David Moyes felt the heat of significant supporter unrest for the first time this season as the Sunderland stands echoed with chants demanding the manager’s sacking during the 2-2 draw with West Ham.
The anger directed at Moyes was all the more alarming as his rock bottom side turned in one of their better performances of the campaign. But the Wearsiders remain adrift at the foot of the Premier League, nine points behind 17th-placed Hull, with relegation seemingly inevitable.
“We want Moyes out,” chorused home fans after André Ayew gave Slaven Bilic’s visitors a fifth-minute lead and the crowd booed the Scot every time he ventured out of his dug-out, including when he went to collect a couple of loose balls.
The antipathy eased after Wahbi Khazri, recalled to the starting XI after being sidelined by the Scot for most of this season, equalised direct from a corner. The substitute Fabio Borini, another player often marginalised by Moyes, scored a second leveller with his first touch.
“I did hear the chants,” admitted Moyes, whose side scored their first goals in eight games. “But they were to be expected. You have to take it. I just remembered that I’ve got the third or fourth best win record of any Premier League manager. I thought we played well today, the lads deserve great credit for coming back. We passed better, controlled bits of the game and played some good football.”
He straight-batted questions about Khazri. “Wahbi was good today, much more disciplined,” before declining to be drawn into the precise reasons why he had been overlooked for so long.
Borini’s late leveller came after he replaced Billy Jones, who had required prolonged treatment on the pitch after falling and hitting his head. He departed wearing a neck brace and with an oxygen mask clamped over his face but, although the right-back’s next stop was hospital, the visit proved purely precautionary.
“Jones has gone to hospital and he’s got concussion but he’s fine,’ said Moyes. “He’s talking and answering questions so he’s just having checks.”