West Ham dismantled as David Moyes limbo leaves players to take their eyes off the ball

Moyes is widely expected to leave West Ham this summer (AP)
Moyes is widely expected to leave West Ham this summer (AP)

Trips to Stamford Bridge have worn an ominous quality throughout David Moyes’s managerial career; it is now 19 visits in the Premier League without a single victory.

But if this, as now looks overwhelmingly likely, proves his last as West Ham boss then it surely ranks among the worst of a sorry bunch.

Arriving in west London with European hopes just about still alive, West Ham turned in the performance of a team playing for nothing at all and were duly dismantled 5-0 by a Chelsea side whose own late season resurgence has them firmly in the top-six mix.

Last month, after being hammered at Arsenal, Mauricio Pochettino said of his own team that “when we’re bad, we’re really bad” but the same illness of extremes has long infected West Ham. Since the start of March last year, this was the ninth time Moyes has watched his team lose a Premier League match by at least three goals.

The resilience and determination synonymous with the best Moyes teams has disappeared and here it took only Cole Palmer’s 15th-minute opener to effectively break any lingering resolve.

From the pasting that followed, it was impossible not to sense a team now desperate for the season to end, and a club in need of clarity even as Moyes continues to insist that no announcement on his future will be made until after the final game, away at Manchester City. If Mikel Arteta was watching this, searching for reason to believe that his old tutor might be the man to deliver the necessary dent in City’s title defence, he will have found none.

The internal decision this week to ask technical director Tim Steidten to stay away from Moyes and his players while he leads the search for a successor was supposed to provide tunnel vision focus on the club’s final three games. This was yet another defensive performance, however, when West Ham eyes appeared anywhere but on the ball.

Only the bottom three have poorer defensive records than the Hammers this term and it is now 16 consecutive league games without a clean sheet.

Chelsea’s first two goals were both scored by players - Palmer and then Conor Gallagher - in blue reacting fastest, and most decisively, as defenders switched off. The third came after both provider Thiago Silva and scorer Noni Madueke won headers unopposed at a corner, inside the six-yard box. The fourth and fifth, both scored by Nicolas Jackson, came from routine straight balls in behind, with West Ham’s high line - and the lack of mobility between Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna - horribly exposed. A significant defensive rebuild looks just one element of the task ahead for whoever is in the West Ham dugout by the start of the summer.

The Hammers looked ready for the season to end at Stamford Bridge (Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)
The Hammers looked ready for the season to end at Stamford Bridge (Zac Goodwin/PA Wire)

Palmer was, predictably, the source of much West Ham torture, particularly so since Moyes had spoken on Friday about just how close the 21-year-old came to making east London his home last summer, before eventually heading west. But if the Scot was a keen admirer then his players were far too appreciative, too, a central pair of Edson Alvarez and Tomas Soucek swamped as the Englishman drifted into acres of space off the right to overload the midfield.

West Ham’s forwards, too were ineffective, Lucas Paqueta disinterested and only Jarrod Bowen emerging with credit having managed to hit the bar three times.

Now ninth, five points adrift of Chelsea in seventh having played a game more, West Ham will be playing for pride only when Luton come to east London for the final home game of the season next weekend. Public confirmation of Moyes’s future before then would surely be of benefit to all concerned.