There is a distinct bring-games-to-school feel at West Ham in the build-up to the final match of the season, away to Newcastle who are fretting that little bit more.
Three Hammers – James Collins, Kevin Nolan and James O’Brien – were spotted at the Premier League Darts at The O2 on Thursday before returning to training on Friday lunchtime.
It was only the second session of the week as Sam Allardyce gave them the week off despite the club’s dismal run of form. The manager is almost certainly resigned to a departure from the east London club with the Daily Mirror reporting he will be off within a few hours of the final whistle on Sunday.
As we reported, he’s packed up his Canary Wharf flat and his backroom staff are scattering to new berths.
Strikers coach Teddy Sheringham was named as the new manager of Stevenage, No.2 Neil McDonald is in talks with Blackpool and first-team coach Ian Hendon might stay in east London if he lands the Leyton Orient job.
Matters are less relaxed in the boardroom where a successor is being sought. One of the top names on the list is now a question mark. Rafa Benitez is being touted to take over from Carlo Ancelotti at Real Madrid. The Napoli coach is expected to hear on Sunday whether that deal will be done.
Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce is pondering the fate of the opposition Newcastle who could go down if results don’t work out for them. Hull are the other contenders for the drop.
At a press conference on Friday, he said: “Football has plenty of twists and turns. I was in a similar situation to Steve Bruce and John Carver at Bolton. We had to win away at Middlesbrough on the final day of the season and thankfully we did.”