By Jamie Sim
After beating arch-rivals Spurs on Sunday, West Ham United have risen to fourth in the Premier League which, if things remained as they are, would be their highest finish in the league’s history and earn them Champions League football.
In recent years, the Premier League has produced some romantic success stories: Fulham’s run to the Europa League final in 2010, Leicester City winning the league in 2016 and Burnley playing European football in 2018. This year, David Moyes’ Hammers look set to write their own bubbly fairytale.
Since West Ham were last promoted to the Premier League, they haven’t been starved of success. After finishing seventh in 2016, they played European football for the first time in a decade and have had a couple of top ten finishes.
However, their form of recent seasons has left little to blow bubbles about, finishing 16th last season, with many fans fearing a familiar drop back to the Championship after a dreadful start.
When Moyes returned to East London at the start of 2020, he vowed to bring a “sense of responsibility” back to the club, and his subsequent dealings in the transfer market have played out that maxim on the pitch.
Craig Dawson, signed on loan from Watford, was on the watchlist of many premier league sides, but his signing for West Ham has seen the veteran defender fix a regular place in their starting line-up with a number of outstanding performances.
Moyes was also the catalyst in the loan signing of Jesse Lingard of Manchester United. The attacking midfielder had fallen out of favor at Old Trafford, not making Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad this season.
In his short time at West Ham, he has already set himself high standards, providing a brace on his debutant and generally rediscovering his mojo. It seems as though Moyes is getting the best out of previously overlooked players.
These clever signings go beyond the Premier League too. The double signing of Vladmír Coufal and Tomáš Souček from Slavia Prague has proven to be one of the most intelligent scouting moves in Premier League history. Their capture has left many fans wondering why their clubs can’t seem to find players with such clear ability in other less fashionable leagues.
The reason that other clubs might not be able to compete with West Ham might just be the mastermind behind this dramatic upturn in fortunes: David Moyes.
The Hammers have been hit by big injuries, especially in defense, which is a key area for Moyes’ teams in the past. Their ability to change the system from the 3-5-2 which they began the season with to a more stable 4-5-1 has to be credited to the manager who has brought the best out of players all across the pitch.
It’s possible to match almost every player in this West Ham side, to a player with similar attributes from Moyes’ famous Everton sides of the late 2000s; a side with which he achieved regular finishes in the top seven of the Premier League and earned much of his managerial respect. This could be the set of players which manages to get the best out of Moyes as a manager.
Moyes was unlucky with the timing of his success and was tagged as “the chosen one” ahead of his short and relatively unsuccessful spell at United when he tried to fill the largest shoes in football, the size nines of fellow Scotsman Sir Alex Ferguson.
For a number of years Moyes was classed as one of the ‘forgotten ones’ in the list of peripheral Premier League managers, sharing a pint of might-have-been with Alan Pardew, Chris Hughton and Tony Pulis.
With this current side, however, along with some new permanent additions to the squad, Moyes could achieve success with West Ham that matches or even tops his legacy at Goodison Park.
Through the hard work of a disciplined manager, a revamped squad and support from the board, Moyes’ West Ham have the usual top six looking on with envy and for good reason.
Image: Jason Gulledge via Creative Commons