Tony Hanna's Musings
Last week I was each way on my opinion of whether West Ham should continue with David Moyes beyond this season. I am at the point now where I really hope he gets a new contract. When he was appointed I am sure most of us would have taken 13th and 42 points in a heartbeat? The football we played against Everton on the weekend was delightful and the way Arnie, Lanzini and Mario linked together was hopefully a taster of what is to come next season. But on reflection the advantage Moyes holds now is that he knows the players inside out. He knows what the team can do and what it can’t. He knows where we need to improve and he knows who is surplus to requirements. Get a new manager in now and he won’t know any of this until he has got games under his belt and the likelihood will be that our summer transfer budget will be spent on hopefully the best players we can buy in our budget, but without the knowledge of who we really need to get the best out of the team. So it is a thumbs up for David Moyes from me. Personally, I would keep Adrian as number one next season. To get a top keeper will be expensive and I just don’t see the need when the money is best spent elsewhere. The central defensive midfield role is the top priority and I would also like to see Mario signed on a permanent deal or at least for an extended year-long loan. As for signings, one of the first ones I would try and get done is Craig Dawson from West Brom. He is a quality defender who can play full back or as a central defender.
Back in mid-November when David Moyes became manager I asked in my article for your predicted finishing positions in the league. We were currently 18th in the table. Forty seven of you had a crack and there were five people who correctly predicted 13th. They were; Heedsy, Iron Mike, Milk Man, Dave Innots and Rob who had a cheeky double chance 13th/14th tip. There were a few including myself that missed by one; the others were hammermolder, Hammertime Mikey, Tom, IronFish, Daz and Paul Smith. Peter Jameson was the only one who had us getting relegated which is remarkable considering our plight at the time so I am sure he is very pleased to get the wooden spoon! Thanks to all for having a go.
So, it is goodbye to West Brom, Stoke and Swansea. At the beginning of the season I doubt many would have predicted that trio in its entirety getting relegated, especially with Brighton and Huddersfield in the frame. Which leads me to reconfirm one of my strong view points on relegation matters. I wrote an article a few years ago titled “Is three up, three down fair?” I followed that up this season with a similar piece. Last week I wrote an article “Survival in the League of Fourteen.” For those who missed it that article focused on how the PL has now become two divisions in one. An elite group of six with a separate division of fourteen clubs who are basically playing with a singular goal of avoiding the drop. When I started going to football in the 1960’s there were 22 clubs in the top flight, a league we fondly remember as the old first division. Every season two teams were relegated (9%) and the top two from the 2nd division took their place. The 1960’s through to 1980 was an era where up to fourteen teams every season had some slither of a chance of winning the title when the competition started. In the 23 seasons from 1958 to 1981 there were no fewer than 13 different Champions. I saw Manchester United, Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City all relegated. Forward to today and we now have twenty teams, a reduction of two, yet an increase up to three teams who will be replaced each season. With the elite six having no chance of being relegated that effectively means three from fourteen (21.4%) will drop – quite an increase from 9%. But when you get a season like this one when none of the clubs that were promoted last season have been relegated and none of last seasons relegated teams are promoted back, it effectively means in just two seasons that SIX of the fourteen bottom dwellers (42.8%) have changed. Middlesbrough could alter that stat if they are promoted through the play offs but I hope you see where I am going here? The effect relegation has on clubs is awful. Already we have clubs and forum sites looking at the lists of players at Stoke, Swansea and West Brom to see what players will be easy pickings. This whole scenario is only making this league of fourteen more unstable and the top six are loving it. Their financial stability and growth means they will grow even more powerful at the expense of the others whilst this system is in place.
The transfer news is very thin on the ground at present and I would imagine the decision on David Moyes tenure at the club will play a significant part on any early dealings. Here are some early odds that I am sure will fluctuate over the next week or so.
