Before it was official, rumours circulated that David Moyes could be named the new West Ham FC manager – an announcement that was met with disdain on social media, as fans of the team and the sport voiced disappointment of the potential decision.
Failed at last three jobs✅
Threatened to slap a woman✅
Dour and uninspiring✅
West Ham…” When can you start?” pic.twitter.com/GccCcyss6D
— Tim Lewis (@timlewis01) November 7, 2017
On Tuesday 7 November, the hiring of Moyes was made official, as he was deemed “the right man to turn things around and get the best out of the players at the club” by West Ham chairman David Sullivan.
“He is highly regarded and respected within the game, and will bring fresh ideas, organisation and enthusiasm,” Sullivan added.
However, rewind to April and Moyes was the centre of a sexism row after he implied a female reporter deserved a slap for being “naughty” during an interview with him after a game. He subsequently apologised, but was still fined £30,000 by the FA.
Aside from that poor conduct, Moyes has also delivered underwhelming results at his most recent clubs, having served three in four years. He signed a six-year contract for his time at Manchester United, which was cut short as he was fired ten months later.
From there he became manager at Real Sociedad and was fired after one year, but then moved onto Sunderland, which saw the team relegated from the Premier League to the Championship. This time Moyes wasn’t fired though, he quit the club.
As it stands, West Ham is in the relegation zone, so it’s all to play for right now. However, based on previous records, West Ham is at risk of falling into the same trap as Moyes’ ex-club Sunderland. Would he stick around if the worst happened?
It stands to reason that West Ham fans, the customers pumping money into the club, are concerned. And what precedent does his performance and behaviour set for players?
“If a business is not working which clearly West Ham isn’t, it’s obvious you need to make changes So, I think it’s good that West Ham have made a change,” Glenn Tamplin, MD and founder of AGP Steels and owner-manager of Billericay Town FC told Real Business.
“Any manager is a risk, particularly if they are a passionate manager who finds it difficult to keep their passion to themselves and ends up venting their frustrations on the wrong people.
“Moyes has apologised for his stupid and offensive remarks to Vicki Sparks which is right, he shouldn’t have said what he did, but I’d rather have a manager in my business with passion than one who just takes the wages. I’d take a risk on Moyes because I think he cares about results and the club he manages and not just his wage.”
Cirrus CEO Simon Hayward said that, to move away from his lackluster performance that has followed him to West Ham, he needs to set out a new vision – and quickly – if he is to succeed at winning games and support.
“There is no honeymoon period for Moyes. He has not succeeded at winning the hearts and minds of players and fans at previous clubs, so ideally he really needs to connect to both groups as swiftly as he can at West Ham,” Hayward opined.
“He described the team as a ‘good squad’ capable of being in a better position come the end of the season, and described fans as ‘a very passionate group’ which the team very much needed behind them. This comes across as more transactional than inspirational.”
Some of the “passionate group” members have offered the following so far:
There is a lot of anger by fans towards the board appointing David Moyes as manager.
So because of this, we’ve decided to do it anyway. dg
— Dave Gold (@davidgoId_) November 6, 2017
David Moyes looking like a hospital grief councillor whose primary job is breaking bad news to families pic.twitter.com/qWkcXwWAzH
— Jack Lang (@jacklang) November 7, 2017
To think David Moyes signed a deal until 2019 at United.
In that time period he’s had 3 different clubs and still has a year left… pic.twitter.com/loAtokZTjr
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) November 7, 2017
David Moyes took over a sinking ship at SAFC & drilled another hole. He cannot be what West Ham need right now.
— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) November 7, 2017
“To really galvanise and engage players and fans, Moyes could do more to draw on West Ham’s rich heritage, recognise the challenges ahead, and set out a much more inspiring purpose and vision,” added Hayward.
“This could help him to build connections with others, encouraging more collaboration around a shared purpose.”
The same can be applied to a business taking a risk on a manager that may come with a reputation that isn’t entirely desirable. They’ll need to make it clear that history won’t repeat itself, if there is to be any hope of drumming up encouragement and belief in the staff. Not only should the manager in question look at changing strategy to achieve results, they should look inward at changing themself.
Chris Sheppardson, founder of EP Knowledge Share & Connectivity and a serial entrepreneur, was quick to highlight how far Moyes has fallen.
“The core issue here is whether David Moyes is no longer the manager he was, whilst with Everton. He was unsuccessful at Manchester United and West Ham’s own announcement that he won the Community Shield and was the only Manchester United manager ever to win a trophy in his season, not only over values his achievement with Ferguson’s side, but stresses his failure,” he said.
Sheppardson pointed out that Moyes knows the sport, is caring and honest – too honest, perhaps, if you’re suggesting people need to be slapped – but doesn’t accept his weaknesses.
“I believe Moyes himself does gloss over his sacking from Manchester United and clearly feels it was wrong. He has never accepted his shortcomings. He does the same about his period in Spain,” Sheppardson detailed.
“The question is whether he has the passion and fire to go through the hard yards again with the players to find success. Another final question is whether Moyes is better than predecessor Billic? I suspect it is very marginal so why should directors spend x millions of pounds paying off someone’s contract to get potentially the same in return?”
Finally, we heard from David Alexander, founder of sports PR consultancy Calacus. He admitted that while they are businesses that need results, football clubs and sports clubs are unlike other operations – due to the fact they’re so public.
“David Moyes did very well at Everton and some would argue that he was not given sufficient time at Manchester United. Despite difficult spells in Spain and then at Sunderland, his reputation is not tarnished beyond repair,” Alexander said.
He said the issue is down to a dearth of young talented alternatives coming through the ranks to fill managerial posts.
“As with any managerial appointment, time will tell if hiring Moyes was a good decision. West Ham, like any other Premier League club, are in the results business. If Moyes can turn the club’s fortunes around and ensure their top flight status, he will have done his job,” he continued.
“Hiring Moyes shows that the owners are intent on doing what they believe is right, even if it does not capture the imagination of the supporters. While the owners always want the fans to back their decisions, whether that is a new manager or a new signing, the priority is to stay up.”
Alexander noted the fact that the Moyes deal is only six months, running to the end of the season. It suggests even the directors have their reservations about his performance as they didn’t issue a multi-year contract.
Feeding onto the disappointment fans voiced about Moyes, Alexander believes that no manager is truly free of a reputation thanks to social media and round the clock news. There is a right way to get appointments made to customers and earn their confidence.
“When any high level appointment is made, in sport or business, it is up to the organisation to communicate clearly and engage with media and fans,” he said.
“Communicating that vision is vital, particularly when the response has been sceptical and unenthusiastic. It is about understanding the culture of the organisation and explaining to stakeholders (in this case the fans and players) how the manager plans to blend tradition with innovation.
“We live in an impatient world where everyone wants success quickly. If he can win his first few games and move up the table, it will buy him some time for the challenges ahead, particularly if he is given funds to bring in some exciting signings in January.”