When you think of the successful managers in the Premier League, the mind naturally goes to Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, and the current crop of managers like Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
But in terms of total wins, the much-maligned David Moyes now ranks third behind Arsene and Alex, with just short of 250 wins in the Premier League. Regardless of your opinions, that’s a lot of wins.
But when you look into other stats, the mask begins to slip. The man who famously declared “that’s what I do, I win” has a win percentage a long way below 50%. In fact, to bring his percentage up to above 50%, West Ham United would have to win 71 Premier League matches on the trot.
Obviously, that would be fantastic; as a West Ham fan I’d love to have a proper invincible season rather than drawing the way to a title, although we’d probably still crash out of every cup as early as Arsenal did in 2004.
Back down to earth, and the win percentages, any fan can see that Moyes isn’t one of the greats the Premier League has seen. In fact, in terms of win percentages, Moyes doesn’t make the top 20, in a list that includes Brendan Rogers, Andre Villas-Boas, and his successor at United, Louis Van Gaal.
For Moyes, competition comes from Sam Allardyce and Steve Bruce who have a win percentage of 33% and 28% respectively, a win rate that West Ham has not kept up with this season by some margin.
So what’s going wrong this season? Unfortunately, expectations may be set a little high for Moyes. During the 2020/21 and 2021/22 campaigns, competition for top six places was at an all-time low.
Tottenham’s bi-annual Champions League hiatus occurred, Arsenal took a season to rebuild before starting on their way to topping the table, United went through a manager change, and Leicester are always guaranteed to bottle a Champions League place with Rogers in charge.
The fact is that the poorer sides like West Ham and Leicester cashed in on the misfortune of those that should be in Europe. But that still doesn’t exonerate the position Moyes has led West Ham into.
Watching West Ham, it’s clear that they have been found out. West Ham’s record in 2022 has seen a drastic slowdown in wins and goals and a frightening increase in losses and concessions, and comparing the void between West Ham’s 2021 and 2022 calendar years is currently like comparing Manchester United and Leeds United.
In fact West Ham’s points tally in 2021 would have comfortably secured them a place in the Champions League in any of the past four seasons, whereas their 2022 form wouldn’t have got them past 16th.
That’s the crucial element. This isn’t a slump, this isn’t the money of Newcastle, or the tactics of Conte winning out. That could be understood. It’s the fact that West Ham, after months of delusion, are waking up to the fact that they are in a relegation battle.
Time for change?
Yet, as I currently sit here, the board are still backing him. That’s little surprise to fans, often the first to call for a manager’s head, but in the past West Ham have been reluctant to sack managers, opting instead to wait it out.
The other point is about who should come in. West Ham are in a precarious position, a squad that should be mid-table at least are about to embark on back-to-back relegation six-point-ers, so deciding whether to go and get a creative manager, or someone with experience at the bottom is tricky.
That decision will almost certainly be made for the board in the coming weeks. Any manager worth their salt will swerve a relegation battle and the Sean Dyche/Sam Allardyce discussion will ensue.
Unfortunately, the board are right in this case, Moyes would be a perfect candidate for the battle that West Ham has on their hands. Pragmatic, defence-minded, determined football saw the Hammers survive in 2019/20 and secure sixth in the following season.
But now the squad has changed and the tactics have been found out. Moyes needs to quickly evolve if he has any hope of staying on at West Ham, and utilise the talent that is there in Lucas Paqueta, Gianluca Scamacca, Said Benrahma, Jarrod Bowen and, until the end of the season, Declan Rice or risk losing them by this time next year.
That might be a step too far for Moyes. Certainly, his most successful stint at Everton would indicate he has hit a ceiling with the Hammers. The only saving grace for is that the World Cup has afforded more opportunities for points, and Moyes needs to take those opportunities now, because he may well be the best fit for a team like West Ham.