Manuel Lanzini is 1-2 (66%) to remain at West Ham with Liverpool at 5/2 (28%) for his signature. Looks like this could be a bit of re-run of the winter window, hopefully with the same result.
Joe Hart his future seems as up in the air as it was before he signed his loan deal with the Hammers last year. Celtic are 3/1 (25%) favourites and we are second favourites at 6/1 (14%) which just goes to show I think the bookies are just guessing as much as Joe is at present.
Craig Dawson is 14/1 (6.67%) to join the Hammers with Newcastle and Celtic the early favourites to sign a player who I think would be a great acquisition for our club.
Marouane Fellaini is 7/1 (12.5%) to become a West Ham player although the way the market is framed I think the bookies have as much of a clue about where he will end up as they do Joe Hart.
Shaqiri has a number of clubs showing interest after Stokes relegation and Everton currently lead the pack. West Ham are quoted at 6/1 (14%).
Elsewhere Spurs at 5/4 (44%) are leading the chase for Alfie Mawson and our January interest in him seems to have waned. Antoine Griezmann looks Barcelona bound and Liverpool are strong favourites to sign Jack Butland and Nabil Fekir. Burnley lead a pack of clubs for West Broms Jay Rodriguez whilst Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez could end up at either Man City or Chelsea.
David Hautzig's Match Report
This is supposed to be fun, isn’t it? Not a weekly argument over who should manage, who should play, who’s a supporter and who isn’t. So as we all waited for today’s finale, which could be a finale on so many fronts, I’d be hard pressed to believe anybody isn’t thrilled this interminable, poisoned season is finally in the rear view mirror.
It’s so rare that West Ham do anything noteworthy in the opening minute of a match….at least on the pitch….that one could be forgiven for not being settled when Lanzini was fed in the box 45 seconds into the match. Had he not slipped at the last moment he might have had a real chance to give the home side an early lead.
West Ham looked energetic yet calm in the opening ten minutes. Masuaku set up Arnautovic in the area but his shot was blocked by Jagielka. Seconds after that, Arnautovic turned into the supplier when he rolled a pass to Noble in the box. The captain was six yards out when he sent a hard, low shot that four times out of five would have been a goal. But today was the fifth time I guess because Pickford got a hand to it for a fine save.
It’s hard to ignore a simple fact of life this season. When Masuaku played and played well, we were a decent outfit. When he missed six matches due to his overactive salivary gland, we were abject. So when Funes Mori scissor tackled him from behind in the 15th minute, which forced him off, the only saving grace was that it was the last match of the season. Everton must practice scissor tackles when they prepare to play us.
West Ham came inches away, maybe even one single inch, from taking the lead in the 27th minute when Lanzini sent a through ball from near the center circle that found Mario in full stride. The Inter Milan loanee had Arnautovic in the box but decided to let a low shot go and it almost found the far corner but rolled just wide.
Ogbonna has had a truly fine season for us. But in the 31st minute he should have had to hang his head from making a mistake that led to an opening goal by Niasse. Ogbonna tried to head a Sam Special away and just made a mess of it. Niasse jumped on the error and was in alone on Adrian. But the on again, off again West Ham number one made a very good save with his leg and won a meal, not just a drink, from his central defender.
It’s rare a mistake by a West Ham player turns out benefitting West Ham. But in the 39th minute, Mario tried to find Arnautovic with a pass near the top of the Everton eighteen yard box. He just missed that pass, but then again so did about four Everton players. The ball rolled into the path of Lanzini, who took a few more steps into the box and fired a low shot past Pickford and into the back of the net.
West Ham 1
There is one thing about my second favorite sport, ice hockey, I occasionally long for in football. A few minutes after the Lanzini goal, Arnautovic tried to chase down a long ball. Pickford gathered it up before Arnie could get there. The England keeper decided to greet the West Ham frontman with a knee in the thigh. Intentionally. In hockey, I can all but guarantee that at some point later in the game Pickford would have paid for that. At worse, a two minute penalty would have ensued for the player exacting justice. In football the punishments are far more serious. Rightfully. But I would have loved to see someone skate through Pickford’s crease with a high elbow as a little reminder not to pull that s*#t again.
