Talking Point

Pellegrini: Appoint 'This Charming Man' Or A Case Of Sullivan's 'Bigmouth Strikes Again'?

On Wednesday morning my article requesting West Ham United end the unprofessionalism and appoint David Moyes as manager was published. Four hours and 39 minutes later, the club issued a statement confirming Moyes’ departure from the club!

It appears as though this was Moyes’ decision rather than the board’s. The Scot had seemingly had enough of the lack of appetite within the club to rid it of the media leaks, culminating in Sullivan’s hardly-secret meeting with Paulo Fonseca early last week. David Gold went public on Tuesday, saying he wanted Moyes to stay – perhaps he should have a meeting with his Joint-Chairman (y’know, communicate..!) and discuss exactly what it is they want from the club’s present and future. It is highly concerning when the two men at the top of the club are not singing from the same hymn sheet.

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And so, for the second time in six months, we are contemplating the possibilities of a new manager – hardly the West Ham Way. The new appointment will be the sixth permanent boss to work under Sullivan and Gold since they bought the club eight years ago. After the initial club statement vowed “The Club will be making no further comment until a new managerial appointment is confirmed”, supporters were ‘treated’ to an update just 28 hours later which promised a “high-calibre” manager with “a proven record of success at the highest level of the game”. Why Sullivan felt we needed to know this before an appointment is made is beyond me – he must learn that actions count, not words. Incidentally, well done to those who picked up The Smiths references in this piece’s headline!

My personal choice of those mentioned would be Manuel Pellegrini. The Chilean took Villarreal from eighth place before he arrived at the Estadio de la Ceramica to third place in 2004/05. He finished seventh and fifth in the following campaigns before recording a second-place finish in 2007/08, finishing above Barcelona. The club finished fifth in Pellegrini’s final season with them, in 2008/09. Pellegrini also took Villarreal to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2005 and the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2006, where they were defeated by Arsenal. The Gunners would again defeat Pellegrini’s side in the quarter-finals of the 2008/09 Champions League.

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Pellegrini joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2009, with president Florentino Perez signing (among others) Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso. The club were knocked out of the Champions League in the last 16 and finished second in La Liga. Pellegrini, in words that should echo in the ears of David Sullivan, said of his time at the Bernabeu:

“I didn’t have a voice or a vote at Madrid. They sign the best players, but not the best players needed in a certain position. It’s no good having an orchestra with the ten best guitarists if I don’t have a pianist. Real Madrid have the best guitarists, but if I ask them to play the piano they won’t be able to do it so well. He [Pérez] sold players that I considered important. We didn’t win the Champions League because we didn’t have a squad properly structured to be able to win it.”

As an aside, herein lies the rub. If West Ham are going to appoint a manager of Pellegrini’s ilk, they are going to have to up their game in terms of professionalism throughout the club and they are going to have to provide significantly greater funds over time to allow him to be a success, as well as allowing Pellegrini and his management/recruitment team to have control over who comes in and who goes out.

Upon departing Madrid, Pellegrini moved to Malaga in November 2010, the club having just finished 17th in 2009/10. Under the new ownership of Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani and the management of Pellegrini, the club finished 11th and moved up to fourth in his first full season. Pellegrini took Malaga to the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2012/13 and finished sixth in La Liga. He left the club with mounting financial problems and excluded from Europe due to Financial Fair Play rules.

Many West Ham United supporters will remember Pellegrini for his time at Manchester City, particularly their 9-0 aggregate win over Sam Allardyce’s side in the 2013/14 League Cup semi-finals. The Hammers did beat Pellegrini’s champions 2-1 at Upton Park in October 2014 though, with Slaven Bilic’s Irons recording a 2-1 win at the Etihad the following season. Pellegrini won the Premier League title and two League Cups at City before departing two seasons ago, with Joe Hart a key figure in his success in Manchester. He has been manager of Hebei China Fortune since August 2016, leaving the club yesterday. He finished fourth in 2017 and leaves the club, including former Hammer Javier Mascherano, in eighth position.

