Liverpool dismantled West Ham, in what many predicted could be a sloppy loss for the East London club. The impressive offensive line of Firmino, Salah, and Mane was a constant threat, while the revitalized defence with the addition of Virgil van Dijk shut down the West Ham attack. But, with the predicable better team winning, how did West Ham’s manager, David Moyes, contribute to the teams loss. With these three football managerial adages:
Don’t Change a Winning Line Up
West Ham secured three massive points against Watford before lining up against Liverpool, in what was a convincing win. The hornets were buzzing, coming off of a 4-1 win against defending champions Chelsea resulting in high team moral and confident players. West Ham executed a game play that saw the use of a two pronged striker duo of Marko Arnautovic and Chicharito, while Michail Antonio made his starting return as a left wingback.
This team used Antonio’s speed up the wing, and Arnautovic’s physicality up front to create offensively. Supported by Joao Mario in an attacking midfield role, the West Ham attack was able to hold onto the ball and sustain pressure on the Watford defence.
For the defence, the attack was kept on the outside. Having netted a penalty goal Watford captain Troy Deeney terrorized the Chelsea back line by shielding the ball behind his body and smashing into the penalty area. For West Ham, Zabaleta and Antonio limited Richarlison and Deulofeu to the perimeter, while the back three of Cresswell, Collins and Ogbonna deflected away any aerial attacks.
Moyes opted to remove in form Chicharito for Manuel Lanzini who was returning from injury. As well, Antonio was moved to the bench to give Patrice Evra his first start for West Ham. Both players were underwhelming and did not factor into the limited success West Ham saw, unless you give credit to Lanzini for being subbed for Antonio who scored. Moyes missed the point here, and in the process he deflated his marquee striker and newly fit forward.
Play Your Best Players
Similar to the first issue, Moyes opted to nitpick rather than let his team play. In doing so he stranded his two midfield maestros, Lanzini and Mario. When playing “alongside” Arnautovic, Lanzini realistically was sitting below him and acted as a linkup man who would join in the offensive rush. No one watching them play together would say they lined up parallel. Now, since Lanzini had been out with injury Joao Mario too that position of midfield link up man, while Chicharito stepped up as a striker, matching Arnautovic’s advanced position.
This was abandoned with Lanzini coming back. Lanzini stepped into his old role, while Mario also remained higher than Kouyate and Noble in centre mid. So, if we look at how the players played, West Ham lined up 5-2-1-1-1. Absolutely revolutionary football management from Moyes! I am not privy to the backroom discussions of Moyes’ managerial team, but the emphasis was clearly “get Lanzini back on the pitch at any cost” when it really didn’t need to be.
Don’t Over-manage Your Squad
Again, linked to the previous issues with Moyes’ strategy, over-management was very apparent. It factored into the sloppy team selection and opened the door for the Liverpool attack. Essentially, Chicharito was dropped when in form for a player who may be the most important person on the squad. It was clearly an effort to recapture the team that saw success against Chelsea earlier in Moyes’ reign, but the team had since changed. Chicharito was gaining momentum playing alongside Arnautovic and that was overlooked by Moyes.
Lanzini is a must start for West Ham, sure, but only when he is fully fit. As well, he isn’t a damn striker! Let him play offensive, let him roam, but don’t think he is a striker. Chicharito’s pedigree and current success should have guaranteed him his spot, with Lanzini as either a sub (as he was coming off injury) or a replacement for Kouyate.
Over-management was again present in Patrice Evra’s first start for West Ham. A centrepiece in an alleged racist event with Liverpool’s Suarez, Evra is a polarizing figure in Merseyside. He was constantly booed, and had Suarez’s name chanted at him, even though he was the victim in that alleged event. Regardless of passed transgressions, Evra is 36 years old and was implemented in his first team action since November 2017 as a wingback against Mohammad Salah.
West Ham could have used Antonio’s speed on the wing to at least match Salah on his runs, while adding something offensively. As well, against Watford Antonio didn’t seem out of his depth in a new position, sticking to the wing and moving up and down the pitch on the outside. Evra often wandered, and as the play would build on the right side he would overlap his defenders in the middle of the pitch.
Moyes seemed to fall victim to what every fantasy sports manager often succumbs too, too much tinkering. To be fair West Ham has needed over coaching for much of this season in order to minimize mistakes but in this instance the faux pas’ of the managerial world seemed to have overwhelmed Moyes at Merseyside.
Come On You Irons!