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David Moyes – a tactical assessment

By Max Willow
Whilst the initial response from West Ham fans to the David Moyes appointment was resoundingly negative, there is a lot more to the man than meets the eye, and it would be foolish to pigeon-hole him at this stage of proceedings.
Before going any further let me make one important comment. Contrary to the wisdom of many pundits, Moyes will play the formation he feels is best suited to tackle each opposing team. He has a reputation for sending one of his staff
to watch the games of the upcoming opposition, weeks ahead of the time of the actual game.
Furthermore, he will not hesitate to change the formation shape during the course of a game, in an attempt to improve the end of game outcome.
Moyes’s ‘ideal team’ is well organised, tactically disciplined, mentally tough and hard to beat. Let’s look at a few of the tactics and strategies that characterised the approach that Moyes used in a very successful 11 year
stint at Everton.
Rest assured that Moyes will initially direct his attention at tightening our defence. In the great Scottish tradition, and will make use of wingers; he will also encourage left and right backs to venture up-field, and when necessary, play as over-lapping wingers.
 He will push the guys hard at training sessions (already evident in his second double training session), in order to attain maximal fitness, something that has been sorely missed. In his early days of football management, he preferred the use of the 4-2-3-1 and/or 4-4-1-1 formations. However, he has been known to play with a 4-4-2, or even a 3-4-3, depending on the circumstances of the game and the nature of the opposition.
 Everton 4-2-3-1 Formation
 Everton-Scouting-Report (1)
Everton 3-4-3 (flexible) formation (come 4-5-1, with 2 strikers into MF, and
one MF into defence)
Again, we observe the multiple responsibilities that Moyes would often
assign to each player in his time at Manchester United.
Manchester Utd. 4-2-3-1 Formation
Moyes encouraged Everton to pass the ball short when required, while also acknowledging that passing the ball directly to the final third in order to create an end product, is of significant importance. At West Ham, Moyes may
encourage a wider range of passing options in an attempt to seek out the end product, but not at the expense of his team’s possession.
One aspect of his previous tactical approach, no matter which team he managed,  and which formation he employed, was the deployment of a ‘no.10’ second striker, playing behind the main striker.
For many years at Everton, Moyes was an advocate of the 4-4-1-1 formation (in addition to the 4-2-3-1), employing a second striker, direct wing play, and utilizing a solid defensive framework. Unlike other managers of the era,
who preferred playing a creative ‘number 10’ behind the striker, Moyes deployed a physical threat who could challenge in aerial battles throughout the attacking third of the pitch.
Australian veteran, Tim Cahill, was the first to thrive in the position playing off the central striker, followed by
Everton’s key signing of Marouane Fellaini. Will he revert to this approach, or will we see something different with the input of the attacking-minded, assistant coach, Alan Irvine?
If Moyes should settle on the more physical approach, we might see Andy Carroll being chosen as the ‘number 10’. That said, Andy will have to improve his level of fitness, diversity in tactics, and shooting prowess.
Personally, I hope that Moyes does not rely on this type of play! Maybe it will turn out to be an omen that Moyes has arrived early in the international break. It will allow him (and Alan Irvine) a bit more time to look (and assess) the variety of attacking options (like Sakho or Martinez) available at the club.
Furthermore, will he make better use of some of our brilliant U-23 players?
It was interesting and pleasing to note, the presence of Terry Westley at the first training session conducted by Moyes on Tuesday. This is one major criticism I had of Slav Bilic; he did not pay enough attention to see how
well our U-23’s have been playing this season. Without any exaggeration, I firmly believe that we have up to 5-6 potential playmakers in that team.
In summary, we should rest assured that Moyes will embark on an improved fitness program in addition to strengthening the defensive unit. In his stint at Everton, his defence was frequently among the best four in the EPL.
However, his attacking statistics were less impressive. The latest rumours have suggested that Moyes will add Alan Irvine to his management team. This may turn out to be a very astute move, given Irvine’s personal emphasis for
playing attacking football.
Moyes could assign Irvine the job of the ‘attacker/forwards’ coach, which could pay handsome dividends in improving our goal-scoring record. Moyes has already gone on record that he would like his team playing fast, attacking football, but not to the detriment of problems in defence.
In terms of player management, Moyes will face a tough challenge in improving the state of his relationship with Chicharito, who has made it public that he would never play under Moyes again.
Let’s hope that the experience at Sunderland, has made Moyes a wiser and more patient man.
On the basis of his initial enthusiasm and determination, taken together with the player talent available, I am cautiously optimistic that he can lift us out of the relegation zone towards a possible mid-table position.

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About Hugh5outhon1895

Hugh Southon is a lifelong Iron and the founding editor of ClaretandHugh. He is a national newspaper journalist of many years experience and was Bobby Moore's 'ghost' writer during the great man's lifetime. He describes ClaretandHugh as "the Hammers daily newspaper!" Follow on Twitter @hughsouthon

9 comments on “David Moyes – a tactical assessment

  1. Terry Westley was present at training because the whole u23 side were there. Not just Martinez and selected others. With international duty and injuries we wouldn’t have had enough players for a training session without the youngsters.

  2. I’m not overly enamoured of looking deeply into team formations for any sort of insight into a manager/coach. The modern game is too fluid for that with formations often having more to do with how opponents set out their stall than the coach’s preferences. Similarly, a preferred formation may simply not be feasible in many games because of the absence of the right player in a key position. I also note there’s no mention here of how Moyes set his team out at either Real Sociedad or Sunderland?

    Initially, Moyes will be setting out his WHU team in a manner designed to make the best use of the best 11 players at his disposal and to minimise goal leakage.

    I think a better insight into a manager’s footballing outlook would be based on the players he buys, those who thrive under him and those he gets rid of.

    • Some good points pagan. I am not sure how credible a tactical assessment can be if you ignore Moyes’ last two positions. The previous ones to those are now ancient history. After all, isn’t a manager only as good as his last game?

  3. I’d like to see a plan showing how we intend to defend when WE have a corner! How many times has a West ham corner led to a goal scoring opportunity for the opposition so far this season? To bleeding many!
    And as Mooro said, Westly was there because Moyes trained the available first team squad and U23’s together to make up the numbers. Sometimes 2 plus 2 makes 5 hey Max?

  4. He wanted to look at the kids jimbo ! We don’t have good enough cover down the flanks max , we don’t have a baines or a Coleman plus were light in the c/h department , add to that fitness , add to that Arnie, Antonio (who used to be back and forth like a yoyo helping Jenkins on out and Tompkins, but now doesn’t ? Why not ?) Add to that noble which is self explanatory , add to that chiek looks totally unfocused, why ? Bilic maybe ?? Add to that lanzini is the only creative player on the park and is crap at defending , add to that if Carroll is made a target man again nothing will change !! Moyes has a job and half to do here and I wish him luck , he’s gonna need it lol IMO.😉

  5. I’d like to see work done on retaining possession and accurate passing

  6. Or maybe we can play 3-5-2 + 4-4-2 ? That why he had the u23 with him at training ?
    But 22 on the park ? He ain’t going to get away with it !! 😂

  7. I hope Moyes does find pathways for our u23’s to make it into the first team, the rumour was at Everton he never looked at the youth team but these are the rumours doing the rounds. It’s good that Martinez has had a chance to show himself anyway and if Moyes does have problems with players not wanting to do double sessions then I am sure the youth team will be willing to step up even if they are not quite ready yet.

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