We all know what they say about not counting your chickens but no-one can deny that the initial signs are promising. After the truly dismal start to the season under Bilic where the most impressive feat was to be leading the way in negative goal difference, the win against Stoke was impressive, but not as spellbinding as the victory the week before against Chelsea. This certainly put an end to the theories that Moyes would find it easier to get results against the league’s weaker teams but still face harsh treatment at the hands of the big six.
Then there was the 4-0 defeat by Everton, the club where Moyes’ reputation was forged, which did little to suggest that he was really going to be the solution.
Of course, last year he was parachuted into Sunderland following the departure of Sam Allardyce with a similar brief – to do all he could to save the team from relegation to the Championship, and we all know what happened then. Although it must be to his credit that, despite pledging to stay on at the club to try to help them gain promotion, he did the decent thing as soon as the season ended and left without claiming compensation for his truncated contract. Although it must be said, the alleged £5 million he received as a pay-off from Man Utd when they sacked him after just 10 months in charge may have made that decision a little easier to arrive at.
What everyone is hoping now is that the lessons he learnt on Wearside will set him in good stead now he’s down south. He already seems to have realised that when he first arrived at the Stadium of Light it wasn’t the wisest thing to admit that the team were in a relegation battle and there was little they could do to save themselves. Although certainly not the most controversial words to pass his lips while in charge, this defeatism immediately got the fans’ backs up.
But with the mini-winning streak, the club’s been enjoying under his leadership the whole tone of his presence is far more positive, as is his mood and confidence in general.
For many, the most pressing need following Bilic’s departure was to create a disciplined and organised team, most crucially in defence and the signs are that things are coming together. These are areas in which Moyes excelled at Everton and there’s no reason why he can’t replicate this success again.
In terms of player management, he needs to start rebuilding Joe Hart’s confidence which undoubtedly took a battering when Bilic was in charge and to also create the right conditions for arguably the team’s best player, Manuel Lanzini, to shine. Do these things and there’s every chance that West Ham could be a good bet to stay up this season.
Of course, it is still very early days and maybe even a bit of a honeymoon period. It will also be interesting to see just how much Moyes will be given to spend in the January transfer window, and how he chooses to spend it.
But, while the jury may still be out on whether he really can save the season for West Ham, at least the signs are positive and everyone can head into 2018 with at least half a smile on their faces.