Football News

David Moyes days at West Ham numbered with Ruben Amorim linked as successor

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 17:00, 23 April 2024

David Moyes is expected to step down as West Ham manager after the conclusion of this season.

Since being installed at the East London club in December 2019, he’s overseen 226 matches, including a recent nightmarish outing against Crystal Palace.

In his 693rd game as a manager in the Premier League, this was the earliest a Moyes side had ever been 4-0 down (31st minute – Crystal Palace 4-0 West Ham).

A woeful Hammers performance resulted in a 5-2 loss at Selhurst Park, meaning they’ve conceded 5+ goals in three Premier League games this season. Only in 2001-02 (4) did they do so in more different games in a single campaign.

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Even though a final decision has not been made, they’ve reportedly talked about an ambitious move for the Sporting CP manager, Rúben Amorim, who had been linked with the forthcoming vacant Liverpool manager job.

The decision to move on from Moyes is perfectly illustrated by the fact they’ve only won four of their 21 games across all competitions in 2024 (eight draws and nine losses). Indeed, they have the fifth-lowest win percentage of any Premier League team this year (19%), behind only Burnley (13.3%), Sheffield United (13.3%), Nottingham Forest (15.8%) and Everton (18.8%).

It’s not just on the road where they’ve been struggling. West Ham have won just one of their last eight Premier League home games (five draws and two losses), beating Brentford 4-2 in February.

As touched upon, Amorim is a wanted man. Labelled “The Special One 2.0” in some quarters, the Portuguese tactician recently distanced himself from the moniker. “It has nothing to do with it, it makes no sense, and I have no illusions about it,” he said. I still remember last year, when everyone was speculating about whether I was going to leave Sporting. There are no comparisons between the great José Mourinho and the Sporting coach.”

There was no hesitation once the call from sleeping giant Sporting was heard. Amorim would soon turn their fortunes around after inheriting the gig in March 2020. Building on a fourth-placed finish (albeit playing 11 games and winning six), Amorim ended the club’s 19-year championship drought before claiming a runners-up spot and fourth-place finish before this season’s rejuvenation. With four matches remaining, the Lions are seven points clear of second-place Benfica, meaning they’re effectively two wins away from another championship.

Impressive results aside, his work behind the scenes has elevated Amorim’s status and likely attracted West Ham’s attention. Having no access to elite, world-class footballers, he’s become a champion of developing the next generation. Seen as Portugal’s most exciting coaching talent since Mourinho, the Lisbon native prides himself on communication and enhancing those at his disposal. From a tactical standpoint, his exclusive use of a back-three could make things interesting if he switches from one European capital to another.

If such hiring was made, Amorim would likely inherit a top-10 Premier League side, with the Hammers currently sitting eighth with four matches left, but eleventh-place Wolves are five points behind with a game in hand. Under his leadership, West Ham finished sixth in Moyes’ first complete Premier League season before claiming seventh and 14th, albeit the latter culminated with a Europa Conference League title.

Those hypothetically left at Amorim’s disposal would need to adjust. Since the beginning of his Sporting tenure, Amorim has predominantly used a 3-4-3, though he’s fielded a two-striker formation on some rare occasions. It’s been 4-2-3-1 all the way for West Ham this season. “Ruben has a tactical flexibility. He bases it on the opponent, particularly in Europe. He always considers the weaknesses of the opponent,” former Valenciennes assistant manager Joao Nuno Fonseca told Sky Sports.

“He plays a high defensive line most of the time and is good on transitions. It is still a positive game idea based around ball possession. This arrogance in the playing style is very positive for young players because they have this no-fear mentality. That is key.”

It would undoubtedly be a coup for West Ham, especially as he’s already been linked with some of Europe’s superclubs. The 39-year-old coach sees his present deal expire in June 2026. Relocating from Primeira Liga football to England is a path many have taken before, including the aforementioned Mourinho, and those comparisons will only heighten.