What is going wrong with West Ham under David Moyes?

The Hammers are sitting outside relegation berths thanks to a better goal difference but have their work cut out to ensure Premier League safety. If the clubs beleaguered manager doesn’t pull something out of the hat, the club may well be taking their place among the many Championship fixtures next season.

Manuel Pellegrini was axed after failing to turn the side of a wandering West Ham United. The Chilean was tasked with making the Hammers a top-half side. He was allowed to procure the players he wanted but injuries and poor form did not help his cause.

Pellegrini was replaced by David Moyes. This would be the former Everton and Manchester United manager’s second spell in east London. Moyes was supposed to turn the tide for a sinking ship but it has not materialized as anyone would have hoped.

After 31 rounds of Premier League action, the Hammers are just outside the relegation slots. In their most recent meeting, Harry Kane inspired Tottenham to victory. For their next outing, they are involved in another London derby, this time against Champions League qualification hopefuls, Chelsea.

Tough fixture list

They have a tough month ahead of them but if previous form is any metric, it will not be pretty. West Ham only claimed eight points from their last twelve Premier League fixtures in 2020. They have been swatted away by all and sundry, only Southampton and Bournemouth have allowed them a taste of victory.

When Manuel Pellegrini was shown ushered out the exit door, West Ham were on a downward trajectory. Nothing has changed since now and then. More so, this side is even worse to look at.

Moyes has never been known as an astute tactician but his teams play hard. The Scotsman is a quintessential Premier League manager, married to his preferred formation which has its bedrock on long balls. It would have been great if the 4-1-4-1 formation would have borne results but it has not.

Injuries, and absent first team regulars

Sebastian Haller was an expensive recruit from Bundesliga but he has suffered first season syndrome. While he is the sides top scorer with 7 goals, way more was expected from the €40 million signing judging from his more fruitful time with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Haller’s numbers would have been better had Michail Antonio or Felipe Anderson not battled injury concerns throughout the season. Manuel Lanzini has impressed but is far too inconsistent to be relied upon. Neither Moyes nor Pellegrini had the luxury of their star attackers for the duration of the season.

While the forwards have been woeful, it is their defense that has let them down the most. Jose Mourinho has been vocal in his praise for Issa Diop but the French defender has been part of the third most porous defense in 2019/20.

Diop’s pairing with Angelo Ogbonna allows opposition to take shots on goal regularly, while rivals easily get behind them as well. Without reliable partners on the flanks, have been caught napping far too often.

To make matters worse, West Ham missed Lukasz Fabianski through injury. Like every other department on the pitch, the Hammers did not have a reliable deputy and suffered as a consequence.

Long time coming

The Moyes experiment has not worked with the Hammers and it looks unlikely his contract is not rescinded at the end of this campaign. But the blame is not entirely on the manager, and the one he replaced. The squad does not have any identity.

Take a look at the player profiles of the roster. Even a cursory glance will show that players have been acquired as stop-gaps and without much thought. The recruitment policy has been haphazard to say the least and it has made the jobs of managers more difficult.

Slaven Bilic had different principles, his replacement David Moyes was poles apart, and the individual who replaced Moyes, Manuel Pellegrini, was made in an entirely different mold. There has not been consistency of approach by the men making the all too important decisions. This might come back to bite them as relegation looms large.

However, David Moyes still has a chance. Three of their last seven games are against teams involved in the relegation battle. These potential six-pointers will decide their fate.

A club of West Ham’s stature should not suffer the ignominy of relegation, but they are the architects of their own demise.