Daily Mail

Sacking Moyes will NOT help

Boo boys are harsh — West Ham players need consistenc­y ...not managerial change

- IAN LADYMAN Football Editor at the London Stadium None.

THIS continues to be a regressive season for West Ham and the Premier League table tells us they remain in danger. But there was nothing here to suggest sacking David Moyes would help.

West Ham’s players look like a bunch crying out for consistenc­y rather than the chaos of a managerial change. With some better work in front of goal, they would have won. They were booed off at the end, but that felt harsh. Yes, they were rancid in losing at Brighton last weekend but this was not that performanc­e. This was better.

Moyes looks and feels vulnerable. The upward mobility of recent times has been replaced by that quicksand feeling and his team have not won away in the league since beating this opposition at Villa Park in August.

With that in mind, it feels as though West Ham must get something from the two home games that follow next week’s break for the FA Cup. Southampto­n and Newcastle are the opponents and four points already feels like a minimum return. Here, they could have sunk without trace once Ollie Watkins scored early for Villa. West Ham’s confidence looked brittle and, playing in front of a home support ready to turn, it could have got ugly quickly.

But a penalty rather fortuitous­ly awarded not long after gave them a foothold and from that point on they were superior. Jarrod Bowen down the right was excellent, progressiv­e, ambitious and capable of quality delivery from a number of angles. England manager Gareth Southgate may wish to take another look. Cutting in from the other flank, meanwhile, was Said Benrahma, the Algerian who divides opinion round these parts. His four league goals this season include a penalty here and that is not enough for a player of his talent.

He was taken off at half-time at Brighton and that tells you something. But here the 27-year-old was energetic and purposeful. He was like a magnet to the ball at times and was still threatenin­g the Villa defence up until the 84th minute, when what looked like a goalbound effort was deflected away off the boot of Ashley Young.

What West Ham do lack, however, is a goalscorer. Benrahma and Bowen are joint top league scorers, while summer signing Gianluca Scamacca has three and Danny Ings, recruited in January, has two. Ings played up front here and was anonymous.

So West Ham’s problems are clear. They are part of a group of nine clubs who could yet go down. Immediatel­y ahead of that group sit Villa, doubtless frustrated to be in a mid-table ‘nothing’ position, but out of danger at least.

They were ahead early on and it was a good goal. Watkins is another frontman who does not score enough, but here he was sharp.

Left back Alex Moreno managed to advance unimpeded deep into West Ham territory in the 17th minute and when he supplied an outswingin­g cross, Watkins managed to get the jump on Nayef Aguerd to head the ball down and into the net.

It was a good goal from a Villa point of view, but West Ham should have done better. Aguerd was on his heels, while left back Emerson had not quite managed to get round on the cover.

For the five minutes or so that followed, West Ham looked lost. This is what happens to a team without confidence. Villa started to exploit space in and around the Hammers penalty area and may have scored again with a little more composure. Douglas Luiz had the best chance, but could not quite control the ball as he surged into the penalty area and when possession was recycled to the right, Leon Bailey curled a shot over the bar.

Bailey was significan­tly involved again four minutes later as West Ham were handed a way back into the game. Bowen’s corner from the right was flapped at by goalkeeper

Emiliano Martinez and when Lucas Paqueta hooked the ball back, Watkins headed it off the line.

That should have been the end of the danger but as Bailey pursued Paqueta, his enthusiasm saw him bundle his opponent over. Contact was minimal but Bailey had been naive to get so close and though VAR had a look, they were never likely to overturn the on-field call by referee Chris Kavanagh.

Benrahma’s penalty was powerfully struck and Martinez did not have a chance as the ball flew high above his dive.

From this point on, West Ham were the better team without being dominant. Kurt Zouma headed wide and though Watkins should have scored again just before halftime, allowing Alphonse Areola to save well, the flow was largely towards the Villa goal. al.

Benrahma was more ore often than not involved. ed. Martinez denied him im from an angle straight ht after half- time and nd then touched over a 20-yard effort after er Benrahma controlled d a long Zouma pass s beautifull­y on the e bounce. There were other threatenin­g moments, too, but never did we really believe another goal was coming.

Defeat here would have felt catastroph­ic for Moyes.

The locals are primed. But this was not that. This was OK. The West Ham manager will walk the tightrope a little longer.

WEST HAM (4-2-3-1): Areola 6;

Kehrer 6, Zouma 6.5, Aguerd 6.5, Emerson 6; Soucek 6, Rice 5.5;

Bowen 7, Paqueta 6 (Fornals 76min, 6), BENRAHMA 7.5; Ings 5.5 (Cornet 85).

Scorer: Benrahma 26 (pen). Booked: Paqueta. Manager: David Moyes 6.5.

ASTON VILLA (4-4-2): Martinez 6.5; Cash 6 (Young 79), Konsa 6, Mings 6.5, Moreno 6 (Digne 64, 6); McGinn 6, Buendia 6.5 (Duran 79), Luiz 6.5, Ramsey 6; Bailey 6 (Traore 64, 6), Watkins 6.5 (Chambers 84).

Scorer: Watkins 17. Booked: Manager: Unai Emery 6.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh 6.

Attendance: 62,472.

The quicksand looms but the manager will walk the tightrope a little longer

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 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Head in hands: Moyes can barely look as West Ham labour again
GETTY IMAGES Head in hands: Moyes can barely look as West Ham labour again

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