The long Moyes West Ham goodbye is over - what will his legacy be?

At times this season for West Ham boss David Moyes, it has felt like one long goodbye.

With his contract running out this summer, the stay-or-go narrative has now ended with the news that he will leave the club at the end of the season with former Spain, Real Madrid and Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui set to take over.

On Saturday, the 61-year-old Scot will get a chance to acknowledge the fans who have been with him on a remarkable journey at West Ham that took them from the relegation zone during the Covid-enforced break, to glory and silverware on a never-to-be-forgotten night in Prague.

For many neutral observers, it seems harsh.

Even now, after a dreadful run post-Christmas, where heavy defeats by Arsenal, Crystal Palace and Chelsea have contributed to a joint-record highest goals conceded (70) in a Premier League season for the Hammers, they are still on track to secure a top-10 finish.

It would be Moyes' third in four and a half seasons. No West Ham manager has achieved that since Harry Redknapp over two decades ago.

But modern-day football is a brutal business.

The Scot takes charge of his penultimate game of his second spell at London Stadium against Luton on Saturday.

Moyes' final task will be to plot the downfall of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City - trying to get the win likely needed to secure a historic fourth successive Premier League title on the final day.

After that, the former Manchester United, Everton, Sunderland, Preston and Real Sociedad manager will decide whether to resume his managerial career elsewhere or take up the offer of work with Uefa around the technical aspects of the game.

Many people will look at the table, look at what West Ham were and what they are now, look at the loss of Declan Rice for £105m last summer and believe no manager could have done any more.

Yet that overlooks a significant point.

Hammers fans pay to watch their team. While there is widespread appreciation for what Moyes has achieved, a growing number are fed up at the way he has gone about it.

In an era of high press, risk-taking, front-foot football, they view Moyes as a largely defensive coach.

This is unfair. There are times – the 5-0 win against Freiburg and second-leg salvage mission in the Europa League quarter-final against Bayer Leverkusen – when West Ham are a thrilling team to watch.

However, the sentiment after those games tends to be ‘why can’t we play like that every week’?

In addition, they see a development pathway strong enough to produce last season’s FA Youth Cup winners that hardly supplies any players for the first team.

With the exception of Rice, the only regular homegrown member of Moyes’ squad has been ex-England U21s defender Ben Johnson, who is expected to leave in the summer.

This was anticipated to be a breakthrough season for 19-year-old striker Divin Mubama. The local boy is yet to start a domestic game and has not come off the bench since the draw with Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in January.

David Moyes graphic showing his Premier League win percentage
Out of West Ham's 12 Premier League managers, Moyes - in his second spell in charge - has the highest win percentage [Getty Images]

Moyes is not averse to using young players. But he needs to be sure they are capable of performing at the high level required.

He was slated over the £18m departure of Grady Diangana in 2020. Current sporting director Mark Noble – captain at the time – was among those to voice his disapproval. Diangana has gone on to make over 130 appearances for West Brom, most of them in the Championship, a third of them as a substitute.

Supporters can have their opinions, Moyes believes he knows whether players are good enough or not - and acts accordingly.

He has tried to make West Ham less reliant on the counter-attack.

While he sidelined record signing Sebastian Haller when he returned for a second stint as manager in December 2019 – and a second demand to drag the club clear of relegation trouble - the £30.5m arrival of Italy forward Gianluca Scamacca on a five-year deal in 2022 was supposed to be part of a new era.

But after a decent start Scamacca went nine games up to the World Cup without a goal as West Ham slipped down the table. Apart from three substitute appearances, he didn’t play from January until the end of the season. The Hammers needed to scrap to survive and Moyes was forced to revert to type.

They picked their way through the Europa Conference League, culminating in that glorious night when Moyes showed his emotional side by hugging his dad, who was close to tears, after finally underlining an outstanding managerial career by winning a trophy thanks to Jarrod Bowen’s last-minute winner against Fiorentina.

Yet even as Moyes celebrated that triumph – West Ham’s first silverware in 43 years - which qualified them for a third consecutive European campaign for the first time in their history, some fans felt it would be an appropriate time for him to leave.

Just short of 12 months on, those supporters – and a few others it has to be admitted - have got their wish.

Lopetegui, cruelly dubbed by some as a Spanish Moyes because of his tactics, will be in charge next season.

Time will tell whether West Ham were right to make a change or if they were treating a proud individual really badly for doing a really fine job.

However it turns out, eventually, history will judge Moyes to be a legendary figure at West Ham. Standing alongside Ron Greenwood and John Lyall as someone who won something for this famous old east London club.