West Ham United-Watford Preview
One team is fighting off approaches to have their manager poached, while another has given their new coach a third chance in the Premier League to restore his reputation. Such are the storylines heading into Sunday's match at Vicarage Road between Watford and West Ham United.
The Hornets (4-3-4) have been one of the surprise packages in the Premier League thanks to Marco Silva, who is the eighth manager at Watford in the past five-plus seasons. While owner Gino Pozzo has had a quick trigger in jettisoning his bosses, he does not like to do so in mid-season, which made Everton's advances toward Silva after sacking Ronald Koeman the talk of the international break among non-players.
Watford repeatedly rebuffed Everton owner Farhard Moshiri's requests to even speak to Silva, reportedly rejecting a £10 million offer out of hand, and the Telegraph reported Everton were willing to bump Silva's salary from £2.6 million to £3.5 million. For his part, Silva is reportedly interested in the job but also is content to continue as Hornets boss.
His players are keen to keep the 40-year-old Portuguese boss on the sidelines, citing the improvements they have made as they fight to stay mid-table as opposed to being part of the relegation scrap.
"Everybody could see he changed a lot of things in the team. We had quite a lot of the same players but we improved a lot," defender Christian Kabasele told Sky Sports News. "When you have somebody like this and other teams are looking for him it's important that Watford try to do everything possible to keep him."
What Watford also have is a burgeoning young starlet in Richarlison, who is tied for the team lead with four goals, with two of them being match-winners. The 20-year-old Brazilian has been one of the finds of the young season and has a hand in six of Watford's 17 goals while streaking up and down the left channel in front of Jose Holebas.
It's possible Pozzo views West Ham (2-3-6) as a cautionary tale for mid-season managerial changes as David Moyes tries to right the ship of the star-crossed East London club. The Hammers head into the weekend at the top of the drop on nine points, and their league-worst 23 goals conceded were primary reasons they finally cut ties with Slaven Bilic after being thumped 4-1 by Liverpool just prior to the international break.
Moyes is at his fourth Premier League club overall and second since his ill-fated tenure with Manchester United following the footsteps of Sir Alex Ferguson. He was at Sunderland last season, overseeing a disastrous campaign that saw the Black Cats finish bottom of the table and finally relegated after so many seasons of living on a knife's edge.
West Ham fans have been split about the hiring, feeling they should have someone who can inject offence to a side that on paper has the players who should provide it but have yet to deliver. Of course, the shambolic defence West Ham have put out is what Moyes must correct straightaway, and to that end, he has brought in former managers Alan Irvine and Stuart Pearce into his backroom to help.
"It's a clean slate for the entire squad," Moyes told the team's website last week. "They've all worked very hard this week and responded in a positive manner to everything we've asked of them. It will obviously take time for the players to fully understand our style and methods but the initial signs are very encouraging - they've bought in what we are trying to do and that's a good base for us to build on."
With talisman and midfielder Mark Noble on board, it appears West Ham have given themselves a smooth transition during the break, but only time will tell on that end as they become accustomed to Moyes' managerial style.
"The manager has got a reputation for having a real attention to detail and that has already shone through in the way he has worked with us," Noble said of Moyes. "He has watched a lot of our games from the last few months of this season and has looked at where we have struggled and wants to correct that. We have been putting things in place to do that on the training field.
"I am hoping the new manager situation can have a big impact and we can go to Vicarage Road and get a result. We need to win games and I'm sure the manager and his staff will set the team up to go there and win on Sunday."
There appears to be no friction between Moyes and Chicharito Hernandez, whom he rarely utilised while the two were at Manchester United. But those moments will not come right away as the Mexico international - who leads the team with four goals in league play - suffered a hamstring injury and is expected to miss at least three matches.
Watford took four points last season but settled for a 1-1 draw in the corresponding fixture as Andre Ayew canceled out Troy Deeney's penalty. The Hornets are 3-2-1 against West Ham since the Hammers did the double in the 1999-2000 season.
Updated November 17, 2017