David Moyes has proven himself at West Ham again, which might see him tempted to go for a bigger job. Instead, he should take on new challenges at the London Stadium.
On Thursday night, his West Ham side take on Eintracht Frankfurt in one of the Londoners’ most important games in years. The Germans defeated Xavi Hernandez’s resurgent Barcelona to get there, so they are neither clowns nor jokers. If the Scot can guide the team through the two legs and to the final, he will be West Ham’s most successful manager in decades.
In the league, West Ham are currently in seventh. They are likely to reach the Europa League again next season, and there is a chance that consistently playing their best football would earn them a top-four finish. Under Moyes, they have seen their ambitions move from mid-table to top of the table.
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While they will never reach there, they can consider themselves well set for a few more years at least without relegation concerns. That has not always been true for the current owners.
There are problems which come with success. The quality of Declan Rice and goalscoring of Jarrod Bowen is integral to their recent impressive achievements, but with that comes the watchful eye of scouts from bigger clubs.
Bowen has been linked to Liverpool in the past, and though they plumped for Diogo Jota most recently, they may have to account for two missing strikers - Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino. They could be back, and with 15 goals in 45 games so far this season, others will be tempted if Liverpool aren’t.
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Rice is perhaps the most attractive prize for Premier League suitors. Assuming Chelsea are able to escape their sanctions they will almost certainly be equipped to spend heavily this summer transfer window, and Manchester United are said to be keen. Rice would also fit in at Manchester City or Liverpool. £150 million has been mentioned as the figure to prise him away from the London Stadium, but whether he leaves this season or next, an exit looks inevitable.
That throws up problems for Moyes, both structural and contemplative. Losing an exceptional player and gaining a huge injection of cash rarely goes well for smaller teams. Spurs spent heavily to replace Gareth Bale and had little to show for it, and that is the closest comparison. Transfers are so difficult to execute well that usually it is preferable for a solvent team to keep any player who offers something exceptional. Moyes will have to rely on the inconsistent strategy of the West Ham board to spend wisely.
Moyes will also be aware that in new co-owner Daniel Kretinsky, he is at the mercy of a billionaire who may have designs on the whole club. Rarely does a takeover go well for an incumbent manager, usually they are shoved out the door instantly or after the first bad run of results. It is difficult to predict how West Ham will fare next season, but eventually over-performance comes to an end unless there is an exceptional reason for it.
Perhaps Moyes will be tempted to jump ship and enjoy the relative glory he has found in London, and try to trade up having failed at Manchester United. He should not be tempted.
Manchester United Manager David Moyes reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Manchester City
Image credit: Getty Images
At Old Trafford, Moyes’ sickly pallor came on almost instantly. The job was plainly too much for him, and players targeted him like he was a supply teacher. His utterances in front of a camera were counter-productive and embarrassing. He seems like a decent man, and there is no need for him to go through such an ordeal again. Instead, remaining at West Ham might be a tough, but sensible choice.
As discussed, the ‘exceptional reason’ for over-performance could be that Moyes has found his level. Some managers excel lower down the table, others do better with the greatest talents of the day. Moyes appears to have a knack for mixing hard work with undiscovered or under-appreciated flair players. There is no little skill in that, and to be able to do that first at Everton and then at West Ham suggests that repeating the trick is not a result of luck, but talent and experience.
It is, because of his time at United, easy to paint Moyes as a bit of a bozo, but post-United, he has carried himself admirably. He threw himself into life at Real Sociedad and his time there was no disaster. He got relegated at Sunderland, but so does everybody. At West Ham there were reasonable doubts as he comes across at times as uniquely uninspiring. But he has proved everyone wrong - he should not be tempted to give the doubters more ammunition.
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