And so endeth the 2017/18 season. A campaign that saw the departure of a manager who will always hold a fond place in my heart in Slaven Bilic; a campaign that saw a comeback victory against our biggest rivals at Wembley in the League Cup; a campaign that saw victory over champions Chelsea; a campaign that saw supporter unrest reach levels not seen since 1992; but a campaign that ultimately resulted in survival.
Regular readers will know I’ve been on the fence regarding David Moyes and whether he should remain at the club beyond the victory over Everton that we recorded at the weekend. On the one hand, in line with the West Ham Way, I want stability – when I started attending matches we were on only our seventh manager in 96 years (Billy Bonds). The game has changed but the club, at this time in its history, desperately needs someone with a steady hand at the tiller.
On the flip side, it is unlikely we are going to win a trophy any time soon and West Ham seasons are often remembered for how we fare against the big boys – do we have a win over a Manchester United or a Tottenham to hang our hats on? Moyes’ record away at those clubs is undeniably dire. He has never won as a visiting manager at Stamford Bridge (one penalty shoot-out aside), Anfield, The Emirates or Old Trafford.
I have been concerned by Moyes’ reluctance to go for games when the impetus is with the team. We were playing well against Stoke, for example, and should have looked to capitalise on our territorial dominance but the manager was reluctant to change formation and strategy, we conceded and were lucky to come away with a point.
However, Moyes has instilled a discipline and (mostly) organisation to the club and I am happy to put my neck on the block and say that I want David Moyes to stay as West Ham United manager.
My main reason for this is that Moyes has recognised the biggest problem at the football club and that it stems from the very top – the lack of professionalism. He was spot on recently in saying that the leaks at the club have to stop – whether it be about starting line-ups, transfer news or player discipline, there are more leaks than a sieve at West Ham United and they need to be blocked. We desperately need to be run in a more efficient manner from top to bottom – and that includes the team, the board, the media department, the pre-match team and the ticketing department.
Moyes is absolutely correct in recognising this but it has apparently upset the owners – and this is the crux of the problem at West Ham. They have a manager who wants to change us, to improve us for the better. They should be snapping him up to make these changes – but they aren’t. They like the status quo, they like being in the media, being linked with this player and that player – if they didn’t, they would have appointed the Director of Football or Head of Recruitment they promised back in February in an attempt to quell supporter unrest.
The club is at a tipping point – more of the same from the last two summers and we will drop into the Championship, and potentially the footballing abyss, sooner or later. If the board do eventually want an Unai Emery or a Rafa Benitez, do they really think those managers will be happy to work for a club where transfers can’t go through because the Vice-Chairman slated another club’s owner in her newspaper column or where the Joint Chairman points the finger of blame squarely at the manager the day after the transfer window closes (even though that manager was ultimately proved totally right)?
I say to the Board: give David Moyes the job and give him free reign to root out and stop the leaks, to drastically reduce the unprofessionalism that permeates through every department of the football club, to sign the players only he and his scouts want and not those recommended by one or two agents favoured by the board. In a nutshell, give him the tools with which to do his job and don’t seek to undermine him as you did with Avram Grant in January 2011 and with Sam Allardyce and Slaven Bilic in their final months.
Allow him time to build a footballing philosophy and strategy at the club. For once, show some long-term planning rather than the shortsighted short-termism that has hindered the club for far too long. Get us – players, manager, board, supporters – all singing from the same hymn sheet again. Not for one season, but a number of seasons. Make us West Ham United again.