The final day: as it happened
Preamble Good afternoon everybody and welcome to Guardian Unlimited’s first simultaneous minute-by-minute report. Due to the wonders of technology (ie me stacking one TV precariously on top of another) we’ll have all the drama of West Ham’s trip to Old Trafford and Sheffield United v Wigan. The maths — math for our American readers — are first-grade simple.
· If Sheffield United win or draw they stay up.
· If Wigan win they stay up.
· If West Ham win or draw against Manchester United, or if Sheffield United win, they stay up.
Question: Does any non-Hammers fan actually want West Ham to stay up today?
Team news There’s no Ronaldo, Vidic, Ferdinand, Giggs or Scholes in the United side, while West Ham, Sheffield United and Wigan line-up much as expected. «I note that Everton were bound by a gentlemen’s agreement with Manchester United, so did not play Tim Howard against his ex-employers,» says Gary Naylor. «So gentlemen’s agreements were OK three weeks ago, but absolute no-nos today?» That’s the Premier League for you, Gary.
Neil Warnock’s just been on … When asked about Manchester United’s team he says, tongue-in-cheek, that burlington coat factory canada goose coat he’s glad Rio Ferdinand isn’t playing. Meanwhile this from Ian Kay: «What happens if Sheffield United lose 7-3 and West Ham lose 1-0, leaving them both with identical points, goals for and goals against?» I’ve just phoned the Premier League, but no one is in. However, I’m fairly confident there would be a play-off between the two teams.
Answer:Of the 57 emails I’ve received so far, only Gerard Scott wants West Ham to stay in the Premiership. «But I am not sure why coat,» he adds.
OK, here we go Latest relegation odds: Wigan 2-5, West Ham 9-2 and Sheffield United 7-1, which looks a little high to me. «I’m not a Hammer, but I’m keen for them to stay up,» says Ben Sheppard. «They bring more to the Premier League than Wigan. As a neutral, clubs like Wigan, Fulham (to an extent), Boro and the like offer far less than West Ham, Reading and Sheffield Utd who (with their fans) seem to embrace the spirit of the game better than most.» At least Wigan, Fulham and Boro don’t knowingly break the rules, Ben.
1st min The Sheffield Utd v Wigan game kicks off at 3.02pm, before the two captains at Old Trafford have even shaken hands. «Sheffield Utd are a football crime,» reckons Liverpool FC fan Darrin. «I hope they go down. They are so boring to watch.» Pot, kettle, black, Darrin?»
2nd min The United v West Ham game finally kicks off, 1m 45 seconds after the match at Bramall Lane.
3rd min Wigan immediately get a chance when Emile Heskey evades Jon Stead from a corner. best ideas about canada goose parka on pinterest The outcome, however, is all-too-predictable: from six-yards out the ball slices comically off Heskey’s boot and high into the crowd.
5 min Another Heskey chance! After superb one-touch football — of the like Latics fans haven’t seen for 18 months — Valencia’s cross hits the falling Heskey’s inner heel and goes wide. 7 min A Wayne Rooney free-kick from 25 yards curls about two feet wide buy canada goose jacket usa of the post. «OK they broke the rules, lied and have some players who make Rio Ferdinand look modest, but I like Curbishley and I think he deserves to stay up,» says Gerard Scott. «Plus West Ham play far and away the nicest football and have the most ability of any of the teams in the relegation zone. Although it is a bit late I wish Middlesbrough were going down — that’s a result we can all get behind.»
10 min It’s all Wigan at Bramall Lane. McCulloch has just attempted a spectacular scissors kick — is there any other kind? — which flew pathetically over the bar. «Yes, I would miss the usual six points a season if the Hammers stay up,» says Paul from Luton. «But as a Spurs fan revenge would be sweet after the final game of last season and the Delhi-belly debacle.» You can blame West Ham for many things, Paul, but surely you can’t hold them responsible for an outbreak of gastroenteritis?
13 min: GOAL! Sheffield United 0-1 Wigan Heskey plays it wide, the ball is crossed in and, from 10 yards, Paul Scharner coolly slots it into the bottom corner. As things stand, Sheffield United are going down.
15 min What a chance for Rooney! A superb eye-of-the-needle pass from Darren Fletcher puts him in, he cuts inside then, rather than let fly from eight yards, he dillies and dallies and is crowded out.
17 min Latest relegation odds: Wigan evs, West Ham 9-4, Sheffield United 4-1. That 4-1 still looks a little high to me.
19 min Charlton are beating Liverpool 1-0 at Anfield, otherwise it’s 0-0 everywhere except at Bramall best mens canada goose jacket Lane. Manchester United fans are chanting that old favourite to West Ham supporters: «Going down! Going down! Going down!» Not at the moment, they’re not.
21 min Carlos Tevez cuts inside from the right before being meekly tackled by Wes Brown. «Having done the 1-0 West Ham defeat and the 7-3 win to Wigan on a certain national broadcasters website predictor, it appears Sheffield United would stay up purely for alphabetic reasons,» says Simon Fitzherbert. «If the farce re: the Tevez registration is any yardstick, it seems highly plausible the Premier League would use this as a basis for deciding things.»
