The curious case of David Moyes and the West Ham fanbase: Part 3

In part 3, we will be discussing Moyes leading the club to the Europa League semi-finals whilst also having another superb PL campaign.
Jul 21, 2019; London, United Kingdom; General overall view of London Stadium at Queen Elizabeth
Jul 21, 2019; London, United Kingdom; General overall view of London Stadium at Queen Elizabeth / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In part 3, we will be taking a look at the second half of the 21/22 campaign, with the Hammers continuing to battle for a top 4 berth whilst having a memorable Europa League run. 

West Ham (after back to back defeats), got back on track with a superb 4-1 away win at Watford with Nikola Vlasic getting his first goal for the club. The win at Vicarage Road was followed up by an entertaining 3-2 win at Crystal Palace with Manuel Lanzini bagging a brace with a skillful volleyed effort and a penalty. After the East London outfit beat Leeds in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, the Hammers made it 4 wins from 4 with a comfortable 2-0 victory over the perennial strugglers, Norwich. 

4 wins on the bounce did not turn into 5 however, as the Hammers suffered a disappointing 2-3 home defeat against Leeds with David Moyes claiming tiredness to be a factor in the defeat. West Ham then travelled north to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. Despite being more than a match for their hosts, the visitors succumbed to a highly controversial late goal with Marcus Rashford deemed to be onside which left the travelling contingent despondent after the final whistle. 

With the transfer window closing at the end of January, fans were demanding that Moyes invest in a new striker to challenge and support Michail Antonio with the supporters also keen on bolstering the side’s squad depth ahead of a busy end to the season. Despite the club reportedly making many enquiries, no new signings were made, leaving the squad light on numbers ahead of the last half of the season. 

After the Irons successfully negotiated a 3rd round win against Leeds, the side travelled to Kidderminster Harriers in the 4th round. Despite being heavy favourites, West Ham struggled throughout and found themselves a goal down heading into the final moments. However, Declan Rice popped up with a vital goal to send the tie into extra time with Jarrod Bowen then tapping home in the final minute of extra time to spare David Moyes’ blushes. Despite the win, many supporters were concerned with the performance with fringe players such as Ryan Fredericks, Alex Kral and Nikola Vlasic failing to impress. Nevertheless, the East London outfit progressed to a tie with Southampton. 

3 days later, West Ham defeated Watford 1-0 thanks to a deflected Jarrod Bowen strike, but fans were not best pleased with the performance, urging Moyes to show more creativity against a side languishing towards the foot of the table. After a pair of draws against Leicester (A 2-2) and Newcastle (H 1-1), Tomas Soucek bagged a 59th minute winner against Wolves to send the Hammers fans home happy with their side leapfrogging Wolves to move into 7th and 3 points shy of the top 4. 

Next, the Hammers turned their attentions to an FA Cup 5th round tie at Southampton with many supporters confident of a place in the FA Cup quarter finals. However, despite the Saints fielding a much changed starting XI, West Ham put in a tepid display in a 3-1 defeat to end any hopes of domestic silverware in 21/22. West Ham then travelled to Anfield to take on Liverpool with the Hammers going down 1-0, and to compound matters, Bowen was forced off injured with the now England international missing from a trip to Seville, it was a tough night for David Moyes. 

The Hammers then returned to European action with a last 16 tie against Europa League specialists, Seville. A nip and tuck affair followed with Nikola Vlasic missing a glaring opportunity for the Hammers, but a 60th minute strike from Munir saw the hosts take the win and a 1-0 aggregate advantage heading into the second leg. 

Despite missing Bowen again, Moyes was able to welcome back Andriy Yarmolenko to his squad with the Ukrainian feeling able to play a part after being hit hard by Russia’s invasion of his home country. Remarkably, the attacker struck home superbly against Aston Villa to break the deadlock at home, and with Pablo Fornals adding security with a second goal in the 82nd minute, a late Jacob Ramsey strike for the visitors was nothing more than a consolation. 

