From King To Moyes: Who Is The Greatest Ever West Ham United Manager?

West Ham United

In the wake of Sky Bet Championship club Leeds United appointing their 16th manager in Paul Heckingbottom in the space of ten years, today, we look back at West Ham United’s 16 permanent Bosses over their 117-year history and analyse which one of those was the most successful.

Having emerged from Thames Ironworks to be formed as West Ham United in July 1900, the first man at the helm of the club was Syd King, a former player at the Ironworks.

To this day, he is the longest-serving Irons boss and even after 30 years in 1932, he didn’t take his sacking very well, at all, committing suicide amid financial misconduct accusations a short while after being replaced by Charlie Paynter.

In the old-fashioned game, managers weren’t quite as dispensable, the team’s first two lasting a combined 48 years, with the highlight of Paynter’s reign being a triumph in the first ever War Cup.

In 1950, he would be replaced by Ted Fenton, he was pivotal to the successful period that would follow, though not seeing it through himself, having left the club in mysterious circumstances in 1961.

This paved the way for an iconic figure to take the reins, none other than future England boss Ron Greenwood, one of the most decorated figures in the history of the game.

Under Greenwood’s guidance, the East Londoners tasted European glory, lifting the 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup, as well as the 1964 FA Cup, their first, reaching the Final of the 1966 League Cup, the same year that three of his players led England to World Cup glory in Captain Bobby Moore and goal-scorers Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters.

Some eight years later, Greenwood took a role higher up, General Manager, allowing his long-time assistant John Lyall to take charge, enter the club’s most prosperous manager.

In his first campaign, having learned the trade from his predecessor, he took the team to Wembley, lifting a second FA Cup with a win against Fulham in the Final.

The year after, he so very nearly repeated the feat of European Cup Winners’ Cup glory, being downed by Anderlecht in the Final, though triumphing in the FA Cup three years later, the last time that a side outside the Top-Flight won the Competition.

More glory would lay ahead, winning the Championship title for the only time in the history of the club and narrowly missing out on winning the League Cup the year after.

However, as the old saying goes, “nothing lasts forever”, and in 1889, with the club in the second tier, he was relieved of his duties, signalling the end of a magical era, just three years after their highest ever Top-Fight finish of third.

He left with the most games and wins as manager, 708 and 277, leaving his replacement Lou Macari with a lot to live up to, he wouldn’t last very long at all, resigning with the club still far from the top tier in 1990.

Ex-player Ronnie Boyce took over for an interim spell before the popular appointment of Hammers legend Billy Bonds to lead the team forward with Harry Redknapp as an assistant a little later.

Under Bonds, the team enjoying two Promotions and endured a Relegation, after the second Promotion, Bonds was forced out in controversial circumstances with Redknapp taking over.

He was able to steady the ship, keeping West Ham in the now FA Premiership and recruiting all kinds of different talents, including the youthful team that finished fifth in the premiership in 1998/1999, lifting the UEFA Intertoto Cup.

Redknapp oversaw the sale of some of the young talents he had brought through the Academy of Football and demanded more money from Chairman Terry Brown for these, he was axed amid a row over funds in 2001.

After another highly-successful period, the club looked to be on the brink of a slide, Glenn Roader steering the side back down to the Championship in 2003 amid health scares.

Not even caretaker manager Sir Trevor Brooking could save them, leading to the further sale of promising talents, the sacking of Roeder in August 2013, allowed Brooking to take temporary charge once again, with 64.29 percent and only one loss, he has the highest win percentage of any WHU Boss.

Alan Pardew was the next in line, taking two seasons and two Play-Off Finals to get back to the Premiership, where he guided the club to a ninth-place finish and FA Cup Final loss to Liverpool.

A few months into the following campaign and new Chairman Eggert Magnusson fired him amid a torrid start to the season and another English in Alan Curbishley took charge.

He managed to save the team on the final day of the 2006/20007 season at Old Trafford, himself departing at the end of 2007/2008 after fall out with Ownership over the sale of defender George McCartney.

The first non-Brit to manage West Ham in former Chelsea midfielder Gianfranco Zola very nearly oversaw European Football in East London a year after, though the Irons missed out and he would depart after yet more controversy at the end of his first term.

The maiden new manager of new Owners David Gold and David Sullivan, with the club in serious debt, was Avram Grant, though it became clear he wasn’t a fit from the start.

Under him, the side tasted yet another Relegation to the second period, Interim boss Kevin Keen overseeing his second spell in the space of two years, before experienced Sam Allardyce was appointed to take over in the early summer.

He was charged with gaining Promotion and did so via the Play-Offs once more, his three seasons back in the Top-Flight didn’t work out to well, however, and he was sacked at the end of 2014/2015 under pressure from supporters.

The next man to step into the frame was former defender and Croatia manager Slaven Bilic, who arrived for the final season at the Boleyn Ground and tasted instant success.

He was able to deliver the Hammers their highest ever points tally in the PL and Qualification to the Europa League, but the move to the London Stadium brought with it new challenges.

And, for Bilic, the end of his short reign with the club on the brink of the Relegation zone in November 2017, he was swiftly replaced by Scot David Moyes, who has since balanced things out and his team are now well-positioned for survival in mid-table.

Out of this 15-strong list, there is little doubting that one name stands out from the rest and that can surely be none the than the legendary, John Lyall for his jewel-encrusted 15-year spell at the helm in E13.

But, how will this list change over the next few years? Will the new man Moyes be able to etch his name into Hammers history above some of the managers in this up and down archive? Only time will tell.

About the Author

Luke Glanville
Lead Writer and Site Manager of MTJAC, Sub-Editor for the Falbros Media Group.