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West Ham’s massive leadership problem

West Ham’s massive leadership problem needs solving

There has been a distinct lack of on-pitch leadership for West Ham this season. Whilst I have suspected it for the majority of the season, the lack of authority, organisation, and influence fully revealed itself in the FA Cup games against Bristol City.

West Ham were bullied, softened up, and dominated, and it’s a blueprint that’s been noted by others. Somehow, the Hammers have been exposed as a bit of a soft touch, which is why I didn’t really mind Kalvin Phillips’ first yellow card against Nottingham Forest. His petulance was a rare glimpse of someone sticking up for himself and his teammates, whilst the majority of the team retreated into their shells.

Testing times are when leaders puff their chests out, come forward, and drag their colleagues with them. West Ham have none of these qualities currently, and certainly Kurt Zouma is no leader. I have never been a fan of the idea that leaders can be quiet as long as they lead by example. A leader has to be able to communicate, and in a loud environment like a football stadium, being softly spoken won’t suffice.

Nobles leadership is sorely missed

It’s not all about talking, of course; Mark Noble was very loud, but I’ve also seen him take action into his own hands. Not only have I seen Noble remove fans from the field of play, but he also carried Ander Herrera off the pitch when he thought he was time-wasting. Nobes was a leader who learned his trade from Kevin Nolan, who was another incredibly vocal player.

Noble carries the injury feigning Herrara off the pitch

Noble carries the injury feigning Herrara off the pitch.


Manager David Moyes enjoyed a level of good fortune when he had the option of using Declan Rice following Noble’s retirement. Rice is a fine leader in the making, and the transition was seamless. He was far from perfect, but as a young captain who came through the academy, Rice developed some handy leadership traits.

Quiet players are a massive problem

The current crop of players seem to lack the substance and basic communication skills to lead. More concerningly, they shrink and wither when confrontation is upon them. Not everyone, of course; Edson Alvarez is attritional, and Jarrod Bowen never gives up, but there’s precious little in terms of genuine leadership.

James Ward-Prowse was captain at Southampton and seems like a likeable fellow, but I’ve seen nothing to suggest actual authority. Coufal can be a snarly customer at times, but he was bullied into submission by Bristol City and even began feigning injury before getting a fat lip against Forest.

Declan Rice replaced Mark Noble as West Ham captain

West Ham’s massive leadership problem was temporarily solved by Declan Rice

I’m quite certain that Moyes’ plan for this season was to have Harry Maguire as captain. Unfortunately for him, that transfer never manifested; he chose Zouma and has stubbornly stuck with his initial poor decision.

Perhaps the return of Lucas Paqueta will be enough to add some more aggression to the team, and collectively, we’ll be okay. But don’t be surprised if the first task of any new manager is to identify and appoint a new captain.


About Gonzo

Hammers Chat video blogger @Gonzobignose

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