This felt like the end of an era for West Ham and David Moyes – clarity is needed soon

It was one of those defeats that felt like the end for David Moyes. A defeat that saw the return of banners and chants of “You’re getting sacked in the morning”. A defeat where the possibility of Moyes leaving feels like relief for some.

Before the 5-2 loss to Crystal Palace, Moyes said he was not in a rush to decide whether or not he will remain as West Ham’s manager for next season. In February, he revealed a contract offer is on the table, but the grip over his future has loosened. Asked if his future would be taken out of his hands, Moyes replied: “If it is, then it is, fine — no problem.”

The defeat to Crystal Palace leaves West Ham eighth in the Premier League and facing an arduous challenge to qualify for Europe, having played two more games than Manchester United and Newcastle United.

In truth, their season is over. There is nothing left to play for following the Europa League quarter-final exit to Bayer Leverkusen and the questions over Moyes’ future only add to the negativity. Moyes will aim to turn it around, but this feels unsalvageable. To compound matters, West Ham’s next two league games are against Liverpool and Chelsea.

The manager is experienced enough to know conjecture over his future will dominate the agenda in the coming weeks. Post-match at Selhurst Park, it reached a point where he refused to answer more questions about his future. The lack of clarity is becoming a sensitive topic and it should not have to end like this.

Moyes’ second spell at West Ham has seen the team transition into perennial European challengers. Winning the UEFA Conference League means he has presided over one of the most successful periods in the club’s history. If Moyes is set to leave at the end of the season, he deserves a respectful farewell. He has helped transform the club with a significant focus on improving the recruitment team. But the prospect of a graceful send-off is becoming less and less likely after the ignominy of the loss to Crystal Palace.

West Ham

West Ham were all at sea at Crystal Palace (Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images)

“The first half was as bad as I’ve seen us play,” said Moyes, who has overseen heavy defeats to Arsenal (6-0), Liverpool (5-1) and Fulham (5-0) in 2024. “Lots of things were not correct with the way we played. We didn’t compete and it’s hard to explain why.

“The players got praised for their performance on Thursday (against Bayer Leverkusen), but today was so bad I can hardly put it into words. We’ve lost some games, some heavy defeats, but it’s never felt like the two or three we’ve had this year.

“I spoke to the players, they’ll have a couple of days to recover and hopefully when they come back they’ll be ready to perform in the remaining games. I’m so disappointed for the supporters who came today and I’m embarrassed to sit here and be speaking on behalf of the team based on how they performed. I’m the manager and I’ve not had many teams who’ve played like that in my career.”

Moyes’ in-game management, use of substitutes and style of play also remain concerns. Bringing on Maxwel Cornet for Mohammed Kudus at 5-2 down with five minutes remaining, for example, when youngster Lewis Orford, a promising midfielder in the under-21s, would have benefited more from the cameo appearance.

For Crystal Palace, back-to-back wins over Liverpool and West Ham show the attraction of heading in a new direction. Following Roy Hodgson’s dismissal, Oliver Glasner has impressed as manager. In 2021-22, his Eintracht Frankfurt team beat West Ham in the Europa League semi-final.

West Ham were 4-0 down inside 31 minutes at Selhurst Park, but the scoreline could have been even worse. Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise played like talents who should attract interest from the ‘Big Six’ this summer. Lucas Paqueta, whose long-term future remains unclear, produced another mundane performance.

A vibrant, energised and youthful Crystal Palace entertained the home crowd but, for West Ham, it was a reminder of why a summer rebuild is needed. Lukasz Fabianski had an off day and Angelo Ogbonna struggled and was substituted at the interval. Kurt Zouma, the captain, gave away possession before Eze’s goal and a breakdown in communication between Fabianski and Emerson Palmieri saw the latter score an own goal, while Vladimir Coufal’s form has tailed off.

And that is just the defence, let alone the need for more squad depth and offensive additions. West Ham also have the highest average age, 30.5, for a starting XI in the Premier League.

“(Liverpool) is a fantastic game to bounce back in and, hopefully, we can give the fans something to cheer about against them,” said James Ward-Prowse. But the cheers have turned to jeers and the discontent will only grow stronger if bad performances persist.

It feels like the end of an era for Moyes and this ageing team, but he is deserving of a better send-off than the anger and frustration he has been subjected to. An announcement about his future before the end of the season should be the most logical step in the days ahead.

(Top photo: Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

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