Guest Post by @westhamonline5
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West Ham United had become a side which was one of Europe’s most improved football teams from the years 2020-2022, after a terrible run of form under former manager Manuel Pellegrini in the 19/20 season led to his sacking and the appointment of David Moyes. Moyes saved the Hammers from relegation before qualifying for Europe in back-to-back seasons, as well as reaching a Europa League semi-final, with wins against Lyon and six-time Europa League winners Sevilla along the way. However, the 2022/23 season has seen the Hammers drop into a relegation battle after an abysmal run of league form, despite manager David Moyes spending 170 million in the summer transfer window and breaking the clubs transfer record for Lyon and Brazil star Lucas Paqueta. So that begs the question, what exactly has gone wrong?
Firstly, let’s begin with the end of the 2021/22 season. This drop of form and complete derail for West Ham may seem like it has appeared from nowhere, however, that is simply not the case. West Ham United ended the 21/22 campaign in poor league form, despite the success at the time in Europe. The Hammers went through a run of just four wins out of twelve after beating Liverpool 3-2 at the London Stadium in December of 2021, with that run being prior to the European knockout stages. The Hammers lost 3-2 at home to struggling Leeds and Southampton throughout that run, displaying the fact that the Hammers were far from perfect. Moyes side also lost to Brighton on the final day, meaning Europa League football was out of the question and Conference League football was clinched, despite being in the top five at Christmas.
The fall-off was obvious at the time. Teams had figured out West Ham’s style of play and had found a way of combating it. Striker Michail Antonio was clearly unable to play two games a week at the age of thirty-one, and his form in front of goal was poor. West Ham was desperate to sign a striker to rotate with Antonio in the summer transfer window and they did just that. Italian international Gianluca Scamacca joined the club from Sassuolo for a 35 million fee. The excitement behind the player and amongst the fanbase seemingly hid glaring issues at the time. Scamacca was a striker who worked best in a front-two. He wasn’t a striker who could run the channels, nor was he a striker who could carry the ball. In other words, he was a completely different profile of player in comparison to Antonio, yet he was simply expected to play as a lone striker in a team that relied on their forward to drift wide to open space for star winger Jarrod Bowen.
West Ham also signed defender Nayef Aguerd due to his on the ball abilities, yet West Ham are seemingly at their best when pure box defenders such as Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma are utilised in a low block. Lucas Paqueta was signed as a “10 who can score and assist goals”, yet he was at his best playing as a central midfielder in a 4-3-3 at Lyon and has also been for West Ham.
West Ham has never been a high-pressing team under Moyes, but the side had players who could press with intensity in the correct areas to get West Ham up the pitch: Jarrod Bowen, Jesse Lingard, Michail Antonio and Pablo Fornals embodied this plan. Bar Bowen, all said players have been replaced with players who don’t suit the intensity which helped the Hammers to frustrate the opposition, with Scamacca and Benrahma being particularly poor in the press. It’s important to note that poor finishing and decision-making haven’t helped West Ham along the way, Moyes men are projected to be on 39 points this season yet only sit on 30 at the time of writing as a result of dreadfully missed chances in numerous vital games, such as Liverpool at Anfield in which Jarrod Bowen missed a penalty, and an open goal was missed by midfielder Tomas Soucek.
In conclusion, West Ham United have significantly declined as a result of poor investment profile wise and terrible finishing collectively and individually. The chances are being created for the wrong players, and players are attempting to perform in roles which don’t suit them.
The question now for Moyes and this West Ham side is, can they turn it around?@westhamonline5