Which way do we go?

So the witch hunt is in full swing. Get David Moyes out, the stubborn old dinosaur should pack his bags. Be off with you. That seems to be the theme.

Sorry if I’m just a little late into the battlefield on all this. I've been off ill, a bad reaction to a fourth Covid jab (yes, I am that old). I’ve been confined to bed with paracetamol and the world has passed me by a bit.

Mind you, having witnessed the horrors of Everton, a few more of us probably needed a week in isolation with the curtains drawn. Truly terrible. And it’s not hard to see the frustration of the 'Moyes Out' cult; he’s facing a tough time sorting this out, and quickly.
But seriously, anyone thinking Moyes should be sacked now needs their bumps felt. For all sorts of reasons.

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The main one: can you see David Sullivan wanting to pay him off with almost two years of his contract left - and the backroom staff - and then find someone else better, plus the usual hangers on, of course?

Graham Potter has gone to Chelsea, where one of the reasons Tomas Tuchel left was that he was miffed that players were being bought over his head. Where have we heard that before? I doubt the German would even look at us, likewise Mauricio Pochettino who could be off to the south of France with Nice anyway.

Little happens now at West Ham without the say-so of Danny Kretinsky, and you can bet Sullivan doesn’t want to be the owner to sack our best manager since John Lyall or, heaven forbid, the man who sold Declan Rice. Keeping the status quo is the policy here, I feel, unless the whole thing goes seriously belly-up.

Now that may not be the right way for me to look at it, but can anyone out there not see the economical logic in that idea?

And the fact that we are starting to hear we may not be that flush with the folding stuff at the moment - no league match home revenue this month - so the cash flow must be down a fair bit and we have lashed out on all these new players.

But more importantly, from 1 October when we play Wolves - train strike allowing - we have 13 matches in 44 days before the World Cup kicks in from 13 November and we will be sitting on our hands then until Boxing Day.

Rocking the boat now is not a good idea. Our whole season depends on these next few weeks. It’s not the time for any background upheaval when there is so much to be sorted out on the pitch.

And despite the growing concern about our start to the season, surely Moyes deserves the opportunity to put things right, get us up the table and secure European football after Christmas, even if a sizeable chunk of our fan base are becoming disenchanted with the style of football. And I’ll get to that.

You see there are always two sides to this argument, even if Moyes this season is pushing his luck a bit by not getting the new players integrated as quickly as some in the back bar of the Bow Bells would have hoped.

Up front things are not good. We are continually battered by the fact that we have only won two of our last 14 league games dating back to Brentford away in April. But there has been a European semi-final that distracted us somewhat. More recent statistics see us with one league win in seven and worryingly, comparing those matches with last season - eliminating Forest away of course - we are down eight points.

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That’s a big deficit and we are also six points off seventh place which, for me, is the very least we have to achieve to maintain European competition next term. We can’t be relying on winning the Europa Conference League. Statisticians will tell you it takes a long time in the Premier League to make up a six-point gap.

But, just for context, we have just won four European ties on the trot and scored three goals in each, and that - for what it’s worth - is a club record. These are stats that can prove anything you want.

Are these four wins against poorer opposition better than the five games unbeaten, only one draw, that West Ham achieved on the way to winning the European Cup Winners Cup in 1964? Or the six wins in eight that took us to the final of the same competition in 1976? I think not.

So in an attempt at a more pragmatic approach than the ‘sack Moyes’ brigade, what has gone wrong this season to have caused this September crisis?

Moyes said at the beginning of the window that this was a tough one. Replacing older players out of contract and those he didn’t want at the same time as searching with at times a limited budget for major upgrades, to take us to the next level after last season’s European exploits. In effect clearing out a lot of the long standing errors from the past on big wages.

Some are still here, although on the bright side one has returned too - with Mark Noble set to take up the position of Sporting Director from 1 January 2023, a most welcome move by the club and arguably out best signing of the summer/autumn.

I accept Moyes has been accused of being ultra-cautious and very difficult in the market, and we have lost out on more than a few, but this is a stubborn man who refused to cave in to the pressures from Sullivan and his band of ‘trusted’ agents.

The other issue is that Moyes has never had the level of expectation he has encountered - and created - here, apart from that short spell at Manchester United when his record was better than many believe.

He confronted the resistance from Fergie’s old hands and from some senior players. One who famously took the hump, and bleated about it in the media, to being asked to run through some videos of his performances so the manager could point out a few things.

There was no expectation at Everton other than winning the occasional derby with Liverpool and hanging onto their coat tails. The Toffees were constantly broke and seasons of that has, I feel, made Moyes the careful, restrained manager he is today - and we must not forget, the most experienced Premier League manager currently operating.

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So now he knows that seventh place is the minimum requirement after two seasons of European competition, something West Ham are not used to. Hence the current fury over our poor start. But in the end it all harps back to the style we play; remember, we are the 'Academy of Football' and invented attacking football.

I don’t accept that his teams are predictable. He has tried half-a-dozen attacking formations this season and has switched from a back four to a three while using wing backs.

There seems to be an issue with using Tomas Soucek, who's not having his greatest spell with us. But statistics show he is the ninth most effective defensive midfielder in the division, with 30 tackles and interceptions , Declan Rice is seventh. Soucek may be struggling for form, but he can be relied upon to work his socks off, and Moyes appreciates this.

And Moyes clearly wanted to start the season with a more fluid back three, wing backs and an attacking midfielder. But that plan has been handicapped by the serious injury Nayef Aguerd sustained after ten minutes of his friendly debut at Rangers. Injuries and personal issues deprived us of Craig Dawson, Angelo Ogbonna’s recovery from injury has taken longer than expected and we ended up buying Thilo Kehrer - who we may not have bought had we not had central defensive problems. That, of course, has turned out to be a very good piece of business.

Flynn Downes has taken a long time to get up to speed, and he hardly helped himself by telling his old local paper in south Wales how hard he was finding the training at Premier League level.

The other issue was Gianluca Scamacca, who was way short of fitness when he arrived having barely trained while in Italy waiting for the move. Meanwhile Emerson Palmiera and Lucas Paqueta both arrived very late in the window.

All this sounds like a long list of excuses and it’s not meant to be, but these problems have had to be faced.

As for Moyes' style of play, plenty of teams in the Premier League defend deep and hit on the break, Spurs for example. And nobody in their right mind would use a 4-4-2 formation these days.

But there is no doubt Moyes needs to get things up and running and quickly. After Wolves we have Fulham and Southampton in the league, plus the two European ties with Anderlecht. Liverpool follows all that.

By then we will know, won’t we. The performance at Everton and the second half at Silkeborg were not acceptable, and nobody knows that more than David Moyes.

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