As the final whistle blew at Leicester’s King Power Stadium, West Ham fans up and down the country breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The Hammers’ 2-0 win over the Foxes was not only a fantastic performance, but it secured their Premier League status for another season. Though it has been a difficult campaign at times, with a host of off-field antics providing an unwelcome distraction to concerning performances on the pitch, David Moyes has achieved the primary objective set for him after his appointment in early November.
The much maligned former Everton, Manchester United and Sunderland boss has not had it easy since his arrival at the London Stadium, though. Beset with injury problems, Moyes has overcome them, as well as the negativity surrounding his appointment, to guide the Hammers to safety with two games to spare.
In doing so, he has reinvigorated the enigmatic Marko Arnautovic, with his deployment as a central striker proving to be a stroke of genius. He has stuck to his principles in regards to team selection, overlooking the lure of playing Mexican superstar Javier Hernandez in favour of a more pragmatic, meticulous approach.
It hasn’t always worked since he arrived, but it’s worked often enough. What must be remembered is that Moyes’ style is a far cry from the outlandish, often chaotic football seen under the leadership of former manager Slaven Bilic. It takes time to adjust player mentality on the field, and even longer to adjust the average supporter’s.
But adjusted they have. Perhaps not to the degree that Moyes would like just yet, with the club’s feeble showings in big games still proving problematic (Swansea away, as a case in point). But enough to get the job done and keep their heads afloat in England’s top tier for another season at least.
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As a result, the Hammers will now look upon this summer as an opportunity to build a side around creative outlets Arnautovic and Manuel Lanzini, rather than one that is thinking about selling them. There will no doubt, as there always is with West Ham, be ridiculous transfer rumours linking the club with a host of unrealistic targets. But in amongst the silliness, must come a clear and defined strategy this summer.
Some will say the club hasn’t really had a strategy since West Ham were promoted back to the Premier League. They may be right. The scatter gun approach that tends to go hand in hand with the majority of the Hammers transfer dealings is no doubt a determining factor in the club’s struggles.
Now is an opportunity to change that. Moyes has a philosophy and a foundation that he can build upon. It’s up to the owners to first, decide his future at the club (keeping him is probably a wise idea), and secondly, back him to the hilt in the transfer market. And in saying that, I don’t mean throw money his way left, right and centre.
Instead, allow him to have control over the direction he wants to take the club in. Identify transfer targets, give the go ahead to pursue players, offer advice over a player’s perceived wealth. In essence, allow him to manage. Doing so may well offer a sustained period of progress, as opposed to the short term gains that the Hammers faithful have enjoyed over the last couple of decades.
Optimism is a fundamental principle of success in football. The Hammers now have the opportunity to be just that – optimistic. There are so many good things going for the club off the pitch (infrastructure, youth academy, facilities), that on-field success is surely waiting in the wings. It all hinges though on successful implementation of carefully thought out planning. Chaired by the manager. Chaired by David Moyes.