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West Ham United fans during a protest outside the stadium before the match. -- Pix: Reuter
West Ham United fans during a protest outside the stadium before the match. -- Pix: Reuter

LONDON: David Moyes must feel as though nothing much has changed at West Ham United since his brief first spell in charge.

The Scot was parachuted in to steer West Ham away from relegation in 2017-18 after taking over in the wake of Slaven Bilic’s sacking. Escape they did, but the campaign was marked by simmering fan rancour.

On one occasion, during a home loss to Burnley in March 2018, a fan grabbed a corner flag and tried to plant it in the centre circle while insults, and coins, were hurled at the occupants of the directors’ box at the London Stadium.

Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Everton, Moyes’s second home game since returning to east London for a second rescue mission, was again marked by unrest as hundreds of fans protested against owners David Sullivan and David Gold.

It coincided with the 10th anniversary of Sullivan and Gold buying the club, a decade spent, apart from one season, in the Premier League but also one marked by regular relegation battles and the trauma of moving out of their beloved Upton Park.

West Ham United manager David Moyes with Mark Noble after the match. -- Reuters
West Ham United manager David Moyes with Mark Noble after the match. -- Reuters

Moyes was ushered out at the end of the 2017-18 season, despite lifting them into 13th place, and replaced by former Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini – the man who was supposed to take the Hammers to the next level.

After a bright start to the current campaign, however, West Ham’s form nosedived and immediately after defeat at the end of December by Leicester City at the London Stadium which left them in the bottom three, Pellegrini was fired.

Former Everton and Manchester United boss Moyes was summoned again and answered the call – having an immediate impact as West Ham thrashed Bournemouth 4-0.

SCRAPPING FOR SURVIVAL

Defeat by Sheffield United and Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Everton means West Ham fans who hoped their team would be pushing for Europe, are again scrapping for survival, one point above the relegation zone.

What makes it worse is that many of those fans regard Sullivan and Gold with disdain – blaming them for taking the club away from Upton Park into a rented stadium that worked well as London’s Olympic showpiece but is poor fit for football.

West Ham have won only three of 11 home games this season and Moyes said only positive results will lift the mood.

“I understand lots of things at the club but the best thing I would like to do is give them a team, one they can be proud of,” he said. “I want the fans to stay right behind the players.

“I think the football manager can ease any of the burdens on the owners by their team’s performance. But the manager needs good support, backing and I am happy to take that responsibility.”

Fans’ group Hammers United, who organised the protests, said promises made around the move out of Upton Park were the root of the problem.

“Many fans have sacrificed a great deal of what they hold dear about West Ham,” a statement read. “This sacrifice was made on the understanding that more, a lot more, would be forthcoming than just the survival of the club.”

The owners responded with a statement on the club’s website on Saturday, saying that they were in a much better place then 10 years ago, but understanding the concerns.

“Despite our best efforts we have not made the progress, in a football sense, that we all hoped for and expected following the move to London Stadium almost four years ago,” it said. -- Reuters

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