West Ham 1
Everton came out for the second half with more energy, not to mention an extra body in midfield due to a tactical change, and caused the home side to fall back on their heels. While we waited for Moyes to adjust, which prompted visions of the Vogons in Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Everton won a corner and kept West Ham in their own end.
By all accounts, Michael Keane has had a good season for the Toffees. But in the span of a couple of minutes he made two mistakes that led to two opportunities for West Ham. First he gave up a corner when his attempted clearance went the wrong direction, and then a minute later he was called for a foul on Kouyate at the edge of the Everton penalty area. Cresswell took both set pieces, and neither amounted to much. But at least the action was on their end of the pitch for a little bit.
What makes a great goal? Stunning bits of skill have delivered West Ham fans that goal by DiCanio, that free kick by Tevez, and recent blasts by Obiang and Noble. But in the 64th minute, I’d argue we saw a goal of equal greatness. Just for different reasons. The way Arnautovic went around Keane like the English defender wasn’t even there. The way the shot was right at Pickford….almost on a line to his forehead….yet he couldn’t even fathom how to stop it. Maybe I’m overstating it. But I was awestruck by that Arniestrike.
West Ham 2
Everton almost got back into the match in the 73rd minute when Niasse got on the end of a long ball on the right side of penalty area. His blast went off Adrian’s hands and off the post for a corner. Moments later, Everton won a second corner and this time they capitalized. Declan Rice tried to clear the area, but his header went back into the danger area and after an initial attempt was blocked Niasse did very well to split the West Ham defense with a little flick to himself and his shot from point blank range gave Adrian no chance.
West Ham 2
The Hammers came back reasonably strong after the Everton goal. First, Arnautovic tried to feed Mario inside the Everton penalty area but Keane got a foot in and sent it out for a corner. The home side won a second corner seconds later but again Mario didn’t find a teammate in the box.
Remember what I said above about Arnautovic’s goal? Well, I won’t wax as poetic but in the 82nd minute we were treated to another wonderful bit of football. Zabaleta sent a long, cross field pass for Lanzini to run onto. The man they call The Jewel gathered the ball and took a few steps towards the edge of the area. Then, he let loose with a curling right footed shot that Pickford got a hand to. Not that it mattered. The Everton keeper should be thankful he didn’t lose a finger as the ball flew into the back of the net.
West Ham 3
Everton might have made the final minutes as nervy as a meaningless game can be in the 85th minute when Walcott went in on Adrian alone on the right side of the box, but the West Ham keeper made a good stop with his right foot. The ball flew into the air and landed at the feet of Niasse on the left side of the box. His shot bounced off the turf and headed towards goal but Adrian made a diving stop to his left and pushed the ball out for a corner.
You cannot buy class. Nor can it be overstated. In my world, the way I try to raise my two kids, the same can be said for kindness. When James Collins was announced as a sub, I thought it was a class move by Moyes. It has been widely reported that not only has the club not offered him a new deal, they haven’t even had the courtesy to tell him they won’t. Total radio silence. When Noble embraced Ginge and handed him the Captains Armband, I was overcome by the moment. It was one of the classiest, kindest, most Captain like moments I have seen in my many years on this orb watching men and women play games.
West Ham 3
42 points. 13th place. Considering how precarious our position was eight days ago it doesn’t look so awful. But of course it was. Fans turning on fans, the Burnley game, the shambolic play at times, the behavior and words of the board at times. Yet I believe the ethos and the heart of the club will always prevail because those things don’t reside in Stratford or with the board. They live within the supporters. Millions of them. So regardless of who our manager is, or which players come or go, it will always be West Ham United. The club I inexplicably latched onto about 25 years ago.
