Mixed emotions as two sides end domestic campaigns
Sunday May 9, 2010. Kick-off: 16:00 GMT
Upton Park, London
Upton Park, London
This clash could be the last time both West Ham and Manchester City fans see their current managers in their respective dugouts.
Despite his success at keeping the Hammers in the Premier League, the boardroom antics have reportedly been too much for Gianfranco Zola, who is considering a break from football management.
Hammers fans wouldn't be the only ones sad to see the little Italian, who is a popular figure in English football, depart but after the season he's had at Upton Park, it's hardly surprising.
Even last week Zola was told his club had made a bid for West Brom's Graham Dorran — not by his board, but by a reporter.
Roberto Mancini could also be walking out for his final game as City boss, despite the reassurances of chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak on Thursday. Failure to bring Champions League football to Eastlands after millions splurged out in the transfer windows will not look good on the scarf-wearing Italian's CV.
The final day of the season is often a time for fans to thank their team for their efforts during the previous 10 months, but at Upton Park it's going to be the other way round. Co-owner David Sullivan said to fans this week: "I'd like to thank you for your magnificent support this season. I look back to the travelling fans at Everton and most notably at Fulham last week and just have to pay tribute to the amazing people."
Even if the Hammers do win, they will finish the campaign with their lowest points total (34, possibly growing to 37) since the introduction of three points for a win. Perhaps worth a wry smile from the home fans who can remember back to 2003, when even 42 points couldn't keep them in the top flight.
City, meanwhile, can do no worse than a Europa League spot, and although Villa in sixth could leapfrog the Liverpool in seventh cannot, meaning their place in Europe next season is safe. But the loss of Champions League football will still be playing on their mind.
So it's hardly going to be a day for celebrating in either dressing room.
April 4 Everton 2-2 West Ham (Premier League)
April 10 West Ham 1-0 Sunderland (Premier League)
April 19 Liverpool 3-0 West Ham (Premier League)
April 24 West Ham 3-2 Wigan (Premier League)
May 2 Fulham 3-2 West Ham (Premier League)
April 11 Man City 5-1 Birmingham (Premier League)
April 17 Premier Man City 0-1 Man Utd (Premier League)
April 24 Arsenal 0-0 Man City (Premier League)
May 1 Man City 3-1 Aston Villa (Premier League)
May 5 Man City 0-1 Tottenham (Premier League)
No fresh injury worries for Zola, who will still be without Jack Collison, James Tomkins, Kieron Dyer, Herita Ilunga and Zavon Hines.
Last starting XI (v Fulham): Green, Upson, Spector, Da Costa, Parker, Kovac, Noble, Behrami, Faubert, Cole, Ilan.
Gareth Barry will miss the final day of the season as he tries to recover from an ankle sprain in time for the World Cup this summer. Stephen Ireland - whose participation would have been debatable fully fit anyway - also has an ankle problem.
Goalkeeper Marton Fulop will play the final match of his loan spell, while Joleon Lescott is still sidelined.
Last starting XI (v Tottenham) Fulop, Toure, Bridge, Zabaleta, de Jong, Barry, Kompany, Johnson, Bellamy, Adebayor, Tevez.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
In troubled times each team needs a leader and West Ham have needed look no further than Scott Parker, who has been the only consistent performer at Upton Park this season. Indeed, it was his goal against Wigan that secured Premier League survival two weeks ago.
If any of the Hammers players are to get a standing ovation on Sunday it will be Parker, although it might not be his last game of the season, as a late World Cup call-up could even be on the cards.
West Ham welcome back two former players in the shape of Carlos Tevez and Craig Bellamy, and both will be keen to round off disappointing seasons with a decent display aganst their former team. Both picked up gongs at City's end of season awards but would easily swap them for Champions League football next season.
Tevez, always popular in east London, has vowed to return to the club at some point in his career.
Nothing to see here, move along please.
West Ham 0 Manchester City 0
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