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I would not be disappointed if Rafa Benitez were to rock up at the London Stadium but I really don’t see Sullivan paying the £6m release fee. Personally, I don’t see why a board of directors would be happy to pay £20m for Andre Ayew and £10m for Robert Snodgrass but baulk at £6m for a manager – then again, this is the same board of directors who have not paid a permanent transfer fee for a first-choice goalkeeper since they took over the club (Stephen Henderson being the only custodian who has cost the club a fee in that time). Reports this morning suggest that Zenit St Petersburg could move for Benitez as a replacement for Roberto Mancini. My preference is for Pellegrini as he’s known for more attacking football. In addition, Benitez oversaw three different sets of four league defeats in a row last season, something neither Slaven Bilic nor David Moyes experienced during 2017/18.

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As for Marco Silva, I think he has his head too easily turned which, at a time when we are craving stability, rules him out for me. After hoping on Wednesday morning that the club would show a desire to end its unprofessionalism and appoint Moyes, I now hope that the new incumbent is appointed swiftly so we can begin planning for next season and beyond. If it is Pellegrini or Benitez, their vast experience will hopefully put an end to West Ham being run as a “basket-case club”, as I read in one publication yesterday. It’s going to be an interesting week…

Finally, huge congratulations to Jiahao Wong, who won The Official WHTID League via the Premier League’s Fantasy Football with his team ‘AdrianSupportGroup’. Jiahao amassed 2,305 points over the season, topping a table which consisted of nearly 250 participants.


The HamburgHammer Column

From Upton Park to Gotham City - Random ramblings about an unusual end of season trip

This trip was necessary and long overdue – due to my only brother’s fight against the big C (and my mind being subsequently otherwise occupied) I had merely managed three games this season so far (Spurs, Chelsea and Arsenal), so I had to get my London fix once again. Of course when my Ryanair plane lost touch with German soil West Ham were already guaranteed their league status for next season, but that didn’t bother me. Maybe with the pressure off our team could play more freely and knock in a few goals to compensate for what had been a shockingly bad season for West Ham on various levels.

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Friday, May 11th

This trip was to prove very unusual for the simple fact that our trusted cabbie BSB was on a well deserved holiday in Spain and as we usually meet up at least once when I’m over to revisit our usual Two Ronnies’ routine this time there was no trip for me to Dagenham. Instead I arrived with the early morning flight, finding myself in Stratford at the ungodly hour of 9am.

I couldn’t check in at my accommodation in Boleyn Road (!!!), Upton before noon, so had some serious time to kill.

Almost without thinking my way led me through the Gotham City themed film set called Stratford/Westfield towards the London Stadium. I had been in two minds about whether to renew or not. A proper internal fight of wills. There were good and bad points on both sides of the battlefield. I had spoken to BSB beforehand and finally his arguments resonated the most with me.

So I actually did it, I renewed my season ticket using my accumulated club cash in the process.

I wouldn’t want to miss out on watching any West Ham game of my choosing when making a trip back to London. I couldn’t really miss my regular, yet limited in number, matchdays watching the Hammers. Not necessarily because of our great football but for meeting friends on a matchday, sharing banter, food and drinks.
Yes, I know, I said I didn’t want to give the board any more money, but give me a break!

At least I haven’t bought any merchandise for a year now and the way I see it, my season ticket money doesn’t go to the Daves anyway, it’s representing in fact a small portion of Mark Noble’s or Declan Rice’s weekly wages…:-))

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On it was then to my little room in Boleyn Road. The residential area it was in reminded me of the road where I used to live during my Barking days, so the size, state and outward appearance of most houses didn’t come as a shock to me.

