David Moyes has earned right to be backed this summer - but January failures may cost West Ham before then

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·3-min read
David Moyes has earned right to be backed this summer - but January failures may cost West Ham before then
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West Ham’s pursuit of a striker in the final hours of the January window is a good example of the pitfalls of eleventh-hour deals.

At 7pm on deadline day, David Moyes was convinced the club had finally got themselves a new forward in Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata.

All the paperwork was completed, and Moyes was looking forward to having an understudy for Michail Antonio. Then Zapata disappeared.

Phone calls to his representatives went unanswered, all messages were met with radio silence and no one at Atalanta knew where he was.

In the end, Zapata was AWOL for the final four hours of the window and West Ham finished the month empty-handed, to Moyes’s frustration.

The West Ham manager relayed this incident to Standard Sport in March, perhaps to deflect the blame from the club for a frustrating January.

Today, however, Moyes must be regretting the club’s failure to add to his squad in the winter window, particularly after Issa Diop became the latest defender at risk of missing the run-in after suffering an ankle injury against Burnley.

The Hammers knew in November that Angelo Ogbonna would miss the rest of the season, while Kurt Zouma, who is out with an ankle problem, was sidelined with a hamstring injury over Christmas, raising questions about the club’s decision not to sign a defender in January.

Moyes is now facing a European semi-final and crucial domestic run-in with just one centre-half in Craig Dawson, leaving the Scot needing to get creative.

Moyes believes his side would have finished in the top four last term were it not for injuries, including to Declan Rice and Aaron Cresswell, during the run-in and, privately, he must fear the same outcome this season.

For everyone associated with West Ham, it would be deeply frustrating but not particularly surprising if another campaign falls short due to a lack of squad depth. Whatever happens from here, Moyes deserves to be properly backed in the summer.

Last week’s 3-0 win over Lyon underlined how profoundly he has raised expectations at the club, and there is still a sense the Hammers are a long way from fulfilling their potential under Moyes.

He has already hinted at a major overhaul in the summer, calling for a “changing of the guard” and “new players... a stronger squad”, while he has warned against the squad “going stale”, suggesting difficult and potentially unpopular decisions lie ahead.

Moyes has earned the right to make these calls and to be given a squad to challenge on two fronts next season. The club should be in a position to spend after Daniel Kretinsky’s cash injection, although there is the distinct danger that co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold will be reluctant to go big, as they eye a potential sale to the Czech in the near future.

Kretinsky purchased a 27 per cent stake in the club last year (AFP via Getty Images)
Kretinsky purchased a 27 per cent stake in the club last year (AFP via Getty Images)

If there is a warning for West Ham and Moyes, it comes in rivals Tottenham. Like Moyes, Mauricio Pochettino raised expectations by building a team greater than the sum of its parts but his calls for the club to back him in the transfer market were consistently ignored.

Their decline was steep after he was sacked.

The worry is West Ham’s owners are too focused on a potential sale to give Moyes the backing he fully deserves but it would be a tremendous shame if he was not given the tools to kick on next season.

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