It is little over two months since West Ham were beaten at the London Stadium by Burnley in a game that saw a 3-0 loss for the home side yet the only memory that will have been taken away from that day will be fans running on the pitch and others trying to get to the West Ham owners who fans believe have took everything that was good about the club and sold it for a dream that not only they couldn’t realise but that they never had the ability to achieve.
Since that day West Ham did manage to stay in the Premier League when it looked at one point that it would be too difficult a task to manage. David Moyes was the man at the helm and there has been much debate on whether he did a good job or not and also if he should have been retained as manager.
For me David Moyes was never the right man for the job and the results that were achieved in his time as manager were not anything special. I think he handled himself well enough and the injury list presented to him I will acknowledge was ridiculous at times although I still think the approach in many of the games was wrong and he would have been the wrong choice to take the club forward.
“But he did the job he was appointed to do and kept us up”…. That is the line I see branded about a lot and I do take exception to it because this is a man who oversaw TWENTY SEVEN out of THIRTY EIGHT football matches. He did not come in at the back end of the season and galvanize the squad. West Ham were 18th when he arrived just ONE point off 17th. The way people make out is as if we were adrift and it simply isn’t true.
“But Bilic was 100% taking us down”…Well we don’t know that do we? I don’t think anyone gets relegated in November and the results we went on to achieve you could say we would have achieved anyway. Let’s not forget that this was a man who had overseen a West Ham team who finished 7th and 11th. Moyes may have got us fitter, but he certainly did not make us better. Saying Bilic was taking us down may be true, but we will never actually know that and to say he was is just a guess to fit a certain argument.
Bilic was sacked after the 4-1 defeat at home to Liverpool when the previous game away at Crystal Palace could have seen a totally different story altogether. If Michail Antonio had held the ball in the corner or took the easier option in just passing to a team mate then Palace would have never scored that equaliser and Bilic would have ended the week having beaten Tottenham in the league cup at Wembley and 3 points at Selhurst Park.
It is fine lines in football but we shouldn’t rewrite history. Bilic was doing poorly and I thought he should be removed because we were looking as though we were going to struggle to finish in the top 10. Since Moyes has left it seems that he was brought in to the sole job of keeping us up? We had played ELEVEN games! Just staying up is not a barometer of success.
The biggest achievement Moyes is attributed with is the form of Marko Arnautovic who he deployed as a striker. With the squad thin and Moyes’ clear dislike of Javier Hernandez he wanted to try and do something with our big money signing and he put him as far away from any area that he would need to help the team out defensively.
Arnautovic is a bit of a narcissist and him being allowed a free reign up front saw great results and he proved to us all how much ability he possesses. He has been fantastic and it started all through an accident of playing up front because he was so ill disciplined in midfield.
With our right winger up front, we also saw our left back (Masuaku) playing as an attacking left winger because he was so bad at defending, another left back (Cresswell) playing at centre half in a back three because he was so bad as a left back, a right back (Zabaleta) playing as a right wing back as he didn’t have the legs or support in front of him to be part of a back 4, and a midfielder (Kouyate) playing in the first team instead of being on the bench where he belonged because we didn’t have anyone else to play instead!
What this goes to show is just how unbalanced the West Ham squad is. It’s not just about buying a load of expensive players this summer but about addressing what our squad really needs and actually having a plan on how we want to proceed as a football team.
So yeah, David Moyes. Did a job which apparently was his remit. So thanks for that but with a club in desperate need a of a revamp there can be no real shock that he wasn’t kept on. West Ham do not need stability – we need a plan, we need a refreshment, we need optimism, hope, and some excitement.
Over the last year I have been told essentially that there are only two ways of playing football – defend for your life or get beaten by 4 or 5 goals.
The teams who play good football (generally) are the teams who do well. No team playing great football gets relegated. In 2015/16 West Ham played attractive football with some superb counter attacking play. We did well in this season because we knew how to attack.
