Damian and the Orrible Omen! Published 24/04/18 on Irons United
After the performance on Sunday against Arsenal, you might forgive certain dissenting voices from the watching West Ham masses, however what you cannot ignore is when a manager would wilfully apportion all blame upon the young talent that is Declan Rice for the second goal.
Let us not forget that this lad has just broken into the first team on a consistent basis this season and has proven himself to be a worthy member of the team and a fantastic prospect for the future too. However, he is still young and will make mistakes…just as every other player will on the field.
The reason why the second goal went into the back of the net was due to a catalogue of errors, multiple holes in the Swiss cheese tactical model that Moyes has developed for the wayward West Ham. His defensive posturing enabled Arsenal to attack largely unchallenged and when they were, West Ham were sitting too deep to enable a fluid counter attack…instead resorting to long balls in the first half which had some success but were not awe inspiring.
Arsenal were on the front foot in the second half and were increasing the pressure on a battered West Ham defence. When Arnautovic scored, it should have been the trigger to launch all missiles at the Gunners defence, but instead the players under the direction of the manager lost a grip on the game and failed to capitalise on the change in fortunes.
This lacklustre reaction enabled Arsenal to chomp on the bit between their teeth and pepper the West Ham defence until more errors crept in. It was inevitable that a mistake would occur at some point, it was obvious that the team were struggling to clear the lines and retain possession…but Moyes persisted with the status quo hoping to run out the match with a 1-1 draw.
He could not see the damage that was being done and the amount of success that the Arsenal midfield were having over the floundering Kouyate, Masuaku and Mario before the substitutions were made. Arnautovic was isolated but was also having limited success before Lanzini came on, whilst Hernandez was in the action as soon as he came on but also received little service…too little too late! So to make a public point of identifying Rice as the key antagonist is not only churlish…it is somewhat of a betrayal especially considering Rice has been the saving grace in many of the recent games under the guidance of the manager himself.
This is not to say that Rice should not learn from this mistake and take the responsibility for his failings, however any remedial work should be performed behind closed doors…in fact the manager should be full of praise for the young lad for his achievements and be supportive in this, his hour of need.
One would think that Rice was renamed ‘Mammon’ – The son of Lucifer, for his mistake but the horrible truth is that Moyes has failed to deliver any kind of consistency to the team performances and confidence to the fans that attacking displays would be prioritised. Fans were hoping that the team could hold out for another point…in light of the fact that offensive ambitions had been abandoned, but too much emphasis has been placed upon every player performing at 100% by Moyes, that any drop from that level would leave gaping holes at the back to be exploited by the opposition.
This is the reason why an overworked and under pressure Rice made a big mistake in a key moment in the game. There was an awful miscommunication between the defence and Hart, but as soon as it went in one could tell that the team were behind the curve for the rest of the game and the subsequent goals were written in the stars.
Moyes has to look deep within himself now and target those players on the pitch that are simply not producing anywhere near what they should be on a consistent basis. The likes of Mario, Kouyate, Fernandes and Masuaku need to be held accountable for their performances too, but Moyes must analyse his performance and tactics also…which are failing and would see West Ham dragged back into the fiery relegation battle, when a more positive approach may well have wrapped the club in a safety blanket by now.
All of the claret and blue fans know the last remaining games are going to be a tough test but it is the manner of defeat that is the wound most sore and will not heal with soothing words of apathy and condescension. There has to be purpose and guile from Moyes now, there has to be a more reactive approach in a timely fashion and he must not allow the players to sit back and soak up the pressure as they are simply not at that level to do so.
Moyes may indeed be the giver of the ‘Orrible Men’ and Rice may be his ‘Damian’ of the day but there are greater evils within the squad that need to be exorcised and he himself must perform much better. He cannot publicly criticise individual players, especially the young as their confidence will be shot for future games. He must plan a strategy that will build upon the failings of the day and go forth to the next game with a positive and winning mentality. The team need his guidance until the end of the season, but then it is surely time to go and let somebody else take the lead.