West Ham: David Moyes knows how to end second Hammers spell on a high

Bidding farewell: David Moyes (Getty Images)
Bidding farewell: David Moyes (Getty Images)

For David Moyes and West Ham, things appear to be heading in only one direction.

The 61-year-old rounded on his players after last Sunday's 5-2 defeat at Crystal Palace, admitting he "could not believe" his team's "unacceptable" performance.

Managers so rarely criticise their players in public these days, and it was stark the extent to which Moyes put the blame at their door.

Out of contract in the summer, Moyes's race is now surely run; one of West Ham's greatest managers into the home straight of his second tenure.

While West Ham's Europa League campaign ended last week at the hands of Xabi Alonso's sensational Bayer Leverkusen side, European qualification for a fourth successive year has been on the cards throughout the whole season.

West Ham's position in eighth suggests they are likelier to seal a place in the Europa Conference League, the competition Moyes so memorably guided them to win last June.

Chelsea, two points behind them, have two games in hand on them; Manchester United in sixth and Newcastle in seventh each have a game in hand, too.

European hopes may be all that can save Moyes now from his four-and-a-half-year second stint petering out. Victories against Liverpool tomorrow, Chelsea next weekend and two more against Luton and leaders Manchester City would surely be enough but are too much to ask.

But West Ham fans do not expect four wins from four. Instead, they just yearn for braver football from their boss, whose defensive instincts have yielded just three league wins since the turn of the year. Just as concerning is West Ham's failure to keep a clean sheet since the 5-0 Europa League win over Freiburg six weeks ago.

A summer of change in east London is evidently nigh.

Manchester City retain their long-standing interest in Lucas Paqueta, and while West Ham have no one to replace him in their current squad, he would command a sizeable fee if sold.

Meanwhile, veterans Aaron Cresswell and Angelo Ogbonna are out of contract, and Kalvin Phillips's disastrous loan spell from City has just 65 days left to run.