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David Gold: “Even I am thrilled to say ‘I was there’

CandH Exclusive by Hughie Southon

David Gold was totally thrilled that Mark Noble got the best send off on his final day and now wants to complete a great last season by beating Brighton and hoping Man United get no more than a point at best in their last day clash with Palace.

He said: “That would see us back into the Europa League and I have no fears about our final game – another performance such as we saw yesterday would be perfect.”

He could barely find the words to describe his feelings after the contribution Nobes has made to the club over a lifetime.

But he said: “He’s a unique footballer, a unique man and that was shown by the amazing reception he was given by our fantastic fans. Even for me it is wonderful to be able to say “I was there.

And on top of everything else we saw him retiring on the back of a last home game result nobody could have expected.

I can’t make a comparison between yesterday and other days in my West Ham life because I had incredible nights at the Boleyn and the final home game against Manchester United will live forever in my  mind.

But we are having some amazing times at the stadium and yesterday was probably the best so far 0 certainly the most emotional. We will forever be so grateful to Mark.

Now for Brighton”

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Europa pressure is all on Manchester United

Following the hugely disappointing Europa semi-final exit against Frankfurt I attempted to find some crumbs of comfort from our league position.

The Hammers were some distance behind Manchester United with Wolves  breathing down our necks  and there was even talk of Brighton and Newcastle overhauling us.

However it has never escaped me that David Moyes has a group of players with incredible team spirit who retain the ability to recover from defeat rapidly.

Whilst none of us would have chosen to depart the Europa League before the final it did have the silver lining of allowing the squad rest days between matches.

These two factors gave me confidence that not only could we keep Wolves at arms length but there was the potential to catch Manchester United and claim sixth position in the league (thus yielding Europa League football again).

I produced a video (linked below) following the defeat to Frankfurt and said as much. There was far too much talk of UEFA Conference League for my liking and it was everywhere.

Even David Moyes had to succumb to the acceptance of the consolation prize when assessing the run-in during his press duties.

West Ham are a magnificent team and I was always confident of taking points once freed from the shackles of Thursday/Sunday/Thursday football.

With a fit and rested team training all week for a singular game we’re a match for anyone. It could be argued that Manchester United will be well rested and prepared ahead of their final game against Crystal Palace but I’m not so sure.

I’m far from convinced that the Red Devils Carrington training ground is a healthy environment to prepare for a crucial season defining game.

Clearly Man U have some very talented players but they’re a club in turmoil and their problems may well supersede any individual talent.

Manager Ralf Rangnick is unwanted, his successor has a huge task and has hinted that Ronaldo is surplus to requirements.

The enigmatic Paul Pogba is about to leave for free, Harry Maguire is playing like a startled novice and neither Rashford or Sancho seem to be able to impact games with any level of consistency.

I also wonder quite how motivated the players will be to make one final push to qualify for a tournament they probably feel is beneath them?

Add into the equation a pacey, vibrant and rejuvenated Crystal Palace team who’ll be trying to sign off in style in front of a raucous crowd and you have the recipe for an upset.

We have to do our job and beat Brighton but if Manchester United either lose or draw at Selhurst Park we’ll take the Europa spot and relegate them to the conference league.

That eventuality really would stop any Declan to Old Trafford talk dead in its tracks.

 

 

 

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Pep sums up Mikey and the Hammers

Fair play to Pep Guardiola – his brilliant behaviour toward Mark Noble at the end and attitude toward Mikey Antonio and the Irons spoke volumes for the man.

It was Mark’s day emotionally and the team did everything in their power to send him into retirement with a win that would have been truly remarkable.

It would have been the most fitting of send offs for a man who CandH’s Gonzo wonderfully gave 16 in his ratings on Claretandhugh.

Pep described the Hammers as brilliant and paid a special tribute to Mikey after putting out his strongest team after injuries and saw his team given a right run around in an unbelievable first half where Jarrod demonstrated again that he has to be in the England squad.

Two fabulous goals – from fabulous assists from Pablo Fornals and Mikey – were the icing on the cake for those who could barely believe what they were seeing in that first 45 minutes in particular.

And afterwards the City boss said: via Daily Star: “He (Mikey)  goes to the gym every day this guy, he’s so strong. Handling Antonio is not easy. They were brilliant.”

 

 

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£119m Hammers put multi millions City in place

By Hughie Southon

The team fielded by West Ham United yesterday cost approximately £119million – Jack Grealish cost Manchester City £100 million.

Grealish

That tells you as much as you need to know about a Hammers team who, but for an unfortunate own goal, would have beaten Manchester City for the first time yesterday since the opening game of the season.

For those who are continually shouting “spend the money” that is something of a wake up call because for all of their possession, and Grealish in particular at times, the Hammers were more than City’s equal where it mattered – un front of goal.

Sadly. through ill health at times, I have been unable to get to the stadium as much as I would have wanted to this season but Grealish’s performance reminded me why being present is always an entirely different – and better – experience than watching on the box.

