Ferdinand & Jordan: I’ll Tell You What We Want…
Supporters that are not fans of the current football have been called out publicly a few times of late, most notably by Rio Ferdinand and Simon Jordan. 6foot2’s Nigel Kahn has also just done a seven part series looking at all of our managers that concluded that David Moyes is statistically our greatest top flight manager, so doubt about Moyes is perhaps confusing to some.
Therefore, this post is aimed at representing the supporters that want a change at the club, which includes myself. By my reckoning, based on forums, social media, and conversations I have had, the divide on Moyes is around 30% that are adamantly out, 20% adamantly in, and 50% of a floating vote – which seems to include our chairman. Polls often reflect these percentages, as when we have a bad spell you’ll see 65-75% in favour of Moyes leaving and almost the opposite after a good spell.
There is no denying that Moyes has brought success to the club compared to previous years. So, the only reason that there is any debate is the way he goes about it – for many of us the football is unbearable for the most part. There is NO positive intent, it is passive football that relies on us conceding a lot of possession, banking two lines on the edge of our box, and then relying on the quality of a few players to convert the limited number of chances we create.
If the likes of Ferdinand and Jordan actually watched us every week they would perhaps appreciate where some of us are coming from. The unfortunate reality is that we do not deserve to be in the position we are based on performance levels, and believe me I take no pleasure stating that.
We have some fantastic players at West Ham, especially in more advanced positions. A front three of Paqueta, Kudus, and Bowen is Champions League quality, and with a potential midfield of Alvarez, Phillips (when up to speed), and Ward-Prowse, our front six is worthy of a top-six finish.
As a personal estimate; the outcome of matches is decided by 30% player quality and performance, 30% tactics, and 40% luck. Many supporters and pundits underestimate how much luck is involved in football and this is why they make false judgements. Luck includes hundreds of small moments that randomly go for or against you, including deflections, bad bounces, run of the ball, bad decisions, VAR decisions, and also the fractions involved with things like hitting the woodwork instead of scoring, or being offside, or onside, by a toe.
Our tactics are negative, but our luck has been very good this season and we are the top performers in the league for percentage of chances converted. For me, the swing in luck between this season and last, is the reason we were fighting relegation last term and are sitting seventh right now.
Most stats (outside of Won, Drawn, and Lost) point towards us being undeserving of a seventh place league position. Therefore, we have relied on luck rather than tactics to get us where we currently sit and that is just not sustainable over longer periods of time. For example, an XG table taken just before United (below), shows we should be positioned around 12th based on the XG in each game, others based on XG for the season have us as low as 14th-16th.
While I appreciate that many don’t like the XG stat, this does give a less than positive view of what we have deserved out of games this season. However, I decided to delve deeper and look at what we deserved in every Premier League game against what we achieved. The below table takes into account the attempts at goal, a little bit of possession (which is not the be all and end all of course) and what I felt we deserved on the balance of play when watching each game.
All of us will have taken massive satisfaction from beating Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs this season, but only those with rose-tinted glasses would say we deserved to win them games. Chelsea destroyed us in the first half of our game, and on the balance of play should easily have been 3 or 4 up at halftime. It was not dissimilar against Spurs, and in the Arsenal league game we had 6 attempts at goal against 30, which tells the story. Don’t get me wrong, these wins were fantastic for London bragging rights, but we can’t say we deserved to win on the ‘balance of play’.
While others will have differing views on these games, the above is an indicator that if we got what we probably deserved we would be sitting a point above Luton and deep in another relegation battle.
Of course Moyes steered us to winning a European trophy and that was a fantastic achievement that nobody can take away from us or him. But that was the culmination of two seasons work, and the hardest work was done the season before when we finished seventh, or more accurately the first half of that season when we were in the top four, after which our league form fell off a cliff.
So Mr Ferdinand, in answer to your question, what we want is something that resembles positive football from a manager who doesn’t have to rely on luck. Fans pay good money to watch this team play and for a long time there has been no entertainment in the football and we have been outplayed a lot more often than not.
If that means we have to go backwards first then so be it, that’s a risk worth taking in my book. There is a possibility that a manager playing positive football could be more successful than Moyes. But, shhh, don’t tell anyone as a lot of our fans haven’t worked that out yet!