Why the West Ham job is a better bet than Liverpool for your Amorims and Fonsecas

Dave Tickner
Ruben Amorim and Paulo Fonseca with Liverpool and West Ham badges
Ruben Amorim and Paulo Fonseca with Liverpool and West Ham badges

Ruben Amorim to West Ham. Now there’s a managerial rumour we can all get behind.

It has almost zero chance of actually happening, of course, but it’s intoxicating.

We’ve been, frankly, robbed of good managerial drama this season with all manner of clubs stubbornly sticking with long-term plans and other boring sh*t instead of binning managers off at the first sign of trouble to suit our agenda.

What is the Barclays coming to when only a few relegation battlers change managers and then swiftly appoint replacements before the fun has even begun? It’s unacceptable and we will not stand for a repeat of this kind of nonsense next season.

The flipside of all this boring sensibleness, though, is that the summer might be carnage. We know at least one gigantic Premier League gig is up for grabs and there could easily be one or two more plus some eye-catching opportunities at the next tier down.

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And that’s where this Amorim talk got us thinking, which is always dangerous.

When Xabi Alonso ruled himself out of the Liverpool running, Amorim was the new hot favourite. We took a moment to admire his balls, because it is going to take some big brass shiny ones to try and step into Jurgen Klopp’s dress trainers.

Amorim seemed keen, now a bit less so. And that all makes this West Ham link make sense. At first glance, the Hammers being linked with the man who remains favourite for the Liverpool job is absurd. Who’d choose West Ham over Liverpool? You’d have to be crazy.

Well let’s go crazy. There is a clear case that replacing David Moyes at West Ham is a less mad career move for Amorim or any other up-and-coming manager of a progressive bent and top-tier ambition than replacing Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.

The latter is a sh*t-or-bust kind of all-in move that could totally derail a career if it goes wrong. It’s Andre Villas-Boas making the leap straight from Porto to Chelsea before he was ready territory. Whoever replaces Klopp at Liverpool has minimal scope for success – at least success for which they will get the credit – and a million ways to fail.

Even Klopp, one of the great managers of the age, hasn’t been able to make Liverpool a consistent year in, year out force. It’s doubtful anyone can. He’s delivered enough of the 90-something seasons that he has quite rightly been cut some slack for the 60-something ones, having also had the good sense and foresight to take the Liverpool job when they were at a low ebb.

He’s been a huge success, of course, but taking the job when he did gave him plenty of room to succeed and time in which to do it. Time and room his successor will simply not get.

It took a dramatic late-season recovery just to lift Liverpool to 67 points and fifth place in the table last season. While they ended up only four points outside the Champions League places, they were never serious contenders for a top-four finish. And it’s not the first time, either, with Liverpool managing only 69 points (albeit good enough for third on that occasion) in 2021.

It’s no criticism. Nobody else has managed to sustain an annual challenge against Manchester City either. Klopp managed it in back-to-back years once. We’re fascinated to see what Arsenal do next season, whatever the outcome of this one.

The reality is that it’s damn-near impossible to sustain. But what if next season is another fallow year after this season’s title tilt? It’s reasonably likely going by the trends, but Klopp’s replacement would struggle to survive it.

Moyes himself at Manchester United is the standard go-to reference point here, of course, but that’s slightly misleading. He was just out of his depth and had never shown anything to suggest he had what it took to make that next huge step up the managerial ladder. It was a grave error from United to so blindly follow Sir Ferg’s decree on the line of succession.

Unai Emery at Arsenal is a far better indicator, a fine CV getting him a deserved crack at a big job for his first go at the Premier League. And he didn’t even fail by any reasonable measure; but he didn’t succeed hard enough either and was swiftly on a hiding to nothing.

He has since proved what even Arsenal fans would accept: he is an excellent manager even if Arsenal was the wrong job at the wrong time. But there’s no guarantee you get that chance of a redemptive arc. A big-club failure can stick, as it has to Moyes and AVB and others.

Any manager for whom Liverpool marks a significant step up or obvious career high-point – and that is most managers, let’s be real – takes that risk.

You’ve got none of that to worry about at West Ham. Play a bit of half-decent football, bed in during a first season that now appears certain not to have European trips clogging the schedule, and you’re golden.

At Liverpool, whoever comes in will inevitably find a fanbase still mourning the exit of a legend. At West Ham, whoever comes in will find a fanbase desperate for more.

And it’s a big club. Shut up, it is. West Ham is a big club, in London, with some really quite intoxicating raw materials.

The dream for West Ham fans is for a progressive, forward-thinking manager to come in and make magic with some of the best attacking ingredients outside the Big Six/Seven. An actual striker will be needed because Michail Antonio playing all the games all the time in big 2024 is not the one, but what West Ham have wreaking havoc behind him is first rate.

Hammers fans will hope to get at least one more season out of Lucas Paqueta before a move to Manchester City that has felt inevitable from the moment he arrived, but even if they don’t manage that, they’ve still got Mohammed Kudus and Jarrod Bowen. There isn’t a manager alive who shouldn’t be at least halfway tempted by working with that.

And there are also some defenders and midfielders on the club’s books. Don’t worry about that part for now.

The point is, there are so many more routes to success at West Ham. Even if your intended final superclub destination remains the same, West Ham is a decent stepping stone toward that goal. A good cup run, a tilt at the top six, a win over Spurs. If you can deliver that and a solid commitment to entertaining football then you’re going to have the fans onside and plenty of attention from what remains a Hammers-heavy football press pack.

It’s not in any way an easy job. That same press pack will have their ‘Careful What You Wish For’ knives sharpened for any foreign boss stepping into Moyesy’s sensible shoes, but compared to following Klopp at a club that could all too easily chew you up and spit you out, it’s a cakewalk.