What was a bit of a shock was seeing plenty of women in burkas, leaving only their eyes visible to the outside world. Those are a very rare sight even in Hamburg where we also have a sizeable percentage of Muslim people, but most Muslim ladies in Hamburg seem to be content with wearing headscarves. But anyway…

My first box to tick was my first (and final) visit to Nathans Pie&Mash shop in the Barking Road. Of course this is an institution for many West Ham fans and since I got introduced to my first pie and mash just two years ago (although one might think, gazing at my girth, that I must have had my first pie and mash as a toddler without ever looking back since) I needed to check out this place.

My verdict: Lovely people. Atmospheric decor with loads of references to West Ham. Decent pie, bland mash. But food wise no comparison to BSB’s place in Dagenham where the taste, portions and value for money are all better.

But I suppose with Nathans it was very much a traditional thing, you went to the game with your father or later your own kids and had pie and mash there before a game, as part of the ritual. I doubt too many people ever had a pie and mash there on non matchdays.

My visit to Newham Bookshop has now also become a personal ritual for every trip and once again the brilliant Vivian Archer and John Newman provided tea, book recommendations and lovely banter.

They also recommended a German themed pub on the other side of the river, but more of that later.

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While still in Newham Bookshop I got a text message from Iron Liddy, leading to another chapter of what has become another much cherished ritual for me, having pizza with Liddy and Mr.Lids in their local branch of Pizza Express, so it was the District Line Eastbound for me later that evening.

As usual it was a fantastic evening, having our li’lle jokes (that’s little in received pronunciation folks!), chewing the fat about West Ham, life in general and also personal stuff, but time flew by (as it tends to do when you’re enjoying yourself) and we parted ways to meet again on matchday.

I can only thank Liddy and Mr.Lids again for their kind and over the top hospitality and try offering to repay them their courtesy once they finally find their way to my town – they will get the right royal red carpet treatment from me, you can be sure of that…

Saturday, May 12th

Our blog’s own Corkiron had recommended a breakfast cafe in Bethnal Green where I could tick my box of having at least one Full English – and so to Bethnal Green I went.

Of course I had heard all the stories about the Kray Twins growing up in the area and similar to Upton I found it a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood full of life, shops and market stalls, with surprisingly loads of pubs lining the Bethnal Green Road on both sides.

When I arrived at E Pellicci there was a queue outside and there still was one when I had finished my breakfast, always a good sign if people are willing to wait to get in.
I love family establishments like this and as I learned this place has been around since 1900, serving food and a heartfelt welcome to their customers, a tradition being passed on through the generations the latest of which was represented by a bubbly fellow called Nevio Jr.

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Now this guy was not just a waiter, he was basically entertaining and conducting the whole neighbourhood audience with gestures and gazes that would have made Di Canio proud in his West Ham heyday, sharing little jokes and banter not only with the guests but also employees from nearby shops and stalls, or customers picking up takeaway orders. Coupled with some rare sunshine it made for what was almost a carnival atmosphere.

It was like a scene from the Notting Hill flick, I almost expected Hugh Grant to sit down at the adjoining table next, asking me to chuck him over the bottle of brown sauce.

Only when paying for my breakfast did both Nevio and I find out that this business transaction might never have happened under normal circumstances as he had strong Tottenham leanings with my being a Hammer obviously creating a certain tension in the air.

His professionalism won over though, so having cottoned on to the fact I was German he was cramming around in his brain for the only German phrase he knew and being of Italian heritage it wasn’t surprising to hear that this phrase was “Ich liebe Dich!” (I love you!). I shouted back “I wouldn’t go that far mate!” across the pavement before making my way back to the tube station.

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Getting off at Vauxhall station, strolling alongside the Albert Embankment with views of Tate Britain and the Houses of Parliament, past a new development of luxury riverview flats called The Dumont (with sale prices for each unit probably approaching half the GNP of most African countries) I went to the pub that had been recommended to me in Newham Bookshop the day before.

“Zeitgeist” is located in a pub in Black Prince Road which used to be the Jolly Gardeners pub for 120 years.
Apparently Charlie Chaplin was one of the famous locals there; it is said his father was playing frequently on the house’s piano to entertain the local community.

