Let’s be honest…before Moyes came along we were like flat pancakes smothered in bitter lemon and in need of sugar. Yes our Crêpes Suzette had left a sour taste in our mouths and quite frankly I’d lost my appetite for anything more.
So, along came William Wallace…who had suffered a few spankings but had come back with face painted claret and blue, chest puffed out, sword and shield in hand and ready to do battle once more.
Did we buy into his poor Mel Gibson impersonation? Did we heck! However we soon came to support the man who would see our fortunes turned around. He got into the kitchen, sorted his ingredients and proceeded to bake a pie of four and twenty blackbirds, who lay dormant until the crust was finally pierced…ready to leap up into flight and sing out aloud.
It appeared almost everyone I met was ready to condemn the man before he got started. They expected that sour taste to continue and the only pie we would witness would be a custard one to the face…but how wrong were we!
With every match I find myself trying to find fault with his tactics, the team’s performance and individual commitment but more and more I am finding less to moan about. He identified our problems and indeed our problem players, took tough early decisions and set up to make us tough to beat. He succeeded after initially floundering and like the best illusionists he lulled us into a false realisation but twisted our melons where revealing three stunning performances against Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
This cunning misdirection started to make me question my own prejudices and misgivings of a man on the rebound but now ready for the fight…and we were happy to shadow box along the way.
If there was ever a question of his ability, then he has certainly answered it with conviction and his support team have proved their worth to the cause. Of course, there are many areas that need to be improved and issues that need resolving but I get the impression he is up to the task, if only he will be supported to ably reinforce the ranks in the transfer market and also be given the time to build up his own dynasty.
As fans of our great club we have to admire what he’s been able to achieve in a short space of time. Yes, it hasn’t always been glorious to watch or easy on the eye entertainment…especially when the debutants have been employed but there has been a growing resilience in defence and blossoming adventure in attack. The performance this last Saturday against Bournemouth was probably our best passing game under his control, although we lacked the quality and fortune in the final third.
We are still a long way off the level of expectation that we feel justified with but we are on the right road…he’s gone up through the gears, checked his mirrors and put his foot down to get us to our next destination. There have been shortcomings and some tactical lethargy with substitution timings and out of form players still making the starting line up…however overall we have eeked out results, gained valuable points and given us the breathing room to expand our repertoire.
Moyes has repeatedly said that we have an unbalanced squad…top heavy with strikers (most of which are regulars on the injured list or plain out of form) terribly short in midfield with defensive shortages too. He has called to arms some of the youth players, if only to test their merit and illustrate to the board how shallow our field really is.
He has players that have not pushed on under his watch, the likes of Ayew, Sakho & Carroll have been largely invisible, although many would argue this is due to a poor midfield delivery and a system that does not favour the also-rans. Hernandez finally got a goal over the weekend and whilst he has had many detractors for his poor performances, he proved that he can be a menace in the box if we can deliver with any frequency and success. However Moyes has started to introduce youth to the party to add worthy contribution and not idle experimentation…Declan Rice has been a revelation but Burke, Cullen & Martinez are starting to show promise…if only he will have patience to see these buds flower.
I have been impressed with Moyes’s ability to be frank in press conferences…or as much as he’s allowed to be. He speaks with confidence and is refreshingly open about our successes and failures. I haven’t heard him try to pull wool over my eyes…well not too often anyway…and his post match interviews are fantastic portraits of despair, disdain and utter joy. Don’t you just love a boss who punches the air when we score, raises his arms aloft when we win and acknowledges the worth of the home and travelling support.
Are we ready to see him given a permanent deal at the end of the season? Would he really want it…would he want to continue working for our club and board? If we’re honest with ourselves, if he does succeed in delivering a favourable league position, improves our performances and entertainment factor and is able to bring through youth to the first team set up…then his value in the marketplace would surely rise and will be attractive to many other teams.
As many in the social media world will lunge with opinion after every performance, always willing to be positive or negative about uncertainties or potentials, my position has shifted from no, nay, never to aye, maybe, could be! It was a mistake to offer Moyes a short term contract as it introduces an uncertainty around the club, although now we are entrenched I would not jump to any decisions until the season ends.
Any difficult performance and negative result will undoubtedly attract derision and revolt from certain sections of the fanbase, but we must temper our enthusiasm to criticise with much less viscosity. We must review the journey so far and analyse the trend going forward, then and only then leap to our conclusions. We may indeed arrive at the same answer but at least we have given him the opportunity to prove his worth…and right now he’s proving it with conviction!
I for one do not expect West Ham to win every match…have any of us ever been so blind? However I do expect some hard fought battles ahead, some close matches, the full spectrum of results and performances and commitment that make us value their efforts. I am confident in his ability to do us proud this season but I do not yet see him as the long term solution…but we could do a lot worse and little better.
When Moyes rides along his front line, rallying his warriors and taunting the opposition with his astuteness, I can hear them sing a song a sixpence, knowingly surprising the kings and queens and ready to shock and awe. For the job thus far…I Salute You!