Hammers nail down European football
West Ham United have been flirting on-and-off with the prospect of continental football since 2006. Fifteen years on, David Moyes‘ Hammers racked up their highest ever Premier League points tally of 65 and finished the season in 6th place – above fellow London clubs Arsenal and Tottenham – to qualify for the UEFA Europa League group phase in 2021/22.
19 years ago, in March 2002, 38-year-old David Moyes was appointed Everton manager following the dismissal of countryman, Walter Smith. Moyes had recently signed a new 5-year deal with second-division team Preston North End before the Toffees came calling.
A defender in his playing days, Moyes hung up his boots in 1998 to immediately take over as head coach of Preston, who at the time were towards the bottom end of the 3rd tier in English football. Moyes and Preston earned promotion to what is now the EFL Championship and were inches away from doubling down with two promotions in as many years, as they lost out to Sam Allardyce's Bolton Wanderers in the play-off final in 2001.
Everton, meanwhile, had been regressing during this time – finishing 16th, 13th, and 14th in the three seasons leading up to Moyes' arrival. Moyes steered the Evertonions to finish the 2002/03 Premiership in 7th position. After bringing in the likes of Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta to the club, Moyes & Everton ended the 04/05 season in 4th place – above Merseyside rivals Liverpool for the first time since winning the old First Division in 1987 under Howard Kendall.
Everton earned entry to the 05/06 UEFA Champions League but crashed out to Villarreal in the qualifying round.
Moyes secured Everton a 6th-place finish in 06/07, and 5th in each of the following two PL seasons. In 2012-13, his final season at Goodison, the Scotsman landed 6th spot before being named successor to another compatriot, Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.
Moyes was named League Managers Association Manager of the Year on three occasions during his 11-year stay at Everton but is yet to win a major trophy, bar a Community Shield with United in 2013.
Just like their current boss Moyes, West Ham, too, have had mixed fortunes throughout the past two decades. The Hammers were relegated in 2003 before they returned to the top-flight in 2005. One season later they finished runners-up to Liverpool in the FA Cup and qualified for the following season's UEFA Cup, precursor to the the current Europa League.
The East London side exited the competition in their opening qualifying round after losing home and away to Italian side Palermo, 0-4 on aggregate, as manager Alan Pardew handed full club debuts to Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevéz.
Pardew was sacked in December 2007 with West Ham occupying 18th place and in another sticky relegation scramble. Alan Curbishley arrived and ensured the Hammers‘ survival, three points clear of the drop zone.
Curbishley left his post just 3 weeks into the 2008/09 campaign after a falling out with the club executive.
In his first managerial job Gianfranco Zola saw West Ham to a 9th-place finish in 2008/09 before they slumped to 17th come the end of 2009/10, 5 points above the bottom 3 places.
The club's new co-owners David Gold & David Sullivan dismissed Zola and replaced him with ex-Chelsea boss Avram Grant. The Irons finished rock bottom of the pile and collected a total 33 points with just 7 wins in the 2010/11 PL season, to be demoted to the Football League Championship after six seasons in England's premier division.
Sam Allardyce took over the reigns and regained the club's Premier League status at the first time of asking, as the Hammers won the promotion play-off final against Blackpool. Allardyce had a sterling reputation from his time at Bolton and he remained at Upton Park for a further three seasons, earning 10th-, 13th-, and 12th-place finishes in the Premier League before the Englishman was sacked.
The UEFA Cup remodeled to the UEFA Europa League in 2009 but it was not until 2015 that West Ham were back in contention for European football, by virtue of finishing atop the 14/15 PL Fair Play table. The Irons once again stumbled in the qualifying rounds – bowing out to Romanian outfit Astra Giurgiu, 3-4 agg,
Ex-Hammer Slaven Bilic took up the post as manager and guided the team to the FA Cup quarterfinals and also scored a remarkable 7th position in
the 15/16 season, with thanks to Dimitri Payet's 21 goal contributions in the league; this was West Ham's joint-highest PL finish since the turn of century.
The club abandoned Upton Park in 2016, its home ground for 112 years, to move to the London Olympic Stadium with almost double capacity.
The departure of the talismanic Payet culminated in Bilic's men seeing out 2016/17 in 11th position, 17 points worse off than their previous campaign. A dreadful start to the following season saw the Croatian given his marching orders by club Vice-President Karren Brady, with the Hammers sitting in 18th position with 9 points from a possible 33.
Moyes' first spell in charge of West Ham commenced in November 2017 and the side rose up the table to conclude that season in 13th, unlucky for Moyes who was relieved of his duties.
Manuel Pellegrini was hired in the club's bid to climb into the top half of the table and the veteran Chilean mustered 10th place in his opening season at the helm in East London. Pellegrini was backed heading into 19/20 however he, too, was given the sack days after Christmas with the team once again in disarray – sitting in 17th place with just 5 wins halfway through the league season.
Under Pellegrini the club spent in excess of £200M and broke the club transfer record twice on Brazilian attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson and French forward Sebastian Haller – both of whom have since been hushed away from the club.
Moyes was reinstated as Hammers head coach and swiftly avoided a relegation scare, finishing the season in 16th place with 39 points – their lowest total since returning to the summit of the English football pyramid in 2012.
Former club captain Kevin Nolan was appointed first-team coach 5 weeks into Moyes' second spell at the London Stadium; the backroom staff also consists of Moyes' long-serving right-hand man Alan Irvine, in addition to ex-England international Stuart Pearce.
Moyes and his technical team amalgamated the squad and took them to new levels in 2020/21, as they set a new club record of 19 wins in a Premier League season.
Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio scored 10 PL goals each, while loanee Jesse Lingard grabbed 9 goals and 5 assists in his 16 games with the Hammers – averaging a goal contribution every 114 minutes.
Declan Rice is unarguably West Ham's best academy product in recent times and the dubbed 'Academy of Football' has slacked heavily over the past 20 years since producing the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole and Michael Carrick, amongst a handful others.
At the tender age of just 22, Rice is already the team's regular skipper and the holding midfielder seems destined to reach the top in the coming years, both at club and international levels.
Moyes and his backroom staff are all due to have their contracts renewed beyond this season, and on top of that the club will be desperate to keep hold of Lingard and Rice next season with the duo in contention to feature for Gareth Southgate's Three Lions at the European Championships in the coming weeks.
Cup competitions have been a significant Achilles heel for the Hammers in recent years and Moyes will certainly be looking to address that.
Since their last FA Cup Final appearance in 2006, West Ham have not been beyond the quarterfinals in the competition and have finished outside the Premier League top 10 more times than within.
Season PL Pos. Pts. FA Cup EFL Cup
2005/06 9th 55 Runners-up 3R
2006/07 15th 41 4R 3R
2007/08 10th 49 3R 5R
2008/09 9th 51 5R 3R
2009/10 17th 35 3R 3R
2010/11 20th 33 QF SF
2012/13 10th 46 3R 3R
2013/14 13th 40 3R SF
2014/15 12th 47 5R 2R
2015/16 7th 62 QF 3R
2016/17 11th 45 3R 5R
2017/18 13th 42 4R QF
2018/19 10th 52 4R 4R
2019/20 16th 39 4R 3R
2020/21 6th 65 5R 4R