How do you solve a problem like Mark Noble heading into the final game of the season?
If Moyes is faced with the question of securing three points which could secure European football next season or getting Noble on the pitch for the final time in his West Ham career, I’m sure Moyes would leave Nobes on the bench.
Sure, it’ll be tough on him to miss out on the last game, but he has played a lot of games this season thanks to our runs in the cups. He can’t say that he hasn’t had a fair send off this season. He’s also had such a great career that I don’t think it matters too much if he doesn’t get played – especially in the Man City game at home. The crowd will be waiting after the game anyway to applaud the players so why not make a big deal out of Noble and make something special after the game?
Speaking of the Man City game, they could still have a wobble in them after what happened in Madrid. You’d think Pep is too experienced to let that happen but they really did throw it away in Madrid and they don’t like playing against West Ham. If you gave Pep a list of teams and asked him to put them in order of teams he’d least like to play to win the league, West Ham would be near the top for sure.
Lots to play for
It will certainly be interesting on the last day of the season. I think there will be lots of permutations at the top of the league as well as the bottom. Liverpool were absolutely flying before their draw against Spurs but Man City now have it in their hands. They win all their remaining games, they win the league. It’s as simple as that.
As for the battle at the bottom of the table, the only team that I felt would get out is Everton. They got huge results against Chelsea, Manchester United and then at Leicester. I also feel like Burnley almost deserve to get out of it with how they’ve played. I like Dyche and didn’t like how Burnley sacked him but the way the players have reacted has been great. Burnley looked down and out along with Norwich and Watford but have given themselves a chance.
As for Norwich, relegated again. Fulham promoted again. Haven’t we been here before? They have both been yo-yoing between the Championship and the Premier League for a few seasons now. It’s tough to get up into the Premier League and stay. You really do need to have a bit of luck in that first season.
Bournemouth were able to do it when they first got promoted and stayed in the league for a few seasons before dropping back down. It’ll be interesting to see how both Bournemouth and Fulham do next season.
As for Norwich, I’m not sure what their deal is really. Farke brought them up, then took them back down before he brought them back up and now he’s gone but it’s the same result in the Premier League under Dean Smith.
How can they break this yo-yo? I mean, if I could put my finger on it then I would be earning the big bucks! But I do think luck has a big part to play.
After the defeat in Frankfurt and before the Norwich game, I did wonder how the players would cope with dealing with the defeat but they showed great character to win in Norfolk. It can be so difficult to pick yourself back up after such a disappointing blow. Rice said after the Frankfurt game he was gutted and proud and all of them absolutely should be proud.
It’s a blow but it’s not the end of the world. They’ve still got games to go out there and if they win them, they will qualify for – as Alan Devonshire said to me the other day – the Mickey Mouse cup. But look who is in the final – Roma and Feyenoord – they are not Mickey Mouse teams!
They want more
If you ask our players if they wanted to be in the final of that, they would take it. It’s something for the fans to get excited for, and it’ll be great for the club if they can keep getting European experience. We had some great results and great games in Europe this season. They have played some top teams and beaten them. They have got to want more.
We really should be looking at this season as a whole in a positive light. There was never a hint of a relegation struggle for us. We’ve got into the last four of the Europa League and are set to qualify for Europe next season too. I think we’d all have snapped this up if someone had offered it to us at the start of the season.
The only downer for me recently – Norwich victory aside – has been that our league form has been so inconsistent. Before the Norwich victory, I felt that if we didn’t secure at least seventh place then it would be a huge blow after all the hard work that was done over the course of the season.
Hammer of the Year
For Hammer of the Year, there’s no contest for me. It has to go to Declan. One game that typified how important Rice is was the FA Cup game against Kidderminster. He came on and wanted to do everything. He rescued that game single handedly.
Antonio started off the season really well, and if he could have kept up that form, he would’ve been winning accolades now but sadly he just couldn’t carry it on.
Luckily for us, Bowen came into his own. He was surely on the verge of getting an England cap or at the very least getting into the squad before his injury.
Speaking of injuries, Ogbonna has been a huge miss and doesn’t deserve to be let go this summer. He deserves another chance to carry on because he was playing really well before his injury. There are times when you aren’t doing too good and you get injured and it gives you a chance to reset and come back better but Ogbonna was at the top of his game before his injury which was a real shame. It’ll be nice to see him come back next year.
For me, it’s going to be really interesting to see what will happen with the ‘keepers. If the reports are to be believed, Areola is going and we’re looking at Johnstone from West Brom.
Then there’s Darren Randolph who appears to be happy just to be back up. It’s like he’s doing what Rob Green did at QPR – sit on the bench and take the money. Sorry Darren but if you have anything about you, you want to play.
Areola has had a fair number of games this season in the cups and has done well. But if he isn’t in Moyes’ plans to be his number one – I’m sure he’ll want to get first team football elsewhere.
It’s going to be a big summer for West Ham as Moyes looks at his squad and looks to see who he wants to keep and who he can try to bring in.