Football Features

West Ham 4-0 Bournemouth: Has Moyes’ instant impact signalled the beginning of the end for Howe?

By Harry Edwards

Published: 19:27, 1 January 2020

David Moyes got life back at West Ham off to a winning start with a 4-0 victory at home to Bournemouth.

The Hammers were excellent on New Year’s Day with Mark Noble scoring twice either side of a Sebastien Haller volley to give West Ham a 3-0 lead at half-time.

Felipe Anderson capped off the win midway through the first half to move West Ham back out of the relegation zone after they had momentarily dropped into the bottom three.

David Moyes Part II gets off to promising start

Based on the moments prior to kick-off at the London Stadium, you wouldn’t have known West Ham had a new manager at the helm. Perhaps fearing vocal backlash from the home fans there was no announcement or acknowledge of Moyes’ arrival over the PA system as so many clubs do on a manager’s first home game in charge.

It was perhaps to be expected as the announcement on social media last week was met with an overall negative response from fans fearing the Hammers had taken a big step backwards in their replacement for Manuel Pellegrini. After all, Moyes had failed to take the club forward in his previous spell at the London Stadium.

However, the West Ham squad certainly knew they were playing for a new manager and looked a completely different side from the one that had been so dreadful under Pellegrini.

From the start West Ham showed an intensity that had been missing this season, with the players pressing high as a team. From 32-year-old Mark Noble to Pablo Fornals, 23, every West Ham made did their job perfection worked to Moyes’ game plan.

It was a very obvious game plan from the start, overloading their right side and focusing on putting Diego Rico under pressure – but it worked. The combination of Noble, Robert Snodgrass and Ryan Fredericks worked wonders together against Rico who was very rarely helped by his winger Harry Wilson.

In fact, three of West Ham’s four goals came from that right flank. The first saw Snodgrass pass from the right into Noble whose shot was deflected past Aaron Ramsdale. West Ham’s top scorer of the past decade getting the 2020s off to a good start.

Snodgrass was involved again in the second, this time playing the ball to Fredericks on the right whose cross was beautifully finished by Sebastien Haller with a volley – his first goal at the London Stadium since October.

Even the penalty that Noble scored was won from the right as the midfielder made his way into the box from that flank, eventually falling under pressure from Wilson. VAR looked as though it could overturn the decision but the penalty stood and Noble had his second.

Bournemouth made changes at half-time, moving to prevention mode with a back-three, but that didn’t hamper West Ham who continued to dominate the game and eventually got a fourth through the excellent Felipe Anderson.

But it wasn’t just high up the pitch that Bournemouth looked improved. They were defensively rigid, with each player knowing their job. On the rare occasion Bournemouth looked to trouble the defence, West Ham’s players were quick to drop into two very flat lines able to squeeze out any attack, with Haller the only player not part of the block.

Things got a bit looser at the back towards the end of the game, with complacency potentially slipping in at 4-0 but West Ham were fully deserved of a sixth clean sheet of the season.

Perhaps it is just the “new manager bounce”, but it could also be the start of a positive era at the London Stadium.

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No more hiding for Howe and Bournemouth

Whisper it quietly, but is it time for Eddie Howe to move on from Bournemouth?

There’s no denying that Howe has done an excellent job at Bournemouth. When he started his second managerial spell with the Cherries in October 2012, they were 17th in League One. But they ended the year second and gained promotion to the Championship, moving up once more to the Premier League two seasons later.

Although Bournemouth endured a tough debut Premier League campaign, finishing 16th, they were praised for sticking to their attacking style not to mention wins over Chelsea and Manchester United. They then realised their promise the following season, finishing in the top half of the table and there were talks of Bournemouth one day challenging for a potential Europa League spot.

As a result of his part in Bournemouth’s rise, Howe was heavily linked with a move away from Bournemouth especially at a time when Arsenal were sniffing around for an Arsene Wenger replacement. There were even calls for Howe to manage England from some sections of the media and fans.

Howe stayed loyal to Bournemouth but rather than things getting better, the Cherries have started to slip down the table. In 2017/18 they dropped to 12th and the following season brought further regression to 14th.

And now, after 21 games of the 2019/20 campaign, Bournemouth are in the relegation zone. It’s their worst standing at this time in a Premier League season, level on points with 2017/18 but four places lower.

Bournemouth’s form has gone slightly under the radar outside of Dorset this season with bigger stories surrounding Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton among the top clubs and the likes of Watford and Norwich City closer to the bottom. But it doesn’t make for good reading.

The Cherries have won just five games so far this season, losing 11 with only Aston Villa and Norwich City tasting defeat more in the Premier League. They have also managed just one win from their past 10 Premier League games, that shock victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge which should have been the catalyst for an upturn in form.

Howe himself recently admitted the current run is possibly Bournemouth’s worst moment in the Premier League, which hasn’t been helped by injury problems.

“This year, it’s probably been the closest we’ve been but every year we have been in a relegation battle, every year we have been looking over our shoulders below us,” he said.

“This is probably the tightest it’s been. I think we’ve got to relish that challenge that we have.

“It’s probably our most difficult moment that we’ve had in the Premier League when you consider the squad depth we have at the moment.

“That’s just where we are, we have to deal with it and try to come through it.”

Looking at the teams around Bournemouth in the table, Howe could have a tough task on his hand with Watford in particular starting to find form under Nigel Pearson.

At the time of Pearson’s arrival, the Hornets were five places and seven points behind Bournemouth but now they are just one point and one place below. And who do Bournemouth face next in the Premier League? Watford on January 12.

Even with all that Howe has done for Bournemouth, and the qualities he has shown as a manager, could a fresh face be just what is needed at the Vitality Stadium?