RIATH AL-SAMARRAI: What David Moyes has actually attained at West Ham is enormous, however he won’t wander off too far from the edge of the cliff regardless of their 2-0 win versus fellow strugglers Everton
One man was pushed towards the fire by the club where it all began. Another went up against the club where he made his name and shunted them closer to a different kind of oblivion. A funny and cruel game, football.
It was around 20 minutes into this tangle of the damned, so still 0-0, when a question began to form, which was to wonder if there was precedent for both managers losing their job after a game.
Perhaps that is an unpleasant reflex, and David Moyes was within his rights when he later questioned the macabre business of speculation, but there has been at least one case of that unusual double.
Head coach David Moyes bought himself some time as West Ham beat Everton 2-0 on Saturday
West Ham superstar Declan Rice put in one of his best performances of the season in the win
It was in December 2017 that Middlesbrough fired Garry Monk in spite of victory over Sheffield Wednesday, who in turn dismissed Carlos Carvalhal.
If that was somewhere near the peak of a peculiar genre, then what to make of this game that had been titled El Sackico? Sportsmail understands there was a firm instinct at both West Ham and Everton that defeat would render the position of either Moyes or Frank Lampard untenable, and as it happens Moyes lived on with a 2-0 win.
Another day, or a turning point? That is to be determined, though the hope would be for the latter in recognition of how high a good, proven manager took the club before this lengthy period of difficulty. What he achieved in escaping relegation, finishing sixth and seventh in the Premier League and reaching a European semi-final was immense.
But the issue from there is how much credit does that buy when the decline is traced deep into the second half of last season? How long can one borrow time before the repayments are due?
Jarrod Bowen scored an impressive brace for the Irons, netting his first goals in three months
Given his proximity to the edge before the Everton win, it would be madness to assume Moyes has any leeway at all. As the Scot himself put it: ‘Me winning one game doesn’t mean that everything is fine.’
Absolutely — and it isn’t, having lost six of eight. Only a streak of wins will do now, and if anything improves his odds, it is that he has some strong personnel.
Declan Rice is top-six calibre and delivered arguably his best showing since October, Nayef Aguerd managed his best West Ham performance after joining for £30million and the arrival of Danny Ings ought to help a team who don’t score nearly enough.
Factor in the quality of Jarrod Bowen, who scored both goals on Saturday — his first strikes in three months — and you have the potential for a revival as well as justification for asking how they have fallen so far.
Frank Lampard’s future with Everton looks uncertain after the Toffees fell to 19th in the table
West Ham (3-4-2-1): Fabianski 7; Zouma 6.5, Aguerd 7.5, Ogbonna 6; Coufal 6, Rice 7.5, Paqueta 6 (Soucek 71min, 6), Emerson 7 (Johnson 80); Bowen 8, Benrahma 6.5 (Downes 80); Antonio 6.5 (Ings 71, 6).
Scorer: Bowen 34, 41.
Manager: David Moyes 7.
Everton (3-4-2-1): Pickford 7; Mina 6, Coady 5, Tarkowski 4; Coleman 6 (Davies 46, 7), Onana 6, Gueye 4.5, Mykolenko 5 (McNeil 46, 6); Iwobi 7, Gray 5.5; Calvert-Lewin 5.
Manager: Frank Lampard 5.
Referee: Stuart Attwell 7.
For that reason, Moyes won’t stray too far from the edge of the cliff, and only so much can be read into a win against a team who commit ludicrous individual errors — among others, witness the botched Everton marking for the opening goal and the daft lunge by James Tarkowski in the creation of the second — and concede at unsustainable rates.
So what of Lampard? He had been told by West Ham fans a short while before the final whistle that he was being ‘sacked in the morning’. The only query was around their forecasted timings, and indeed the question of whether Everton’s decision makers would subject a new leader to opening games against Arsenal and Liverpool.
It comes to something when that is a manager’s last line of defence. It comes to something else when you hear the bumbling nonsense of the man who is supposed to be calling the shots, Farhad Moshiri. You may have seen it by now — the footage shows him leaving his first game since October 2021, and he was asked about Lampard’s future. ‘It’s not my decision,’ he said.
There was later a clarification that the call would be made by Everton’s wider board, but for a soundbite, it was no less powerful for its summary of how a once-great club is being crashed by an inept regime with a penchant for firing bullets into their own feet.
On a day of considerable relief for West Ham, they could at least peek over the garden fence and see a club having a far worse time of it.