West Ham United look set to reappoint David Moyes as manager following the sacking of Manuel Pellegrini.
Saturday’s home defeat to Leicester City proved to be the final straw for Pellegrini, whose position had been under scrutiny for some time.
The move to reinstate Moyes is already dividing opinion, with some accusing the West Ham owners of showing a lack of ambition by opting against a new option.
So what were the alternatives the board could and perhaps should have considered? Who would have been West Ham’s dream appointment? Who is a more realistic candidate? And is there a wildcard the east Londoners should have considered?
Dream – Rafael Benitez
The next West Ham manager must carry out the balancing act of solidifying the team defensively and taking the club to the next level. Rafael Benitez would be the ideal man to take on that job description.
His European pedigree is combined with the experience of keeping a side in the Premier League with a not much in the way of resources. Benitez’s work at Newcastle proves he would have little trouble in retaining West Ham’s top-flight status; the rest of his CV hints he could shift expectations at West Ham.
Realistic – Chris Hughton
Moyes’ appointment is reportedly imminent, but it’s interesting to consider who West Ham realistically would have gone for had the Scot not been interested in returning to the London Stadium.
If the Hammers were keen to appoint a similar coach to Moyes, Chris Hughton would probably be high on their list. The former Brighton boss isn’t renowned for stylish football. Rather, his propensity to avoid relegation is his appeal, particularly given West Ham’s current form.
Wildcard – Paulo Di Canio
There appears to be a trend in the Premier League right now of clubs appointing coaches who ‘know the club’ – Frank Lampard and Mikel Arteta have returned to Chelsea and Arsenal respectively in part due to their personal connections to those clubs.
Paulo Di Canio was reasonably short to take over from Pellegrini, with the probability of a fairytale teturn perhaps influenced by the trend mentioned above. Of course, the Italian’s past controversies and questionable tenure as Sunderland boss would make him a big risk.
Squawka suggests – Eddie Howe
Luring Eddie Howe from Bournemouth could be seen as a risky version of appointing Benitez. There is less pedigree with Howe but just as much potential; the modest work he has done on the South Coast has seen him consistently linked with bigger jobs.
Not only has he repeatedly kept a middling squad in the Premier League, Howe has earned a reputation for his impressive coaching, manifested by Bournemouth’s impressive if inconsistent attacking style. For now, though, it seems West Ham prefer a safer alternative.
Is Moyes the right choice for West Ham?
The obvious thing to do, when analysing Moyes’ return to West Ham, is to label the appointment a step backwards. There is a basis to this argument. The Hammers were expected to push for European football this season under a Premier League-winning manager – they are now battling to stay in the top-flight with a less esteemed coach at the helm.
That said, the fact of the matter is that West Ham need a steady hand going into a crucial phase of the campaign. They currently sit one point above the relegation zone, a similar position to the one they were in last time they turned to Moyes.
The former Everton and Manchester United boss was given a six-month contract in November 2017 and a brief to keep West Ham in the Premier League. He succeeded but left at the end of his deal with no signs of the relationship’s capacity to take the club any further.
So what does his potential return say about West Ham’s ambition? Would the board have looked elsewhere if the team wasn’t hovering just above the bottom three?
It’s difficult to say. What’s clear, though, is that West Ham believe Moyes is the right man to get them out of their current predicament. His safe if uninspiring brand of football is likely to move the Hammers up the table, if only into a safer position rather than where the fans want the team to be.
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