Just one week ago I sat down to write a preview of our game at Wolves that would bring up the halfway point of the season. The subheading to the piece was that the wrong result might mean that we could be in the bottom three. The inevitable happened, we lost the game 1-0, and we now sit in the relegation zone, with just goal difference stopping us from propping up the league.
A large portion of the article considered a potential change of manager and the reasons behind why this should happen. Nothing has changed and David Moyes is still in charge. A number of articles have been written this week suggesting that the manager needs to win this game against Everton to save his job. I hope we beat Everton as I hope we win every game, but if we do does this mean a reprieve?
Without a doubt Moyes did a splendid job in the last couple of seasons leading us to European qualification as a result of sixth and seventh place finishes. But this time around it has gone wrong. Is it surprising? There is a theory held by many that a football manager’s life cycle at any club is probably three years. After that it is often time to move on. Think Mourinho, think Conte, think so many managers. Some have lasted longer, think Benitez or Pochettino, but did it get any better after the third year in the job. Even Guardiola had a relatively poor fourth season at Barcelona and then moved after three successful seasons at Bayern. At Manchester City season four was a comedown after winning the league in seasons two and three, but he still continues to be relatively successful and perhaps disproves the theory.
Rebuilding a team on a regular basis is surely the key to bucking the trend. Guardiola has done this to some extent as did the two managers in recent times who built long lasting success at their clubs. Ferguson and Wenger built new teams when they deemed it was necessary. This is surely the only way to succeed.
Perhaps this was Moyes intent with the summer spending spree? But it hasn’t worked has it? The players he has brought in do not appear to be suited to West Ham, do not appear to be suited to Moyes favoured playing style, and do not appear to be suited to the Premier League. Were they his choice? There are many reasons for our disappointing first half of the season but so many of them are surely down to the manager.
Ironically Moyes himself could be said to disprove the three year theory in his time as manager of Everton, consistently achieving top eight finishes, although his fourth year in charge was possibly the low point. Somehow he turned it around. Can he do the same at West Ham? Bookmakers’ odds on the next manager to leave suggest that he won’t be given the chance. We shall see.
In last week’s article I highlighted the eight teams at the foot of the table at present as the ones involved in the relegation fight whilst stressing that some could escape and others could be drawn in. Of the eight, three won last weekend and five were beaten. The points for the bottom eight now reads:
Forest 20, Leicester 17, Leeds 17, Wolves 17, Bournemouth 16, West Ham 15, Everton 15, Southampton 15.
Forest in particular are on the up whilst just two points separate the bottom seven. The form table for the last six games:
Forest 11, Wolves 7, Leicester 6, Leeds 5, Bournemouth 3, Southampton 3, West Ham 1, Everton 1.
That makes desperate reading for the two teams meeting at the London Stadium on Saturday. I wonder if both, one, or neither of the two managers will be in charge of their team in the game after this one? At the time of writing they head the betting in respect of next managers to leave with Moyes 11/10 favourite and Lampard 5/2, with Marsch next at 12/1.
Current relegation odds make interesting reading:
Bournemouth 1/3, Everton 8/11, Southampton Evens, Wolves 11/4, Forest 11/4, Leicester 7/2, Leeds 4/1, West Ham 5/1.
Bookmakers fancy seven other teams as more likely relegation candidates than West Ham. Are they right? If they are then we are likely to finish 13th. We shall see.
This is a game that will undoubtedly be described as must win. But the points spread of the bottom 7 means that it is probably not the case. Nevertheless 3 points will be more than welcome. Will we get them? Will Everton? Will the points be shared?
As I finish this article on Thursday evening I still await confirmation that we are signing Danny Ings. Without doubt he is a proven goalscorer although I note that many of our fans on social media describe this as a desperation signing. He is not exactly in the signings category promised to us but forgive me if I am wrong, these are desperate times. He obviously likes playing in claret and blue having previously played for Burnley and Villa. I just hope he is given the service, because if he is he will score goals. It was interesting to note that our odds on being relegated, and Moyes odds to be next Premier Manager to leave both lengthened on the news.