The jury is still out on David Moyes at West Ham.
His contract is up at the end of the season and doubts remain over his long term future. West Ham’s humiliating 6-0 defeat to Arsenal has only served to kick start the debate whether Moyes should stay or go.
At the turn of the year, all the talk was about Moyes getting a new contract on the back of what he described as his best year in management. That has gone ominously quiet. West Ham had won a European trophy, they had just beaten Arsenal and Manchester United.
Moyes was the flavour of the month. West Ham had rarely had it so good. If you look at the Premier League table, West Ham are eighth with only Newcastle, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool above them.
They sit above Chelsea despite Todd Boehly’s £1billion spending spree and Brighton who rightly take plaudits for their improvement, style of play and having Roberto De Zerbi who is one of the most sought after managers in the game.
It begs the question: what exactly do West Ham fans want? They definitely do not want a six-goal humiliation to their London rivals which led to a mass walkout with thousands of fans leaving by half time.
Moyes was incredibly respectful post-match after Arsenal, admitting they had been weak, saying he “understood” the fans leaving early but there was also a pointed reminder in there that, no so long back, they were celebrating European success.
How can you possibly criticise West Ham fans for leaving early? How can you criticise any fans for waking out? The answer is you can’t. West Ham fans are fiercely loyal. This is a world away from the likes of the latte-sipping classes at Arsenal who used to be gone from the Emirates by the 70th minute.
They have got better these days. I don’t like the idea of fans leaving early. But you can’t tell them that they can’t. You can quickly see in the media who has gone to games as a fan by the way they respect supporters.
But West Ham fans do want more expansive football. They want to be entertained. But with that, comes risk and defeats. Fewer guarantees that you get with Moyes of mid-table security (not to be sniffed at) and some memorable wins each season.
CameraSport via Getty Images)
Since New Year, West Ham have played seven games, drawn four, lost three and gone out of the FA Cup. They still have another European campaign to look forward to. Moyes is a brilliant football manager who deserves respect.
He also deserves better performances from the players who let him down against Arsenal. I don’t think they will do better than Moyes. It’s hard to see them being able to make an upgrade. Brighton made a bold appointment with De Zerbi. But West Ham are above Brighton.
Whoever comes next will be a risk compared to Moyes’ guarantees. But once fans turn, it’s incredibly hard to get them back. And, ultimately, they are the ones who decide. The rest of us can only admire the job Moyes has done from afar.
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