Today the entertainment comes mainly in the form of Bundesliga football being shown on a big screen, German food staples like Schnitzels, Sausages and Flammkuchen (thin dough bread pizzas served with various toppings) and 16 (!!!) different German beers on draught.

I was scouting the premises for suitability for a special purpose.
Maybe this could be a lovely venue for a future informal meetup of WHTIDers, if some of you should be interested going there when I’m over next, at the very least it’s a bit different than other pubs and a jolly good laugh for sure.

Yes, it’s on the wrong side of the river, it’s full of Germans and you won’t get pints of Carling, Boddingtons Bitter, Spitfire Ale or Old Speckled Hen there.

But don’t be afraid, you won’t be surrounded by Krauts only, with no English being spoken at all, there are Brits drinking at that place as well and all the staff are British too, as far as I could tell…with the odd Aussie thrown in for good measure.

I watched (and suffered) the relegation of Hamburg SV on the big screen, sharing a table with a fellow Hamburger, a Moenchengladbach supporter and two Dortmund fans. The pub was packed solid when the games kicked off and they were showing the Bundesliga conference which is like Soccer Saturday but with live pictures, so they switch from one stadium to another whenever goals are scored or penalty shots have been awarded.

The reactions from the crowd were interesting. In most cases it was obvious which club they supported as different corners of the pub went berserk when certain teams scored. But the loudest cheers, unfortunately, came whenever goals were scored against Hamburg (or for relegation rival Wolfsburg) and also once the relegation was finally confirmed.

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It didn’t come unexpected, but it hurt this proud Hamburg boy more than I had anticipated (and I don’t even support them), especially with those other fans in the pub rubbing it in with glee and mocking chants of “Cheerio!”.

I hope they will get treated with a bit more respect from rival fans should their own team ever find themselves in the unfortunate position of getting relegated.
I went back to Stratford, watched some of the Boro-Villa game to take my mind off relegation and turned in early as a busy matchday lay ahead…

Sunday, May 13th

MATCHDAY! Our own Russ phoned me up late morning about meeting up at Westfield which we did and I was relieved because he obviously knew the shortest way to the Supporters Club at Stour Space where we got ourselves match ready with a burger, chips and a cold hop-themed bevvy. We were then joined in quick succession by Hammers West (who had come all the way from California), Voice of Reason, Heedsy, Nigel Kahn and Sean Whetstone.

Plus the most popular German Hammer on WHTID these days, Ebi from near Cologne who now also qualifies as the more passionate German Hammer compared to me as he apparently saw 12 games in person this season, myself only clocking in with a measly four in total which makes me a glory hunter, armchair supporter, malcontent and keyboard warrior all rolled into one I suppose…;-))

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Once arrived at the 238 steps on the concourse there was more banter before and after the game with Gramsci, AndyHammer, Dan and John Coker, Irons1959, Toronto Hammer and Dorset Lurker. I’m sure I have forgotten one or two, but as always it was great company and the perfect build-up towards kickoff (or setup for the post-match drinks).

No Hugill! Not even on the bench. Not only did that kill my predictor (at least I got the final score right), I was also genuinely hoping this guy would get a few minutes in this game. Still, it was obviously one of our better games, with some lovely free flowing football and three absolute peaches of a goal – all in one game.
This also helped to lift the general matchday atmosphere at the stadium and in my book it is the only way this stadium will ever develop into a decent home ground for us.

We need a team with quality players, performing in a way that gets the crowd going and off their seats time and time again. One thing that made me smile was the kids who were sitting around us, shouting all the way down over the gaps and the lower tier towards the pitch, they are like li’lle, sorry, little adults, aren’t they ?
Shouting “Book him ref!” or " Shoot the ball Mark Noble" with their high-pitched young voices. Brilliant!

A bittersweet moment was the (final?) appearance of the Ginger Pele, playing out the final few minutes of our season wearing the captain’s armband.
What a loyal and true servant to the club he’s been. Hopefully we will see him for at least one more season.

