Three things that David Moyes must do to save West Ham's season
The appointment of David Moyes as the new manager at West Ham United came as something of a surprise to many in the footballing world.
Most onlookers expected The Hammers to appoint a high-profile replacement for the departed Slaven Bilic, but the club hierarchy opted to hand the reigns over to the former Everton, Manchester United and Sunderland manager on a short-term basis instead.
Moyes’ arrival at the Olympic Stadium will hardly have captured the imagination supporters in East London and his stock is arguably at its lowest ever ebb after a dismal campaign in Wearside last season.
However, with the memory of his time at Goodison Park now fading in the memory, this is arguably the 54-year-old’s last opportunity to redeem his managerial reputation in the top-flight and he appears more intense, focused and determined than during his ill-fated spell in charge of Sunderland last year.
It remains to be seen whether he can guide West Ham away from the relegation zone, but he certainly has plenty of work to do over the forthcoming months.
Here, The Boot Room identifies three things that David Moyes must do in order to change the fortunes at the Olympic Stadium.
Plug the leaky defence
The first problem that David Moyes will have to tackle is West Ham’s appalling defensive record.
Under his predecessor, the Hammers could be an enthralling team to watch and were more than capable of producing effective expansive football, yet this was often undermined by their defensive fragility.
This is exemplified by the fact that the club currently have the worse defensive record in the Premier League and have conceded more goals than any other top-flight club this season.
West Ham’s back line looks reasonably solid, on paper at least, but there is a real lack of collective effort and the players often appear to be performing as individuals rather than working as a unit.
So far this campaign the team have simply not been good enough defensively and the lack of positive results on the pitch has been due to a variety of regular individual and collective errors.
During his spell at Goodison Park Moyes developed a team that achieved relative success through organisation, solidarity and team shape – elements that are desperately required at West Ham.
Furthermore, the ageing Pablo Zabaleta was the only outfield defender to be purchased during the summer and this is certainly an area that requires immediate investment.
Add some fight and demonstrate some confidence
Throughout last season David Moyes looked like a man devoid of fight and drained of all of his confidence at Sunderland.
The writing was on the wall in the opening month of the campaign when he publicly admitted that the Black Cats were in a relegation battle and that glass-half-empty approach set the tone for what was ultimately a disastrous season.
The Scotsman is now walking in the last chance saloon as far as his top-flight managerial career is concerned and after having ill-fated spells with Manchester United, Sunderland and in Spain his previous achievements with Everton seem a lifetime ago.
West Ham will probably be Moyes’ last opportunity to rebuild his career, but he will need to show much more fight, bluster and bravado at the Olympic Stadium than he did on Wearside.
His appointment has hardly captured the imagination of the club’s supporters but by implementing a back-to-basics approach, both in the dugout and on the pitch, that is built on work-rate, commitment and fight Moyes should be able to get the fan-base on side.
A unified crowd of 55,000+ that are fully behind the team will certainly be able to create an intimidating atmosphere and saying the right things in front of the press will help to install a sense of confidence around the club.
Maximise the potential of the club’s star players
A quick glance through the senior players named in West Ham’s 25-man Premier League squad will quickly lead you to question why the club are currently floundering in the relegation zone.
Joe Hart, Andy Carroll, Javier Hernandez, Michail Antonio, Andrew Ayew, Marko Arnautovic, Manuel Lanzini – these are established top-flight players and many are key figures in their respective national teams.
However, Slaven Bilic was unable to mould together an effective team despite the assemblage of talent on the club’s books and this was primarily down to his failure to maximise the potential of West Ham’s star personnel.
If David Moyes is to transform the club’s fortunes then he will need to find a way of utilising the creativity of Lanzini and Arnautovic, neither of whom have replicated the form that they demonstrated last season, keep Carroll fit for a prolonged period of time and develop a strategy to ensure that Hernandez receives the service that he requires to utilise his goal scoring instincts.
That is certainly easier said than done and it may be that the Hammers require a tactical rethink.
One option may be to switch to a front two and attempt to play on the front foot – if Burnley can pick up positive results using that system then why not West Ham? – or it may be that Moyes will need to drop on of his star names, like Arnautovic, in order to create a more balanced and effective team.
However, fundamentally at least, the Scotsman needs to find a way of getting Lanzini to see more of the ball higher up the pitch and for Hernandez to feed off balls into the eighteen yard box.
West Ham undoubtedly have the talent to climb into mid-table, but Moyes must find a way of maximising their potential.
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