HOW WEST HAM’S RISE UNDER DAVID MOYES CAN BE TRACED BACK THROUGH THEIR TRANSFERS
David Moyes took over West Ham on December 29, 2019, for his second spell at the club. He inherited a side sat in 17th in the table with just 19 points from their first 20 games. The ex-Manchester United manager stabilised things and ensured survival was achieved with a convincing 3-1 home win against Watford.
Since then, West Ham’s fortunes have undergone a big transformation. After a sixth place finish last season they currently sit fourth in the Premier league and have a 100% record in their Europa league group. Things are the best they’ve been for a long time at the London Stadium and a lot of it can be accredited to their transfers.
Firstly, in the January transfer window, Moyes brought in Tomas Soucek from Slavia Prague. Not much was thought of the 6ft4 midfielder when he was signed but he has gone on to become an integral piece of the team. The solidity he brings in the middle of the park complimented by his habit of scoring has made him one of the first names on the team sheet and has formed a fantastic partnership with Englishman Declan Rice. The two of them bounce off each other and the more they play together the more each individual game improves. As seen by Rice leading the way in many metrics for midfielder in the league this season and becoming more of a goal threat from midfield, just like his partner.
Highly rated Championship attacker Jarrod Bowen also joined in January 2020 and proved his potential picking up four assists in the 13 appearances he made. Just like Soucek, he has also gone on to become a regular in the side with five goal contributions this season and represents a clever acquisition by Moyes and his team.
After survival was achieved, Moyes could turn his attention to the new season and went about doing so by crucially signing Soucek on a permanent deal, bringing in Saïd Benrahma from the Championship on loan, which would become permanent in January, and signing Soucek’s compatriot and old teammate, Vladimir Coufal.
Right back was a spot West Ham had struggled with in the previous season with Ryan Fredericks but the 27 year old Czech made that spot his own appearing in 36 games and his seven assists from that area of the pitch highlighted how Moyes likes his full backs to be able to provide at both ends of the pitch. In comparison in the 2019/20 season the full backs only made a combined four assists.
Heading into the 2021 January transfer window West Ham were sat in 10th but just like in the previous January window, Moyes and West Ham struck gold again.
First up was Jesse Lingard on loan from Manchester United who was in desperate need of a revival in his career and at West Ham he found it. His nine goals and five assists from 16 appearances saw West Ham flirt with a top four finish before finally ending up in sixth. His ability to link the midfield and attack is what saw a drastic improvement in West Ham’s form. Something that can be backed up by the fact they averaged less crosses with Lingard on the pitch than when he isn’t, implying that he is the creative hub that Moyes saw as West Ham’s best way of scoring.
Secondly, experienced professional Craig Dawson was brought in on loan from Championship club Watford. Eyebrows were raised when he was signed but he proved any doubters wrong with his efforts at the back for the Hammers. But the solidity he provided saw him rewarded with a permanent deal and now adds quality and experience to West Ham’s depth in that area of the pitch.
In comparisons to other windows this one was quieter, a sign of a club who are in a good position. Alphonse Areola joined as the backup goalkeeper from PSG on loan and has shown his credentials in cup competitions so far. Also, Nikola Vlasic and Alex Kral joined to further boost the ranks and allow the Hammers to compete on several fronts this season.
However, the main addition was Champions League winning centre back Kurt Zouma from Chelsea. He fell out of favour under Thomas Tuchel last season but came straight into the first team at West Ham and his man of the match performance against Tottenham last Sunday highlighted his capabilities.
Soucek, Bowen, Benrahma, Coufal and Zouma have all become part of Moyes’ preferred starting XI (Lingard as well when he was at the club) and they have been complimented by those already at the club such as Łukasz Fabianski, Aaron Cresswell, Rice and Michail Antonio. With the ship being steered by the veteran Moyes, who has implemented his aims and policies into the club, you have an exciting team on the rise.
If you had told West Ham fans after the 2019/20 season that they would be fourth in the league in 2021/22, they would’ve been bewildered but thanks to smart work in the transfer market and some clever additions, Moyes and his troops are guiding something special at West Ham.