Definitely, no longer maybe, a giant step forward

To corrupt a Liam Gallagher vocal, we are seeing things we never thought we would see. Not maybe, but definitely.

The turnaround of matches is now is so quick, we don’t really get the chance to appreciate or evaluate properly what David Moyes has done to our club.

But we have sailed through what looked like a tough Europa League group unbeaten, with four clean sheets in five matches and no more worries about Europe until March, avoiding the potential egg shell of facing Champions League drop outs in a play-off round in February.

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Our shadow side cruised past Rapid Vienna despite our fans being banned from a match we were not allowed to go to anyway. Only West Ham, eh.

It’s the little things. Like turning out a reserve team in a cup competition... and winning. Eight changes from the side that were so out of sorts in losing at Wolves. It doesn’t sound much but it’s what the big teams do all the time. And we never seem to manage it.

It’s par for the course at clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea - even Manchester United, when they get their act together. It’s how we have to evolve if we are going to be genuine contenders on several fronts.

Let’s be honest, we have been rubbish at it over the years. The last couple of European campaigns - if you can call them that - have seen us dumped out by Astra Zeneca while struggling against pub teams from Andorra and Malta.

Much the same things have happened in the early rounds of the League Cup. Pathetic really. But just look at us now.

Moyes said he took risks with the team in Vienna. It hardly showed, did it? A completely changed back five, Mark Noble in midfield and the perpetually exhausted Andriy Yarmolenko up front, scoring, winning a penalty and racing (well almost) around like a man trying to impress would-be suitors with his contract coming to an end in the summer.

We even saw Arthur Masuaku playing left back in a back four, something you would have thought had been outlawed long ago. And then there was another kid, 17-year-old Sonny Perkins making his debut and almost scoring.

This sort of successful rotation is something that is common place amongst the big clubs. But we have at last got to a point where squad players and kids can be trusted. It’s a huge step forward for our club that could easily slip under the radar.

But here we are after Thursday’s masterclass in squad management in Vienna, in the last 16 of the Europa Cup, the last eight of the League Cup and fourth in the Premier League. How times have changed.

We are coming up to Moyes’ second year anniversary of his second spell as our manager. He's achieved 42 wins from 84 matches and just three defeats in 19 this season, or ten defeats in 44 games in 2021 so far. Wolves could have knocked us off course, but Moyes had the squad right back on track.

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It does get more difficult. Eleven games in the next 31 days, and Manchester City next on Sunday with Chelsea the following weekend. None of us expect much from those two, certainly not City away the way they have dismantled Manchester United and Paris St Germaine in recent weeks. And the humiliation of Everton was just cruel.

We’ve also got Arsenal away in that run and I was going to mention Spurs in the League Cup quarter finals, but it’s hard to write while you are laughing at a team who can lose to a club I’ve never heard of. They do get battered everywhere they go!

But whatever happens now, Moyes has been able to rest Fabianski, Zouma, Johnson, Cresswell, Antonio and Rice completely to prepare for the demands of the Etihad on Sunday.

None of this would have been possible in the eras of Slaven Bilic and Manuel Pellegrini, certainly not the arrival of Perkins and Danny Chesters on the scene, neither of our ex-managers ever watched the youth teams.

But look at us now. When Moyes returned for his second spell, we were one point above the relegation zone after losing seven of the previous nine games.

The change has been remarkable and the response from the players likewise. Joe Cole made the point on TV that it was anyone’s guess how our squad would react to the extra demands of Europe. Something a lot had never experienced before, how would they perform.

Well we know now. Like ducks to water, with team spirit and an acceptance of squad rotation as we have seen this week. It's fair to say Moyes has a Midas touch at the moment.

He admits the staff have been worried by certain selections, well haven’t we all! But it has worked. This is how a big club with a big name manager handles these situations. Our players have coped, our fans got over the fear that strikes us when a star player isn’t in the side, or left at home in England for that matter.

This is a new West Ham, a new club almost, certainly a new mentality. Definitely, not maybe.

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