Deal Or No Deal – The Moyes Debate
After winning our first trophy in decades last summer, and after turning the year in 6th place and safely navigating the Europa group stages, the debate about Moyes continues to divide the West Ham fanbase. Social media has become saturated with passionate, and often aggressive, disputes that argue either Moyes-in or Moyes-out.
The footballing media seem astonished that there could be any question over whether David Moyes should get a new contract, pegging the West Ham supporters who want change as ungrateful or even insane. Let’s face it, they have a point! There is no getting away from it, David Moyes is probably our most successful manager of all time. One major trophy and three successive European qualifications in his four year stint is simply unsurpassed in West Ham history.
Some believe he has been lucky, had more money than any previous managers, or come up with any means of undermining his achievements as manager. But the records and results speak for themselves – his teams have achieved and the debate about whether he has been successful or not should end now.
However, the Moyes debate is misaligned. Moyes-in supporters argue he has been our most successful manager ever, and Moyes-out supporters argue his footballing style and methods are turgid and lack positivity and entertainment. It strikes me that these are not contrasting views, and the sooner both sides acknowledge and understand this, the sooner the fanbase can come together. The biggest issue is that while we may be on opposing sides of the Moyes-in or Moyes out debate, our reasons are not in direct opposition. Being successful is not the opposite of playing entertaining football, they are not mutually exclusive.
Personally, I don’t want Moyes to get a new contract. In fact, the thought of another two to three more years of football under his stewardship depresses me, but my reason is I dislike the style and methods. I have enjoyed the successful spell we have had, getting more than a taste of European football, competing amongst the bigger teams and having some bragging rights. Moyes has given us that – no question – but I don’t want to continue seeing us with two deep defensive lines, playing with little in-game ambition or risk, and effectively being outplayed most games.
I acknowledge the achievements and results gained by Moyes, but I simply do not enjoy the football or methods. To counter that argument by saying Moyes has been our most successful manager, or that he won us a trophy, is accurate, but quite frankly irrelevant to my opinion.
Also, wanting to see more entertaining football does not mean that I expect us to be Man City. To be honest, without the quality that you would usually see in a Pep Guardiola team, the tiki-taka or possession-based styles of play can also be quite boring. Yes, I would like to see a bit more possession because I enjoy seeing us with the ball rather than watching our opponents have it for 60-75% of every game, but more importantly I want to see us play football on the front foot, setting out to win rather than to not get beat.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal priorities and what fans individually want from their team. If being successful is more important than the style to you, then you are probably Moyes-in. If wanting to see entertaining football is your top priority, then you are probably Moyes-out. The same may also be relative to personality traits; if you’re more prone to safety and security and don’t like to take risks then you will more likely be in favour of Moyes getting a new contract. If you’re more of a risk taker by nature, then you’re more likely to be in favour of a managerial change, even if it means burning through 2-3 managers in a couple of seasons to get to the end goal of more entertainment.
It would be far less stressful for all of us if we just accepted that we all have different opinions about the club we love, and if we treated each other with a bit less vitriol and hostility. I include myself in that, as I have been one that has created and shared social media content that disparages Moyes at times, adding fuel to the fire. While I dont think I should be scared to share my opinion, I am going to try to be less inflammatory from now on, and a bit more respectful when using social media.
Moyes-in or Moyes-out certainly splits the fan base, has there ever been a more divisive West Ham manager over a sustained period of time?