How David Moyes is transforming West Ham United from Premier league minnows to European football contenders despite facing major COVID-19 issues.

The Hammers struggled last season, they sacked a manager and they flirted with relegation at many stages throughout the campaign. In my honest opinion, I thought that they would go down. However, a Scotsman who the club had appointed before managed to do what I believed was the ‘unthinkable’ and in doing so completely transformed the mood around the ‘camp’.

PELLEGRINI’S REIGN:

It was Manuel Pellegrini, the former Manchester City title winner that took the east London club into the start of the last campaign. He was evidently out of his depth, it was his second year in the hot-seat at the London Stadium and there had been many problems faced in his first campaign. The defence was a major worry, in the 18/19 league season they shipped an average of 1.4 goals per game and their poor defensive structure was a subject discussed on ‘Match Of The Day’ most weekends. They weren’t too bad in front of goal though, wingers Marko Arnoutovic and Filipe Anderson both scored more than ten and the form of strikers Michail Antonio and Javier Hernandez wasn’t too bad either. This came a season after Moyes was appointed and sacked, Pellegrini seemed to be a name of higher quality given his successful track record. Little did the board know that Glasweigan David Moyes would soon return.

In the summer of 2019, in the aim of improving on their mid-table league position of 10th they brought in: Frenchman Sebastien Haller and another central attacker in Pablo Fornals. The main problem, the defence, was also addressed ever so slightly with the signing of the Portugese centre-half Goncalo Cordoso. However, it is fair to say that Cordoso’s time at the club hasn’t gone as well as expected. It wasn’t entirely his fault for the manner his side would start the season off in though …

THE RE-APPOINTMENT OF DAVID MOYES:

It would take the London Stadium club nineteen Premier league encounters before sacking the Chilean manager Pellegrini. It had been a disastrous start and whoever was going to be brought in would have a huge job on their hands. Ten defeats in the opening nineteen games saw the Hammers positioned seventeenth and the confidence of squad members had really taken a blow. 

Surprisingly, the club would appoint Moyes on the 29th December, a day after a home defeat to Leicester City. This was evidently not an appointment that caused a sense of optimism amongst the East London faithful, they had become familiar to the Glaswegian as he was of course the manager in the hot-seat prior to the Chilean. Moyes had enough experience to know that a strong winter transfer window and a few positive performances could potentially turn the minds of the fans. This was certainly aided by a 4-0 home victory against Bournemouth in Moyes’ home return. It was now time to start recruiting and keep up the happiness created by a very attacking free-flowing game of football. 

WINTER TRANSFER WINDOW: 

Experienced Irish goalkeeper Darren Randolph and young promising forward Jarrod Bowen signed permanent deals. Randolph was brought in on an undisclosed fee and Bowen cost £22million, money well spent if you think of the impact he has had for his team so far. To aid a leaking defensive issue, Declan Rice had found himself a partner. Tomas Soucek, a Czech Republican international from Slavia Prague, signed on loan until the end of the season. Again, this was another successful piece of recruitment made by the former Manchester United manager in his first transfer window of his second spell. The signing of Soucek could also help the aging Mark Noble relax a little bit as his age was certainly impacting his performances, they were becoming underpar.

The win against Bournemouth was the only league win in the new manager’s first eight encounters, an exit from the FA Cup also came with a defeat to West Brom. Thus, there was plenty still left to improve and the job’s difficulty was improving.

THE COVID STOPPAGE AND A VERY SUCCESSFUL RETURN:

Two games later, the COVID-19 outbreak brought a stoppage of play. A stoppage for a mammoth three and a half months. In these two games, the Hammers would beat Southampton 3-1 at the London Stadium and this was a very important victory.

Clubs returned to footballing action, behind closed doors, in late June. Games against Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United had to be played. Moyes’ intelligence and ability to spark life into a somewhat beaten squad had to be shown, show it he did. Three wins and three draws in nine games would see the Hammers keep their spot in the top tier of English football. Wins including an amazing 3-2 win against Chelsea and 4-0 away to the relegated Norwich City, the campaign ended on a great high.

