David Moyes, the current West Ham manager, is having the season of his life. After being dismissed (only to be reinstated later, for his second stint), he could now achieve the Premier League manager of the year award.
This season represents a remarkable turnaround for the man that was was written off as a Premier League manager, a level that he was no longer suited for. His failures and short comings left little doubt that he was no longer the man, once handpicked to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson.
Under an ownership that is at best, questionable, Moyes has successfully steered the Irons close to Champions League qualification, with European football at least, very likely. With the Hammers overachieving, it can be argued that Moyes has outperformed all other Premier League managers this season. Where Marcelo Bielsa, Dean Smith and Brendan Rodgers have achieved great things this year, Moyes season must be viewed as even more impressive.
The hard working and aggressive play that won Moyes the Manchester United post (whilst at Everton), drawers comparisons to his spell at Goodison Park. Given the lower expectations, and working in a somewhat ‘last chance saloon, Moyes appears to be reinvigorated in his job.
At the seasons outset, nearly everyone with a football opinion predicted a relegation battling year. As time has gone by, the claret and blue of east London have progressed into a formidable outfit, deserving of their lofty league position.
Despite the failure to extract the best from the expensive striker, Sebastian Haller, Moyes has stuck to his ethos and own strategy to succeed. It would have been far easier to continue playing Haller, in the hope the big striker would come good. It turns out however, the system by which Moyes trusts overcame and certain players have risen remarkably to the task.
Tomas Suchek and Mikael Antonio have been in blistering form, and the defence has worked as a cohesive unit through the year, with Vladimir Coufal in particular standing out. Even if the Hammers were to fall away in the final weeks, nothing can be taken away from what has been a brilliant season for both the manager and the team.
The pre season odds on Moyes losing his post, would have been rife with bets, especially given their horrific fixtures in the opening weeks. Moyes overcame, and he and his team never to look back. It can perhaps be argued that empty stadiums, and the perceived negativity surrounding the ownership aided his side. The chants, boos and negativity towards the owners appears a welcome omission from empty stadiums. This aside, the players must still perform in order to succeed, something they have in spades.
After losing the Manchester United position, all confidence seemed to drop away from the proud Scotsman, but this rise to the upper echelons of the league show that Moyes can compete with the best, for now at least. Drifting from job to job, with each containing varying issues, Moyes became more of a stop gap manager, than the man that alluring clubs needed.
Being able to build a formidable side (with a fairly tight budget), seemed impossible a year ago. With relatively low key & unknown signings to aid an underperforming squad, the task looked too much to achieve much more than safety. Even a mid-table position would have been a great achievement, but with a little luck and some favourable aid from teams continually dropping points, the impossible may indeed happen.
To imagine West Ham could finish above the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and even Liverpool would have been laughed away not long ago. The measure of their opponents own failures, should not stop praise being heaped upon Moyes team.
The final weeks will prove decisive to final standings. Until fans and normality returns, there will probably still remain questions surrounding Moyes long term suitability. Until that normality does return, the fan base should revel in their teams efforts, and applaud the man at the helm, David Moyes.
With regards to next season (and a probable Europa League spot), careful recruitment must be made that benefits a Moyes style. Jesse Lingard has been a revelation during his loan, and his permanent signing will surely top any priority list. His own form has also benefitted from no fans, but the slightly lower pressure away from Old Trafford could see him finally establish himself as a first team regular.
Whatever dealings are done, however the team reacts to next season, the optimism going into next term will be a welcome change. Hopefully the David Moyes resurrection will continue, and the marvellous club that is West Ham, will prosper further.