Towering Incompetence: Incendiary West Ham Atmosphere May Be Fanned By Forest Fire

The ongoing saga of last chances for David Moyes has now been running for longer than an Eastenders story line – doof, doof, doof, doof, doof, doof, doof, doof, doof!

How many last chances does a failing manager get to have. I was convinced the game was up after et another typically insipid display at Tottenham. But no, he gets to fail another day.

I would have thought that by the time a Board gets to the stage of giving manager’s last chances, you might as well fire him and be done with it. It will only be a matter of time, anyway. Stupendous turnarounds in fortune rarely happen. And this is a team that has been in decline for over a year, and woeful for the best part of this season.

Should the Hammers eke out a victory win this weekend, and then lose (as usual) at Brighton, is the clock then reset once again to last chance for the home fixture with Villa? Repeat until relegated. What a way to run a football club!

Even the media have now woken up to recognise that David Moyes is an emperor without any clothes. At last, journalists are scratching their heads and questioning the merits of our unadventurous, unambitious manager. It is only fellow dinosaurs such as Graeme Souness who believes everything can be fixed by the players rolling up their sleeves up and showing some grit. The players are a victim of the tactics, not the other way round. The squad can’t be changed now, but manager and tactics can. Freeing the players from Moyes inertia is the only escape route.

We should remember, West Ham are one the world’s top twenty richest clubs. They have spent hundreds of millions on players. Yet Moyes talks about fans having unrealistic expectations as if it is a low budget operation. I doubt many supporters are demanding repeated top six finishes, but we would like to be entertained and should be nowhere near a relegation scrap. 

Last weekend was the latest in a string of tame surrenders – the scene set even before kick off. Fighting talk about drawn games not being good enough didn’t make it past the team selection. Starting the game with a maximum of two attack minding players in the side was all the incentive that the opposition needed to know the points were theirs. There is nothing to fear from West Ham at the best of times – no explosive pace, no accomplished dribbler, and the main set piece threat having been sold in January – but this was caution taken to another extreme. One more notch on the bedpost of failed away trips to ‘big six’ clubs.

It has been reported that the Board’s stance on a stay of execution was swayed by improvements in form since the Everton game. I do wonder what they have been watching from their lofty position? Had there been a run of victories then fair enough. But the club need a better rate of return than five points from four games if they are to avoid the drop.

It was supremely ironic to read David Sullivan’s rant in the week about how fantastic an organisation the Premier League is – and how it didn’t need regulation – when he is doing everything in his power to leave it by the trapdoor.

There was one piece of good news in the week as the U18s reached the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup for the first time since 1999 – the days of Joe Cole and Michael Carrick. There looks to be a lot of promise in the youth ranks, even if there is still a lot of development yet to be done. We hear mostly about the goalscorers – Divin Mubama and Callum Marshall – but George Earthy, Lewis Orford and Oliver Scarles all look to be great prospects. Interesting that the Youths play nothing like the first team in style or formation. The watching Moyes would have been livid with the boys pressing for a fourth goal once they had gone ahead in extra time. All behind the ball, boys!

The sad news of the week was the passing of John Motson. He and Brian Moore were both top class commentators who knew their primary job was to tell us what was going on – and knew when to let the action do the talking. Nostalgia’s not what it used to be but they were happier and simpler days at West Ham.

Oh, Devonshire round the back …… Oh, right across ….. It’s free ….. Driven in ……. And is it a goal? It is! Brooking, ………. Trevor Brooking. The ball ricocheted in off him and West Ham are in front.

RIP Motty 1980 FA Cup Final

Tomorrow’s game will be a first home league meeting with Nottingham Forest since January 2012 when two Mark Noble penalties took the Hammers to the top of the Championship.

It wasn’t long ago that Forest looked red-hot favourites for a quick return to the second tier, despite their early season win against West Ham. Yet an upsurge in results has lifted them to the higher fringes of the relegation quagmire. They currently sit five places and five points above their hosts. They are one of only three teams to have scored fewer goals than West Ham this season, while conceding nine more. Defensively they look suspect, but they do have pace in attack through Brennan Johnson and the always busy Morgan Gibbs-White. One-time West Ham nemesis Chris Wood might also feature in the game. Woods had been well marshalled in recent encounters by Craig Dawson, but obviously that is no longer an option.

So, what approach can we expect from the Moyes book of old school football tactics for this one? We know from experience that change only happens at glacial speed. He will usually stick with a formation, regardless of opposition, until something dramatic forces his hand to change it. It is a self-evident truth that the route to survival is scoring goals – it is only Moyes who believes not conceding them is more important. If he picks the same formation – with three/ five at the back – for this game, there could be mutiny in the stands before kick-off. It is overly cautious, and the wingbacks do not offer sufficient attacking threat to compensate.

I have argued for some time that West Ham should be lining up in a 4-3-3 formation. Ideally a midfield three of Rice, Paqueta and Downes but Rice, Soucek and Downes would do if Paqueta is unavailable. Then it must be a front three who are geared towards pushing forward and playing closer together. Is any more evidence needed that the isolated striker gambit is never going to work?

Forest will be well aware of a potential powder keg atmosphere at the London Stadium tomorrow. A trademark cautious team selection by Moyes and a typically slow start by the team will play right into the opponents hands. As a supporter I feel conflicted. I want Moyes gone but I would rather three of the most winnable points remaining were not sacrificed to achieve that. But it is hard to envisage a scenario where Moyes stays and we are not relegated. It’s a sad, sad, situation. COYI!