A day of remembrance at the London Stadium quickly turned sour for Slavan Bilic on Saturday. His side were simply all over the place as they sunk to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Liverpool.
It proved to be the final nail in the coffin of what has been a fairly prolonged exit. In the press conference after the game, the Croatian looked in an understandably sombre mood.
He proclaimed he was “not a broken man” when asked whether he would be given more time, however David Sullivan and David Gold apparently thought differently.
However, given the essential goodwill and patience Bilic was shown by the owners, you would be hard pushed to suggest they were in the wrong to show him the door.
Craig Shakespeare (Leicester) and Ronald Koeman (Everton) had a lot less time and better results comparatively, but West Ham’s slump extends further back than this season.
However, Bilic is now yesterday’s man, and in his place is David Moyes: damaged goods in the eyes of most West Ham fans and many neutrals after his unsuccessful stints at Manchester, United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland
Rumours of the former Everton manager’s imminent appointment saw Saturday’s toxic match day atmosphere continued on social media, and there were even reports of the owners considering a volte-face, given strength of the backlash.
With the Hammers 18th in the table with just nine points from 11 games, Sullivan and Gold – in something akin to a pre-emptive strike – released this bizarre welcome/hostage video with Moyes promoting unity within the club.
Some might argue the Scot’s reputation was unfairly tarnished by huge task of succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson at at Old Trafford, but few Real Sociedad and Sunderland fans will remember him fondly either.
His failures to admit what truly went wrong at United also seem to plague him. Just a few months ago, he claimed it was due to not landing major transfer targets.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live in October, Moyes claimed: “We offered more money to Tottenham [than Real Madrid for Bale]. Cesc Fabregas, who I spoke to on the phone several times, was not sure of his place in the Barcelona team, and I remember him saying if he didn’t start the first game for them, he would definitely be looking to join us.”
Moyes seems to be ignoring the fact he inherited a side which had comfortably won the Premier League the year previous and had started the season with a 4-0 away thumping of Swansea.
But by the end of it United, finished seventh and midfielder Marouane Fellaini – who Moyes had signed from his old club – was taking flack on a weekly basis.
Moyes is also ignoring the fact he never quite got to grips with the global brand that is Manchester United.
On their summer pre-season tour, the United side were reportedly forced into hiding on the roof of an Australian restaurant as fans massed beneath. Having been at Everton so long, Moyes never seemed to grasp how big a deal the Red Devils actually are.
Then there was early disenchantment among the players over his tactics and training methods. Weirdly, the straw that finally broke the camel’s back was reportedly Moyes banning the players from eating chips…
‘Relegation, having only moved to the 60,000-seat London Stadium ahead of last season, would be disastrous for the East Londoners’
The former Everton manager even showed Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic videos of Phil Jagielka to help them defend; the response of Ferdinand was reportedly “What has he ever won?”
Ferdinand also criticised his communication skills, recalling in his 2014 autobiography: “You heard a lot of guys complaining ‘I just don’t know what he wants’. He had me doubting everything.”
These are all aspects of the managerial game which Moyes cannot afford to get wrong at West Ham.
At 54, he is not old in managerial terms, but somehow seems diminished from the forceful character who kept Everton in the upper reaches of the Premier League for so long.
Maybe Moyes and the Goodison Park club were simply a perfect fit, but his subsequent travails have convinced many Hammers fans that he’s not the man for their club.
Relegation from the top flight, having only moved to the 60,000-seat London Stadium ahead of last season, would be disastrous for the East Londoners. Moyes certainly feels like an odd – even desperate – choice to get them out of trouble.