Viva La Revolución! Viva El Jefe…Viva Moyes!
Are we starting to reconsider our early misgivings when Moyes was appointed as West Ham manager back in November last year? Are we now believing this man at the last chance saloon can actually take us onwards and upwards to where only eagles dares?
It would be fair to say that whilst the race for our approval was less by hare and more by tortoise, this steady improvement in performances and results has seen us rise up the table and give us some welcome breathing space from the drop zone.
Were we right to wonder whether indeed this was the correct appointment and would surely see us condemned to the fiery hell that is the Championship, regardless of whatever parachute we had strapped to our backs?
Although Moyes had struggled with Sunderland in the previous campaign and spells at Real Sociedad & Manchester United hadn’t exactly added value to his portfolio, there was a burgeoning hope that he could re-enact some of the successes at Everton…but that seemed so long ago.
I too had joined the ranks of disbelievers but admittedly as soon as I heard Moyes speak in his first press conference…somehow and somewhere within me I found the germ of belief that this man could turn our fortunes around…and so it proved to be so.
Behind the scenes and away from the cameras, I get the impression that Moyes isn’t afraid of making the tough decisions and laying down his edict to be followed without question. He has immersed himself from day one into the heart of the squad and fashioned respect and belief. This ability to work behind closed doors and seek out fortunes from hidden places, is the measure of the man that makes me wish the board had had faith in him more and given him a longer contract from the start.
However, he alone cannot claim all the glory in this reversal of fortune. The appointment of his backroom staff within a week of his arrival with the injection of spirit and sheer willpower has created a formidable leadership that the faltering squad had been unable to resist. Moyes’s first day was indicative of things to come…no nonsense, out of the office and on to the training pitch, seemingly reteaching players the fundamentals that had long been erased from memory.
Whatever methods he has employed in training, it is still evident that the team has been lopsided for too long. Whilst he has tinkered with players, positions and tactics…the first order of business was to stop leaking goals, which was eventually accomplished against Chelsea. Although a problem not completely solved, there has been a growing resilience and fortitude in the defensive midfield and back line…and a resurgent Adrian in goal has fuelled this newly found confidence.
However, all has not been so rosy for the wan wanderer, where some tactics, starting line ups and refusal to drop the flounderers has attracted some questions and criticism from the fanbase. Whilst overall results are comparable to Bilic’s starting tenure and vastly improving on the period before his ousting, some of the performances have lacked the attacking cutting edge that would see us clear in tight encounters.
Many of the woes that fans carry with them, indeed the same woes that Moyes is trying to overcome, are nestled in central midfield and with our ‘official’ strikers who have not necessarily deserved their starting places but also have not been able to find their way in the asteroid belt of opposition defenders and receive any kind of suitable service from the supporting cast.
Questions arose in early games where tactics failed which revealed a chasm of fragility and advancing impotency. Although subsequent matches there matured a battle-hardened defence reinforced by willing privates, in attack…our commanders and cavalrymen struggled to find consistency to singe nets to fire our enthusiasm. We wondered whether our West Ham Way was being eroded and moulded into a defensive way, ready to park the double-decker against the elite and devoid of quality and ambition to let the horses run when facing up to those of equal standing.
Many lamented at a manager who appeared loyal to players that misfired all too often or to change tack when the dull displays required an infusion of vim and vigour. Whilst many performances failed to excite or fill us with confidence for a glorious victory, there were successes in parity and salvation without defeat.
Moyes undoubtedly has to be commended for raising the overall performances of key players whilst rejuvenating those of others. Although there are still languishers in the ranks, where backpacks appear still be filled with rocks and recurrent injuries that keep the doctors and physios gainfully employed, he has started to produce a team that is up for the fight and ready to deliver.
Arnautovic, Lanzini, Noble, Collins & Ogbonna have excelled whilst under Moyes’s encouraging wing and being ably supported by the improving Cresswell, Masuaku, Zabaletta & Adrian…the future looks bright, the future looks less orange but more claret and blue!
After recently becoming the bicentennial man; two hundred career wins as a manager…only a feat matched by three other men…I wonder if we are becoming the perfect fit for a man on the charge, who’s defying the critics and bringing revolution to our part of the world.
As a teenager, I was drawn to the story of Che Guevara who embarked on a journey from Argentina, who ended up in Cuba to help Castro overthrow the Batista regime. Although I did not share his politics or even care for his khaki green fatigues, I was drawn to the notion of rebelling against conformity and giving birth to new ideas through ardour & a willingness to fight for one’s beliefs.
In Moyes, I see shades of Che…without the khaki green fatigues of course, although a beret might suit him just as well! He is defying the modern appetite to employ foreign coaches with exotic-sounding surnames and designer wardrobes. His diction is clear and precise! There will be battles ahead, trials to overcome and retreats before more ground gained but his direction and passion for doing it the right way rebuts the flavour of the month fascinations. Maybe we are seeing the birth of a new way…instead of blindly looking forward, we should follow his lead and keep an eye on the past as well.
This is a rebellion, this is a revolution…if only Che could see him now, I’d wager a nod of approval and a dothing of his beret would not be amiss! Viva La Revolución!