In reporting the sacking of Slaven Bilic, the ‘East London & West Essex Guardian’ noted that David Moyes was likely ‘to become just the Hammers’ 16th boss in 117 years’. The 15 previous managers have enjoyed an average of a little under 8 years in charge at West Ham, but, whilst mathematically correct, that figure does not give an accurate picture of the reality.
Did any of those fifteen managers actually have anything in the region of eight years at the Hammers’ helm? The answer is only one of them, Harry Redknapp, his tenure of office having lasted a month short of 7 years, from 1994 to 2001.
The club may have had 15 bosses in 117 years, but during the first 87 of those years, from the appointment of Syd King in 1902 to the sacking of John Lyall in 1989, only five men occupied the manager’s chair at West Ham; Syd King, Charlie Paynter, Ted Fenton, Ron Greenwood and John Lyall, their average time in charge, a very respectable 17 years. How many managers today could envisage that sort of security in their jobs?
Since the appointment of Lou Macari in 1989, ten men, including Harry Redknapp, have followed in the steps of King, Paynter and company. Their average period in office? Less than three years!
In an interview on Sky Sports News, Tony Cottee expressed his anger that the Hammers have not won anything for 37 years. That last success, the F. A. Cup win of 1980, came in the John Lyall era, during that long period of managerial stability.
Of course, John Lyall’s successors have had their moments. Apart from Harry Redknapp, three of those ten men following Lyall have had three years or more in charge and it is, I believe, no coincidence that those three, having been given just that little bit longer in the role, have come closest to success. Billy Bonds (4 years in charge) master-minded promotion and an F. A. Cup Semi-Final. (Who among those present at Villa Park in 1991 will ever forget those choruses of ‘Billy Bonds’ Claret and Blue Army’ that seemed to get louder and louder all through the second-half?) Alan Pardew (3 years in charge) came so close to glory with that 2006 F. A. Cup Final draw against Liverpool, and Sam Allardyce (4 years in charge) did all that was required of him, winning promotion in 2012 and giving the club some much-needed stability.
Stability is what the Hammers need right now and any new manager, whoever he might be, whatever club he might be managing, needs time. The appointment of David Moyes has produced much negative comment, but, as Tony Gale said in reacting to the news, this is when true Hammers’ fans should get behind the new manager. A few choruses of ‘David Moyes’ Claret and Blue Army’ might do for starters!