David Moyes deserves West Ham fan gratitude despite reign ending with a whimper

The Scot should be treated to a warm home send-off against Luton, despite recent results

What will go down as the defining image of David Moyes’s West Ham reign?

Last season’s triumphant trip to Prague offers unsurprisingly fertile ground — the celebratory touchline run, the winners’ medal hung around the neck of his father, David Moyes Sr, the dressing-room Proclaimers jig.

Then again, so too has the London Stadium technical area on many a less joyous afternoon — the arms thrown skywards as Said Benrahma back-heels on the edge of his own box, the Kevin Nolan-backed outrage at a penalty not given, the disbelief as any one of several misfiring strikers chips straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.

But for contentedness, and for the peak of a relationship between the club’s supporters and ‘the Moyesiah’ that later took a complex turn, you must perhaps go back to April 14, 2022 and the famous, ruthless 3-0 win at Lyon.

The goals that night were, fittingly, scored by three of the most totemic figures of the Moyes era in Craig Dawson, Jarrod Bowen and Declan Rice, but it was the manager who left feeling the love.

Long after full-time, Moyes re-emerged from the tunnel and walked the width of the pitch to salute the thousands of Hammers yet to be released from the away end, serenaded with chants of his name all the way.

On Saturday, as Luton visit for the final home game of their season, and of Moyes’s tenure, there ought to be similar unfettered appreciation.

Memories: David Moyes led West Ham to their first major trophy for 43 years last season
Tim Goode/PA Wire

That has seldom been the case during the ceaseless debate on Moyes’s future. Even in the aftermath of Prague, there were plenty who qualified their gratitude with the hope that he might see fit to walk away on a high, leaving a more fashionable, more expansive coach to continue his fine work.

But with Julen Lopetegui inbound and Moyes heading towards the exit door, that drum no longer needs banging.

Though there will be the usual end-of-term lap of appreciation, the club is not planning a grand send-off. It is, after all, they who have chosen not to extend Moyes’s contract, announced his departure sooner than he would have liked and, ultimately, whose season is drawing to an underwhelming close.

Instead, the onus will be on London Stadium’s 60,000 to summon up a fitting farewell. This is not Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger bidding “by the nou” or “adieu”, nor even Jurgen Klopp saying “auf wiedersehen” to Anfield, as he will next weekend.

But few managers survive four-and-a-half year stints at one club in the modern era, never mind one as volatile as West Ham, and fewer still reach this kind of natural, broadly amicable parting. It is end of season, end of contract and the end of the road, but one that took West Ham to destinations anew.

West Ham have been left in a better place than Moyes found them by virtue of the unprecedented success of three straight seasons in Europe

The club has been left in a better place than Moyes found it by virtue of the unprecedented success of three straight seasons in Europe, the middle of those crowned with silverware.

Aston Villa’s exit from the Conference League on Thursday night provides a timely reminder that even with the Premier League’s financial advantages, that triumph ought never be taken for granted.

The hope is the resolution of Moyes’s future this week will prove a galvanising force. West Ham’s players have done him no justice in recent weeks, the 5-0 defeat at Chelsea a new low. Against a side scrapping for their lives, there will be no comfortable coast towards the victorious goodbye he deserves.

“That moment was really, really special,” Moyes said earlier this season, reflecting on that night in Lyon.

A desperate recent run means his tenure cannot finish on a similar high, but one last show of thanks would at least provide a fitting end.