Last week’s win against WBA secured 2 records for WHU. Our highest points tally in Premier League history and our longest unbeaten streak in PL history. On Wednesday was the end of season awards do. I think all 3 contributed to WHU turning up with their minds on their holidays and getting spanked by a fully focused Swansea team who took their chances when they got them, and were clinical in the finish.
Also the fans were the same as the final days of the Boleyn are upon us, with only one game left. Will we win that ? I hope so, just to send the old girl off in style, but we cannot play like we did yesterday. Lanzini and Payet need to cover more ground, and be more clinical in their passing. The only WHU player who came out of yesterday with any credit was Antonio, who was once again out of position and superb. Why Byram cannot play back is beyond me, and then we can drop Moses who was also useless yesterday.
Anyway, for today and the final game against Man U, I have my camera with me, so hopefully the pics are better than usual from the phone.
Having already beaten Man City on the road, this game should have been a stroll in the park for the Hammers.
Back in the real world, we needed to be at our best to get anything from this game, and Slaven realized this by trusting his experienced players and putting people in the right holes. Song came in for Obiang, and Jenkinson at right back for the injured Tomkins. Reid made up the back 4 in favor of Ogbonna.
He left Valencia up top, and also left in Antonio on the right, in lieu of the just back from injury Moses.
This worked well, as Valencia carried on his recent scoring run, by netting after 1 minute from a deflected Kouyate cross. Happy days. Obviously the crowd was going crazy, but we all know the next 10 minutes are the most important. Just on the cusp of this window, Aguero burst through and only needed the slightest touch from Jenkinson to go down, and the penalty was given. I’ve seen them given and not, but the way the ref was looking after the “bigger” team, it was no surprise. So 1-1 after 10 minutes, game on.
The ref carried on making decisions in the opponents favor, including when Kouyate was scythed down by Toure when he was clear and the ref didn’t even give a free kick. Obviously any West Ham challenge was met with a free kick and a yellow for Noble.
Jenks went off with a knock post the penalty (now confirmed as ligament damage, ouch), and on came Byram for his debut, after signing from Leeds in the week. His first job was to mark Aguero at a corner. Welcome to the Premier League son !
However WHU kept on plugging away and although City had most of the possession, we had our chances. Payet was sublime but Joe Hart was a match for him, with a fantastic save from a free kick into the top corner.
Overall , we went into the break, tails up, but looking tired.
Second half we came out a little brighter, and kept up the attacks. Antonio spotted a quick throw to an aware Valencia, who managed to drop a shinned shot into Joe Hart’s bottom right corner and we go 2-1 up. Roof comes of stadium and then reality sets in. Same as last year, we take a one goal lead of City and hope to hold on. We did well, with Ginge repelling all boarders, but you could see the back four melting with fatigue. Alex Song started to drop in and was winning great tackles all over the place, and Noble became part of the back 6. Young Sam was shot, so Payet was covering back as well. This resolution lasted until the 81st minute when that man Aguero popped up again for his second to level. Some people are suggesting the swap out of Antonio for Moses changed the game somewhat, but Slaven needed fresh legs out there.
The last kick of the game, was actually a header, which Kouyate put onto the City crossbar after a nice cross from Noble following a fantastic round the corner from Payet.
So we stay in 6th, but have taken 4 points from the team who in most peoples minds, will win the league. This is progression, make no mistake. If we can put Liverpool out of the cup this weekend, then why not dare to dream. Even Joe Hart stated it would of been unfair for City to win, but not unfair for the Hammers.
Payet was magnificent again, the big question is will we hold onto him in the summer. In fact everyone played well, but my MOTM goes to Alex Song, who actually looked like he did at the start of last season. Also big shout out to Byram, who looks like he will be getting a run in the team now, with Jenks out for quite a while.
This was a game overshadowed by 2 events for me. One was the untimely and very sad passing of promising centre forward Dylan Tombides from a 3 year battle with cancer. The other was meeting with a good friend of mine who starts his chemo this week, after being diagnosed with some serious Cancer complications out of the blue resulting in massive operations less then 24 hrs post diagnoses. The words of Shankly went through my head, and i will have the disagree with the great man this time.
