Sunday, 24th May 2015
We weathered the inital squall (it didn't last long enough to be worthy of the name "storm") in the first 15 minutes. The longer the first half lasted, the nervier our hosts looked. The opening goal, on 53 minutes, settled those nerves. After that, neither side were much troubled, before Gutierrez' second settled the match.
So it is "Farewell Sam". "At last!" many will feel inclined to add. Still, thank you for your efforts, Mr Allardyce.
You got us up, which isn't to say that someone else couldn't have. You kept us up, which isn't to say that someone else wouldn't have. You've had us playing some horrible football, but for the first half of this season, we played some stuff that was, at times, glorious. Which proves you can do so, whatever might have been going on out of sight.
What someone else might have achieved we will never know. What we have achieved is... Well, neither of your targets for this season. We didn't make 50 points, we didn't finish in the top half of the table. Nevertheless, we're a firmly established top-flight club again. That is no small thing.
"So long Carlton"? Perhaps. Perhaps more likely than not. The gulf between a three-quarters fit Carroll and a fit Cole was always obvious. Unfortunately for our Well Beloved Servant, the gulf between what he offers compared with any of Valencia, Sakho, and Carroll is too great.
Carlton has been a wonderful and much-loved player for West Ham. But he is a distant fourth choice striker now, and I do not expect him to be offered another contract. He can still do a job; a good job; for a Premiership club, but I doubt that it will be for us. We need someone that can challenge the other three; Carlton is no longer that player.
"Bye-bye Kevin"? As with Sam, I never wanted Nolan here. Having said that, both of them tried their best for us. Whatever you think of their "best", do not deny them that much credit! What happens with Nolan will be a matter for the new manager, but I doubt Nolan will be in his plans.
Whatever his qualities might ever have been, he no longer has the legs to be even a squad member at West Ham. As with Cole, if less so, he could probably still perform in the top-flight. But not as a running, attacking midfielder, and not for us.
As for the game, that died as a spectacle once Sissoko got between Reid and Cresswell to power Gutierrez' excellent cross past Adrian in the 53rd minute. It had been interesting up until then, but we never looked like equalising.
Attempts to do so were summed up by an atrocious mess of a free kick in the 82nd minute. Newcastle broke four on one, and only a brilliant piece of keeping by Adrian stopped Anita's pass becoming a simple tap in.
It only took a further two minutes for Gutierrez to make it two, though, with a grasscutter that snuck in via a deflection. And let's not forget that a rotten piece of defending by Cresswell 5 minutes after the restart resulted in a complete air-shot by Riviere, who ought to have scored the opener.
Before half-time, it was a different matter. The Magpies, as expected, came out all guns blazing, but the longer the half went without them scoring, the more nervous they looked.
In the very first minute, Riviere shot across the face of goal, from an impossibly tight angle. I am certain Adrian would have saved, had it been on target. Mere seconds later, Carlton did tremendously well to keep in play a very deep cross, knocking it back to Jenks.
His cross found Valencia, who went over very easily under a Williamson challenge. Ref Atkinson wasn't interested and, I have to say, I thought he was right – it would have been just about the softest penalty ever.
A few minutes later, Riviere misfired again with another difficult chance, an overhead effort that went wide. I was more concerned by the lack of a challenge from Jenkinson than by the shot. Then Reid cleverly blocked out a breaking Cisse. The Toon continued to create chances, albeit the only one on target was a weak long range one from Janmaat that was easily saved.
Our best chance came halfway through the first half, when Cresswell and Downing combined to slice through the Newcastle defence. A lovely pass on the floor gave a probably offside Downing the chance to test Tim Krul. He flew off his line in double quick time and blocked well with his legs.
From there, the game began to slow. We found it more and more easy to retain possession. We finished the half with more than 60% of the ball, although we did little threatening with it. Indeed the only other chance worth mentioning in the half was an excellent pass played in behind Kouyate in the right back position. The good, deep cross was wasted by Janmaat, who got right underneath the header.
And that, having already covered the second half, is that for this season! The nice (and passionate) Mr Carver got the win that secured survival for his beloved Newcastle. I never thought an away victory was on the cards, even before the match kicked off and, as it turned out, the result was irrelevant, as Hull failed to beat Man Utd.
Two minutes after the final whistle, West Ham announced the departure of Allardyce. One word can sum up both our season and his entire tenure – satisfactory. Yes, there have been disappointments along the way in both, but we're an established Premiership club again with one of the strongest squads we've ever had. Thanks are due to Sam for that.
Oh yes, the last Man of the Match of the season. I thought Reid had a very good game in the centre of defence, but I'm going to be soppy again. In what might well be his last ever appearance in a claret and blue shirt (our version of it, anyway), I also thought dear old Carlton had not only his usual hard-working game, but also a very good one, so Cole it is.
Thank you, Sam, for all your efforts, and Carlton? If that was your last game, thanks for everything, mate. You are one player who, I am absolutely certain, will always receive a warm welcome as and when you return.
Next season? Who knows! The Chinese have a curse - “May you live in interesting times”. That is the lot of every Hammers' fan for the next couple of weeks, at least. See you all next season, whenever it starts!
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Adrian San Miguel del Castillo
It would not be right to say that we'd have lost were it not for... I'm sure Jussi would have done equally as well. But the man between the sticks has to stay alert through dullish periods, and do his job when the time comes. Adrian did. And he saved the penalty and so nearly got to the rebound. Dammit!
Had a lot of defending to do today, which he did well enough. That limited his chances to go forwards, though.
Had a fairly stiff test defensively today. He passed (especially with that cross, aha!), but not with flying colours. A few errors in amongst...
A good return to the side. A pity we shall lose him.
Whilst he did a decent job; with Reid, made Kane largely anonymous; I'm starting to get very cheesed off with his play-acting. First minute of stoppage time, Soldado's high boot catches JT on the... arm! The arm, James, the arm! But you start clutching your damn head again! Cut out the blatant cheating, you prize twit!
A couple of bad moments, giving away a soft, silly penalty particularly. Otherwise, a solid under-the-radar display today - a lot of good work, though little to catch the eye.
By not very much, Man of the Match. Energetic, committed, and wasn't that a lovely thumping header for the opener!
A little lucky not to be sent off. He looked decidedly miffed to be taken off, but I think it was the right decision - he was walking a knife edge by then. Decent but not outstanding.
No shirker, but definitely somewhat subdued when not at the point of the diamond.
Doesn't he run! I'm not one for stats much, but I'd be interested to see which of him and Sakho covers the most ground. Speaking of Sakho, Enner might be having a few words about the lack of a square ball for an easy tap in just before we did score our second...
As per Valencia, terrific work rate up front. A bit greedy with that chance on 58, but made up for it by sneaking in at the back stick a few minutes later.
(Replaced Noble) On for Noble on 66; off again 20 minutes later with what looked like a pulled hamstring. No effect on the game.
(Replaced Valencia) Came on, ran around for 20 minutes. Can't remember him doing anything notable.
(Replaced Cole) On when Cole had to be withdrawn with less than 10 minutes to play. No chance to make an impression.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Did not play.
Man of the Match: Cheikhou Kouyate.
West Ham United
Adrian San Miguel del Castillo, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Cresswell, Winston Reid, James Tomkins, Alex Song, Cheikhou Kouyate, Mark Noble, Stewart Downing, Enner Valencia, Diafra Sakho.
Goals: Aaron Cresswell 8 .
Booked: James Collins .
Sent Off: None sent off. .
Subs not used: .
Goals: Rose (81), Kane (pen 90+6).
Sent Off: None sent off..