After the game, a group of us, including Mr.Lids who was looking as happy as a cat sunbathing on a milk float, congregated at the Heineken Bar for some end of season review banter. Personally, I had the pleasure of prolonging said banter in the company of Hammers West, Voice of Reason and Heedsy in The Crate (where I had to remove all my West Ham gear before being allowed in). Still, fantastic company, decent beer, great pizza with cheese and courgettes (another word I had to learn, in Germany we know them as Zucchini).
Brilliant matchday.

Monday, May 14th

Days of departure are always a bit crap. You usually spend too many hours twiddling your thumbs at the airport as you are too scared to do proper things in London for fear of missing your flight as a result of milling around in a museum, gallery or park, forgetting all about the time. Still, I went back to the Olympic Stadium once again, walking through the ever rising and already towering skyline of Gotham City, pardon me, I mean Stratford of course, sitting down on a bench in the Olympic Park, reminiscing about the Everton game, my season ticket renewal, my dear friends in England and our beloved club.

I got to think that while I will always struggle with the shape of the stadium and the distance between the fans and the pitch it’ll still be alright providing a matchday experience as long as our team play some nice passing and attacking football, scoring a few goals in the process. As it is, some people will never love or even like the stadium, others already are getting used to it, because, frankly, what’s the alternative here ? We already have kids in the stadium now who have never seen a game at the Boleyn Ground.

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For them the London Stadium is the only West Ham ground they have ever known. It’s easier for them as you cannot miss what you never had in the first place.
Yes, I like clean toilets, a variety of food stalls and seats with plenty of legroom all of which a modern stadium brings.
But as a football fan I also like football stadiums which afford the opportunity to be close to the pitch and feel connected to the game and the players.

Many of you will have passed the advertising hoarding as you enter the Olympic Park via Westfield. It showcases the various events at the London Stadium which are supposed to draw the punters in. I was intrigued by the West Ham section, with a picture of Antonio and Sam Byram locked in a goal celebration (joined by Edimilson Fernandes I believe).

I wrote it down in full, so I could quote it to you word by word, let’s see what you think:

WEST HAM UNITED F.C. – West Ham take on a host of Premier League rivals at the London Stadium as they attempt to climb the table. See the stars of the Premier League battle it out on the pitch with both teams going for the win in these top-notch clashes.”

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Interesting to note the advert says West Ham United FC, not West Ham London. Also the statement seems to veer from the realistic, to the optimistic towards the downright bizarre (as marketing or PR campaigns have a tendency to do). For sure West Ham have much better hope of climbing the table than actually challenging for trophies.
Both teams going for the win ? A nice thought, but how realistic is that when you watch Premier League games in general ?
Top-notch clashes ? Again: It may be the Premier League but I have seen plenty of games already at the LS that were anything but top notch, like boring as hell 1:0 wins against Burnley or Hull.

Still, as one season goes into the archives with another one looming large, with a transfer window and the World Cup to entertain us all in between, I am sure it will be yet another rollercoaster of emotions at this basket case of a club we all love so dearly. I’m already looking forward to whatever games I shall be able to make next season.
Thanks again to all of you for putting up with my ramblings and special kudos to those of you looking after me again in such a lovely and kind fashion!
(You know who you are!)

As a consequence I don’t even mind getting taken the mickey out of time and time again – I wouldn’t have it any other way! Onwards and upwards! COYI!!!

PS: Hamburg football update:
So you already know that HSV got relegated and you probably also know St.Pauli have escaped relegation which means both will meet in the famous and feisty Hamburg derby twice next season in Bundesliga 2. The local fuzz are already busy cursing their luck!
Concordia have failed to win promotion and will finish the season in midtable (7th or 8th).
Cordi’s U23s have been promoted as Champions, same as the Concordia Ladies team.
Another local club I sometimes watch because their ground is in walking distance to my flat, TSV Wandsetal, have also been promoted as Champions.