Have a good summer.
West Ham v Everton
FA Premier League
Please use this thread to comment on the game as it progresses.
Opposition Q & A
After that great win against Leicester last week and a decent display against Manchester United West Ham go into the last match of an ultimately disappointing season without the pressure of needing to get points to ensure our survival against an Everton team led by Big Sam Allardyce who we know would have savoured trying to send us down. So with a big sigh of relief I spoke to my old mate, food blogger, and occasional Guardian commentator, and mad Evertonian Jim Coke aka The Disabled Chef about the game coming up and the season in general.
Hi Jim, we meet up for the last game of the season for a game that has less importance attached to it than it looked it might have a few weeks ago. The last time we spoke you were frightful that Everton might appoint Big Sam as your manager: how have you rated him since he arrived at Goodison? And are you hoping that he will see out his 4 year contract?
Yes it would’ve have certainly made the game more interesting if you and 58,000 others were all squirming in their seats. However as they say it is now a dead rubber but I’m hoping there will still be a bit of action specially if Mark Noble does his Tasmanian devil bit like he did on Thursday night with Pogba. As for my fears about Fat Sam – well they appear to have been vindicated. Okay on the form guide he’s done the job. He was brought in To keep us up which he has achieved and our current form Is good and would see us in the top six But honestly I’d be better off watching paint dry. The team appears to lack motivation and coordination and just don’t seem to play for each other, offering little on the pitch. Subsequently it’s been a really disappointing season. If we’d offered Sam four years then I’m sure the blue half of Merseyside would have gone through a similar period of self flagellation! Thank the heavens him and his sidekick, Little Sam will be gone by next week . It will allow the darkness to lift.
You also came across as quite a fan of David Moyes, therefore you can’t be surprised he has managed to secure our place in the Premier League next year?
Considering he picked up some dodgy reins, what I thought was an ageing squad and a club that appears at times to have been at war with itself, I reckon he has done an inspiring job. I’m really pleased for him as he has definitely struggled since he left his true love. His signing and pampering of Marco Arnautovic was inspirational and probably was the catalyst for keeping you up, bit like when we secured the services of Super Kevin Campbell who did the same job many moons ago, and he should be applauded for that alone. I hope in the near future the Olympic Stadium will be bouncing to the tune of David Moyes Claret and blue army but I understand you Irons are a bit picky about according your managers that accolade.
Super is stretching it a bit! Anyway how would you sum up your season? What have been the highlights and the lowlights?
To be honest the season has been a nightmare. We started with such high aspirations and a bunch of players we believed would take us to them stars, but we’ve hardly got out of first gear. Normally with a season there is something to cheer you up but this one has been barren. Obviously I enjoyed tonking you boys 4-0, Rooney’s goal was a peach, but The score did not reflect the game. I also went apeshit when Sigurdsson slid home the equaliser in the cup against the neighbours, but that was about it. My season was summed up best when the Disabled liaison officer at Everton persuaded me to buy a ticket for Arsenal away. I’ve never seen us beat them on 15 occasions: I warned him I’d be a Jonah for the cause, but he was insistent saying I had to break the chain: I left at half time when we were 4 nil down!
Which players do you think/hope will be cleared out by Big Sam or whomever you might appoint next season?
It’s difficult to know as Everton don’t seem to know their arse from their elbow! Accordingly Rooney has had enough and is off to DC United and many others may follow him out of the door. Personally I don’t think we rotated the squad enough. Lookman for example Is a fantastic talent, but we loaned him out and many other players have hardly had a look in. This must affect their form and willingness to play for the club. We need to build a structure have a sense of purpose and mould the players around that. Most important thing to remember is that no player is bigger than the club.
Any players that have had a good season, and you would be disappointed to see leave?
