The decision to axe Slaven Bilic had been long expected and almost universally accepted as the correct course of action for the club. Having been given time and resources to improve the team, his popularity has slowly waned with the realisation that he’s been unable to inspire his team and been found lacking in any ability to meet the club’s lofty ambitions.
With the news breaking on Tuesday that David Moyes is set to replace Bilic, it would be fair to say that this decision has been met with unwavering scepticism and disbelief amongst fans and onlookers alike.
As a manager who won the LMA manager of the year award in 2003, 2005 and 2009, Moyes clearly has experience of working to the highest standards. But there’s an underlying feeling that the game has moved forward and beyond him now. A poor track record, lack of ambition, the Chicharito effect… There are many reasons why West Ham fans have been quick to denounce the clubs new appointment.
But perhaps Moyes is exactly the manager that the team needs to lift them out of their current predicament? Andy Dickinson highlights four reasons why Moyes’ selection may prove to be a wise selection from the Irons much-criticised board members.
1 Professional incentive
Which ever way you look at Moyes’ managerial track record in a career that goes back to 1998, it has to be tempered with the sullied record of the previous four years. A failure to last a full season in charge at each of Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland cannot and should not be ignored.
This has left his credibility hanging by a thread and it seems likely that if this job does not go well for Moyes, it will spell certain doom for his career. Moyes must surely be aware of this and, re-enforced by the reaction his appointment has garnered in East London over the last few hours, he will be motivated to save his own future as well as that of his new club.
2 Three bad decisions
While the previous four years have proven disastrous, the circumstances leading up to each of his three managerial appointments during this time feel very different.
At Manchester United, Moyes always looked an ill-fit and was quickly found to be out of his depth. This goes without saying. It is hard to see which manager could have followed Sir Alex Ferguson and even a manager with the pedigree of Louis van Gaal failed in this regard.
In Spain, he was reported to struggle with the culture change. While he enjoyed the city, he did not attempt to learn the local language or leave the safe confines of his hotel. Sticking rigidly to his own ways, this inflexibility soon proved to be his downfall in a foreign league.
As for Sunderland, they were and still are a team fundamentally ruined by systemic problems which riddle the club both on and off the field. It’s not entirely surprising that they’re currently languishing at the bottom of the Championship and yet again find themselves without a manager after Simon Grayson was dismissed only 18 games into his tenure.
If anything, then, Moyes has been most guilty of choosing the wrong fights to take on since he left Merseyside. West Ham, on the other hand, are a much better fit for the Scotsman: a club steeped in history but struggling for direction, Moyes could come into the club and perform the same turn-around that he did when he arrived at Everton.
3 The luxury of short-sightedness
Having only received a six-month contract at West Ham, Moyes won't be weighed down with any long-term plans of rebuilding or adhering to the ambitions of playing entertaining football.
Sam Allardyce was moved out of the manager’s chair in Stratford through a perceived lack of flair and flowing, attack-minded football. While this will undoubtedly still be on the agenda within the West Ham hierarchy, they currently have more pressing matters at hand.
Moyes can come into this team with a singular focus on keeping them above water. There already exists a strong nucleus of players in the dressing room and, like the Everton side he inherited in 2002, there’s a mix of talented players both old and young to form the spine of a good team.
With a clear and concise goal, there are less complications and distractions for both manager and players alike. The financial risks of dropping a division now have huge ramifications and Premier League consolidation is now their only aim. Creating a platform to work from next season is the only realistic priority the Hammers should be considering.
4 Lower trends
With only 12 points separating 8th from 18th last season, the lower half of the Premier League table has become more hotly contested recently. The three teams promoted this summer were all heavily tipped to struggle this season and yet they find themselves currently placed in 8th, 10th and 11th. While this looks promising, they will all be aware that this can change very quickly as we head towards a busy Christmas schedule.
One thing that these three sides all possess is a strong defensive record having cumulatively conceded 34 goals from their 33 games played so far. Similarly, the biggest problem West Ham presently face is in their defensive performances, with their 23 'goals against' being the worst record in the league.
David Moyes is an organiser and a disciplinarian, something which the team sorely needs. If, after 6 months, the club find themselves in safer waters, they can then look further afield to finding a manager who better suits their profile.
Having made the decision to swap managers now, the West Ham board have given themselves plenty of time to get the club back on track. Once firmly on the rails again, perhaps another manager will be a better fit for the club. But, until then, Moyes could well prove invaluable.
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