David Moyes: The right man to lead West Ham United forward?
West Ham United fans protest ''Moyes Out'' banner after defeat to Nottingham Forest (Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Even though the Hammers sit in a healthy league position, a minority of disgruntled West Ham fans are calling for a change in the dugout having not picked up a win in 2024. 

David Moyes is into his second stint in East London having previously been given the reigns in November 2017 but departed at the end of that season with ex-Manchester City and Real Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini replacing him. 

His return at the end of 2019 provoked an immediate change in results as the Hammers soon reached the European places and reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League under his guidance. Not to mention last season's memorable Europa Conference League triumph, West Ham's first European trophy since 1965. 

However, it hasn't all been plain sailing for Moyes. By continuing to deploy a defensive style of play, the Scotsman is under increasing pressure amid a poor run of form. 

But could he be the fifth Premier League manager this term to be sacked?

Where would West Ham be without him? 

The first debate that has to be had is where West Ham would be without Moyes. 

When he returned to the London Stadium during the 2019/20 season, the former Manchester United boss took over a side that could have been heading for the Sky Bet Championship, sitting in 17th place and one point above the relegation zone. 

By no means did Moyes set the world alight but he got the results needed to get them out of trouble, eventually finishing in 16th place with the latter part of the campaign played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Pessimism grew ahead of the subsequent campaign following a lack of transfer activity with the only major additions being unknown quantity Vladimír Coufal from Slavia Prague, the permanent signing of Tomáš Souček and Saïd Benrahma from Brentford

The Hammers defied the odds though with Moyes' cohesive defensive unit, a midfield pairing of Souček and Declan Rice as well as an exciting frontline with the emergence of Jarrod Bowen. 

They were consistently challenging near the top of the Premier League table for the whole of the campaign and aided by the January loan addition of Jesse Lingard, they settled for a sixth-place finish and a slot in the Europa League. 

With the return of fans ahead of the 2021/22 season, West Ham fans were treated to several memorable European nights after progressing past the group stage with relative ease. 

From a side struggling to retain their Premier League status to gunning for a place in the Champions League, Moyes transformed West Ham and a return to the second tier for the first time since 2011/12 could certainly have been on the cards without his leadership. 

Memorable European nights

The Hammers had previously flirted with European football in 2015/16 but were unable to progress to the group stages after being knocked out by Romanian minnows Astra Giurgiu in the qualifying rounds. 

After automatically securing their group stage spot, they had trips to Dinamo ZagrebRapid Wien and Olympiacos before an even more memorable time in the knockout stages. 

In the round of 16, West Ham faced seven-time Europa League winners Sevilla and despite trailing 1-0 in the first leg, they turned it around at the London Stadium with a 2-1 aggregate win. 

Following a 1-1 draw with Lyon in the first leg of the quarter-finals, the return leg in France was perhaps the most memorable game in Moyes' tenure so far. The Hammers blew away the Ligue 1 outfit in a convincing 3-0 win to book a place in the semi-finals. 

A place in the final could not be achieved though as Eintracht Frankfurt prevailed with a 3-1 aggregate win but nonetheless, West Ham were on the up. 

Those memorable nights continued after finishing in seventh place, confirming their spot in the second season of the Europa Conference League. 

With teams supposedly of less quality in this competition, West Ham were considered to be one of the favourites and won all six of their group stage matches before easing past AEK Larnaca in the round of 16. 

Belgian side Gent posed more of a threat but a 5-2 aggregate win ensued, setting up a semi-final tie with AZ Alkmaar. It was a tight first leg, despite the Hammers' 2-1 win, and their sole aim was to hold onto their one-goal cushion ahead of the return leg in the Netherlands. 

They did just that and thanks to Pablo Fornals' last-minute strike, it confirmed West Ham would be heading to Prague for the final. This was while they were struggling in the league and unlike the previous campaign, finding it difficult to maintain the pace with their rivals as well as playing in European competition. 

Fiorentina was the only obstacle standing in their way and heading into the final, they were the favourites but West Ham, as they had done so many times under Moyes, found a way. 

Giacomo Bonaventura cancelled out Benrahma's opener but Bowen wrote his name in West Ham folklore with the winner in the dying minutes. 

Perhaps more significantly, Moyes had made his side nearly faultless in this competition having won 12 and drawn one of their 13 outings.

However, the Hammers had a poor league campaign with a 14th-place finish and only sat six points above the drop zone come the end of the season. 

The here and now

Rice's summer departure to Arsenal for £105m was a major blow but with the signings of Edson Álvarez and James Ward-Prowse, they seemed to be the best players available to try and replace the England international. 

Notwithstanding the addition of Ajax frontman Mohammed Kudus, fending off reported interest from Arsenal for his signature. 

The season started perfectly and they sat top of the table after three games following three consecutive wins but defeats to Everton and Brentford showed faults in their performances. 

The December period saw impressive wins over Tottenham Hotspur, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Manchester United and Arsenal to keep them in with a chance of another European finish. 

2024 hasn't been a positive one though and having been winless in six coupled with an early exit out of the Emirates FA Cup to Bristol City, Moyes' side are coming under a lot of scrutiny.

The recent 6-0 home defeat to Arsenal was the most alarming sign where thousands of West Ham fans opted for an early exit after Leandro Trossard netted the fourth just before half-time.

Kalvin Phillips arrived at the London Stadium on loan from Manchester City in January but has failed to impress so far, including a sending-off in Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest. 

'Moyes Out' banners were displayed in the away end at the City Ground and Moyes post-match comments of 'I think it would be hard to say that there have been many better times' is very true, the experienced manager should go down as a key part in their history following European success. 

Summary 

On a brighter note, they have three winnable games coming up with the visits of Brentford and Burnley as well as a trip to Everton.

West Ham are also waiting to find out their opponents for the round of 16 of the Europa League and another memorable run could be in the pipeline.

Moyes is still waiting for the return of Brazilian playmaker Lucas Paquetá and his return could coincide with an improvement in results. 

Several names have been linked with the West Ham job such as Graham Potter and Thomas Tuchel but respect has to be put on Moyes' name after his West Ham side had the highest points tally in a Premier League season at the halfway point with 33. 

He has also improved a number of players such as Bowen more recently as well as the shrewd additions of Coufal and Souček. 

The Hammers sit in ninth place at present and although they sit eight points off of Manchester United in sixth, Moyes should be trusted to lead them forward after turning West Ham from a relegation-threatened side to European champions. 

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