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Moyes exclusive: Stability, evolution and wanting to ‘taste success’

Just eight months after ending the club’s 43-year wait for a major trophy, David Moyes was facing calls for his exit from West Ham supporters at Nottingham Forest. Football can be a fickle game.

Moyes was punchy after that loss earlier this month, telling the fans: “Maybe there would be managers who excite them more – but the one who is sitting here wins more.”

The 60-year-old is more sanguine when he sits down for an exclusive interview with Sky Sports ahead of West Ham’s Monday Night Football meeting with Brentford, but is not downplaying the success he has helped bring to east London.

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“If people are going to forget that we’ve just won a European trophy then that would be wrong,” says Moyes.

But it’s not just that Europa Conference League victory over Fiorentina in Prague. Arriving halfway through the 2019/20 campaign, Moyes allayed West Ham’s relegation fears and then secured successive top-seven finishes, before European glory last season.

Moyes is now West Ham’s longest-serving manager since Harry Redknapp departed in 2001, and he suggests: “Consistency and stability at West Ham might have been the things that were missing.

“Now there’s a much more stable team and a club which isn’t bouncing along all the time. Europe for three years in a row is a great example.”

West Ham’s record in the Premier League this season compared to their three previous campaigns – shown in the graphic below – is a perfect example of the stability Moyes has engineered.

GRAPHIC

Not that he is completely satisfied. “We hoped to be ahead of where we were. We started the season so well and wanted to keep it up. We had some brilliant wins at some of the top teams,” he says.

Moyes isn’t wrong. West Ham beat Arsenal – twice – Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham – results that had them dreaming of a top-six finish.

But the turn of the year has brought a turn in fortunes. They’re now winless in eight matches and there have been grumblings about a perceived negative style of play.

“It can happen,” concedes Moyes. “You’re not perfect all the way through the season.

“I wouldn’t say that would be normal for a team on West Ham’s level but quite a few of the top teams have found it difficult in different months this year.”

The visit of Brentford is the beginning of a crucial period, being one of three games West Ham play at the London Stadium before next month’s international break.

The last home game ended in a 6-0 humbling against Arsenal, with fans streaming for the exits long before full-time. A strong showing against Brentford would help to lighten the mood.

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Some West Ham fans saw enough as they left before half-time of their side’s game against Arsenal, with the visitors leading 4-0

“When we came in, maybe the crowd wasn’t as powerful,” Moyes reflects. “Now over 60,000 come to watch West Ham for most games – that’s incredible power.”

It’s a power Moyes wants to see channelled into supporting his players in their time of need, saying: “We had to play through Covid when there wasn’t any supporters, and the team was fantastic.

“When you’re not doing so well, that’s when you really need your supporters to be behind the team.”

Criticism of Moyes should also come with the caveat that he has had to adapt to life without Declan Rice, with the manager conceding: “We are feeling a wee bit of the effect at the moment.

“We’re missing Declan because of his consistency, his form, his defensive prowess. We’ve suffered a little recently because of not having it.”

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Thomas Frank says West Ham manager David Moyes deserves more credit for what he has done for the club

The financial realities of life in the Premier League without billionaire owners should also be considered. Thanks to Rice’s sale, West Ham are one of only four Premier League sides to have turned a profit in the transfer market this season.

“We’re trying to be a side that’s competitive but we don’t have multi-billionaires out there from Qatar or Saudi who are helping us,” says Moyes. “We’re trying to do a pretty good job of balancing it.

“We have to work pretty tight with our budget and recently we’ve done a pretty good job of getting players in.”

Mohammed Kudus, James Ward-Prowse and Edson Alvarez were signed with the proceeds from Rice’s sale and all appear to be shrewd buys.

Tim Steidten may have arrived as sporting director but Moyes remains influential in recruitment. After all, he knows responsibility falls upon the manager if the team fails.

“I’ve always been involved in recruitment,” he says. “If you don’t recruit well then you probably won’t be doing your team any good.”

While Moyes admits “you’ll never get them all right”, he has plenty of successes to his name. Jarrod Bowen – plucked from the Championship four years ago and now an England international – is an example of an eye for talent that Moyes honed at Everton.

Moyes’ eye for talent at West Ham

Player Signed from Fee
Jarrod Bowen Hull, January 2020 £25m
Tomas Soucek Slavia Prague, Summer 2020 £15m
Vladimir Coufal Slavia Prague, Summer 2020 £5m
Alphonse Areola Paris Saint-Germain, Summer 2022 £7.75m
Lucas Paqueta Lyon, Summer 2022 £51.3m
Edson Alvarez Ajax, Summer 2023 £35.4m
James Ward-Prowse Southampton, Summer 2023 £30m
Mohammed Kudus Ajax, Summer 2023 £38.2m

Tim Cahill, John Stones, [Mikel] Arteta, [Steven] Pienaar, [Joleon] Lescott. People coming through the academy, like Ross Barkley,” he recalls. As Moyes looks back on his successes in the transfer market, it’s a reminder of how long he has been operating at this level.

Nearly 22 years after taking charge of his first top-flight game, Moyes now ranks behind only Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger for both matches and wins as a Premier League manager.

The key to that longevity? “I’ve had to adapt all along,” reflects Moyes. “I’ve changed in huge ways.

“I’ll always believe that, when I started at Preston, that’s when I was at my best. I didn’t have any baggage, I didn’t have media around me, I could speak the way I wanted.

“But as you move up, you have to find your own niche. Whether it be my character or my tactical stuff, it’s evolved greatly.”

Minutes before this interview, Moyes revealed that, despite being offered a new contract by West Ham, he is choosing to leave a decision over his future until the end of the season.

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West Ham boss David Moyes says he’s been offered a new contract at the club but will wait until the end of the season to decide whether to sign it

Along with discontent from elements of the support, that decision will do nothing to quieten speculation that his fifth season with the club will be his last.

Not that Moyes feels he has taken West Ham as far as he can, saying: “I’m eager to drive on again. I fight tooth and nail for everything I can.

“But when you get a little older, you start to reflect a little bit more. I’ve really enjoyed the years I’ve been in football – and I’m still enjoying them.

“We had an unbelievable success last year and I want another taste of that.”

That night in Prague has left Moyes hungry for more.

Watch West Ham vs Brentford on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Main Event and Premier League from 6.30pm; kick-off 8pm.

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