Wishing on a dream

First things first. It’s the time of year that gongs are handed out, so David Moyes deserves one for his transformation of West Ham United.

No, not because we are fifth and in a European last 16, or that we are again defying gravity in the top flight. It’s for saving West Ham from relegation now on four occasions.

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Sorry, very pedantic of me but deliberately so. Tongue in cheek too and probably not what many fans want to hear when there’s a transfer window opened and Manchester United are losing at home. But maybe considering what has already been achieved in Moyes’ reign in east London, it’s worthy of some consideration.

It’s been a good weekend for West Ham Arsenal and Manchester United lost, Liverpool and Chelsea drew, Spurs managed a 96th minute winner at Watford where we scored four. What’s not to enjoy or be optimistic about?

But I seem to spend all my time trying to inject realism and reality into the general euphoria. And it always comes back to the steps we have made to get where we are.

Four times now Moyes has ensured we stay in the top flight. The Scot has made sure that something around £500m minimum is destined for the West Ham bank account and that’s just the Sky money alone. You can probably double that with all the financial add-ons associated with the Premier League.

I know I should be dreaming dreams of Champions League qualification, but deep down I don’t really believe we can make those dreams come true.

Hell, I’ll be trawling the country believing the impossible is possible. But to be frank I’m just overjoyed with what Moyes has achieved.

When he walked through our door back in 2017, all washed up as a manager in many eyes, we were in a mess and it wasn’t until a glorious day out in Leicester, when Mark Noble scored a spectacular goal, that our PL survival was secured.

The next bit no doubt our star struck owners will want to forget, but Moyes was eventually recalled from his sun lounger - they do have sun in Lancashire I can assure you - he performed the same trick again at the back end of the 2019/20 season. Norwich away when Michail Antonio ran riot, if I recall correctly, just about did it that time.

Then came the sunny uplands (well someone has to provide them because nobody else can). Last season we finished sixth, not a relegation battle in sight. And now, we're fifth entering 2022 and on 34 points. We are safe. Oh, come on, if we can’t engineer two wins from 18 games we deserve to be visiting Millwall next season.

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OK, so this has been a deliberate exercise in revisiting recent history, but sometimes we all need a reboot, a reset on who we are and where we are. We spend our days now discussing top four and the Champions League, which is lovely.

But let’s not forget where we came from, what we can realistically achieve, and how amazing it will be if we can finish in the top six for two seasons on the trot for the first time in our history. I’ll leave you with that for a minute or so, so we can all start focusing on what can be achieved. And there’s the rub.

You can forget the top three, they can’t be caught and Manchester City are already champions. But the games we have witnessed at the weekend uncomfortably underline what is required. Arsenal against Man City and Chelsea against Liverpool were two outstanding matches of high quality and technique.

That’s what we have to emulate and I doubt deep down Moyes thinks we are at that level. We are the only team in that top seven who didn’t try to pack their bags and head for the high finance of the European Super League.

Arsenal are catchable, but to be honest they are better than us. Spurs, with a manager who is almost a carbon copy of Jose Mourinho’s deep defence and hit on the break style(try telling that to Spurs fans), have enough to haul us in. Manchester United? Oh, I give up, how can a club be in such disarray, ther are capable of anything or nothing.

So what I am trying to say is not to expect too much, because where we are is a miracle. The vast wealth all around us and we are playing with three quarters of a reserve defence. For that alone Moyes deserves a knighthood that we are still in this glorious position.

We need reinforcements, but do I believe we will get them? Probably not. The club’s recent accounts show if nothing else how important the arrival of Daniel Kretinsky was. The money he has put in has filed the hole our owners had dug for themselves.

Do you think there’s £100m floating around now to buy three top line players? I very much doubt it, so I refuse to get excited about this transfer window.

Moyes’ success here has been based on team spirit and collective effort. You sense from his words that is all more important than signings for the sake of them. Even if that upsets the entitled onlookers from social media and fans websites.

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There’s suggestions the board have not had Moyes' list of targets and that there is a ‘depression’ that signings are not already here. Frankly how can anyone be depressed as a West Ham supporter at the moment?

Moyes will always keep his cards close to his chest, people don’t get told of transfers. Frankly the only position a board should take when they have a quality manager and a director of football in place is when the manager tells them to go off and sort out the fee.

I have a little story to tell on that score. A northern manager of some esteem got increasingly enraged by transfer talk reaching the media. So he started to appear at the academy and reserve training ground for a chat and a brew with the lads. He’d pick a couple of targets and drop a few fake transfer hints into the conversation.

He’d then wait to see where that information appeared. A volatile phone call to the unfortunate reporter followed, and a couple of coaches lost their jobs. Now I don’t know if Moyes operates like that, but he is cut from the same cloth as that manager and I sense he has blocked off a lot of the outlets, so to speak.

So let’s wait and see. I sense he is more concerned with making good use of the ten days before our next league game, seeing whether Pablo Fornals and Aaron Cresswell are recovering, assessing how long Kurt Zouma will be out, and then take it from there.

It’s going to be another difficult window. Why would any of our top seven rivals let us have players who will strengthen us? And defensively, who would join us knowing that come August, Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna will be the first choice centre backs?

Outgoings? Well it’s hard to see too many with the strength and depth of our squad. Worryingly, the Jarrod Bowen to Liverpool theme keeps coming up. And that bothers me more than it should.

Bowen’s agents are a Liverpool-based firm, PLG. It is owned and run by Tyler Alexander-Arnold, brother of Trent, who is also a client. As is Andy Robertson, who is a friend and former team mate of Bowen from their Hull days. I am trying not to worry about all that!

So for now, let’s just think about ourselves. We have won ten of our first 20 league games, the same as last season. If we end up sixth again, I will be more than happy.

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