Jurgen Klopp was willing David Moyes to survive at the depth of West Ham’s early-season crisis because the Liverpool manager dreaded becoming the old man of the Premier League.
The Hammers took just four points from seven games at the outset of this campaign, but Moyes guided his team to 10 points from the next five to buy himself some time.
There have been turbulent times since, including a run where his players took just one point from a possible 21, but West Ham look like surviving for another season in the top flight after pulling clear of the relegation zone.
On Wednesday, they host Liverpool, who have won 10 of their last 12 Premier League games against West Ham.
The exceptions both came at the London Stadium, with a 1-1 draw in February 2019 and a 3-2 victory for West Ham in November 2021.
When the season began, Moyes was the oldest Premier League boss, and he turned 60 on Tuesday.
Klopp, at 55, is still some way short of being a veteran manager, but he was wary of the possibility of all his Premier League colleagues being younger men.
Managerial situations at other clubs rarely interest him, but this was different.
“In this specific one I was really in it,” he said. “Because if West Ham would have sacked David Moyes, I would have been the oldest manager in the Premier League and I wanted to avoid that.
“Yes, David has to stay. David is a top colleague. They have a good team, and they show now their quality again.”
Klopp said he had enjoyed having a post-match beer with Moyes in the past, and was pleased he managed to ride out the storm.
“He’s a really good person as far as I know,” Klopp said, “and I like that he always finds a way to get a team going. It might not have worked out years ago for once at Man United, but that was the most difficult time to join Man United in the history of football, coming after Sir Alex Ferguson.”
Moyes, who failed to last a full season when appointed by the Red Devils in 2013, is no longer the Premier League’s oldest boss, with 75-year-old Roy Hodgson’s mid-season return to Crystal Palace changing that.
Julen Lopetegui, appointed by Wolves in November, is also a year Klopp’s senior.
Touch. Shot. Brilliant.
A counter-attacking clinic as a @MoSalah double helped lead us to victory against West Ham away in 17/18. #WHULIV pic.twitter.com/A6iuBIzrkh
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 25, 2023
Liverpool head to London on the back of wins against relegation candidates Leeds United and Nottingham Forest, results that have helped out West Ham.
This has been a season of torment for the Reds, however, with fifth place looking to be the best they might achieve.
Klopp said his team “have to still prove ourselves” but reasoned there had been “a lot of things to like” in the last two games, and in the second half of the Anfield draw against Arsenal in their previous outing.
He sees West Ham as a threat to Liverpool’s ongoing four-match unbeaten run, saying: “It’s a super dangerous and difficult game for us, definitely.”
After losing three consecutive home league games in November and December, West Ham have lost just one of their last seven at the London Stadium (W3 D3), scoring at least once in each match.
“We have to make the next step,” Klopp said, “keeping the standard of the last two games defensively and then going from there. Being uncomfortable to play against, that must be our target.”
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