Let’s start this morning with the Europa Conference League final. I turned on at 1-1, and was fully prepared to go to bed rather than watch extra-time. But then Lucas Paqueta played a lovely pass to Jarrod Bowen, who went through on goal to make it 2-1 and win the cup for West Ham.
I mean, there were 5 minutes of added time signalled but when we got into the 9th even I was getting a bit nervous, and I have no skin in the game. What was that about? I tried imagining how I would feel in a cup final if we played almost twice as much added time as had been put on the board, and I came to the conclusion that I would not like it one bit.
All things must come to an end though, and the referee blew the whistle, the Hammers were victorious, and I’ll be honest – while I obviously don’t have any great affection for them (1980 still hurts!) – I was pleased for David Moyes. In some ways he’s representative of a football majority that we, as fans of a club who have experienced success on a regular basis, don’t think about too much.
The hundreds and thousands of games without winning a trophy. Season after season.Year after year. There are highs, obviously, but success is a different thing. It might staving off relegation. It might be a mid-table finish. It might be winning your local derby twice in a season, but you know you’re never going to win the FA Cup and the Premier League might as well be Disneyland on Mars for how out of reach it is.
Moyes has had a long career, and has always seemed like a decent guy. I could list off 50 managers right now who would be on my shit-list ahead of him for various reasons large and small and sometimes extremely petty. He did good work at Everton, his time at Man Utd didn’t work and after being hand-selected by Alex Ferguson, a cynical part of me feels like he was the perfect choice to follow a man who might not have wanted the next guy to replicate his own successes.
Even this season his job at West Ham looked in jeopardy at times, they were very much in the relegation dog-fight for too long given the strength of their squad. So fair play to him, and from the bits I saw after, and before I actually went to bed, he looked like he was enjoying himself. I reckon he’ll get sacked by West Ham, but this will surely soften the blow.
I don’t think we even need to mention Declan Rice, except to say, let the man enjoy himself a bit. The way some people were talking, they expected him to lift the trophy, then make some kind of announcement about his future. It’s not gonna work like that, some patience is still required – not least because the transfer window doesn’t actually open until June 15th.
A word too for the BT Sport commentator who I’m sure is a nice young chap, and very excitable by the sounds of it too. However, he had a chance to immortalise himself in West Ham’s commentary folklore – but as Bowen went through, he co-opted Brian Moore’s famous ‘It’s up for grabs now!’ bit from Anfield ’89. It just sounded wrong. I get it’s a split-second thing and commentary is a more difficult gig than people understand, but still.
“Bowen can strike a Hammer blow to Fiorentina here …”, something like that? Anyway, I’m sure the West Ham fans won’t care too much, but something as iconic as Michael Thomas, Brian Moore and Steve McMahon’s 1 minute finger should be preserved in that context alone.
Elsewhere, how interesting it was to see Lionel Messi eschew the mega-bucks on offer from Saudi Arabia to choose Inter Miami as his next/final club. It’s been a mad week in sport, from the golf stuff to the way the Saudi league has been ‘revamped’, if that’s the right word. In the end though, Messi says:
If it had been a matter of money I would have gone to Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. It seemed like a lot of money to me and the truth is that my decision was for the other side and not for money.
I am also in a moment where I want to get out of focus a bit, think more about my family. I spent two years at a family level that was so bad that I didn’t enjoy it.
Which sounds like a ringing endorsement of PSG, eh? It’s pretty obvious he hated his time at that awful club. I do think it was a terrible move for him, and having already made one decision primarily based on money, he’s not going to make another. Which isn’t to say that he won’t be very well paid in the US, of course he will, but there are other considerations that are more important.
What makes this so fascinating is the fact that he signed up to be a Saudi Arabia ambassador in 2022, promoting tourism and more for a very healthy paycheck. You have to think that relationship will come to an end as he turns his back on Riyadh for Miami. James Benge has a good piece on how Messi’s decision went down with the PIF, and as ever Miguel Delaney’s latest on sportswashing and the motives behind these enormous investments is well worth a read.
Right, let’s leave it there for now. Back tomorrow with more here, and a brand new Arsecast. Until then.