Fans across the football world were quick to react when David Moyes was made the manager of West Ham in November, following the sacking of Slaven Bilic. Considering that Moyes had failed in his past three jobs, (Man United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland) it was hard to envisage that this would be a successful story. However West Ham now sit 15th, just three points off 10th position in the league and that is all due to the hard work of Moyes and the players.
When it was time for Slaven Bilic to leave, few had complaints. He may of had genuine passion for the club but simply not the skills to manage the Hammers. At the time, there were many managers floating around in the market such as Carlo Ancelotti, Thomas Tuchel and Ronald Koeman. These are all big name managers that wouldn’t normally come to West Ham but offering them an irresistible chunk of money could have turned their heads. Instead and a familiar sight to West Ham fans, the board opted for the cheapest option and took a gamble on David Moyes.
It seemed that Moyes would have to adapt straight away given the tough looking fixture list and in his first three games at the club, he earned just 1 point, with that coming in a 1-1 draw with Leicester City. Strangely, despite getting beat 2-0 at Watford and smashed 4-0 away at Everton, the performances were a lot better. The results could have been so different, in particular, the Everton defeat as Manuel Lanzini was left to rue his penalty miss at 2-0. A goal there could have changed the game but it just wasn’t meant to be.
With West Ham now 18th whilst going into December, Moyes’ next task was to somehow find some points against Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal. If the West Ham fans were told before those 3 that they would come away with 4 points, they would have laughed, simply not believing that was possible. In reality though it was and they were unlucky not to get more. Man City needed a late winner and Chicharito hit the bar in the dying moments against Arsenal as the revival begun.
After more positive results in December including a 3-0 away win at Stoke and a 3-3 draw at Bournemouth, just how did David Moyes manage to turn round West Ham’s fortunes when it was least expected?
Don’t run, don’t play
When Slaven Bilic was in charge, club insiders told the fans about how training wasn’t nowhere near the intensity it should be as it was consistent of shooting drills instead of hard graft. You could see how this reflected on the pitch because the Hammers looked unfit and this led to an inability in attempting to hang on to games, simply because other teams had more energy for the 90 minutes.
So when David Moyes was brought in, the 54-year-old brought the don’t run, don’t play mentality with him. Too many players weren’t giving enough for the team, so Moyes went back-to-basics in order to get their fitness up.
This most definitely paid off and the best example of this has been Marko Arnautovic.
The £25m summer signing had an awful start to life at West Ham, getting sent-off and was inevitably dropped to the bench after a matter of games. The Austrian looked as if he didn’t care but this was amended when Moyes came in as it’s rumoured the message was mainly directed at the forward. In games since then, Arnautovic has been MOTM on serval occasions and provided important goals for the team. What the fans love the most about ‘Arnie’ is that he just doesn’t stop hassling defenders. This rebirth was all down to David Moyes and his desire to get every player working for him.
West Ham may not be the best team in the league, in fact far from it, but all Moyes demanded was 100% effort.
Change in tactics and formation
Vulnerable at the back and lacklustre in attack, this was the story of Slaven Bilic’s West Ham. Nowadays, Moyes took the bold move to convert the formation and play 5 at the back, 3 in midfield and 2 up-front. (5-3-2) Aaron Cresswell is now one of three centre-backs and the Englishman looks more than comfortable playing in that role. Angelo Ogbonna has casted away his early season blunders to somehow turn into a proper Italian defender and Arthur Masuaku has now solidified his left wing-back role. This allows the 24-year-old to drive up and down the wing all game long and with his tricky footwork, as well as his attacking contribution, Masuaku is another example of a reformed player under David Moyes.
Marko Arnautovic, the man in red-hot form and Michail Antonio feature in a new-look attack for the Hammers which has seen a combination of pace and power.
Each player now looks as if they know their role in the team as players like Javier Hernandez, Andy Carroll and Andre Ayew are struggling to find a way into the starting line-up. Moyes will however look to improve his midfield in January though and the start of a brighter future under David Moyes could be appearing at West Ham.
They have the players capable of performing and the manager who’s defensive tactics in particular have earn’t vital points at this stage of the season. Whether Moyes and the players can keep up the improvements in performances is unknown but it’s fair to say that David Moyes has proved the doubters wrong so far.