Moyes can learn from Everton’s 2005 side to send West Ham to Champions League
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When David Moyes took Everton into the Champions League in 2005, it was one of the biggest achievements of the Premier League era.
No-one expected a team with no real budget, no big stars and an inexperienced manager, who had only just avoided relegation the year before, to finish in the top four.
But it helped Moyes beat the likes of Jose Mourinho, who won a league and League Cup double with Chelsea, to the Manager of the year award.
Now, he is a candidate to win that award for a fourth time with West Ham absolutely flying and currently sitting pretty in the top four themselves.
And the more their stellar current season continues, the more the Hammers are starting to resemble that side.
Everton were a hard-working, well-drilled team lacking in star quality but full of guts and determination, who all fought for each other.
This Hammers side is cut from the same cloth – in the image of their manager.
Moyes recently admitted “the parallels are, yes, I think we have a similarity here” when he was asked to compare them.
And his assistant Alan Irvine, who was also with him at Everton, said: “There are similarities between the two teams in that nobody expected it.”
Everton started the season 2004/05 season in turmoil having just been forced to sell Wayne Rooney to Manchester United.
Winger Kevin Kilbane later said: “There was a lot of negativity around the club, Wayne Rooney had just moved and a lot of questions were being asked of the manager.
“People wanted to know where the club was headed. But we had a good group of players. We all worked hard for each other and recognised what it took to get us over the line.”
Well, it seems like an age ago now but West Ham were also in turmoil at the start of this season too.
They too had sold a much-prized Academy youngster in Grady Diangana, fans were in open revolt, and players were expressing their frustrations on social media.
Just like that Everton team, who lost their 2004 opener 4-1 to Arsenal, they didn’t get off to the best of starts either, losing 2-0 at home to Newcastle.
But Moyes has fostered a togetherness amongst the players at London Stadium that has been clear to see ever since.
In interview after interview, we’ve heard different members of the Hammers squad talk about “unity”.
Declan Rice put it like this earlier this week: “The love the lads have got for each other, the banter on a day-to-day basis and then the seriousness to go out and get a win, the mentality has just changed completely. We’re fighting for each other.”
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On the pitch, there are many similarities. Just as that Everton team relied on the unbelievable workrate of lone striker Marcus Bent, this Hammers one is led from the front by Michail Antonio, who has chased every ball and bullied every defender this season.
In Rice, the Hammers have a player doing just as important a job for them as Lee Carsley did for the Toffees – shielding the back four and breaking up attacks.
The England midfielder is a vastly more talented player, but the pair are comparable in their defensive work because people under-estimate just how brilliant Carsley was at that for Everton that season (he even scored the winner in the Goodison derby against Liverpool).
Then there’s Thomas Soucek. An unheralded signing when he first joined West Ham, but one who Rice says is “going to be our Player of the Year.”
Soucek has eight goals this season and is playing a brave, spiky, competitive role next to Rice in midfield.
In many ways Soucek is doing exactly what Tim Cahill did for that Everton team. Cahill ended the 2004/05 season as the club’s top scorer with 11 goals, and worked every bit as hard for that team as Soucek does for his.
According to Rice: “He runs, he’s strong, he gets in the box, he’s good in the air, he does everything you want a midfielder to do.” Words that could just as easily have described Cahill back in the day.
Everton sold a key player halfway through that season when they let Thomas Gravesen go to Real Madrid. And while getting rid of flop striker Sebastien Haller can’t really compare, West Ham did respond in a similar way.
Where Everton signed Mikel Arteta on loan from Real Sociedad, the Hammers brought in Jesse Lingard on loan from Manchester United.
Lingard is already having an impact but if he goes on to be anywhere near as big a player as Arteta was, he will be doing well.
West Ham still have it all to do. Their squad is short in several areas, and their next run of games, against Manchester City, Leeds, Manchester United, Arsenal, Wolves and Leicester, look daunting.
But whether they make the top four or not, Moyes has stressed he is laying down foundations for the future – just as he did at Everton.
Yes, the Toffees ended up losing in the Champions League qualifying stage to Villarreal the next season, and even flirted with relegation before turning things around. But in seven seasons from 2006/07 they finished sixth, fifth, fifth, eighth, seventh, seventh and sixth.
That is the kind of consistency West Ham need, and much will depend on the kind of backing Moyes gets from much-maligned owners David Sullivan and David Gold.
For the Scot, though, the signs are good. Moyes had a close relationship with Everton chairman Bill Kenwright and believes he has the same trust now.
He said: “I was very fortunate that I had great owners and people who trusted me that when I was having a few bad spells, if half a season wasn’t so good or we didn’t finish quite as high, they trusted that we were going in the right direction.
“I think we have a similarity here. But that journey was 11 years for me, it probably took the first five to get Everton as a pretty consistent European team, that was challenging around the top eight most years. That took time to get them in that position.”
Time, patience and lots of hard work. With the same things at West Ham, there is no reason why Moyes can’t achieve similar, or even better, with the Hammers.
Watch this space.
- West Ham FC
- Everton FC
- Premier League
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