West Ham began the season in shocking form, it ultimately cost fan-favourite and general ‘nice guy’ Slaven Bilic his job, and when David Moyes was appointed, West Ham fans were underwhelmed to say the least. Two-thirds of the way through the season and West Ham are in a much more comfortable looking position. Although nobody can say they are definitely out of the relegation battle, the signs are there that Moyes will eventually steer West Ham to safety.
In January, football data analyst Ben Mayhew created a chart which showed how West Ham were the only Premier League side to not have spent a single day in the top half of the table this season. I wonder if David Moyes and the players read that tweet, because just one week later after drawing at home to Crystal Palace they finally crept into the top half. Considering West Ham were missing Austrian striker Arnautovic this was a great result, proving that the team is starting to gel together under David Moyes.
Arnautovic’s injury could have spelled trouble for the East London side but surprisingly West Ham managed not to flounder without him. The Austrian returned to score in West Ham’s 2-0 victory against Watford. After the match David Moyes heartwarmingly stated Arnautovic would not be getting any praise, and that he needs to continue pushing further.
This managerial style of David Moyes came under criticism during the Scot’s time at Manchester United and Real Sociedad, but it seems to be working well at West Ham. His man-management style has allowed him to get something out of Javier “Chicharito” Hernández, who has previously struggled to find his form and has been passed from club to club, seemingly never reaching his full potential. Many fans were surprised when he joined West Ham in July 2017, but he seems to have silenced some of the naysayers now.
You will see Arnautovic and Hernandez are the top two favourites to open the scoring for West Ham at Liverpool, when looking at the odds here – https://www.sunbets.co.uk/promotion/first-goalscorer-odds.
The bottom half of the table is very close this season, and any one of those sides could be going down. The competition is almost reminiscent of the Championship battle for promotion, which could ironically be good practice for whichever sides get relegated and their hopes for fighting their way back up. The average tally of points for staying up in the past has been 37 – West Ham currently are on 30. One would imagine that with the players’ and Moyes’s great form that 7 points will be pretty easy to come by.
West Ham defender Pablo Zabaleta has also expressed an interest in the importance of mathematical safety for the side, though his magic number of points was 40. That’s taking the average of 37, and then some. West Ham mean business!
This weekend will see West Ham go away to Liverpool, who just won 5-0 against FC Porto in the Champions League, so they will probably be filled with confidence. This is a tricky fixture for The Hammers but knowing Liverpool’s shaky track record any result from a point, to 3 is achievable. In the next month West Ham also have to go away to Swansea, and play Burnley at home. To have only three games scheduled for the next month must be a far cry from the busy Christmas period, and having bigger gaps in between matches will surely allow ample time for recovery and preparation.
West Ham, though flirting with the bottom half of the table will still be fine, and it is my personal belief that they will not suffer with a relegation battle. David Moyes seems to be getting the best from the players and with the fans on his side then really it should be no problem at all.
West Ham were only prepared to give David Moyes a six month contract, not exactly a mark of confidence. It is the belief amongst some fans that the club are not planning to extend the Scot’s contract. Despite this, Moyes has taken the helm with a confidence and pragmatistic approach. His man management style has allowed him to make a connection with Chicharito and Arnautovic. The Hammers are finding goals, something previously reserved for injury prone Andy Carrol, every now and then.
West Ham are an ambitious club, and they seem to be looking for a manager even bigger than David Moyes. This optimism is admirable, for a club who have spent the majority of the season in the bottom half. Who will take over from Moyes in the summer? Is there any way Moyes could impress the fans and board enough to extend his time at the club? If they don’t, David Moyes could sit even further out of favour on the managerial job search front, having essentially failed at his past three positions. He definitely has something to prove which is why West Ham really are in safe hands.
Ellen is a 24 year old writer from Essex. @ellenrosemariex