Moyes not only one on trial after Hammers appointment
Moyes not only one on trial after Hammers appointment
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.
Liu breaks world record; Indian teen wins at Asian Games
JAKARTA, Indonesia: After sinking a world record set in the so-called buoyancy era, Liu Xiang is ready for her main event.
Liu’s record in the women’s 50-meter backstroke seemed to come out of nowhere at the Asian Games on Tuesday, when the 21-year-old Chinese swimmer won the gold medal in 26.98 seconds.
“Because my main focus is on freestyle, I didn’t have any pressure,” Liu said through a translator. “I could concentrate on my own performance.
Liu’s time broke the record of 27.06 set by Chinese swimmer Zhao Jing at the 2009 world championships in Rome. That mark was set before swimming’s international governing body banned the rubberized swimsuits that contributed to a rush of records in the pool.
The 50 freestyle, Liu’s best event, is scheduled for Friday, the last day of the swimming program.
“This gold medal and world record will give me more confidence in the freestyle,” she said.
China holds an 11-10 edge in the swimming gold medal standings over regional rival Japan after three days of competition.
Three-time Olympic champion Sun Yang added the 400 title to the freestyle golds he has already won in the 200 and the 800. He’s only got the 1,500 left.
Rikako Ikee already has four gold medals in Jakarta, adding the women’s 100 butterfly on day 3.
The swimming record tumbled just after China edged Philippines 82-80 in a basketball preliminary game featuring three NBA players.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson led Philippines with 28 points in his first game of the tournament but it wasn’t quite enough, with Paul Dalistan missing a 3-point attempt with about five seconds left that could have won it.
Zhou Qi, the 2.17-meter (7-foot-1) Houston Rockets center, had 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead a China team that also contains Dallas Mavericks small forward Ding Yanyuhang. Chinese basketball great Yao Ming was watching closely from the sidelines.
North Korean center Ro Suk Yong led the scoring with 19 points to help the combined Koreas women’s team to an 85-57 win over Kazakhstan and a spot in the quarterfinals.
There were a series of firsts across the two host cities, with Macau collecting gold at wushu in Jakarta, Hidilyn Diaz securing the first gold for Philippines in women’s weightlifting, Lebanon winning the mixed team trap shooting and 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary winning the 10-meter air pistol with a games record of 240.7 in his senior competition debut.
Chaudhary is something of a hot shot now in the India squad, after getting messages of congratulations from celebrity athletes and India’s President Ram Nath Kovind.
Alain Moussa and Ray Bassil combined to win the first mixed team trap event with 43 points, one clear of Taiwan.
“First allow me to salute Lebanon,” Moussa said. “It was an amazing feeling, especially considering how small our country is, as we watched our flag rising. I would like to dedicate this win — with my partner Ray Bassil — to Lebanon.”
China kept piling on the medals across the venues, with Chen Yile winning the women’s all-around title in gymnastics and the women’s water polo team claiming victory.
After 78 finals, China led the medal tally with 30 gold and 60 overall, well clear of Japan with 12 gold and 47 in total and South Korea with eight gold.
Host Indonesia was in fourth spot with five golds, one ahead of Iran and North Korea.
Saeid Rajabi picked up Iran’s fifth when he beat Uzbekistan’s Dmitriy Shokin in the men’s 80-kilogram taekwondo final.
There’ll be 31 gold medals on offer Wednesday, including eight in the pool.
Raj Mohan Viswanathan contributed from Palembang.
John Pye is at https://twitter.com/byJohnPye
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