The GoatyGav Column

Lend Me Your Ear – And Your Tweezers

So I’ve sat on the fence until now regarding the question of who is going to be managing us next season. Now that David Moyes has moved on I want to throw my thoughts in to the mix regarding our next first team boss.

I’m all for progression. Looking forwards, not back, is the only way to go.

Please don’t get me wrong. I really appreciate what David Moyes, Stuart Pearce, Alan Irvine and the rest of the management team have done for the last few months. If that team had have stayed in place I would have got behind them and supported them one hundred percent. I think that there’s more to David Moyes than many have made out. I genuinely think he has learned and grown from his experiences with Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland and is a person who is open, and dedicated, to learning. This is the big difference between him and many of the other managers who were brought in to save clubs from relegation this season. In my view the likes of Mr Allardyce have a rigidly set way of doing things whereas David Moyes can, and will, adapt to, and incorporate, more modern approaches to the game. I’m of the genuine belief that, should he have stayed at West Ham, we’d have seen far more of this ‘modern’ thinking from Moyesey next season. He had a job to do, in the short space of time he had with us, which he got done under difficult circumstances. For that I’ll remember him with gratitude. On a personal level I quite liked the guy’s style too. He’s a deeply respectful football man with a great passion and belief in what he does. He’s also a terrific man manager who knows how to get the best out of the more temperamental and sensitive players.

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On the subject of managers who are more modern in their approach to the game, and by this I mean playing styles, tactics and patterns on the pitch rather than scientific analysis of fitness, athleticism and areas to ‘hit’ with balls, it’s high time we had a manager in place who’s at the leading edge. No fence sitting now (although, to be fair, my refusal to vote or comment beforehand was a deliberate choice – not indecision) – that manager should be Marco Silva.

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Should Everton’s bid for Silva be blocked then Mr Gold and Mr Sullivan need to do everything in their power to bring this man to our club. For me he is the one to take West Ham to the next level (regular top half finishes & knocking on the Europa League door every season). Everywhere Marco has gone he’s had a positive impact. Taking over a hopelessly woeful Hull team from Mike Phelan, who were bottom of the league, he got the Tigers playing a completely different style of football that gave them a shout of survival with a 36% win percentage. Speaking of winning he won the cup in Portugal with Sporting and the Greek title with Olympiacos. Away from the obvious appeal of a cup win, for all us success starved Hammers, it’s the way he sets his teams up and his tactical nous that appeals most. Everton fans and West Ham fans share the same desire for good, technical football. The Toffees faithful are desperate to bring Silva in because they know he’s ‘their’ kind of manager. He’s our kind of manager too.

Silva’s tumultuous final weeks at Watford were widely reported. Were Everton out of order for the manner of their approach to the Portuguese boss? Probably. They could certainly have handled the situation far better IMO. Either way we’ll soon know whether Everton will just have to pay compensation to Watford or will be blocked in their attempt to appoint “Mini-Mourinho.”

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I genuinely don’t think Rafa Benitez will come to East London. Even if the owners promise to spend the kind of money, on the transfers and wages, that “Rafa the Gaffer” would demand I believe that their track record of non-delivery will put him off. Sorry to be negative but it’s an opinion. Similar with Manuel Pelligrini. No brainer in a multiple choice – he went to China to either..

A. Further his career?
or
B. The cash?

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Serious selling job to do on the successful Chilean for my money.

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Wouldn’t mind Eddie Howe being given a chance but I doubt he’d come either. It would be a risk on the parts of both the club and Eddie himself. He’s built a squad at Bournemouth that know and respect him. West Ham have more difficult characters to manage within the squad and it’s that aspect of the Bournemouth manager’s capabilities that I’m unsure of. I believe he has all the other attributes, including the modern approach to the game, that I’d want to see in a West Ham manager.

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Whoever I’d like to see is, ultimately, irrelevant. I had a punt on Fonseca – shows how much I know.