With the Hammers fans buoyed by the win against Villa, supporters were quietly confident their side could turn the form book on it’s head in the 2nd leg against Seville. In front of a raucous home crowd, West Ham levelled on aggregate before half time thanks to a superb Tomas Soucek header. Despite the Hammers having the majority of the play in the second half, they could not find the breakthrough with the tie heading into extra time. Unbelievably, Yarmolenko once again popped up with the winner from close range to send West Ham into the last 8 of the Europa League with many fans hailing David Moyes as the mastermind behind the club’s European adventure. 

The Irons returned to league action with a 3-1 defeat to Tottenham which dented the East Londoner’s Champions League hopes. Nevertheless, David Moyes’ men returned to winning ways with a 2-1 win against Everton at the London Stadium with Jarrod Bowen marking his return to the side with the winner. 

Europa League action was next up for the Hammers as they hosted Lyon in the first leg of the quarter-finals. Despite a horrific refereeing performance from Felix Zwayer, the Hammers managed to earn a 1-1 draw despite losing Aaron Cresswell to a debatable red card in the first half. Sandwiched between both legs of the quarter-finals, West Ham travelled across London to take on Brentford with the effects of a tough run of fixtures, coupled with playing over half of the Lyon fixture with 10 men, caught up with West Ham who succumbed to a 2-0 defeat with some supporters once again voicing their displeasure at the skeletal nature of Moyes’ squad. 

Nevertheless, West Ham’s first XI are a side to be feared, and a sparkling 3-0 away win against Lyon showed how far Moyes has brought his side in such a short space of time, with many pundits showering Moyes with praise after such an incredible European away success. After a home draw against a Nick Pope inspired Burnley, Moyes opted to rest a number of his star men against Chelsea with the Hammers putting on a creditable showing, only to go down to a late Christian Pulisic winner, which effectively ended West Ham’s Champions League hopes via finishing in the top 4. 

West Ham then returned to the European stage for their biggest match in a decade as they hosted Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League semi-finals. Despite the raucous atmosphere, the enthusiastic home support was punctured by a goal in the opening minute for the visitors. Nevertheless, Antonio hit back for the Hammers to level but the eventual champions were made of stern stuff and they once again hit the front early in the second half. Despite educated Hammers pressure after the German side took the lead, the Frankfurt side stood strong with the hosts best chance coming in the final moments when Bowen hit the bar with a spectacular bicycle kick. 

After a home defeat to Arsenal, West Ham travelled to Germany for the second leg against Frankfurt. The early stages were even until Aaron Cresswell again saw red in European action , to compound matters, the Germans struck in the 26th minute which effectively ended West Ham’s hopes of overturning the 2-1 first leg deficit. Despite the defeat, the Hammers could be proud of their superb run in the competition. 

With the club’s European adventure over for the season, they bounced back in style with a 4-0 away win over relegation-threatened Norwich with Antonio and Benrahma both on the scoresheet. Heading into the final two Premier League fixtures, West Ham found themselves 2 points behind Manchester United in 6th, with the 6th finishing position securing Europa League football in 22/23. 

The penultimate fixture saw West Ham entertain Manchester City with Bowen scoring 2 breakaway goals in the first half, but the eventual league winners fought back to earn a point with Lukasz Fabianski saving a penalty to ensure the Hammers avoided defeat. Heading into the final round of matches, West Ham needed to defeat Brighton and hope Manchester United did not prevail at Crystal Palace. 

At half-time, things were heading in the right direction with West Ham in the lead at the AMEX thanks to a Michail Antonio stunner whilst Manchester United were also 1-0 down against Palace. However, things turned rapidly against the Irons as Brighton scored 3 to take a convincing 3-1 win which placed West Ham in next season’s Europa Conference League. 

At the end of the campaign, the majority of Hammers fans were happy with David Moyes with a small minority voicing concerns over squad depth, an apparent lack of a plan B and no competition for Michail Antonio. In the next throwback, I will be looking at Moyes’ toughest spell of his second stint in charge, the first half of the 22/23 campaign.