West Ham split from Moyes is right decision but the man deserves a send-off…

Jason Soutar
David Moyes celebrates with the Europa Conference League trophy
David Moyes celebrates with the Europa Conference League trophy

The worst-kept secret in football was David Moyes being replaced as West Ham United manager at the end of the season. His exit has now become official, which means the Scot can get the send-off he deserves as he leaves the London Stadium at the right time for everyone.

When Moyes took charge of West Ham for the second time, it was viewed as an underwhelming appointment. But let’s go back to the beginning of this rocky marriage…

Having been out of work for six months after leaving an awful Sunderland side following a bottom-place finish in the Premier League, the former Preston, Everton, Manchester United and Real Sociedad boss was brought in by David Sullivan and David Gold as the Hammers found themselves in a relegation battle.

He only signed a six-month deal and despite steering the club to safety, Gold and Sullivan decided against keeping Moyes and instead appointed former Premier League winner Manuel Pellegrini.

It was not going to plan and with West Ham one point above the bottom three in December 2019, Moyes returned, much to the chagrin of the majority of supporters. He actually claimed only one more point than Pellegrini in as many games, but this time the owners were happy to keep Moyes in charge, and what a decision that was as West Ham were about to enter their best period in decades.

We all know what has happened over the next four-and-a-half years. It exceeded literally everyone’s expectations. This guy thought they would go down in 2019/20, when they actually accumulated an outstanding 65 points to qualify for the Europa League (think Spurs this season). At one point, a top-four finish looked very possible with the West Ham players thriving and playing the best football of their careers under a revitalised Moyes.

The signings of Tomas Soucek, Vladimir Coufal, Jesse Lingard and Jarrod Bowen were inspired, while Moyes helped take Declan Rice’s game to another level.

Another top-seven finish and a Europa League semi-final followed before the Hammers won the Europa Conference League in 2023, the result that will seal Moyes’ legacy. That night in Prague will be remembered by every Hammer in the world. Moyes gave them that.

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So how have we got here? Why are West Ham not renewing the contract of a manager who has brought them so much success and joy? Well, because it is undoubtedly the correct thing to do.

That it is the right time for manager and club to part does not understate the work Moyes has done and the legacy he will leave behind.

And now that we all know that Moyes’ future lies elsewhere, he can get an incredible send-off before, during and after West Ham’s final home game of the season against Luton Town this weekend. The word ‘legend’ gets thrown around for fun these days but what Moyes has achieved should make him a West Ham legend. It is time for everyone associated with the club to let him know that. It is the least he deserves.

While West Ham remained competitive in Europe – eventually knocked out by Bayer Leverkusen, who cannot lose a football match – they have been nowhere near good enough in the Premier League. Ninth suggests they haven’t been that bad, but this group of players are better than ninth. Domestic performances and results have been abysmal at times.

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Is it a case of be careful what you wish for? No. These players can be harnessed better and have reached their ceiling under Moyes.

Excuse me for stealing this directly from Matt Stead’s winners and losers column, but Moyes’ methods are no longer working. To quote Steady: ‘From the point of his second appointment in December 2019 to March 2023, West Ham conceded four goals or more in two of 156 games in all competitions. Since March 2023, it is ten times in 73 games, and seven times this seaso alone.’

It hasn’t been good enough and that is almost a compliment to Moyes, who has raised the standards so significantly through his management, work on the training ground and recruitment, leaving West Ham in a much better position than the one he found them.

Whether it is Julen Lopetegui or someone else, they will fill a large, yet realistic, pair of shoes. West Ham have a lot of potential and they were only going to regress or plateau at best under Moyes. This is the right decision and a popular one among the Irons supporters. We have seen Bournemouth and Crystal Palace improve after ditching tried-and-tested British managers and there is no reason why West Ham will not have a similar, if not better, upturn in fortunes.

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