4th Place and West Ham is not exactly a combination that you see very often. You really don’t. For football fans outside England, it is surprising to see that club occupy a spot that is also being contested for by Chelsea, Tottenham, and even the defending Champions, Liverpool. If you are a West Ham supporter however, you wouldn’t mind anything I just said one bit. So kudos to them for doing so well.
If West Ham United go on to secure European football by the end of this season, then a lot of praise should go to the whole squad. However, I will spare a smile for two individuals that have been through so much to get to this point. Both guys are former employees of Manchester United. Both struggled to stand out at Old Trafford, and both had to leave Manchester to remind us that they are not done yet; David Moyes and Jesse Lingard.
For David Moyes, it has been a journey of about eight years since he was last regarded as a top manager. After leading Everton to regular top-six finishes with a squad made up of bargains and academy graduates, Moyes was seen as the ideal candidate to keep the 2013 Premier League champions competitive and at the start of his tenure, that looked to be the case. Then it came tumbling down so badly. I still feel that he was treated harshly and deserved more time to prove his worth at Manchester United. Spells at Sunderland, Real Sociedad (not sure why he was there…but then…why not?), and West Ham (the 1st spell) didn’t do much to show that Moyes was still capable of coaching at the highest level. After West Ham got tired of hiring continental managers and sacked Manuel Pellegrini, they turned to the man who steadied the ship for the Chilean to take over in the first place. Less than two years on, it seems like the best decision the club has taken since they signed Dimitri Payet in 2015 (I’m serious).
When Jesse Lingard plays football, you get the sense that he always enjoys the game. He loves the spotlight and is always milking the satisfaction of playing football; especially when it’s for your beloved Manchester United. For about six years, while his contributions were decisive at times, he was never really considered a crucial part of the squad. I think his ability to step up in big games was highly underrated though. However, the last two seasons have seen him barely make the match day squads. Even when he played, he never looked like scoring or assisting. You sensed, at the time, that his time at the top level was up. What he actually needed, was a chance to just enjoy his football again. After putting his personal battles behind him, West Ham – and David Moyes – offered that chance. The results have been spectacular.
Six goals in eight games makes you wonder why Mason Greenwood was getting starts at Man United; with barely any goals to show for it. 4th Place in the league makes you wonder what could have been if Man United had persisted till one more transfer window and backed Ferguson’s successor just once.
Not that Manchester United are regretting the decision to let both guys go (it really doesn’t matter) …but I’m sure a few people at Old Trafford will be thinking about what it would be like if their club was playing as well as West Ham right now; with Lingard dazzling defenses in red, and Moyes confidently conducting proceedings from the sidelines.