Sunday, April 21

We are staying up!

West Ham 2 Wigan 0

My daughter Nell and her friend Anna are impressed with the sausage and chips in Ken’s Café followed by the purchase of mystery Doctor Who Lego figures in the Who Shop, resulting in one handbot, one Matt Smith and a River Song. Can the game match this? In the end, you could say it was overpriced at a quid for kids.

There’s an end-of-season feel to the match in the bright sunshine, with a group of fancy dress Irons in the Bobby Moore Stand brandishing plastic swords adding to the impression that it’s all nearly over. Fraser’s been to see Dexys the previous evening and is wearing his double-breasted suit in tribute. But can he tell us when West Ham’s light turns green?

Early on Mystic Morris predicts that Kevin Nolan will never score another league goal for the Hammers. Nolan immediately produces a great save from Robles as he volleys goalwards from a quick free kick. Wigan play some good passing stuff and should score early on when McCarthy plays in Maloney for a one-on-one, but his effort is smothered by Jaaskelainen. The Hammers’ take the lead after 21 minutes when Nolan goes for Jarvis’s cross, misses the ball, and the ball deceives keeper Robles. A bit lucky, but we’ll take it.

Wigan dominate the second half against a lethargic Irons. Maloney dominates the game for Wigan. Boyce fluffs a header and then Beausejour shoots tamely when well placed. Jaaskelainen makes another great stop to deny McArthur after Maloney’s run and pull back.

The statistics tell the story: Wigan have 61 per cent of possession and West Ham a mere 31 per cent. The Irons might be tired after their efforts against Man United, but then Wigan have played on Wednesday too, at Manchester City.

In the second half it seems like a training exercise where the defence has been told to play on its own to see how good it is. It’s too much for the Vicar’s Son: “Vaz Te is having a terrible game… Diame is one of those players who scores a great goal against Man United and then think he can relax against Wigan… that’s terrible from Cole! Do something Allardyce!’

Thankfully James Collins has a great game at the back and Jaaskelainen is outstanding too. Wigan pay for paying pretty football with no penetration on 80 minutes. Collins’ free kick is chested down by Andy Carroll. His overhead kick is the superbly volleyed home by clucking Kevin Nolan for his 100th league goal. Except there’s no clucking celebration today, just an arm to the sky in memory of his late aunt. Mystic Morris has been proved wrong again and departs early for the Silverlink.

An unimpressive performance from most of the team, but playing badly and winning isn’t a bad habit. And 42 points and tenth position sees us safe at last. A poor game, but a season of some character from the lads and we’ve achieved what we set out to. Four more wins and we’ll be talking about the Europa League…


Alex said...

It would be easy to look at PDiC doing his touch line dances and wish he was managing us. However, Sam has got us promoted and given us a, relatively, worry free season. The home form has been good and quite good to watch. The away performances need to be much better next season. I bet wish Bolton would take him back in a heartbeat. Our long term outlook is probably better served by Allardyce. We should back him instead of looking over at the bloke with the muddy knees who might turn out to be a bit flakey in the long run.

Pete May said...

I agree Alex, it would be hard to sack after Allardyce after two successful seasons. Now we'll see if he can play more expansive football with better, more established players, though it's been a mix of styles this season and not the long ball of stereotype. PDC has had a great impact at Sunderland but you still fear he will walk out at some stage after a row with the board, as he did at Swindon.

Glenn said...

In my view Suarez should be banned for a long time from English football. He wouldn't get away with what he did in any other walk of life. But does this mean we have less chance of keeping Andy Carroll?

Pete May said...

Yes Glenn, I'm worried they'll want Carroll back if they sell Suarez...