How David Moyes rejuvenated West Ham and returned to eminence after his wretched spell at Man United

Chidalu Obiajulu

When David Moyes, 58, was an emerging manager at Preston in the 1990s, he thrived off some basic but unshakeable principles.

What has helped him in rejuvenating West Ham includes hard work, supreme fitness, Zeal and passion for the club and to win — double training sessions were common — an emphasis on effective set-pieces and old-school values such as immaculate timekeeping. He also persuaded the club to buy good players.

It will be good to say that the Scottish manager has done a great job at West Ham, for all this and more forms the foundation of what Moyes is now doing at West Ham, turning them to be a threat to big teams and also title chaser.

In the previous and current campaign of the Premier League, West Ham are really an emerging force.Under the helm is a rejuvenated coach who many felt would not be seen again at this level after wretched spells at Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland after what is called disastrous spell that almost ended his coaching career.

Will I say it says much more about Moyes that he has returned to eminence after what happened to him between succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford in 2013 which things didn’t work out and leaving Sunderland four years later.

After his disappointing appointments on both Preston and Everton it now seems the spell is broken. But it is telling that the methods which have enabled him to push his way back towards the top of the mountain have been those that worked for him years ago at Preston and Everton.

The praises, testimonies from those who worked for Moyes at both clubs are startlingly similar. And seemingly a bit surprising that West Ham are now one of the country’s hardest-working teams out of possession in English football.

The Hammers have been doing real good in set pieces and have now scored more than 30 set-piece goals — more than any other Premier League team — since Moyes returned at the end of 2019 and are being smart in the transfer market unlike their previous managers.

Before his appointment as West Ham coach, there was a greyness from his predecessor, Manuel Pellegrini, Moyes has brought a freshness to West Ham that in turn has bred a sense of purpose back to what had been such a dysfunctional club.

The 58 years old spell at Sunderland, simply seemed shot through with negativity. A consequence of his United experience? Maybe that really affected him,but it’s good to say he’s back and doing what he’s known for.

Moyes spell at old Trafford and what actually happened to him was really a great untold mystery for a coach of his calibre. He seemed a little overawed by the experience and his players sensed it. In one dressing-room exchange he asked his team to ‘show me how to win’.

This was really a change or outlook from a manager who in his two previous postings always appeared so sure of his methods. At Preston and Everton, he was described by players such as Graham Alexander and Marouane Fellaini as a father figure.

Currently,He is recreating that feeling at West Ham,the feeling of winning game after game. It is harder with modern players, certainly. At Preston, for example, he insisted that everybody lived within 20 miles of the club. But it is not impossible. Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen have both spoken recently of the joy of coming in to work.

That is easy to say when a team are winning and Sunday’s thunderous victory over Liverpool was West Ham’s fourth on the spin in the league. Nevertheless, Moyes has placed building blocks designed to see his squad through a downturn in form that is sure to arrive at some point.

When he returned to the club — he kept West Ham up on a six-month contract in season 2017-18 — Moyes identified recruitment as a huge problem.

He believed the club was behind everyone else in the top flight and he had the statistics proving it. Of the 15 players signed at great expense between 2018 and 2019, only five remain at the club.

It will be right to say he’s the driving force of which West Ham are striving, the director of football model pursued by West Ham had been a disaster and, with this in mind, Moyes is now very much hands-on. He played a role in the signings of Bowen, Kurt Zouma and Tomas Soucek, while reserve goalkeeper Alphonse Areola was taken after recommendation from keeper coach Xavi Valero.

Meanwhile the recruitment of previous friend and teammate, seems to be working out for the club, newly installed head of recruitment Rob Newman — formerly of Manchester City — is an old team-mate of Moyes’ from Bristol City in the mid-1980s.

Alan Irvine, once Moyes’ assistant at Everton and indeed West Ham, has moved upstairs to a technical director role.

If this all sounds a little cosy, that may not be a bad thing. It is, for example, no longer the way at one of Moyes’ old clubs, Everton, and look at the inconsistent way they have performed in the market in recent years.

It’s not a thing of surprise that all his coaching staff reflect his values, too. Stuart Pearce, Billy McKinlay and Paul Nevin have been known to him for years. Kevin Nolan, once a West Ham captain, was bold enough to ring up and ask for work. Moyes liked that.

It is Pearce and in particular Nolan who provide the link between the first team and the academy, something that suffered during Pellegrini’s time in charge.

But Moyes is the figurehead of a transformation so complete that many seasoned West Ham watchers say they cannot remember a time like it.

Time will tell where it all goes. Moyes’ great drawback was always a rather thin skin when it came to criticism. That goes all the way back to Preston. The longer West Ham remain in the top four, the greater the scrutiny will become.

But such a conversation is for another time as West Ham’s progress shows no signs of slowing. Their football under Moyes is easy to watch and devastatingly effective.

Always a forward thinker, he once installed cameras at Preston’s training ground so he could watch sessions again. There was much to observe.

‘The fitter you are, the better you will play,’ was one of his mantras in Lancashire. More than two decades later, that much has not changed.