Is the balance of power shifting in London?

Published: Monday, 01 November 2021

The noisy neighbours did it. It cost them trillions, but they did shift the balance of power in Manchester. It got me wondering last night if West Ham might be doing it in London?

They haven’t got the same resources as City. Few have. But what West Ham have got is priceless. They appear to have a team spirit and work ethic that is second to none. And I’m delighted for the man who’s making it happen - David Moyes.

Moyes has found a new home. Somewhere that he feels really comfortable. His players obviously love working with him and everybody in East London is enjoying the ride of their Premier League lives.

Unlike City - this is despite the owners - not because of them. How many times have Mssrs Sullivan and Gold got it wrong? And Ms Brady has made one bad call after another - hiding behind allegations of sexism every time I, or anyone else, pointed it out. No Karen - we’re all responsible for decisions we make - whatever gender we are.

In fairness - the three of them had the good sense to re-employ Moyes after their disastrous decision to replace him with Manuel Pelligrini. ‘He won the title - he must know what he’s doing’ they thought.  Er - no. The only surprise is that they didn’t bring in Ranieri as his assistant.

Moyes is a good man. I’ve sat for hours with him here in Qatar discussing what happened at United. He was broken after that experience. Working in Spain was a good idea - but the practicalities were different to the reality.

He knew he’d taken a bad one at Sunderland. Day 1 he text me to say ‘you’re about to see the worst PL team of all time’. How right he was - but Norwich have since returned to the PL!

It took some balls and a lot of self belief for Moyes to give it another go. The Hammers are benefitting big time from his determination. It does make you wonder how much pain United could’ve saved themselves had Mr Ed had bigger balls and a bit more patience.

You could see how much fun Moyes Boys are having every time they scored at Villa. They celebrated together. They smiled together. They hugged together. They’re a unit and something to be reckoned with.

What’s happening in East London is in stark contrast to the turmoil the North London teams have been (and in Spurs’ case still are) experiencing. Nuno has gone. Driven out in double quick time by player power. Or maybe it was more simple than that - an H-bomb. Harry isn’t happy. He’s making that very clear. He’s wearing the jersey but doing little more than putting it on. He’s stinking the place out. Would Spurs have been better off taking City’s £75m in the summer? Right now I don’t think they’d get anything like that for him.

I’m not sure it matters too much who gets the managers job. Levy has tried everything. Perhaps like Mr Ed with Moyes- he’s thinking that he pulled the rug out on Mourinho a bit too quickly?

I’ve said before on this platform - there’s a whole lot of pain still to come for Spurs. They’ve got a wonderful stadium - but no team. Arsenal had a decade just like it after leaving Highbury.

There are signs that Arteta is making things happen. The win at Leicester was a good one. They played well. I hope it comes good. The PL needs a strong Arsenal, but The Hammers are better. Is there a gentle shift of power going on - or can Moyes make it permanent? It’s doing to be fun watching.

I notice that a lot of what’s happening at Arsenal is being credited to their specialist set-piece coach. Honestly. You couldn’t make this up. I mentioned it recently - a long throw or a set-piece at Burnley is old fashioned. When Big Sam or Tony Pulis pointed out the importance of set-pieces they were called dinosaurs. Arteta brings in Nicolas Jover, who used to work at City, and he’a being hailed as a genius.

‘It’s a crucial part of the game nowadays’ says Arteta. Nowadays? Please. It always has been. What he probably means is ‘it’s clever if you have a specialist’.

Apparently, last season, the total proportion of Arsenal’s expected goals generated from set-pieces was 0.14, the second lowest in the league. Now it’s double that at 0.28. Brilliant.

They’ve taken 19 in-swinging corners. 19 outswingers. And seven straight corners. Apparently this unpredictability makes them harder to defend against. Please. Stop it. My sides are aching.

For the record, Burnley have hit 46 inswingers from 47 corners. Brentford 25 out of 30. Liverpool 57 outswingers from 73. Is your head hurting yet?

It’s always been the same. Good delivery is step one. Then get someone on the end of it. It doesn’t need a specialist coach to work that out.

Oh. West Ham don’t have a specialist coach. They’ve got Moyes - and they scored 16 goals from corners last season - more than anyone else. Before Sunday four of their last five goals had come from set-pieces.

Well done Ole. He took the easy options leaving Rashford and Greenwood out - but his changes worked. As I said last week - he had to find a way to get Cavani in. Not that I think we can judge Solskjaer or United on what we saw at Spurs. They were dreadful. United’s next big test is against City. Will Solskjaer ‘park the bus’ - betraying United’s DNA? Hold on - haven’t we been here before? 😂.