Sunderland will take years to recover from David Moyes’ reign but West Ham appointment shows how club is viewed in the game

Former Sunderland manager David Moyes (right) and with former West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic.
Former Sunderland manager David Moyes (right) and with former West Ham United manager Slaven Bilic.
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Sam Allardyce believes that the drive to prove himself and a higher calibre of player at West Ham will see David Moyes make a success of his latest job.

He may well be right.

At the London Stadium Moyes inherits the outstanding finishing of Javier Hernandez, the individual magic of Manuel Lanzini and Marko Arnautovic, as well as the live wire Andre Ayew, who Allardyce himself coveted while in charge on Wearside.

The bigger question is whether Moyes will be able to connect with and motivate those players, something he quite clearly failed to do with the squad he inherited from Allardyce at Sunderland.

There is little mitigation for the mess made during his ten tumultuous months in charge here

From the signings of Papy Djilobodji and Adnan Januzaj, the failure to land Yann M’Vila, the sale of Younes Kaboul, the sidelining of Wahbi Khazri, it was a procession of poor decisions from which the Black Cats could take years to recover.

The long-term trajectory at Sunderland had not been good, certainly, but the basic resilience instilled by Allardyce evaporated and has not been seen since.

It was a tenure that stands comparison to the worst in the Premier League era, such as Aston Villa’s Remi Garde, Fulham’s Felix Magath, West Brom’s Pepe Mel. Names who have excelled abroad but disappeared from the British game after making a mess of their one opportunity on these shores.

That Moyes is back in another job so soon says much about how Sunderland are viewed in the game, and underlines the difficulties they now face in finding and attracting the right person to clear up the mess that he did so much to create.

West Ham made clear reference to his Everton success after announcing his arrival, the inference being that what happened at the Stadium of Light was a blip.

Such is the perception of Sunderland as an impossible job, a club financially hamstrung and lacking the stability and quality in players to allow any manager to thrive and succeed.

It hurt them in the summer when Derek McInnes got cold feet and in all likelihood it will hurt them now.

For the most part it is of course utter nonsense.

Allardyce showed what a difference can be made in the short-term through relentless coaching and drilling of the defensive basics, as well as changing the mentality of the squad.

When he appeared on Monday Night Football with his seven-point blueprint for survival, it was mocked in some circles for its simplicity, rather ignoring the fact that perhaps there lay its ultimate benefit.

It is true that the new manager will inherit a mediocre squad with little funds for future investment, but it is equally true that the scope for improvement is vast.

Sunderland have lacked identity, cohesion and confidence for too long. They came close to finding it under Allardyce, something rarely noted when Moyes’ failure is explained away by references to a ‘basket case’ club or such like.

West Ham ultimately have put their faith in former glories, in the hope that more recent failings can be explained away by external circumstances.

Sunderland did the same not and for the first time. The repercussions could well be felt for many years yet.