Lastly I’d just like to go on record with my thanks to David Moyes for a job well done. The Scot’s definitely gone up in my estimation – especially when you consider that I commented that he’d ‘take us down’ if appointed. Very much like the “cut of his jib,” for those Blackadder fans out there, and wish him all the best for the future. Cheers Moyesey – mind how you go fella!

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COYI!


The Blind Hammer Column

Moyes Departs – Zola and Grant Revisited?

Blind Hammer questions David Sullivan’s expectations.

Expectations are the most dangerous element in football. Every club should have ambition but the tricky thing is adjusting these ambitions to achieve progress. Inappropriate expectations underlie the disasters which have seen many clubs tumble from the Premiership to protracted periods in the championship or even lower.

Three weeks ago a multi web site poll revealed only a small minority of West Ham supporters wanted to extend Moyes contract. Given he was, at appointment, a remarkably unpopular choice, this was not that surprising. He had much to do to win over some of us.

Nevertheless the picture by Sunday was less straightforward. A strong end to the season saw the Irons pick up a crucial 7 out of 9 points, and equally surprisingly turn on the style in the games against Leicester and Everton.

I give no credence to anybody who downplays these performances. The more I look at the Leicester game the more impressive it seems. This was a Leicester team that West Ham dominated and largely nullified. Our much vilified defence, criticised by me as much as anybody, barely gave them a sniff. Yet this was a Leicester team that, only a few days later, convincingly put 3 goals past Arsenal to win and spoil Wenger’s final week. This same Leicester, so ineffectual against us, then romped into a 3-1 lead against Tottenham at Wembley. In the end their efforts against Arsenal only 72 hours earlier, caught up with them. They became leggy and suffered a late collapse. The fact is that, however, we had made a team look impotent which had then proceeded to score 7 goals against Arsenal and Tottenham in the space of 3 days.

Talking of late collapses and fitness, the lack of this discussion in relation to West Ham is an indication of the transformation that Moyes and his team have engineered. No pundit talked of tiredness against Everton despite performing only 72 hours after a high intensity battel against Manchester United. Mourinho had responded to Thursdays’ exertions by making 9 changes. Moyes, in contrast, went with the same 11. Yet at no time did West Ham seem more leggy or unfit despite the advantage Everton enjoyed of a full week to prepare. More significantly nobody, to my surprise, even mentioned it as an issue. Whatever else Allardyce would have done he would not have allowed slackness in fitness. I am convinced that a West Ham team 12 months earlier would have struggled with the demands of playing 2 games within 72 hours.

What I have never had any doubts about is Moyes’s abilities and experience as a man manager. I personally would prefer a Man like Bilic to manage me in any work situation. Yet the ever loyal Julian Dicks had revealed that when Bilic asked him where he had gone wrong, he simply said “you were too good to them”. Dicks was obviously disgusted by the attitude of some in the squad who he felt had let Bilic down. In contrast Moyes and indeed his entire coaching team bristled with no nonsense man management skills. The result has been that when the inevitable tantrums of the spoilt and over paid emerge, these are dealt with in straightforward fashion and have not been allowed to developed into protracted soap operas and dramas. There have been plenty of opportunities for these to have advanced within Moyes’s short tenure, from Arthur Masuaku irresponsible spitting to Carroll’s juvenile throwing of his toys out of his pram. The calm management of these issues along with the transformation of Marko Arnautovic from wild boy to responsible club professional all testified to Moyes as a safe pair of Management hands. This is a much undervalued management virtue. The most striking aspect of Pardew’s disastrous tenure at West Brom was his complete inability to instil any team discipline with terminal results. Even those who are considered allegedly the best managers in the world can struggle. José Mourinho was driven out of Chelsea by his inability to control his squad; Antonio Conte has had similar issues.

