BY this point, it is almost an ideological debate. If an English club appoints a veteran British manager with Premier League experience, they are accused of being dull and unimaginative. If they appoint a foreign one – Marco Silva at Hull City last year being the prime example – then they are not giving opportunities to British managers who, in the words of Sam Allardyce, are “almost deemed as second-class because it’s your country”.

The only way West Ham could have been universally praised in appointing a successor to Slaven Bilic was if they picked someone who was British with plenty of Premier League experience but was also young, up-and-coming and exciting. In other words, they would have had to pick a guy who, with Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe already in a job, doesn’t exist.

Instead, they opted for David Moyes. Other than not being young – though at 54, he’s not exactly old – he ticks the boxes. He’s been in the league, he’s been at struggling clubs, he’s been at big clubs and he has worked abroad too. Critics quickly point out that his last three appointments ended badly. He quit Manchester United after 10 months with the side languishing in seventh place. He took over Real Sociedad in 17th place, guided them to 15th and then was sacked with the side back in 17th. And, just last season, he took over Sunderland and finished dead last, 16 points from safety.

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Folks rattle this information off as if it proves the argument one way or another. It doesn’t. Each appointment is its own story. Each has mitigating and aggravating factors. And, most importantly, each is in the past. There might be clues as to how he will perform at West Ham, but intelligent people learn from mistakes and try to improve, so that’s all they are: indications.

We often focus too much on past performance when West Ham have a very specific set of challenges and strengths that are likely to be more relevant to Moyes. Most important is the fact that this is a talented squad, unlike at Sunderland. And while there are concerns defensively, there are enough veterans, with built-in automatic wage cuts in case of relegation, to assume the Hammers can be steered back to mid-table.

That is the good news. The bad is that many of the players appear to be injured a little too often. There is also a bad vibe coming from the dressing room, with goalkeeper Joe Hart using the term “unprofessional” to describe his team-mates’ performance recently and reports of chaos and in-fighting.

And then there’s the elephant in the room: the unholy trinity of Karren Brady, David Gold and David Sullivan. This is an ownership that has sparred with previous managers of all stripes and which is both involved and autocratic. Moyes has rarely worked under those conditions and the impression many have is that he is too easily pushed around.

In the short term, there’s enough of a confluence of interests – keeping West Ham up – that Moyes can most probably keep them up and perhaps even make them respectable. If that happens he would be well served to then move on, having burnished his CV. Because an ageing squad and this set of owners are not a springboard to medium-term success. Not for him anyway.

GARETH Southgate did exactly what you would expect him to do on Friday in England’s friendly with Germany; he looked further afield and tried to learn what was coming down the pipeline.

Much of the attention pre-game focused on two on-loan Chelsea players: Swansea’s Tammy Abraham and Crystal Palace’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek. There’s only so much you can learn from a scoreless draw against an experimental Germany side, but the former was praised for his work rate and criticised for misplacing passes (and missing a clear-cut chance). The latter was lauded for his presence, composure and technical ability.

It served as a reminder of how football exists in different dimensions and how playing for a good side is, at times, like playing an entirely different sport. Abraham was hugely prolific as a teenager last year in the Championship for a mediocre Bristol City side. He often got to play on the counter and was the main focus of the attack.

This season, in the Premier League, he is in a similar situation at Swansea; the opposition has the upper hand, he is usually on his own and with space to move. And that is part of the reason why Chelsea did not keep him around as a third striker. Playing for the champions would have meant facing packed defences, with plenty of gifted team-mates around him.

It’s a different story with Loftus-Cheek. He had three seasons in the Chelsea first team where he managed six top-flight appearances. Both Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte felt his natural position was in advanced midfield, but with guys like Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas around, he wasn’t going to get the minutes. So they moved him to Palace where he can be a bigger fish, albeit in a side who are often on the back foot.

For both, the test will be whether they can cut it in teams that control games. And for the time being, crazy as it sounds, they will get more practice doing it with England than they will for their club sides. But given they are a combined 41 years of age, the future bodes well.

BEING drawn in a World Cup qualifying group with Spain, it was obvious to most that if the Azzurri were to make Russia 2018 it would be via the play-offs. Italy boss Gian Piero Ventura, however, went so far as to say he “could not and would not contemplate not qualifying”.

Well, after Italy’s 1-0 loss in Sweden Friday night, he had better contemplate it. Against an opponent with little quality – Emil Forsberg apart – but tons of fight and physicality, Italy got their approach entirely wrong, both in terms of tactics and personnel.

They compounded it post-game by complaining about Sweden’s physicality and dark arts. While it is true that Leo Bonucci had his nose broken early on, it is equally true that a side packed with veterans like the Milan defender can’t really complain about players being cynical and physical.

It is all to play for tomorrow night at the San Siro. But even if Italy do qualify, it won’t, and should not, wipe out the dire performance in Stockholm and their reaction post-game. Both of which were embarrassing.