West Ham: Julen Lopetegui is no Ruben Amorim but offers Hammers a safe pair of hands

Sections of the fanbase have been underwhelmed by the appointment after a failed approach for the Sporting man

It is a quirk of the way West Ham's managerial search has played out that Julen Lopetegui, who is likely to take the helm, may find himself measured more frequently against a man who has never held the job than the one about to leave it.

If the Spaniard's expected arrival leaves Hammers fans underwhelmed, it is less to do with how Lopetegui stacks up against David Moyes and more with the fact that he is not Ruben Amorim.

Thrilled by excitement of the unknown, the ambitious move to approach the 39-year-old Sporting boss at a time when most assumed he was headed for Liverpool made the Portuguese the sexy successor, even if a hefty release clause and a lack of Premier League experience stood as firm obstacles to his appointment.

It says something for expectations at the London Stadium that the alternative — a former Real Madrid and Spain coach — feels a less glamorous, safer bet.

Getty Images

Co-chairman David Sullivan has been impressed with Lopetegui in talks and values the fact that he is proven in English football, having performed a not-dissimilar job to Moyes's first at West Ham in steering Wolves clear of safety after joining midway last season.

The 57-year-old is more of a pragmatist than Amorim, a reality perhaps unappealing to those who have craved a more expansive approach but one that ought surely to ease the transition from Moyes's relative conservatism, given the profile of player in his squad.

Clearly, Lopetegui is no dinosaur when it comes to attacking philosophy, but a significant part of his job will lie in rebuilding the defensive stability that has evaporated under Moyes this term, with only the Premier League's bottom three conceding more goals.

Lopetegui has been involved in some very public falling-outs

A word of caution, though. Moyes has been firm in his determination to present a united front throughout his tenure, often shielding West Ham's board and even insisting his working relationship with technical director Tim Steidten has been good, despite tensions between the pair behind the scenes.

Lopetegui, by contrast, has been involved in some very public falling-outs. He was sacked by the Spanish national side on the eve of the 2018 World Cup, accused by their federation of going behind their back to agree a deal at Madrid. He lasted 138 days at the Bernabeu before falling victim to that club's impatience, and walked out of Wolves last summer following rows over transfers.

West Ham hope that it is his spell in between at Sevilla, where he won the Europa League and delivered three successive top-four finishes, that provides the template now.