Of course there were question marks against a Moyes appointment. Apart from Mario’s recruitment the January window was hare brained and risky. We gambled on selling a central defender and selling Ayew to a relegation rival. These gambles could easily have come back to haunt us. Hugehill shows no sign of confirming any inspired talent identification. Yet Moyes has identified talent in the past and judging on one Window seems unfair. The other main concern was that Moyes had not repaired the worst defence in the league. However this was a structural problem which has persisted for 2 years and patience had been earned with recent encouraging improvement. My final concern was whether Moyes had the tactical flexibility to adjust to the modern demands of the Premiership. Despite this the displays against Leicester, Manchester United and Everton persuaded me that Moyes was not as tactically limited as I feared. He was not a one trick strategic pony. The midfield interchange between Lanzini and Mario did not arrived spontaneously but would have been born out of hours of sessions at Rush Green.

So if I had been David Sullivan I would have knocked on Moyes’s door at 6pm on Sunday and offered an immediate 1 year extension. Whether Moyes would have accepted this or held out for a 2 year deal we will never know. My instincts is that he would have accepted. I would have honestly explained the reservations and improvements I wanted and indicated my patience to see the progress we had made this season consolidated. If by January Moyes had continued realistic progress I would have then entered discussions for a further extension. The Moyes project had delivered safety but my gut feeling is that it would have offered stability and probable further progress. If expectations had not been met December would have been the time to seek a new Manager. For me the main agenda for West ham is to cease performing as a club in danger of relegations, a club which no longer yo yos regularly from Premiership to Championship and which can provide entertaining football without the constant stench of fear.

Instead in his wisdom David Sullivan has decided to take another path. Whether this path leads to the ever elusive glory which some believe is just around the corner is certainly a moot point. I am uncomfortably reminded of the similar minds set which saw the sacking of Zola and his replacement by Avram Grant. I was in the small minority at the time which regretted Zola’s sacking. His removal was supposed to clear the way for West Ham to advance to the “next level”. Whilst Zola never pulled up trees elsewhere I still feel he could have built a project with us. What is clear is that appointing Grant was a gamble which backfired massively. Instead we spiralled out of control with a demoralised and alienated squad into relegation and the championship. Grant’s appointment was driven by ambitions and expectations of the club delivering a quick fix to an unrealistic timescale. I sometimes think nothing is learnt.

I desperately hope that I am proved wrong but replacing Moyes with a similar level Manager of proven calibre is not at all straightforward. I fear the new incarnation of Avram grant. Whoever is appointed will be in a hurry, with a contracted transfer window, with a need to engage positively with the existing squad to identify weaknesses strengths and opportunities. We are entering a period of high risk transformation. I hope that this time the wager the Board has made on our future is not as disastrous.

COYII
David Griffith


News

Moyes Becomes Sullivan and Gold's Fifth Managerial Victim in Eight Years

David Moyes has left the building. The club’s official statement reads:

“West Ham United can confirm that David Moyes has left the Club following the end of his short-term contract. The 55-year-old arrived at London Stadium in November, with the sole objective of ensuring the Hammers’ Premier League status. The Club can also confirm that his assistants Alan Irvine, Stuart Pearce and Billy McKinlay have departed with immediate effect.

“Joint-Chairman David Sullivan said: ’I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to David Moyes and his staff for achieving the target of keeping West Ham United in the Premier League. Throughout his time here, David has carried himself with dignity and honesty and we have all found him to be a pleasure to work with. He, Alan, Stuart and Billy accepted the challenge and attacked it head on, turning around a difficult situation. They deserve great respect for the job they have done and they leave the Club with our best wishes. When David and his team arrived, it was the wish of both parties that the focus be only on the six months until the end of the season, at which point a decision would be made with regards to the future. Having taken stock of the situation and reflected now the campaign is complete, we feel that it is right to move in a different direction. We are already taking steps to identify and recruit the manager we believe can take West Ham United forward in line with our ambitions. We aim to appoint a high-calibre figure who we feel will lead the Club into an exciting future for our loyal supporters within the next ten days.

“The Club will be making no further comment until a new managerial appointment is confirmed.”

The Evening Standard is reporting that “Moyes ruled himself out of taking the job on a permanent basis after growing unhappy at his situation and treatment by the club”.


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