A SUCCESSFUL SUMMER WINDOW OF 2020:

25-year-old Tomas Soucek had certainly shown his qualities across the course of his loan spell, it was important for the Hammers to extend his time at the club. They did, it cost £15million to secure his signature. However, in today’s era that can be seen as a relative ‘steal’. Another Slavia Prague man was snapped up, wing-back Vladimir Coufal strengthened the right-back rankings as it was obvious that Moyes wanted to improve on what he had already in the relatively experienced Ryan Fredericks. 

West Ham also delved into the loan market: centre half Craig Dawson was signed from Watford and the Hammers again looked at promising Championship wingers as Said Benrahma was brought in from Brentford.

Little under twenty squad players departed the East London gates, none would cause a greater sense of unrest than the selling of Grady Diangana. The young winger was sold to West Brom, the club being promoted to the Premier league in the same summer. He had been on loan at the Baggies the season prior to this departure however it now seemed like the perfect time to include his qualities in an improving West Ham side. Fans were very disappointed at the leadership at the club and some players took to social media to show their displeasure. This wasn’t a positive piece of transfer business in a relatively successful summer transfer window.

A POSITIVE START:

The Hammers have had a very positive start to the 2020/21 campaign. After thirteen games, they are in a Europa league spot and fans are very optimistic for success with what they have witnessed. In their last ten league games, they have won six and drawn three. An amazing comeback away to Tottenham, 3-3. A fantastic away win at Leicester City, finishing 3-0 and a showing that they can ‘grind’ three points out of their performances. It has been a start to remember and there is plenty left to build on as another transfer window draws closer.

The squad’s ability to score was also shown in the EFL Cup although they were knocked out of the competition in the fourth round at Goodison Park. In their opening two rounds, they put three past Charlton Athletic and five past Hull City. 

So far this season, I have been impressed with many players out of the Stratford based squad. Former Tranmere Rovers full back Aaron Creswell has shown his qualities, his crossing has been immense and has aided the top scorer Seb Haller’s positive start as he has netted seven in fifteen.

FUTURE:

The January transfer window of 2021 is drawing nearer and there are a few positions that I’d like to see the Hammers progress in. I believe that this season, with what had been put on show so far, David Moyes should guide his team to a Europa League qualification spot. From there, they should aim to solidify their European spot and aim to progress into the Champions league … this is of course a long shot away from where they are at the moment.

Goalkeepers – West Ham’s goalkeeper options are unfortunately ‘old’. Lukasz Fabianski, Darren Randolph and David Martin are all nearing their playing retirements and although Fabianski is still good there is a need for long term improvement. The Hammers should sign a young keeper that is getting closer to their peak. 

Centre back – There are a few good centre halves at the club: Diop, Ogbonna, Creswell etc However, it is in the back-up options that a slight worry is placed. Winston Reid remains at the club, although he is on loan and Craig Dawson is another name that doesn’t touch the surfaces of Diop and Ogbonna. The Hammers should look to sign a top centre half so there isn’t too much of a need to worry about the back-ups.

Attacking midfielder – West Ham’s midfield ranks is a position of great strength. Academy product Declan Rice is earning great reviews, without an element of surprise. However, the club should aim to strengthen their attacking midfield spaces. Pablo Fornals and Manuel Lanzini are good players. However, there is a need to improve on their qualities and a new face could potentially do this.

Winger – Said Benrahma has shown his qualities this season and should thus aim to extend his long term future at the club. On top of that, there may be a slight need to improve the back-up options. Filipe Anderson hasn’t done too well at the Hammers and could well be on his way out of the club, Andriy Yarmalenko is another that is struggling at the time of writing. It would’ve been great for the club to keep Grady Diangana yet this means that there is a slight need of recruiting another winger to increase the quality in this position of play. 

(NS)

Coufal (NS) Diop Creswell Masuaku 

Soucek Rice

Bowen Haller (NS)

  • West Ham boss David Moyes.

Thank you very much for reading,

Stay safe,

Ethan Hoijord

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