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2015/16 in review: May

Filed: Monday, 25th July 2016
By: Graeme Howlett

Join us as we take a look back at the 2015/16 season through the eyes of KUMB Editor Graeme Howlett, who penned a weekly column for the Echo newspaper throughout the campaign.

Today we look back at May in the final part of our season review...

1 May

Mark Noble might not be good enough to represent England at this summer's European Championships, but he proved to be the difference as West Ham United ran riot at the Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon.

Noble's chances of representing his country in France this summer all but disappeared the moment England's myopic manager, Roy Hodgson, scoffed at the prospect of including the in-form 28-year-old in his squad.

However that particular disappointment hasn't prevented the midfielder from hitting the form of his life; Noble added to his pair of penalties against Watford at the Boleyn last weekend with a second brace in seven days against West Bromwich Albion, taking his personal tally for the season to seven goals.

Cheikou Kouyate grabbed West Ham's other goal as they ran out 3-0 winners against Tony Pulis' side, thereby maintaining United's slim hopes of qualifying for the Champions League - although a far more realistic target is fifth spot, which will require Slaven Bilic's squad finishing above Manchester United.

Whilst Saturday's success was just the latest in a long line of impressive wins on the road this season (seven so far), it was also a record-breaking victory.

The three points took West Ham to 59 for the season, two more than the club's previous record over the course of a 38-game league campaign (57, recorded by Harry Redknapp's 1988/99 squad). It also extended the club's unbeaten Premier League run to ten games - another record sequence since those particular records began in 1992.

And with a goal difference of +17 going into the final three matches of 2015/16 the campaign, West Ham are also on course to record their first positive GD in the Premier League era. In fact, you have to go all the way back to the 'Boys of '86' to find the last West Ham team to end a season in the top flight having scored more goals than they've conceded!

All of which bodes well for the forthcoming 2016/17 season, which West Ham will begin at the Olympic Stadium later this year. Vice-Chairman Karren Brady revealed this week that the club have already sold in excess of 50,000 season tickets for United's first season in Stratford, with thousands more signed up to a waiting list.

That's an incredible achievement, given that it was initially feared West Ham - whose existing stadium can hold just 35,000 - would be unable to fill the 60,000-capacity venue on a regular basis. And there are even suggestions that the current capacity - which has already been extended from an initial 54,000 - could be increased further to accommodate thousands more spectators.

It's an exciting time for the club and it's fans, who can now begin to dream of challenging the Premier League's elite for the first time in a generation - or two!

8 May

West Ham United's supporters marked the final Saturday match at the Boleyn Ground with a rousing and emotional chorus of 'Bubbles' ahead of the game.

However that was as good as it got for the 35,000 fans packed inside this famous old ground, which closes for good next week, as the visitors breezed to a surprising and most unexpected 4-1 win.

West Ham's first defeat at home in the Premier League since last August, it was as comprehensive a win for the visitors as can be hoped for. 2-0 down at the break West Ham were little better in the second 45, despite grabbing a consolation goal, and got exactly what they deserved from the game - absolutely nothing.

Slaven Bilic admitted during his post-match press conference that the team carried "too many passengers". However the manager also bears some responsibility having picked the wrong team for the occasion - where the biggest problem was the selection, again, of Michail Antonio at right back.

A winger by trade, Antonio had a nightmare as the visitors attacked his side of the field relentlessly - with great reward. Meanwhile James Tomkins, a natural defender and someone with experience of playing on the right side of defence, kicked his heels on the bench throughout.

Additionally, last season's leading goalscorer Diafra Sakho remained alongside Tomkins until the hour mark - although he at least made some impression when replacing loanee Victor Moses by contributing to West Ham's only goal of the game on 68 minutes.

Whilst rumours of a fallout with Bilic have been strenuously denied by the club, there is clearly something amiss with the once-prolific striker and it would come as no shock were Sakho to move on to pastures new this summer.

That possibility probably won't concern Bilic or his employers unduly, for they are committed to signing a big-name striker - or two - this summer to herald the club's impending arrival at the Olympic Stadium.

However there is the small matter of a clash with Manchester United at the Boleyn Ground before that happens - and Tuesday's night's match, which also carries great significance in terms of Premier League placings, promises to be a hugely sentimental affair.

For West Ham United FC's tenure of the Boleyn Ground ends after 112 years this week, with the bulldozers set to move in later this summer. Many a tear will be shed on Tuesday night as the fans fondly remember the years - and the people - gone by.

It's almost 40 years to the day since my father first took me to the Boleyn Ground for a Division One clash with Derby.

My team haven't won a great deal since then - but the move to Stratford will at least offer West Ham United the opportunity to mix it up with the Premier League's key players.

15 May

It was a hugely emotional night as West Ham United FC bade farewell to its spiritual home, The Boleyn Ground, last Tuesday evening.

The club - plus several thousand misty-eyed fans - waved goodbye to E13 after 112 years with a star-studded show hosted by TV's Ben Shepherd and Bianca Westwood, co-presenter of the KUMB.com Podcast.

And the team did their bit too, signing off with an unforgettable 3-2 win against Manchester United, thus denying Louis Van Gaal's side a Champions League berth and keeping alive the Irons' own hopes of qualifying for Europe.

To do so, Slaven Bilic's side needed to equal or better Southampton's result against FA Cup finalists Crystal Palace in their final fixture of the season at Stoke on Sunday afternoon. And it all looked rosy at half time when the Hammers led through Michail Antonio's ninth goal since joining the club for 7million from Nottingham Forest.

However whilst much has changed at the Boleyn Ground this season, Bilic's team upholds the long-held tradition of possessing the ability to self-destruct - which, perhaps, is as key an ingredient of the much-vaunted 'West Ham way' as anything else.

Giannelli Imbula restored parity just ten minutes after the restart, much to the annoyance of the manager who had seen his team waste a string of good chances beforehand.

And with West Ham pushing forward in search of a winning goal, having learned that Southampton were leading comfortable at St. Mary's, a Stoke counter led to a corner that was nodded home by the less-than-prolific Mame Biram Diouf, netting his fifth goal of a largely barren campaign.

Defeat meant the Hammers ended the season in seventh place; a position most Hammers fans would have taken in August - but probably not since Christmas. And whilst that means the club missed out on qualifying for the Europa League automatically, there is still hope for continental football at the Olympic Stadium next season.

For that to occur, The Irons simply need Manchester United to beat Crystal Palace at Wembley in the FA Cup final next week. The Reds, having already qualified for the Europa League will pass their spot down to the seventh-placed team - i.e. West Ham - should they beat the Eagles.

And in a season when West Ham have beaten Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool - three times - anything less would seem a little unjust.

Previous Parts

Part 1 - August & September: kumb.com/article.php?id=3764
Part 2 - September & October: kumb.com/article.php?id=3766
Part 3 - October & November: kumb.com/article.php?id=3767
Part 4 - November & December: kumb.com/article.php?id=3769
Part 5 - December & January: kumb.com/article.php?id=3771
Part 6 - January & February: kumb.com/article.php?id=3772
Part 7 - February & March: kumb.com/article.php?id=3777
Part 8 - April: kumb.com/article.php?id=3779

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Mick
12:14PM 28th Jul 2009
''Nice to read a bit of positivity instead of all the doom and gloom merchants, well done!


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