David Moyes has slowly but surely made strides at West Ham as he looks to finally draw a line under his Manchester United nightmare – but as this showing proved at Chelsea, there is still plenty to be done to avoid another year of mediocrity
- West Ham were off the pace as Chelsea put them to the sword on Monday night
- David Moyes believes West Ham belong nearer top half of the Premier League
- Moyes has improved the team but on this showing there’s still lots of work to do
In a Premier League season that appears to offer opportunity to a host of clubs, David Moyes and West Ham must look to figure in the top half of the table at least.
For Moyes and his club, there have been too much struggle and mediocrity in recent years.
From that point of view, Moyes is at the right place as he looks to fully re-establish his reputation. The Scot and the club he works for feel they belong somewhere other than the lower reaches of our top division. Both have something to prove, whether they like to admit it or not.
David Moyes has steadily improved West Ham and believes they belong nearer the top half
It’s clear there’s still lots of improvements to be made as they were no match for Chelsea
Moyes has always been a strange contradiction of talent and sensitivity. His failure at Manchester United scarred him after years of steady success and improvement at Preston and Everton. To all but his most ardent disciples, it can sometimes feel as though he is looking to finally draw a line under that and move on.
At West Ham his work has been steadily impressive. His team finally look to have shed some of the schizophrenia that damaged them for so many of their Premier League years and it was no surprise to see them competitive and resolute.
Moyes’s West Ham team are certainly different from those we have seen recently.
This version look a little more reliable, a little less reliant on individuals and a little more sturdy. Moyes, for example, has managed to get the best out of an honest player in Jarrod Bowen — bought from Hull City last January — and Michail Antonio’s emergence as a centre forward has surprised many people. Sadly, he was still absent injured for this one.
At his best, during his years at Everton, Moyes was a good organiser, a good unifier of players and a merger of talent; a coach who was at his best out on the grass working with players hungry to improve.
Thiago Silva broke the deadlock early in the first half as he was left unmarked in the box
A little of that seemed to get lost during subsequent forays at United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland. Much of what made him such a prominent manager seemed to get submerged beneath the surface of a man who seemingly forgot what it was he was good at.
But here his team seemed structured and sensible enough and not harmed by the decision to recall Mark Noble.
The West Ham stalwart had not started a game in the Premier League since the opening weekend defeat by Newcastle. But at Stamford Bridge Noble was back in midfield alongside the younger Declan Rice. Rice admits he has learned much from Noble but seems destined to further his career playing for Monday night’s opponents.
Chelsea’s interest in Rice is intense enough to suggest they will offer West Ham a sum they cannot refuse, in all likelihood next summer.
That is a problem for Moyes for the future, though. On Monday night the more pressing matter was the way his team fell behind. Chelsea are a good set-piece team but Thiago Silva was given too much space by the dozing Aaron Cresswell as he headed Chelsea in front from a corner. West Ham had started slowly and it felt as though their night may be a long one from that point on. Chelsea had a hunger about them.
Chelsea target Declan Rice played but could not create a spark to get West Ham’s attack firing
Tammy Abraham netted second-half brace to compound West Ham’s woes and finish them off
But over the course of the first half, Frank Lampard’s men lost their impetus and when Lukasz Fabianski — West Ham’s most reliable goalkeeper for some time — saved well from Timo Werner just before half-time, it felt as though West Ham were still well in the game.
That feeling only deepened in the second period, during which West Ham were the better team for half an hour.
As such, Moyes will have been devastated to lose in such ultimately dismal fashion.
They lacked spark in the final third and that did for them. Tammy Abraham’s two late goals were poor ones to concede but it was a failure to make their own mark in front of goal during a period of dominance that hurt them.
For all their improvement this season, West Ham’s stand-out result remains a home draw with Manchester City.
After this they sit 10th. Respectable enough, but in this open season it feels a little underwhelming. Room for improvement, it seems.
West Ham sit in a respectable 10th position but Moyes will be devastated by Monday’s display
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