It’s difficult to pick out anyone. Pickford won all the end of season awards however the more the season progressed I felt his ability to deal with crosses and command his area became very poor. For that reason I wouldn’t have him as England’s first choice for World Cup. Jags has been a stalwart as ever and it was great to see Seamus Coleman return from his leg break but I’d be struggling to pick a five aside team from what I have seen. A lot of it is obviously about confidence and winning consistently. If we can get that sorted then hopefully next season I will be eulogising how brilliant our current crop of players are.
Most of the crucial positions in the table have been sorted, but I expect that you will be hoping that Liverpool can clinch that last Champions League slot and go on to win the Champions League for the pride of the city?
One of my biggest regrets in life is that I paid sympathy to Liverpool when they were 3-0 down in Istanbul that night. I hope Brighton muller them on Sunday but they won’t, but come the final I’ll be cooking tapas, paella and immersing myself into supporting Real Madrid. I’ve got a horrible feeling it could all go a bit Pete Tong though – and that’s not the cooking!
Any surprises in the teams being relegated?
It was a great achievement for all the promoted teams avoiding the drop and that was a surprise as I saw Brighton and Huddersfield as dead certs. Sadly the Baggies have had that sinking feeling for a couple of seasons now so there demise has an inevitability about it. As for Stoke selling Arnautovic to West Ham, that was suicide. They have never lit my fire over their tenure in the prem, so I won’t be missing them. Swansea have been poor for most of the season spending much of it on life support. Saints did them a favour putting them out of their misery.
What are your hopes for next season in terms of players?
We seem to be linked to most players because of our shed loads of cash but after last season’s shopping – I’m going to take the summer off and just hope for the best. On saying that we probably need a striker to bag us 20 goals and a nippy defender. We then have to sell them the golden vision and pay them a fortune so we’ll probably end up with a few cast offs from the relegated bunch if we get lucky!
Are there any West Ham players you would snap up if the chance came up?
Marco would be perfect for Everton. He is a big number 9 And when on his game is unplayable. He skinned Smalling on Thursday night and is a bit of a bully boy. He reminds me of Big Dunc and the great Bob Latchford who scored that wonderful equaliser at Elland Rd before Lampard Senior burst our bubble. I also like Cresswell who I think has had a great season and has a brilliant left peg. He’s a Scouser born on the wrong side of the tracks though, I so it’s unlikely he’d consider such a move.
Yes I remember Lampard scoring in that game, and his celebration after, but nothing about Bob Latchford funny enough. It’s amazing how many ex-Everton players get given the great and super epithets though. How do you expect the current Everton team to line up at the weekend?
Like we have all season: something quite uninspiring. Rooney will definitely be in for his last game with the club and I expect him to play behind Tosun who has potential. Sam won’t want to lose so expect the following 4-5-1 : Picks, Seamus, Bainsey, Jags, Keeno, Idris, Morgs, Theo, Yannick, Rooney, Cenk
I actually think that Rooney is injured. You must be hoping that Mark Noble isn’t wearing his shooting boots this Sunday. Are you confident that Big Sam can get one over his former employees? Prediction for score?
Sam will be desperate for a result especially as it could be his last game. I actually expect the game will be quite entertaining with a few goals unlike the spectacular nil all draw we endured last season. Noble and his shooting boots don’t scare me as he should be still exhausted after all his shenanigans on Thursday. He shouldn’t be playing as by the letter of the law, he should have been sent off. but he’s also one from the dark side and would love to stick one over us so I wouldn’t count him out not having an influence. However it’ll be 2-2 with Rooney scoring a pen and kissing the badge like there is no tomorrow.
Well it looks like Big Sam has deadened the appetite for football up on Merseyside – I know that feeling. Many thanks to Jim for his time, I must agree that Nobes was lucky not to be sent off, but I cannot agree with his prediction for the score: Moyes will be wanting to prove to West Ham and Everton alike that he is a ‘top six manager’, so I expect us to come out firing on all cylinders and am going for a 3 -1 victory. Come on You Irons!