Come on United. Manchester Utd that is, for West Ham need a favour from their old foes to secure a slot in Europe next week.
Inexplicably, the Irons saw much of the good work of the season undone when their own defeat at Stoke was made worse by Southampton’s victory, meaning the Saints nipped in and took the Europa League slot that had appeared to be West Ham’s all season.
The lapse last Saturday and Sunday’s final day disappointment meant the season closed in disappointment – perhaps overwhelmed by the emotionally intense final showdown at the Boleyn.
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West Ham were good for the three points against the Potters – enterprising and energetic – but somehow, against the run of most of the play – the lacklustre home side found some drive and scored the two goals necessary to give them 9th spot for the third season in a row. West Ham had to settle for seventh – a far cry from the “injustice” of Spurs in third but no less galling.
Now it comes down to the FA Cup. If Manchester Utd win, they take up the cup winner’s slot, freeing up a league place for West Ham. If Crystal Palace win, the new Olympic Stadium will see no European football in its debut year.
“It is very frustrating,” said manager Slaven Bilic. “For most of the season we have been there [in the qualification spot] and it looked like we were going to do it but the competition is really good.
“Overall it was a great season, and we hope Man United win the FA Cup and then we will be in the qualification for the Europa League.
“One part of me is really angry and disappointed because we had to take the chances. But on the other hand considering how we played today I can’t be totally unhappy.
“We played good football again and for the majority of the match we were different class.”
West Ham had 20 shots – including one clear off the line – to Stoke’s seven. Captain Mark Noble told the club’s website : “The amount of chances we had was unbelievable, how we haven’t won that game I do not know, I think they probably had two maybe three shots all game, so it’s disappointing.
“We’ll just have to wait now and see what happens in the cup final, that’s our season done so we’ll have to wait.
“I’ve always said this season was probably the most important in the club’s history, for sure. Moving stadiums we had to make sure we were a solid Premier League team and we did that midway through the season. We had a small chance at Champions League which was great, now we just have to wait and see what happens.”