I felt nervous every time he was on the ball and that’s not something which is always the case when watching players on the tele.

We are following the producer and editor’ narrative of the game rather than our own and from the moment he started piling it on in the second half the atmosphere was very subdued indeed – you don’t get that in your living room.

In the end of course a fine defensive performance saw us take what could be a truly important point although it did occur that maybe the boss could have brought on Ryan Fredericks who with Vladi performed such a good job on Grealish at Villa Park last season.

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Monumental Irons …now just one final push

(Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)

 

By Hughie Southon

David Moyes was right to dub it a monumental performance!

From start to finish it was a day that will live forever in the memory of those of us who were inside the stadium where the atmosphere was utterly extraordinary.

Finding yourselves hugging total strangers as the mighty Irons went two up against one of the best two or three teams in the world is as unusual and as thrilling as it gets,

Now we move onto Brighton and the very real chance of overhauling Manchester United and thus returning to the top six and the Europa League.

Should we win and United do anything lose or draw we will have cracked it and that will be a thoroughly deserved outcome to the season.

Yesterday (Sun) saw remarkable performances right across the pitch with Jarrod clearly man of the match with two fine goals but Mikey Antonio who was in superb form.

He caused City problems every time he was on the ball and his magical assist for Jarrod’s second was wonderful stuff.

A word for the grat save from Fab and a defence and midfield who refused to be overwhelmed by an often rampant opposition.

Now for one more push before a well deserved rest.

COYI

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Noble sends hugely emotional final message

Mark Noble has sent a hugely emotional final message to his West Ham family after his final home game for the club.

The Irons legend came off the bench as the Hammers and Manchester City played out a 2-2 draw.

That was the midfielder’s 549th appearance for the club, and he bade the fans an emotional farewell after the game when he was handed a microphone.

Of course, Noble could well play his final game for the club on the last day of the season, against Brighton, in what would be his 550th appearance.

There was a giant banner beforehand hailing the Canning Town boy while there was also a giant No.16 shirt, and a mosaic greeted his emergence from the tunnel.

After full-time, he was given a guard of honour by his team-mates, the club’s staff, and their families, and Nobes kept it short and sweet, insisting that he hoped he had made the supporters proud.

He was asked how he was feeling after the game and said, per the London Evening Standard: “A little bit better after that performance, let me tell you.

“It’s an incredibly emotional day for myself and my family. I’ve got a lot of family here today and when I say a lot of family, I mean 60,000.

“All I can say is that I hope in the last 18 years I’ve done you proud.”

Mark, from all of us at ClaretandHugh, let us say this: You’ve lived our dreams. We couldn’t be prouder. 

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Moyes thrilled with battling Irons

David Moyes was thrilled to take a point from Manchester City in one of the most dramatic games of the season on Sunday.

The Hammers were sensational against Pep Guardiola’s side, particularly in the first half, and had a 2-0 lead going into half-time thanks to a Jarrod Bowen brace.

City, who knew that a win would essentially confirm them as Premier League champions, came out revitalised in the second half and managed to pull the game back to 2-2, thanks to a Jack Grealish strike and an unfortunate Vlad Coufal own goal.

Riyad Mahrez could have made it 3-2 to City in the 85th minute after Craig Dawson conceded a penalty but his spot kick was saved brilliantly by Lukasz Fabianski.

The result has confirmed the Hammers’ qualification for Europe next season and they remain in with a chance to finish sixth, although Manchester United would have to lose to Crystal Palace on the final day for that to be possible.

And Moyes was delighted with the performance of his players as they helped blow the title race wide open. City are now four points ahead of Liverpool, who have a game in hand this week.

Speaking to BBC Sport after the game, the gaffer said: “I couldn’t believe the way that Manchester City played in the first half and how we played and that we were 2-0 up – they were so good. They had so much of the ball. We knew we wouldn’t have much of it and we’d suffer. We scored two really good goals and it gave us a chance to try and hang onto it.

“It is a great result for us. We’d have taken a point before the game because we were playing against an incredibly good team – I always thought we’d be in the game but they were so good with the ball and it was a job to stop them only scoring two to be honest with you.

“I wanted to challenge and be around fourth or fifth this season so I was disappointed that we’ve dropped off. But we’ve got a great group of players and their resilience – they showed it today with all the blocks they put in.”

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Player Ratings: West Ham 2-2 Manchester City

Gonzo hands out the marks from a thriller!

