LONDON - West Ham United manager David Moyes favours a target man and brought Andy Carroll into the team at Watford on Sunday but the Scot’s first game in charge ended in a 2-0 Premier League defeat as his players failed to make enough use of the striker.
West Ham United's Aaron Cresswell in action with Watford's Will Hughes. Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Former Everton, Manchester United and Sunderland manager Moyes, who replaced the sacked Slaven Bilic, has a track record of turning to a good old-fashioned No. 9 to grind out results.
In February 2014, Fulham visited a United side who were in need of a morale boost. Moyes’s spell in charge at the Old Trafford club was going from bad to worse, and the prospect of hosting the league’s bottom side looked appealing.
But United were shorn of ideas and stumbled to a 2-2 draw, with the football Moyes’s side played drawing much criticism.
“Sometimes our main tactic was the long, high, diagonal cross. It was embarrassing,” former United defender Rio Ferdinand wrote in his autobiography.
United peppered the Fulham box with cross after cross - 81 by the final whistle which was 30 more than any other team had produced in one game during that season.
It was nothing new, Moyes has always favoured having a target man for such a tactic.
From Yakubu Aiyegbeni at Everton to Victor Anichebe at Sunderland, Moyes’ teams seemed more fruitful with a strong presence up front. United fans were just not used to it.
At West Ham, Moyes has the ultimate imposing target to aim crosses at and former England striker Carroll was thrown straight back into the team at Watford, not without good reason.
With Carroll, Bilic’s side were unbeaten in five games this season. Without the big striker, they lost six of eight games.
”Who wouldn’t you want to give Andy Carroll the ball in the right area?’ Moyes said at his pre-match news conference on Friday. “We have to use it.”
But his new team were not on their manager’s wavelength at Vicarage Road on Sunday. Only 12 crosses were pumped into the box, five fewer than those managed by Watford who are ranked 11th in the Premier League crossing table.
West Ham’s best openings came after some slick football, but Carroll was not the beneficiary. “We missed some big chances,” Moyes said. “There was a chance to change the outcome.”
The outcome of games needs to change fast with West Ham still marooned in the relegation zone so the direct approach favoured by Moyes’ is likely to be clearly at the forefront of his planning ahead of Friday’s clash with Leicester City.