Premier League

Moyes’ Men To Save West Ham’s Season

 • by Ryan Baldi
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West Ham United decision to appoint David Moyes as Slaven Bilić‘s successor in the London Stadium dugout, it’s fair to say, hasn’t inspired a great deal of confidence in Hammers fans.

The Scot has endured a difficult four years, lasting less than a season at Manchester United, flopping at Real Sociedad and suffering relegation with Sunderland. Indeed, since July 2013, a period which encompasses 137 games, 51 of which with the Red Devils, Moyes has a win rate of just 34.56 per cent; Bilić won 37.84 per cent of the games his oversaw while in charge of West Ham.

But Moyes has been hired based on the strength of his work with Everton over 11 successful seasons. The former Preston North End boss took the Toffees from Premier League strugglers in 2002 to a top-four finish in the 2004/05 season, stabilising the club’s top-flight status throughout his Goodison Park reign.

West Ham’s current ambitions line up perfectly with what Moyes was able to deliver at Everton: consolidation short-term; a push towards the European places thereafter.

Moyes must first rediscover his own peak before he can help the Hammers reach theirs, however. After a bumbling few years of consistent failure, the West Ham job feels like a make-or-break opportunity for the Glaswegian.

Working in his favour, though, is a strong talent pool from which he can craft his new side. The East London club has unquestionably underperformed of late, currently sitting in the drop zone with just nine points to show from their 11 games so far this season.

But their position and form does not reflect the level of talent within their squad. If Moyes is able to merely bring his new charges up to par, that will be enough to see them rise out of their current predicament. Beyond that, the West Ham boss will need to identify his key men and build a system to maximise their gifts.

Here are the West Ham players Moyes needs to build his side around.

Manuel Lanzini

Manuel Lanzini of West Ham United celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion

Despite investing over £40million in the squad over the summer, Argentinian schemer Lanzini remains West Ham’s most gifted player.

Picking up the creative mantle following Dimitri Payet‘s acrimonious departure for Marseille last January, the diminutive former River Plate playmaker leads the Hammers in key passes per 90 minutes this season (1.5).

However, he has scored just once and is yet to register an assist in his eight Premier League outings this term. Moyes must find a way of getting the ball at Lanzini’s feet in the final third where he is of most danger to the opposition.

André Ayew

Andre Ayew celebrates scoring for West Ham United against Leicester City in the Premier League

Much was expected of Ayew when West Ham forked out £20.5million to sign the versatile attacker from Swansea City in the summer of 2016, but a thigh injury suffered in his debut against Chelsea ruled the 75-cap Ghana international out for two months, upsetting his settling-in period.

This season, Ayew seems to have been heavily involved in most of the Hammers’ bright spots, scoring four times, including a brace in their League Cup upset over Tottenham Hotspur and once in September’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town.

Able to play on the wing or centrally as a support striker, Moyes must identify the position Ayew can be most effective for his team.

Javier Hernández

Javier Hernandez scores for Mexico against Portugal at the Confederations Cup

Capped 99 times for Mexico and with spells at Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen under his belt, Hernández’s top-level experience, as well as his unique goal-poaching ability, should make him arguably West Ham’s most -prized asset.

He is a player who will be familiar to Moyes, too, with the pair having worked together at Old Trafford. During that spell, the new Hammers boss was unable to get the best out of ‘Chicharito’, with the Mexican striker failing to hit double figures during the 2013/14 season.

But Hernández had Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney ahead of him in the pecking order back then. Now, he is the focal point of West Ham’s attack; it is of vital importance that Moyes constructs a sufficient supply-line for the clinical centre-forward.

Cheikhou Kouyaté

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Sometimes a player’s versatility can be both a gift and a curse: the ability to play in multiple positions could see a footballer afforded more opportunities than would have otherwise been the case, yet it can also lead to them never being given the chance to settle into a defined role.

Kouyaté has featured in the centre of both midfield and defence for West Ham this season, but the 27-year-old Senegalese is a much more fearsome proposition at the heart of the Hammers’ midfield than he is in the backline.

At 6ft 4ins, Kouyaté is a powerful presence in any position, yet his physicality, athleticism and technical quality is best deployed in midfield, where he is capable of commanding displays, providing the foundation for the more subtle creators further up the field.

The international break provided Moyes with the opportunity to get accustomed to his new surroundings, and dedicate time on the training pitch to those who were not away representing their countries.

A tricky tie away to Watford will be his first test in the West Ham hot seat, and hitting the ground running, with a clearly-defined tactical plan, will be crucial to Moyes’ hopes of rejuvenating his new side.

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