Farewell, David Moyes – you deserved a classier exit from West Ham

So, finally, the endless speculation and this long-running saga has reached its seemingly inevitable conclusion.

After weeks of flirting behind his back, West Ham have finally gone public and called time on their relationship with David Moyes.

They’ve decided to upgrade on their reliable and trusty Scot and are set to turn to Spaniard Julen Lopetegui after also inviting Portuguese Ruben Amorim for a chat in London.

With so much unrest and talk surrounding Moyes’ future, performances and results have tailed off recently, while West Ham were — like so many other sides — humbled by Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League quarter-finals.

With just two matches left for Moyes at West Ham, it all feels like a sorry end to what’s been a sustained period of success in the club’s history.

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(Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)

Moyes — the manager who delivered West Ham’s first major trophy since 1980 when he won the Europa Conference League last summer — deserved better than this.

After taking West Ham from a relegation dogfight and into Europe for three consecutive seasons, he had more than enough credit in the bank to merit a respectful departure.

Instead, his exit has been handled clumsily as West Ham sounded out potential replacements while he was still in the job. At the very least, West Ham should have been straight with him, fronted up about their direction of travel and provided some clarity to the fanbase. As uncertainty has swirled around the club, West Ham have won just one of their past nine Premier League matches and now lie ninth in the table.

Yes, there have been justified complaints over Moyes’ style and tactics and West Ham’s defeat to Leverkusen last month (33 shots to 1 in the first leg) was verging on embarrassing, but let’s not forget what the 61-year-old has achieved in east London.

In his first stint, a six-month spell from November 2017 to May 2018, he guided them to safety after taking over from Slaven Bilic with the club in the relegation zone and after facing unrest from the supporters at his appointment.

That summer, West Ham turned to Manuel Pellegrini instead of Moyes, an ill-fated experiment that resulted in the Scot’s return in December 2019, with the club embroiled in another relegation battle.

Again, he dragged them to safety before achieving a sixth and seventh-place finish in the league. Ironically, it was the season that followed — a wretched domestic campaign where West Ham finished 14th and almost saw him sacked — that marked the high point of his time at the club as they recovered to win the Europa Conference League.

By lifting the trophy, Moyes became the first British manager to win a European competition since Sir Alex Ferguson in the Champions League with Manchester United in 2008.

Those jubilant scenes in Prague after Jarrod Bowen’s late winner against Fiorentina will live long in the memory, as Moyes partied on the pitch with his players in front of their ecstatic fans before dad-dancing around the dressing room to The Proclaimers’ ‘500 Miles’.

As West Ham returned for their open-top bus parade around east London, outgoing captain Declan Rice gushed: “I think he goes down as the best manager West Ham have ever had. The circumstances, when he first came in, kept us up twice, European competition, we finished fifth, sixth, a semi-final (Europa League) and now we’ve won this. He deserves all the credit he gets.”

After landing West Ham their first European trophy since 1965, Moyes enjoyed a strong first half of this season with the club sixth at the turn of the year after beating Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates and topping their Europa League group.

However, they have won just three Premier League games in 2024 and were thumped 5-2 by Crystal Palace and 5-0 by Chelsea in their last two away matches.

As results dipped, there was talk of tension between Moyes and Tim Steidten, West Ham’s technical director, who was appointed in the summer following success in the Bundesliga, with the pair not always aligned on transfer targets. Moyes, an old-school manager who likes to maintain control over signings, favoured solidity and a British core, with the Scot pushing for the loan signing of Kalvin Phillips in January, a move that backfired.

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The relationship between Tim Steidten and Moyes has been tense at times (Richard Pelham/Getty Images)

With Steidten playing a leading role in the search for a new manager, one of Moyes’ final acts was to stop him from entering the first-team dressing room at the London Stadium or West Ham’s training ground at Rush Green. This went down badly with the board.

With Moyes still in charge, Sporting Lisbon manager Amorim travelled to London on April 22 for talks with West Ham. Amorim later apologised and said it was a mistake.

Then, on Monday morning, it was revealed West Ham had agreed terms with Lopetegui — a manager hardly synonymous with expansive football — before the club finally put Moyes out of his misery and announced he was leaving by mutual consent at 6pm that evening.

Calling out the board, former West Ham striker Tony Cottee described them as “classless” and “really poor” for hanging Moyes out to dry and publicly courting other managers.

Moyes has been here before.

Just 10 months into his six-year contract at Manchester United, almost everyone seemed to have heard about his imminent sacking apart from him. Not once did Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, inform him that performances and results needed to improve. It was only after friends, agents, family and journalists started to call him following a 2-0 loss on his return to Everton on Easter Sunday 2014 that he realised he was about to lose his job. He was eventually fired 48 hours later.

Yet after that brutal end at United, which was followed by a mixed period abroad with Real Sociedad and an unhappy time at Sunderland, Moyes has now emerged with his reputation enhanced.

He’ll now get his fond farewell from the fans at the London Stadium against Luton Town on Saturday, but Moyes was deserving of greater respect from the West Ham hierarchy than this rather hollow goodbye.

(Top photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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