West Ham United have the most unfulfilled potential in the Premier League, according to manager David Moyes who has twice steered the London club clear of relegation.
Moyes replaced Manuel Pellegrini midway through last season with West Ham again in trouble despite the usual pre-season optimism fuelled by a host of signings.
As he did after he replaced Slaven Bilic in 2017, Moyes helped West Ham to retain their top-flight status, although finishing 16th is hardly what fans were promised when the club left its Upton Park ground and moved in to the Olympic stadium in 2016.
From being classified as something of a relegation battle specialist, former Everton and Manchester United manager Moyes knows the club, and he himself, must look higher.
“I’d argue the club has still got the most unfulfilled potential in the Premier League,” he told the Sunday Times, a week before the start of the new season.
“What surviving (the threat of relegation) gave us, and what we have now, is a chance to grow; to get away from the boom and bust, the chopping and changing that has been the story of West Ham recently. The standards have to be much better.
“We’re going to have to play better, do better. I think we’ve got to be better in everything.”
This is the first proper pre-season Moyes has been allowed at West Ham, after he was shown the door and replaced by Pellegrini after saving them from relegation in 2017-18.
In some ways the long Covid-19 lockdown last season enabled Moyes to embed his ideas and the team returned to take 12 points from the last seven games, a notable upturn in form.
Moyes said his priority was to lower the average age of the squad and have Declan Rice as its natural leader. So hanging on to the England midfielder is vital.
“We see Declan in the (captain) Mark Noble mould,” he said. “I want a team with a younger profile.”
West Ham sold Grady Diangana to West Bromwich Albion this week, prompting criticism from the fans and players, including Noble. Moyes, however, said it was more about building a squad that was capable of fulfilling the club’s potential and not necessarily spending huge amounts on the market.
“Our board has backed managers — they invested £200 million to help the last one,” Moyes said.
“If anything, that was proof that just spending doesn’t guarantee success. What I’d like is to build. To say to supporters, ‘I’m going to give you a team to be proud of. Something that is not going to be flaky’.”