Soccer

What's going wrong with West Ham as they sit in bottom three?

What’s going wrong with West Ham? Just one win in seven games has them languishing in the relegation zone after splurging over £160m in the summer… David Moyes feels let down by some of his players and all his good work risks coming undone

  • West Ham are marooned in the relegation zone having won just one out of seven
  • Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Everton represented the latest setback for David Moyes
  • The manager criticised his established players for not performing at usual levels
  • Hammers spent £160m on players in the summer but they’ve barely featured
  • Forward line has managed just three goals in the Premier League to date 

Almost a year ago, West Ham were collecting points at such a prolific rate there was a very real possibility they could challenge for a Champions League place.

They were heady times at the London Stadium. David Moyes looked to have assembled an exciting team that could not only compete in the upper reaches of the Premier League but simultaneously in the domestic cups and the Europa League.

On December 4, they beat Chelsea 3-2 in a pulsating game that was settled by Arthur Masuaku’s misdirected cross that deceived keeper Edouard Mendy.

West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca (L) cuts a dejected figure after Sunday’s loss to Everton

Manager David Moyes couldn’t bear to watch at times as his side slumped to another defeat

The Hammers enter the international fortnight third bottom and in the relegation zone

That result left the Hammers fourth in the table, ahead of Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United. They’d knocked both Manchester clubs out of the Carabao Cup and coasted through their Europa League group.

West Ham’s trajectory seemed to be heading irreversibly upwards and even though they would ultimately have to settle for seventh, and a semi-final exit in Europe, there was positivity to sustain everyone connected to the club.

Hammers captain Declan Rice reflects with dismay on another defeat 

That optimism has now evaporated almost as quickly as it came. Sunday’s 1-0 loss at Everton means West Ham enter the international fortnight in the relegation zone, with just four points from a possible 21.

It is the club’s worst start to a Premier League season since 2016-17 and you have to go back to 1973 for the last time the Hammers had fewer points at this stage of a top-flight campaign.

The manager who became known as the ‘Moyesiah’ has lost a lot of his sheen and the season is threatening to become a real slog, with their participation in the Europa Conference League more a hindrance than an opportunity.

Thursday night football, though, has brought pretty much the only taste of success so far but wins over the likes of Viborg, FCSB (formerly Steaua Bucharest) and Silkeborg are hardly going to sustain them.

Their only league win came at Aston Villa and the Everton loss means Moyes has plenty to think about as his players jet off to play for their countries this week.

It was a sore point for Moyes that he wasn’t backed in the January transfer window when West Ham had an excellent chance to make the season memorable by finishing in the top four or winning a cup.

They duly spent £160million on new players over the summer but Moyes hasn’t even started to integrate them into his first-choice side.

At Goodison Park, the likes of Gianluca Scamacca, Maxwel Cornet, Emerson and Flynn Downes – who cost a combined £80m in the summer – started on the subs bench.

West Ham’s most positive results this season have come in the Europa Conference League

Neal Maupay’s second-half goal handed Everton a 1-0 win against West Ham at Goodison Park 

Their poor start 

August 7 Manchester City (H) L 0-2

August 14 Nottingham Forest (A) L 0-1

August 21 Brighton (H) L 0-2

August 28 Aston Villa (A) W 1-0

August 31 Tottenham Hotspur (H) D 1-1

September 3 Chelsea (A) L 1-2

September 18 Everton (A) L 0-1 

With four points from seven games (W1 D1 L5), West Ham have made their worst start to a Premier League season since 2016-17 (also four points), while only in 1973-74 have the Hammers had fewer points at this stage of a top-flight campaign (three – assuming three points for a win). 

Cornet and Scamacca had both started in Thursday’s win over Silkeborg and offered more attacking threat than had been witnessed in West Ham’s previous games.

Italy international Scamacca, who cost £35.5m from Sassuolo, has scored three times in the Europa Conference League but has still only started one Premier League game.

Cornet, bought for £17.5m from Burnley, has contributed five assists in four European games, but hasn’t started a league match so far.

But despite showing good form, Moyes stuck with Michail Antonio, Jarrod Bowen and Pablo Fornals against Everton and all three struggled to make any impact.

The quick turnaround from the trip to Denmark was of course a factor but Cornet, in particular, offered more threat when brought on in the second-half. Maybe he should have started.

It also wasn’t a great look that the club’s record £51m signing Lucas Paqueta, a Brazil international, was the one who Cornet replaced after struggling to create anything.

Trouble is, integrating all the new signings together will take time and would likely require a switch in formation.

Moyes likes to play a 4-2-3-1, which allows Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek to anchor things in midfield, and they would need two up front to accommodate Scamacca and Antonio together.

More fundamentally, the players Moyes has come to depend on in his team – the longer-serving, senior players – have been sub-standard so far this season.

The manager had no problem in calling them out afterwards. ‘Today I found out little bits, mainly about the players I already knew about. They were the ones in the main who let me down,’ Moyes said.

Vladimir Coufal pictured following West Ham’s latest setback against Everton on Sunday

Moyes hasn’t been afraid to call out his established and senior players for under-performing

‘They are down on their level. We felt we were dropping down last season. I need them to play at their best.’

It’s tricky to pinpoint the cause of this slump. Is it the feeling of an opportunity wasted last season, or the core of a team now beyond their peak?

With all the summer reinforcements, West Ham should have been well-placed to kick on but so far this simply hasn’t happened.

Integration will take time and their established players haven’t picked up the slack. They’ve scored just three times so far in the league and nobody has scored fewer from open play; their counter-attacking threat has diminished.

Maxwel Cornet is one of West Ham’s summer signings who haven’t been fully integrated

The club’s record signing Lucas Paqueta (right) is taking time to adapt to English football

Travel sickness is another worry – they’ve lost eight of their last 10 away games in the Premier League and nobody has lost more times on the road this calendar year.

The international break can be both a help and a hindrance for managers. Theoretically it offers more time on the training ground to impart ideas and instructions without the pressure of travelling and games.

In reality, many West Ham players will be away for the most part representing their countries. Moyes, in their absence, has plenty to ponder after an alarming start to a season that promised much.




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