Fabianski: Another handling error almost gifted Grealish a chance. Settled thereafter and his kicking was better than usual and led to to the first two goals. Unsighted for Grealish opener. Good save from Jesus, Fabulous save from Mahrez penalty. 9

Coufal: Looking fitter following his recovery from injury. Defended resolutely despite the challenge of Grealish. Got forward where possible. Scored an own goal when under no real pressure. 5

Dawson: Good chance from a header within the first 5mins. Blocked a goal-bound shot from Rodri following Lanzini’s error. Conceded the penalty with a late challenge on Jesus. 6

Zouma: Amazing block to deny Jesus. Grew into the game as City started to dominate. 7

Cresswell: All hands on deck, a diving block tackle stopped a certain goal from Mahrez. 6

Rice: Led the team well and part of a massive defensive blocking operation to protect Fabianski’s goal. Couldn’t really impact the game in midfield due to the huge amount of defensive work required. 7

Soucek: Almost an auxiliary central defender. Tracked Rodri’s run to deny him a goalscoring opportunity. Needs must and had to spend most of the game defending. His towering header was crucial for Bowen’s second goal. Beaten to the header by Rodri for Grealish goal. 8

Lanzini: Surrendered possession too frequently on the edge of our box. Neat & tidy in the middle and managed to support the attack. 6

Fornals: Fabulous first time ball to Bowen for the opener and worked tirelessly as usual. Too often sloppy in possession but this was a tough challenge against a world class team.  6

Bowen: Ice cool as he beat the offside trap and rounded the keeper to put West ham 1-0 ahead. Found the City defence sleeping as he latched onto Antonio’s lofted pass to score his second. 9

Antonio: A real handful for the City defence. He was quicker and stronger and led the line beautifully whilst waiting for support. Fantastic assist for Bowen’s second. A remarkable performance given the fact he was often outnumbered. 8

Noble: On for Lanzini in place of Manuel Lanzini in his last home game. What a man. 16

Johnson: On for Fornals to waste some time at the end.

Yarmolenko: On for Antonio with one second remaining . . . . another chance for fans to say goodbye.

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Hammers hold City in ding-dong battle

West Ham were forced to settle for a point in what was one of the most dramatic games of the season against Manchester City on Sunday.

The Hammers had a 2-0 lead going into half-time thanks to a Jarrod Bowen brace but City fought back in the second half to level proceedings and take a 2-2 draw back to Manchester.

However, Lukasz Fabianski ended the game as the hero of the hour, as he saved Riyad Mahrez’s penalty in the 85th minute.

On a day that was set to be packed with emotion due to Mark Noble making his farewell, this was a game absolutely packed with incident.

The Irons could have conceded a penalty after just 13 minutes, as Kurt Zouma appeared to trip Gabriel Jesus in the box, but the referee and VAR didn’t see anything wrong with the challenge.

And Bowen made it 1-0 on 23 minutes. The winger was sent through by a long ball from Pablo Fornals and rounded Ederson, before finishing from an acute angle.

Bowen had his brace on the brink of half-time, as a Fabianski punt was flicked on by Tomas Soucek, and Mikey Antonio managed to chip the ball into Bowen’s path. He sprinted to the edge of the box and finished brilliantly.

City, though, came out like a different side in the second half and had a goal back within two minutes. Jack Grealish managed to volley a Rodri header into the ground and beyond Fabianski.

Both Bowen and Antonio had superb chances to add a third for the Hammers after some uncharacteristic defensive errors from City, but they could not find the back of the net.

City actually needed an own goal to level it up and it was Vlad Coufal who was the scorer. A brilliant free-kick was whipped in and Coufal attacked it, inadvertently sending it beyond Fabianski.

Bowen saw another effort deflected wide before Noble came on to make his farewell on the pitch.

High drama was yet to come when City were awarded a penalty after Dawson fouled Jesus in the box.

Riyad Mahrez stepped up to take it but his spot-kick was weak and Fabianski made a superb save to deny him.

A point for the Hammers, and what could be a blow to City’s hopes of winning the Premier League title.

What a game of football.

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Nobes on the bench for farewell

Mark Noble will say goodbye to the London Stadium today but he will start the clash with Manchester City on the bench.

Boss David Moyes has named his team for the clash with Pep Guardiola’s title-chasers, who can win the league with two more wins.

As a result, the Hammers chief has left Nobes on the bench and has instead started Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek in midfield.

Lukasz Fabianski plays in goal, with Moyes reverting to what looks like a back four.

Vlad Coufal plays at right-back, with Kurt Zouma and Craig Dawson at centre-back and Aaron Cresswell at left-back.

Mikey Antonio is up front, with Jarrod Bowen, Manuel Lanzini and Pablo Fornals providing support to the striker.

Full West Ham XI: Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma, Dawson, Cresswell; Rice, Soucek; Bowen, Lanzini, Fornals; Antonio. Subs: Areola, Masuaku, Johnson, Fredericks, Noble, Kral, Vlasic, Yarmolenko, Okoflex. 

Full Man City XI: Ederson; Cancelo, Fernandinho, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodri, De Bruyne; Bernardo, Mahrez, Grealish; Jesus. Subs: Steffen, Ake, Sterling, Gundogan, Foden, Egan-Riley, Mbete, Palmer, Lavia.