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Kirk’s Column: Top 10 place in the balance

PUBLISHED: 12:30 10 May 2013

West Ham United assistant manager Neil McDonald. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

West Ham United assistant manager Neil McDonald. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

EMPICS Sport

Kirk Blows writes each week for the Barking & Dagenham Post.

Neil McDonald described it as “a fair result” but the assistant manager should have referred to West Ham’s goalless draw with Newcastle on Saturday as “a missed opportunity”.

That’s because victory would have gone a massive way towards cementing the club’s place in the top half of the Premier League table.

And after suffering a 6-0 thrashing by Liverpool the previous week, you’ve got to say that Newcastle were there for the taking.

People can mumble what they like about Alan Pardew’s side being doubly determined to make amends by digging their heels in.

But any side that has just been heavily bashed is vulnerable to pressure – and West Ham failed to take advantage.

They just didn’t turn the screw hard enough – producing only three shots on target – and were therefore forced to settle for a point after failing to score at home for only the second time this season.

Defending champions Manchester City had been the only team to stop West Ham from finding the net.

So it was hugely disappointing that a side with genuine relegation fears was allowed to return home unbeaten – especially with the other mid-table results involving West Brom, Swansea and Fulham going West Ham’s way.

The draw left the Hammers in 10th position on Sunday evening, but there is still a big group of clubs who can overtake them.

West Ham have won just once in their last 15 visits to Everton so it’s hard to imagine them having too much joy on Sunday.

So it remains to be seen if a final-day victory at home to Reading will be enough to claim a top-10 finish.

And if it’s not, the stalemate against Newcastle will be the game to blame…

*******

This column has often accused Sam Allardyce of under-achieving in taking West Ham to a mere third place in the Championship last season.

But it’s worth pointing out that the Hammers racked up 86 points – seven more than proved enough for Hull City to secure automatic promotion on Saturday.

Indeed, Cardiff City won the division with only one point more than West Ham collected last term and their tally would only have gained them a play-off place 12 months earlier.

And when you also consider the fate of Wolves, who suffered a second successive relegation, maybe it’s time to reassess the job that Allardyce performed in his first season at Upton Park…


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