in. The question is can David Moyes achieve what Bilic could not?
Premier League experience is the only attractive element in Moyes’ overrated curriculum vitae. He has achieved little success since he left Everton in 2013. Nor has he offered reason to think he can rediscover it with the London club.
Last season, the Scot oversaw a horrific campaign as Sunderland coach. His side dwelt in the relegation zone for the better part of the season. The Black Cats were the first club demoted to the Championship, in April, and it wasn’t bad luck. For a manager considered top class and an effectual defense organizer, Moyes did poorly at the Stadium of Light. His players had no fight. That could be attributed at least in part to his negativity during press conferences.
Just a few weeks into the season, Moyes admitted to the press that the club was going to fight hard to avoid relegation.
Well, they would probably be right because that’s where they’ve been every other year for the last four years, so why would it suddenly change? I think it will be. I don’t think you can hide the facts. That will be the case, yes. People will be flat because they are hoping that something is going to dramatically change. It can’t dramatically change. It can’t.
The conciliatory statement effectively killed the squad spirit and set the momentum of their play. These were unbelievable words from a Premier League manager. Moyes’ lack of enthusiasm destroyed any hope the squad had for rising further up the table. There was nothing wrong in aiming to retain Sunderland’s Premier League status while accepting the task’s immense difficulty, but there are better ways to pass the message.
Considering West Ham’s current league position and lack of confidence, it’s optimistic to hope Moyes will better Bilic’s record at West Ham. Bilic was often criticized for being tactically inept, but, based on his recent performances, the former Everton and Manchester United boss is unlikely to show any improvement. Unless, by some miracle, the Everton/Preston Moyes resurfaces, his new appointment could be West Ham’s undoing.