David Moyes is undoubtedly on thin ice at West Ham United but the Scottish manager could save his job by unleashing Flynn Downes in upcoming fixtures.
A 3-1 defeat against league leaders Arsenal on Boxing Day has left the Hammers precariously above the relegation zone in the Premier League, with last season’s flirtation with a top-four finish now a distant memory for the Irons.
While the east London side have had to deal with injury problems throughout the season, with new signings also flattering to deceive, the recent performances have been far from good enough, with Tomas Soucek among the guilty parties.
The 27-year-old midfielder would highlight his inefficiencies at the Emirates once again on Monday evening, completing just eight passes in his 78 minutes on the pitch, registering a woeful pass accuracy rate of 42%.
For a midfielder, this is absolutely criminal, and it seems clear that Moyes needs a partner for Declan Rice who is far more reliable in possession, otherwise the Hammers have no hope of keeping the ball and progressing things from midfield to attack.
Since arriving at the club from Swansea City in the summer, Downes has made just three starts in the Premier League but has averaged a far more impressive pass success rate of 87%, completing on average 16.7 passes per game, despite spending far fewer minutes on the pitch than his Czech teammate.
The Englishman has also caught the eye for Moyes’ side in the UEFA Conference League, with Joe Cole singing his praises on BT Sport after a win against FCSB earlier in the season.
He said: “(He’s been) outstanding. He’s been the bright spark for West Ham in the whole campaign.
“The one big positive that will have come out of this for David Moyes is Flynn Downes. He’s proven that he’s ready, he’s been like a senior player at (23) years of age.
“He nearly scored, he’s been involved in everything, an outstanding find for West Ham.”
Moyes clearly has to change something if he wants to turn West Ham’s fortunes around and with vital games to come against fellow relegation candidates Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton to come in January, he might consider finally giving Downes more regular game time in the top flight.
If he can keep the ball and allow West Ham’s attackers to flourish against struggling defences, then the Hammers could pick up enough points to keep Moyes in a job.