Dylan’s number 38 has been retired by the club and they held a very moving minutes applause before the start of the game witnessed by his brother and father.
The game to me was going to be a drawn out 0-0, that would secure league survival for both teams, and started as such. Sam set out his usual shocking formation, and Pulis didn’t do much better. But the Eagles seemed to have the upper hand as they were more lively up front even if it meant Yannick Bolasie diving all over the place like Tom Daly after a night on the piss. But WHU had possession, and outside of Andy Carroll getting a couple of chances, and one falling to the ever depressing Diame, neither team was going to break the deadlock.
The second half was more of the same, but WHU were retreating more and more into their shells, inviting Palace on. This meant more action in our box. Eventually the inevitable happened when Pablo Armero tripped Cameron Jerome in the box. Jedinak took the pen well, and that sealed the game.
There were shouts for penatlies on both sides, and that just about sums up the quality of the game all round.
So Palace are now safe, and we are not with 3 tricky games to go, West Brom (A), Totts (H) and Man City away on the last day. Other results will keep us up I imagine, so we must look to next season. I watched Sam this morning on Sky talking about improving the squad, but the reception he got at the end of the game (again), points to the fact that he probably wont be there to improve anything.
Last up, Palace fans, superb all day, plenty of noise and really got behind their team.
Earlier this (now last, lazy me !) week, i got an invite out of the blue to play at Upton Park, for a friend of a friend’s stag day. Who was I to say no ! We arrived late in the afternoon, and had exclusive use of the pitch and stadium for 5 hours, from 5 till 10, before retiring to the bar for refreshments.
The rest of the guys turned up in a coach in suits, like it was the FA Cup final, which was amusing, apart from the heat, which affected the suits greatly.
First off i was in the home dressing rooms, which were OK, but about what you would expect. Numbered lockers, and quite big, and relatively modern (no pictures as lads were changing, etc). After a few minutes we were ushered out to the pitch, for introductions with the refs, and explanation of the rules. We were split into 6 5-a-side teams, and then we were to play 5 games each in a standard league format.
My team were moved to the away dressing room. Now as a premier league club i would expect better. Size was OK, but it was an empty room with a bench around the outside, a small “Home of the Hammers” sign, some posters taped to the walls, and only 10 showers. How many people in a football team ?
Anyway, onto the football. We played 4 games straight, winning 3 and losing one. I had about 5 goals by then. We were joint top going into our last game, but it wasn’t to be. We lost 3-1 (another for me) to get second place. One thing that surprised me was how close my seat looked from the pitch, when from the seat the half way line looks miles away.
Post presentations and photos, we were led back down the tunnel, as we lined up for the big one, the full pitch. We were lined up in the traditional 14 a side formation, and to the strains of bubbles we walked onto the pitch.
This was the first time I had played a non 5-a-side game for 6 years, and the scale of the pitch threw me. We were two nil down at half time, due to some shocking defending. The size of the pitch means i will never slag the midfield again, for at least a couple of weeks.
In the second half i felt a lot better, especially after raking through a 30 yrd pass for our first reply. We then pulled it back to 2-2 after i earned us a corner (bad shot) and one of our team headed in the cross.
Then it all happened very slowly. The cross from the left midfielder cleared the first centre back, and i left the other centre back. I flicked it on the angle with the chest, and lined up for the volley. I could already hear the whole Bobby Moore end rising as one, screaming themselves hoarse, and I hit the ball clean as a whistle, and it went goal bound, from about 15 yrds out.
Straight to the goalkeeper !
Then we took the lead but left another in to go to 3-3 as the end drew in. One of the midfielders put a beauty through, i a beat both centres to the ball, and then scuff an easy chance wide. What a pratt !. Suffice to say i was reminded of this several times in the bar afterwards. So we ended up 3-3, a fair result all round.
So after 4 hours of football, my legs are on fire today, and feel heavier than oak trees themselves !