So onto the new man at the helm – Manuel Pellegrini. This was a pleasing appointment as he comes with an excellent C.V and I am optimistic that to leave a highly paid job in China to take on the circus that is West Ham United shows that he is confident that he can turn things around at a club in limbo.
We seem to be lost at West Ham. The stadium move mixed with the terrible performances on the pitch have just produced a highly volatile atmosphere that has made going to games (mainly home ones) a difficult experience and almost a chore.
If David Sullivan thinks that changing the manager is going to solve the problems at West Ham then he is (not for the first time) mistaken. The whole infrastructure at the club needs an overhaul and if Sullivan continues to believe that he is the man to identify players and bring in what we need then we will just suffer on and off the pitch once again.
The price of a player does not determine if he was a good one or not. We need to look at the position, age, how we want to approach games, the type of personality (no mayhem!) and making sure we bring in better players than what we have got. This all sounds simple and what every club should be doing but we all know that West Ham just do not conform to the normal rule of how to run a football club.
Choosing which players depart is also going to be interesting to see as we rarely get this right. One player who has left is James Collins which has seen a lot of anger on social media from West Ham fans who believe more of a deal should have been made of his exit.
I don’t think letting James Collins go is a terrible thing. I apologise if that annoys some people but as a player Collins has declined and if we want to move forward and get better we cannot be relying on players such as James Collins to push us forward.
A one year deal with him knowing he would be our 5th choice centre half might have been a good PR exercise but other than that logic is surely the overriding measure to determine whether he should have been kept on or not.
Collins receiving the information that he was being let go by email (or whatever the story turned out to be) was wrong but not unexpected as West Ham is a club run by clowns and wannabe gangsters. For Collins to have stayed Sullivan would have probably needed some ICF talk from a West Ham fan group to keep him sweet.
I do like James Collins and there is part of me who wanted him to stay because like many football fans I also crave loyalty from players and this is a man who has shown us that and always found time to acknowledge the fans. He has my respect no doubt.
The problem we have as West Ham fans is that we are always looking back and with the gutting that we have seen take place to our home and heritage it is not a surprise that we think this way. James Collins has been connected to West Ham since 2005 and losing him feels like another part of the club is dying. I also feel because the board don’t want something then we as fans want the opposite.
The best example of this was just before the Leicester game when the much maligned Andy Carroll had been involved in a training ground bust up with David Moyes yet the fans backed Carroll over Moyes. The reason for this is that Moyes was appointed as the choice of David Sullivan and even if it is to do with a player who has taken the piss out of West Ham for years we would still support him in this situation over the manager.
Talking of that Leicester game I must say what a great day that was. Whilst the season has been shockingly bad I have still loved travelling away with the West Ham fans.
I signed up for the away season ticket last season and kept hold of it this time around. I only witnessed us win THREE league away games this season but there still is little that beats an away day. I could argue that it is the away games that are keeping me motivated with West Ham.
Anyway this is meant to be a blog of hope. Hope that we can finally realise our potential and whilst I know we have no divine right to win anything or finish in a certain position I do not think it is unrealistic for West Ham fans to think that we could finish above (deep breath) Southampton, Leicester, Watford, Bournemouth, Wolves, Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Brighton or Huddersfield.
We want to see attacking football sure, but we want to see effective football and there is a balance. I sincerely hope Pellegrini is the man to take us forward and inject some life into a club that seem to have the world waiting for the next big fuck up.
I believe we need a right back, a left back, and two centre halves. If West Ham think that having the worst defence in the Premier League means we do not have to change it then we are sadly mistaken.
We also need a couple of centre midfielders and a winger with pace.
I actually think we could get away with our current attack because I don’t believe there are many great upgrades on Arnautovic, Carroll and Hernandez.
Oh and Hugill.
I realise to bring in 4 or 5 top quality players is very difficult for a club our size and we are going to have to take a risk with a few. But we need to do some big things to that squad and just hoping that the current group of players will come good is not going to suffice.
Big summer ahead.
But then we said that last year.
Written By Vinny Ryan | @vinnywhufc