Moyes not only one on trial after Hammers appointment

David Moyes cut a miserablefigure at Sunderland. Canhe get the West Ham fansclapping to his tune at thesoulless London Stadium?(Reuters)
Updated 11 November 2017
0

Moyes not only one on trial after Hammers appointment

LONDON: The good news for David Moyes is that the club he takes over this year is probably not in quite as bad a state as the one he took over last year. West Ham United, after all, are only a point from safety and there is enough quality in the squad to suggest that salvation is not merely possible but probable.
This is not Sunderland, with a beaten-down and broken side already several years overdue a relegation, in mourning for the manager just departed (Sam Allardyce for his ridiculous two months with England), and an owner who had long since lost whatever enthusiasm he once had, trimming costs at every turn.
The bad news is that being better than Sunderland is not that much of an achievement, and West Ham have plenty of problems.
At the heart of them is the stadium — which has size to recommend it and little else. It’s not just that the stands are a long way from the pitch, it’s that they’re a long way from anywhere. Nobody likes the London Stadium, the most soulless of all the soulless modern stadiums. Where Upton Park was a clear advantage for West Ham, capable of intimidating and inspiring even after its redevelopment, it now seems entirely possible that the London Stadium will never know an atmosphere better than Mo Farah winning the 10,000m at the 2012 Olympics.
But the stadium is also symbolic of deeper concerns. The owners, David Gold and David Sullivan, seems constantly to have grand plans and then to try to execute them on the cheap. They sacked Sam Allardyce’s sports psychologist because they didn’t think he offered value for money. They have carped and quibbled over transfer pennies. They managed to fall out with the widow of Bobby Moore, the club’s greatest legend, over donations to a cancer charity. The expectation always seems better than the reality.
Even the appointment of Moyes fits that template. He is available and desperate for a job. He is relatively cheap, certainly in terms of his demands for new players and staff. But he is a short-term fix. He has only been given a contract until the end of the season. There is no sense of laying the foundations for future greatness. Even in November it feels as though the rest of the season has been written off: Stay up, take the television money and only then look to the future.
The squad, similarly, is an odd patchwork. For a club like West Ham to bring in an experienced player who has enjoyed greater things can make sense. To sign Joe Hart, Javier Hernandez and Pablo Zabaleta together just looks like nobody’s done any scouting for a decade.
Moyes, it could be argued, fits the same category. There has been a lot of talk of resurrecting the David Moyes of Everton. But football moves on. It constantly develops. Very few managers remain at the very top of their games for more than a decade and those that do, the likes of Alex Ferguson and Valeriy Lobanovskyi, are rightly hailed as geniuses.
There has been no sense of Moyes evolving.
Each of the three jobs he has taken since Everton have come with their own mitigating circumstances. Replacing Ferguson at United was always going to be a hugely difficult task for any manager. Real Sociedad was a step into another football culture. Sunderland was, well, Sunderland.
Moyes can offer an excuse for each. None of those three failures mean he is necessarily finished as a manager. But most managers have their reasons for why things go wrong. The credit Moyes built up at Preston and Everton is running out. Even with the tendency of a certain type of owner to appoint aging British managers, he must know that one more failure probably means the end for him as a top-flight manager.
But Moyes isn’t the only one on trial. West Ham’s owners, too, should be facing serious questions.


Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

Updated 14 November 2018
0

Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

LONDON: A Saudi Arabian businessman is driving the bid to get squash included in the Olympics for the first time.
The World Squash Federation has petitioned three times for squash to join the Games, but each bid has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The decision has prompted frustration in the squash community, particularly as sports such as climbing, surfing and skateboarding have been admitted.
Ziad Al-Turki is the Chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and has done wonders in marketing the game and broadening its appeal. He is now pushing hard for the game to be showcased on the biggest stage of all at the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.
Squash has huge global appeal, with the men’s singles final in the last Commonwealth Games attracting a TV audience of more than one million.
“Everyone’s ultimate goal is the Olympics,” said Al-Turki. “The main push comes from the World Squash Federation (WSF) and for many years they were stuck in their ways. We changed a lot at the PSA and ticked every box with the IOC. The WSF just stayed stagnant and didn’t do anything. They didn’t want to put our hand in their hand and work together.”
Relations between the PSA and the WSF came to a head in 2015 in the wake of squash losing out to wrestling for a spot at the 2020 Olympics. A statement from the PSA described the then president of WSF, Narayana Ramachandran, as an “embarrassment to the sport.”
“Nothing could happen with the president of the WSF. Nothing would change. It was just a one-man show. We tried to help but he wouldn’t accept any help,” Al-Turki said. “We have a new president now and they are all very keen,” he added.
Jacques Fontaine is the new president and at his coronation in 2016 he encouragingly said “the Olympic agenda remains a priority.”
“The WSF love the sport and they understand the needs of the IOC,” said Al-Turki.
“They understand the PSA is at a completely different level to the WSF and we’ve now joined forces and are working together. Hopefully 2024 will be the year squash is in the Olympics. Right now, the way we are working together is the strongest collaboration ever and hopefully we can tick all the boxes for the IOC.
“We ticked all the right bodies as a professional association but the WSF didn’t. Now they are putting their hands in ours and we will tick all the right boxes for the ICO.”
Al-Turki, once described as the Bernie Ecclestone of squash, has certainly transformed the sport since he took up office in 2008.
“When I joined the PSA we didn’t have any media coverage,” he said. “Right now we are live in 154 countries. the women’s tour has just grown stronger and stronger — the income has gone up by 74 percent.
“I just love the squash players. I think they are incredible athletes are are some of the fittest athletes in the world. I felt they deserved better and I wanted them to have better.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the levels of football and tennis in terms of exposure and prize money, but I want to reach a level where they will retire comfortably. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now.
“It’s all about the player and their well being. Nick Matthew retired recently and I think he’s retired comfortably. I think I’ve contributed to this as the income has improved. That’s all I want – nothing more.”