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.
As it happened: Tunisia 1 v. England 2
FULL-TIME: England seal an opening game victory at the World Cup with a late, late winner from Harry Kane giving England a 2-1 win. Tunisia can hold their heads high and must lift their spirits for the Belgium game.
10:48PM: GOAL - Harry Kane breaks Tunisians hearts with a headed goal from a corner with just 2 minutes remaining...
10:42PM: Saber Khalifa comes on for Wahbi Khazri as Tunisia look to hit England on the break...can they steal this?
10:31PM: Tunisia looking more and more comfortable as Naim Sliti comes off to be replaced by Ben Armor. England not looking anywhere near as threatening as they were in the first half...
10:25PM: Raheem Sterling comes off, as Marcus Rashford replaces him. England looking to inject a bit of pace up front against the resolute Tunisian defense.
10:17PM: England in full control, pushing Tunisia back further and further...fans getting slightly restless as a Mexican wave breaks out in the stands.
10:10PM: England come out after the break looking dangerous and hoping to continue where they left off, forcing a corner... nothing doing for England.
HALFTIME: It's halftime, and Tunisia are level. The African side are holding their own against their more illustrious opponents and it has been an evenly-contested half of football. Tunisia will be confident of pushing England all the way here in Volgograd. Stay tuned for the second half...
9:38PM: The pace of the game slows down somewhat in the sapping heat of Volgograd, defenses looking weak for both teams. Chances surely to come in the second half...
9:33PM: Penalty to Tunisia! GOAL! And Sassi tucks it away with aplomb in the bottom right hand corner. Definitely game on now! Tunisia 1 England 1
9:25PM: Sassi of Tunisia has a rare chance in front of goal for Tunisia, as the Eagles of Carthage gives their fans hope in their best spell of the game. Game on?
9:21PM: Tunisia force a corner in their first meaningful attack of the game. It comes to nothing.
9:09PM: GOAL: Harry Kane of England is on hand to tap in the rebound from a fantastic save from Hassem after a Stones header. Tunisia under the cosh.
England's Harry Kane is mobbed by team-mates as he scores his side's first goal of the game during the FIFA World Cup Group G match at The Volgograd Arena, Volgograd.— PA Images (@PAImages) June 18, 2018
: @owenhumphreys1 - see more at https://t.co/4OejjSjF0M #eng #WorldCup #ENGTUN #england #threelions pic.twitter.com/s8OtZK5hby
9:02PM: Hassem in the Tunisian goal under pressure early as England pepper the goal with a Lingard shot and the resulting England corner. Close.
8.55PM: We are seconds away from kick-off... stay tuned ...
8:35PM: The Tunisia dressing room ahead of their opening game against England. Excitement building in Volgograd!
Tunisia starting XI: Hassem, Ben Youssef. S, Meriah, Bronn, Maaloul, Badri, Sassi, Skhiri, Ben Youssef. F, Khazri (C), Sliti
England starting XI: Pickford, Maguire, Stones, Walker, Young, Henderson, Trippier, Alli, Lingard, Sterling, Kane (C)
Here we go then. It's been a long 12 years for Tunisia fans, but they will finally be cheering their team on in a World Cup for the first time since 2006. The "Eagles of Carthage" are preparing to take on England in Monday’s Group G encounter, with the weight of Arab expectation and the hopes of an entire region rest on the shoulders of Nail Maaloul’s charges. After just one defeat in 10 games for Nail Maaloul’s side, their players and supporters - and many a neutral - will be quietly confident of an upset of a generation.