Alex Keble takes a look at David Moyes' in-tray at West Ham and picks out five things the new Hammers boss needs to do to save their season...
"Moyes won 33 points in 27 league games last time round. Pellegrini won 32 points in his final 27 league games."
Is any Premier League club run as badly as West Ham United? It has only been 18 months since a mutinous crowd surrounded the executive seats at the London Stadium as the team fell to a 3-0 defeat to Burnley, and yet the man in the dugout that day has just been reappointed.
David Moyes was by no means to blame for the problems he inherited in the 2017/18 season, but to return to the Scot is an astonishing climb down from the supposedly ambitious appointment of Manuel Pellegrini. In the summer of 2018, Moyes was not considered good enough to lead West Ham forward. What has changed?
Pellegrini was still popular in the dressing room but had overseen 10 defeats in the last 14 matches to plunge West Ham into a relegation battle. However, the club are only six points off 10th, such is the compression of the Premier League's middle class these days; like Sam Allardyce's fateful spell at Everton, West Ham are guilty of panicking too soon.
Moyes won 33 points in 27 league games last time round. Pellegrini won 32 points in his final 27 league games, and most of those defeats can be pinned on Roberto's dreadful goalkeeping. Lucas Fabianksi returned from injury for Pellegrini's final game in charge. Sacking the manager was not necessary.
Here are five things Moyes must do to improve West Ham - and get the fans off his back:
Improve defence with greater attention to detail
Moyes is widely regarded as a defensive coach, and certainly he is a manager who likes to play the percentages; a risk-averse style built on a sturdy foundation and maximising players' abilities with detailed instructions on a select few attributes. That is just what West Ham need following Pellegrini's laid-back managerial approach.
An article in the The Athletic this week reveals Pellegrini frustrated his players by failing to give them individual video coaching and often ignored the statistical analysis he was presented with. Moyes is the exact opposite, famous at Everton for filling every inch of wall in his office with minute instructions and statistical breakdowns. That could lead to an upturn in results in the short term, although first he needs to refocus the wider tactical plan.
Revive Pellegrini's tactical blueprint
After losing his first four games in charge, Pellegrini found his feet at West Ham by introducing a deep-lying counter-attacking system that focused on a hunched defence and quick breaks down both flanks. This philosophy has waned this season, but the foundation will still be imprinted in the players' minds. All Moyes needs to do is reinforce it.
More detailed coaching should do it, and certainly West Ham have the right players for the system. Individual errors have led to easy concession of goals this season but if Moyes can sit them deeper again, focusing minds, their back four ought to significantly improve. After all, Aaron Creswell, Issa Diop, Angelo Ogbonna, and Ryan Fredericks are decent players.
Get key players firing by reorganising midfield
Too often this season it has felt as though Mark Noble is carrying the side, psychologically if not tactically, and that is something that needs to change. Motivation should come from the sidelines, not the captain. The best way for Moyes to do this is to rejig central midfield, where Declan Rice is frequently overwhelmed as Noble charges forward.
Signing a central midfielder in January is a top priority. West Ham need someone with discipline who will happily sit alongside Rice as Noble roams ahead of them; Robert Snodgrass, Pablo Fornals, and Jack Wilshere are all too lightweight. The good news for Hammers fans is this is the only area that really needs attention; get the midfield right, and key players like Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller will improve.
Get Lanzini and Fornals into the team
The two most talented players at the club already feel like relics of a bygone era when the West Ham owners dreamt big. Signing Fornals was considered a coup, as glamorous as their title-winning manager Pellegrini, but the Spaniard has failed to impress so far. Manual Lanzini hasn't looked the same since returning from injury.
It is highly likely both players will be victims of the shift away from ambition and towards defensive fire-fighting. However, for things to click for Moyes - for him to remain in the job beyond the end of the current season - he needs to get the fans on side and show he can provide some entertainment. That means finding a place for these two, even if they are shunted into wide positions.
Find a way to improve the London Stadium experience
This one is probably beyond any manager in the world, but Moyes has to at least try to turn West Ham's home into a happy place. The London Stadium is not fit for purpose. It is a soulless bowl, disconnecting fans from the action and sucking out the atmosphere. No wonder they sit bottom of the table for home form, with seven points from nine games.
Their next home match is against free-falling Bournemouth on New Year's Day, which looks like an early must-win for the new manager; Everton and Liverpool are their next two. Again, reinstating the backs-to-the-wall tactical approach with quick (though restrictive) counter-attacks is the only way they can play on such a big and lonely pitch.