David Moyes is ready to transform West Ham, continuing with a full focus on their current relegation battle but with ideas for a longer-term future. He discusses this and more in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports’ Charlotte Marsh…
After 22 years in football management, there’s very little that David Moyes hasn’t seen. He’s competed in the top half of the Premier League but also at the bottom end, which is where West Ham currently find themselves, just three points clear of danger.
There’s almost a sense of déjà vu in it all – when Moyes arrived at West Ham for the first time in November 2017, they were 18th in the table. He led them to survival that season and has been asked for more of the same this time around, with the Hammers one point outside the relegation places when the Scot replaced Manuel Pellegrini on December 29.
It’s this experience and connection with the club that lured him back to the London Stadium, and beating the drop once again is the ultimate aim.
“I really enjoyed my time at West Ham the first time,” he exclusively told Sky Sports.
“I think a couple of teams cut adrift last time [in the 2017/18 season] and it made it so that there was one position or so [to also be relegated]. I remember the run in at that time, we went and won at Leicester, we drew with Manchester United and we beat Everton at home so I feel like we’ve got the history of winning games when needed.
“We obviously don’t want to be there, we want to be out of that siutation but we have the confidence from having done it before. We don’t want to be getting into last-day scenarios if we can help it and our plan is to try and get away from that situation as quickly as we can.
“I don’t think there is a performance so far where I would turn around and say we haven’t been as good. I think we’ve not scored enough, I would like our play to improve, which hopefully is developing and getting better. Ultimately, you find all the best teams have the best defences and we have to make sure we toughen up and are harder to play against. I’d probably say all those elements of the game all need to be improved in some way.
“When we took over, the job was to get out of the bottom three and at the moment, we are and want to keep doing that so I give a lot of credit to the players for their efforts and the way they’ve worked and we’ve tried to improve.
“The games that we’ve had have been really tough in this period since I took over – we’ve played Liverpool twice – but in January, the club brought in Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek and I feel as if we’re trying to go in the direction where we want to bring in young, hungry players who we feel can improve and grow the club. That’s the direction we are trying to go in.”
When speaking to a relaxed Moyes via video call ahead of West Ham’s game with Newcastle on Sunday, live on Sky Sports, you can see he has found a real connection with the club and although surviving relegation remains the priority, Moyes has clear ideas on how to restore the Hammers to their place among the Premier League’s elite.
“The biggest thing for me is a club like West Ham can do far, far better. I believe that I can put the club in the right direction and get it in the right place but I need to be given time. How do you get time as a manager? You have to win your games to get that so I need to do that.
“I want to improve West Ham in years to come and I want to build a young, vibrant team if I can. I want people to be here for a long time if we possibly can.
“When you look at Declan Rice or Issa Diop, we’ve actually got quite a young team in the making if we can build on it and add to it. In the future, if we stay up and keep the team there, that’s the route and direction I believe the club should go in. It should be one building and preparing for a next generation of good players and a next generation of an improving West Ham team.
“But at the moment, we can only focus on the next game because all the talk means nothing if we don’t win and don’t stay in the Premier League. While we’re in this position, I can only focus on Newcastle, then it’s Burnley, then Norwich and Watford so we have to make sure we do it one small step at a time.”
Midfielder Rice could play a huge part in those future plans, with Moyes recently saying he would like to build a team around the 21-year-old, and the manager has experience of dealing with young players attracting transfer attention.
“He’s improving, he’s a really good player in midfield and he’s a good central defender as well,” Moyes said of the midfielder.
“We’re trying to use him where we need him. He captained the team the other night [against Chelsea], he’s shown leadership qualities, which he will develop for the future. He’s taking responsibility, which for a young player, is a big thing so we see him do a lot of good things and let’s hope that improvement continues. He’s already been recognised by the manager of England, who has played him in big games.
“I’ve had lots of really good young players, from Wayne Rooney to Ross Barkley, Jordan Pickford at Sunderland, many young players who there has been speculation about and how they do. We’ve always tried to give them the best information and show them the best way and we’ll do the exact same with Declan.
“But at the moment, he’s doing really well here at West Ham, he’s a really important player for us.”
Beating Chelsea, facing Newcastle
West Ham were given a huge boost in their battle against relegation with a dramatic 3-2 win against London rivals Chelsea on Wednesday, which was won after a controversial VAR decision and a late winner from Andriy Yarmolenko.
“What we took from it was the result and a big win,” Moyes reflected. “I would put Chelsea at the moment as arguably the best team in the Premier League and you would have to put Chelsea in a group of teams who are right at the top so for us to go and beat them, it gives us the confidence that we if we can do it against Chelsea, we can do it against many teams and we have to show that.
“I think the players have done magnificently well. They never gave up, they were bright until the last minute and it looked as if it may well be a draw and at that time, we probably would have said ‘fine’ because Chelsea were pushing us hard.
“But the players showed energy, they kept focused until the end, their energy level to get up the pitch in the last moments or two to get us the winning goal was terrific so I have to give them big praise for how they performed.
“We look at it as three big points but it’s not going to be enough to keep us out of the bottom three, we have to pick up more wins between now and the end of the season. I still think we have a long way to go but at the moment, we’ve got a lot of good performances from individuals and the biggest thing is we’re a team, we’re working together to try and get results.”
Newcastle vs West Ham
July 5, 2020, 2:00pm
It’s another in-form team up next for West Ham as they travel to Newcastle this weekend, with Steve Bruce’s side unbeaten in five Premier League games, but Moyes had nothing but praise for his fellow manager.
“I think Newcastle have done very well, I don’t think there were many people who expected Steve to have such an impact as he’s had,” he said.
“I think he’s done a really good job for Newcastle and I think he’s a good fit. I hope he continues up there, but we’ve got to go and do a job and hopefully get a result.”
Moyes still learning as a manager
Despite being in management for 22 years, Moyes is not finished yet. Despite starting his coaching badges young, the Scot is still learning and is hoping he can bring draw on that at West Ham.
“I started really young and I worked to not necessarily be a coach, but to try and improve myself as a player. I learnt very young and did my coaching badges young and I went round all different countries to try and assesses it and see what we could try to do to help.
“I was fortunate to work with two brilliant chairman and owners, one at Preston and one at Everton, who gave me great support and helped me when things weren’t so good. They also helped me when things were very good, they made sure I stayed calm and they also taught me about football not always being about having lots of money to spend, but about making sure you can work with the players you’ve got, building teams and developing them.
“But that also taught me that they were looking for people for longevity and not just keep chopping and changing as if it was something the manager was doing wrong all the time so I was very fortunate to work with them.
“I’ve also had lots of really good highs in football. Years and years of pushing Everton to try and become better and qualify for the Champions League, a club who when we had just taken over, were just outside the relegation position.
“I had a chance to see what it looks like at Manchester United too so I’ve been really fortunate but I believe I’m still learning. I see the club I’m at as a real big project and opportunity to turn this around.”