West Ham: Chris Wilder on how David Moyes’ methods have kept him at the top
West Ham boss David Moyes reaches 1,000 games as a manager later this week and he has plenty of reasons to smile as he approaches that landmark.
His side are fourth in the Premier League, top of their Europa League group and into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup after knocking out holders Manchester City.
Moyes is doing a “spectacular” job according to former Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder, who watched the Hammers thump Aston Villa 4-1 on Sunday for MOTD2, but says “his success should not surprise anyone”.
Here Wilder tells BBC Sport why the methods that made Moyes his name at Everton are now paying off at London Stadium too – and why the 58-year-old is still going strong more than 23 years after starting his career in the dug-out.
‘His Man Utd spell does not define him’
Chris Wilder: David is someone I have got a huge admiration for, going back to when he started out at Preston and then shaking a big club from top to bottom like he did at Everton.
He gave his Everton team an identity that matched the club’s own – they are known as the people’s club – and a way of playing that their fans really enjoyed.
That is the type of club that likes to see the qualities that a David Moyes team brings. He won three League Managers’ Association Manager of the Year awards there, so obviously inside the game he is incredibly highly respected.
Getting the opportunity of working at Manchester United was something he could not turn down, but I think when he reflects on that, to follow Sir Alex Ferguson there was always going to be extremely difficult
Let’s be honest about it, United have not really got it right since Moyes either. They have had some success, but not at the same level as before.
In any case, I don’t see David’s managerial career as being defined by that period at United eight years ago. It can’t be, because of the work he has done elsewhere.
‘The man behind the manager? ‘Honest and humble’
Chris Wilder: I’ve met David on numerous occasions and he not only knows the game, he is respectful of it – he is honest and he is open.
There is no spin about him. If his team doesn’t perform, he says so. If his team does perform, he doesn’t go over the top – he is humble.
What he does best is build environments for his teams to play in an effective way. In an era where people get quite caught up with every manager playing a certain style, he just plays a way that wins football matches.
We are seeing that with West Ham now. One of Moyes’ hallmarks as a manager is a hungry team and we saw that against Villa – after what they did last season, when they finished sixth, he is driving these players on.
He is obviously working with quality internationals, but he has put round pegs in round holes and he has got them all playing to their maximum, which I think is a huge talent to have as a manager.
As well as that spirit, they have got a great work ethic, a structure in and out of possession and they find different ways to win games. Whether it is going long or playing through teams, he will do it, if it works.
‘He gets results, but without a rigid formation’
Chris Wilder: You only have to look at Moyes’ record since he came back to see how West Ham have progressed under him.
One of his first games back in charge was against me, at Sheffield United in January 2020. They had a goal disallowed late on and we beat them.
It was obviously early on for him, but he had been there before and had done a very good job. I think he understood the position they were in and how they had to get through to the end of the season and stay up.
He did that job successfully and has built this West Ham side off the back of that.
People like to pigeon-hole managers, but there is nothing rigid about the way Moyes approaches games – he has used a few formations with the Hammers, including 3-4-3 last season.
He is not just flexible tactically, but his ideas are extremely effective too. West Ham are near the top of a very demanding division – and I really enjoy watching them play.
Chris Wilder: Reaching 1,000 games is an incredible achievement and it is not just quantity with David, it is the quality of the opposition.
The majority of his games have not just been in the top flight, they have been at the top end of the Premier League.
His ability to adapt and adjust and move with the times has been hugely important to his longevity – his career has been amazing and he is still at the top now.
His work with West Ham is nothing short of spectacular when you consider he is up against some huge clubs who have massively invested in their playing squad.
Moyes hasn’t changed, though. He brought in Jarrod Bowen from Hull last year so he still has an eye for a player in the Championship, the way he always has.
He is bringing young kids through like Declan Rice – who has been immense – and Ben Johnson. He still likes to give youth a chance.
And he is managing the older players really well, for example Mark Noble who is a club icon. He gets the best out of him too, on and off the pitch.
It is an unforgiving environment, but he is flourishing in it. People always talk about what foreign managers bring to the Premier League, but it is great for British managers that he does what he does. Long may it continue.