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
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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.


London clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad a chance to showcase Saudi football to the world, says SAFF

Updated 16 August 2018
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London clash between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad a chance to showcase Saudi football to the world, says SAFF

  • Super Cup final in UK capital can boost Saudi football's image around the world, claims SAFF official
  • SAFF defends number of foreign players allowed to play in Saudi Pro League claiming they help raise the standard.

LONDON: Saturday’s Super Cup final between Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad in London will not just be a great experience for the players, but also a chance to showcase the best of Saudi Arabian football on an international stage ahead of what should be a season to remember.
That is according to Luai Al-Subaiey, the General Secretary of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF)ahead of the cup clash at Loftus Road, the home of Queen’s Park Rangers. The match is the traditional season curtain-raiser that features the champions and the winners of the King’s Cup. And with holding fixtures overseas a growing trend in modern football, Al-Subaiey told Arab News the decision to play the match in London was a no-brainer.
“Club teams from one country playing in another country is commonplace,” Al-Subaiey said.
“Teams from the English, German, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese leagues played in the US this summer. The Spanish Super Cup was played in Morocco last week.
“We do it because it is good for our players to gather more international experience, to learn what it’s like to play in large overseas stadia, and of course, there is a large Saudi Arabian and Middle Eastern population living and working in London, (roughly) 300,000 people there.”
Al-Subaiey and Co. are confident that a great game in London this Saturday will be a springboard to a great season to come, especially with leading clubs in the country active in the international transfer market.
With eight overseas players allowed in Saudi Arabian teams in the upcoming Saudi Pro League season, there have been concerns that opportunities for local talent could be reduced. Al-Subaiey, however, believes that importing quality players can only be a good thing.
“Foreign players in the Saudi League will help improve the quality of football,” he said.
“But it also needs to be managed and balanced with the need to nourish domestic talent and provide our homegrown players with a pathway to the top.”
International stars such as Omar Abdulrahman have a part to play in the development of the Saudi Pro League and its ambition to be one of the leading leagues in the world. The United Arab Emirates playmaker joined Al-Hilal earlier in August in a season-long loan deal worth a reported $15 million — the second highest in football history.
As well as Abdulrahman, Al-Hilal have signed Peruvian international Andre Carrillo, who scored at the World Cup this summer, as well as former Barcelona defender Alberto Botia. Al-Nassr have bought Nigerian international Ahmed Musa from Leicester City and Nordin Amrabat from Watford.
“Has Wayne Rooney added something to DC United and the MLS? Has Omar Abdulrahman added to Al-Hilal? Of course, additions like these improve the quality of football,” Al-Subaiey said. “For the fans, these players bring excitement, and for the clubs and their league, these players bring a higher profile and greater attention — but there is something deeper too.”
For the official, what the best players bring is attitude and the utmost professionalism.
“Central to high performance sport is the right mindset. People like Rooney and Abdulrahman bring a great work ethic and possess great skills — but they also possess a professional mindset. And the young players who will work with them will see this, experience this — and learn from this.”
If all goes according to plan Saudi Arabia will qualify for the 2022 World Cup and perhaps even
progress to the second round for the first time since 1994. In Russia the Green Falcons started off with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the hosts in the opening game in Moscow. The team tightened up before losing narrowly to Uruguay, and then going on to beat Egypt 2-1 in the final game.
“We were absolutely delighted to be at the World Cup,” Al-Subaiey said.
“As you can tell with teams like Italy, Holland and the USA not qualifying and teams like Germany and Argentina not progressing (far in the tournament), the standard of play in international football is very high.
“Our particular group was quite challenging, and our initial game against host Russia, one of the biggest surprises of the World Group, was a difficult first match. Our final game, our win against Egypt, was a World Cup high point for our team. It was a match our young players and our national program can build on.”