23 min Sharner biffs a free header from about six yards over the bar. Meanwhile at Old Trafford, Manchester United finally put together a move worthy of their sturm und drang season before lots of cute flicks ends and intricate off-the-ball running ends with Alan Smith tumbling over. A minute or so later, Wayne Rooney shoots just wide.
26 min Wigan are completely outplaying Sheffield United. And, perhaps more crucially in these sort of dogfights, they’re outfighting them too. «Wigan and Sheffield United are providing a fine spectacle and Heskey is playing brilliantly,» says Gary Naylor. «Lewis Hamilton leads the world championship. Am I awake?» You must be: after all, who dreams about Emile Heskey or formula one?
29 min West Ham haven’t been much of an attacking force today, but they had a dangerous attack a moment or two ago: it was three v four, and Benayoun hit a vicious inswinging cross that had red alert all over it. Until Wes Brown made a brilliant diving header to clear.
30 min West Ham sub: the injured McCartney off, Spector on.
31 min Wigan sub: the injured De Zeeuw off, Skoko on.
35 min Two corners come and go for Manchester United before a wayward Richardson thunderbolt slides off Rooney’s forehead and wide.
33 min Brilliant from Benayoun! First he clears Smith’s effort off the line, then he blocks Heinze’s follow-up. It’s all Manchester United right now. «As another Liverpool fan I can’t agree with Darrin,» says Larry Brown. «They got a perfectly good point off us on opening day and had it devalued because we gifted three to Fulham last week. I cannot see why West Ham having a lot more talent than the other teams is a reason for wanting them to stay up — those who have made the best of what they have are more deserving.»
37 min Latest relegation odds: Wigan 7-5, West Ham 5-4, Sheffield United 9-4. «I’d happily wave goodbye to West Ham, as they are the Southern equivalent of Newcastle; they have delusions of adequacy,» says Neil Mackie. «Plus, that advert for the scum newspaper also irritated me, so bye bye Hammers. And I’m a Liverpool fan, so carefully made no mention of playing styles.»
38 min: GOAL!!! Sheffield United 1-1 Wigan A brilliant, brave six-yard header from canada goose coat 1000 calorie Stead squares things up at Bramall Lane. Stead ended up being absolutely buy canada goose coat uk clattered by Pollitt, and is still receiving treatment, along with the Wigan keeper and Taylor.
40 min Chance for Tevez! Zamora cuts it back to the Argentinian, whose shot hits the sliding Wes Brown’s hand and goes for a corner. Tevez demands a penalty, and he may just have had a case.
42 min Save from Rob Green! Evra’s cross is met powerfully by John O’Shea on the penalty spot, but West Ham’s keeper tips over. Seconds later, Carrick crosses it to Rooney, who slices it wide from a tricky angle.
44 min Wigan sub: Taylor off (knee injury), the big-boned David Unsworth on. On the touchline, Paul Jewell is shaking his head, and with good reason: Wigan have absolutely dominated this game. Five minutes of injury time at Bramall Lane.
45+1 min [Minute-by-minute reporter dons anorak] Shots on goal: Manchester United 10, West Ham 1. Another one has just come and gone, with Evra jinking inside and Richardson slashing it wildly over the bar.
45+2 min: GOAL!!! Manchester United 0-1 West Ham Carlos Tevez puts West Ham ahead! I’ve no idea how he scored that: he exchanged a neat one-two with Zamora and then somehow evaded a puny challenge from Carrick, got a lucky bounce off Wes Brown and then dinked it marvellously over the slow-off-his-line Van der Sar.
45+3 min Penalty at Bramall canada goose coat 0f Lane for Wigan! Jagielka waves his hands in the air like he’s canada goose coat 1000 bulbs garland at a Def Leppard concert, the ball clips his right fist, and that’s a penalty. David Unsworth steps up …
45+4 min … and slots it low to Paddy Kenny’s left to make it Sheffield United 1-2 Wigan. «Newcastle have delusions of adequacy?» splutters Matt Rutherford. «Nothing better than a self-righteous Scouser to put the world to rights, eh? West Ham deserve to go down; they cheated. Simple.»
Half-time I’m off to get a quick breather. The odds to go down are now: Wigan 5-4, West Ham 5-1, Sheffield United 6-4.
46 min We’re off again at Old Trafford, but there’s no sign of the players at Bramall Lane. Meanwhile this from Gary Naylor. «Is it a good sign for the Premiership that the battle for 17th spot is invariably much more exciting than the battle for first spot?» I think we all know the answer to that. «Perhaps the broadly similar financial positions of the clubs involved in the struggle for 17th makes for better sport?» Agree. There’s an obvious correlation between financial resources/league position. Sadly the days of Norwich, Southampton and the like challenging for the title are long gone.
48 canada goose coat 1000 bulbs reviews min United haven’t started the second half like a side desperate to win. They’re happy to sit off as West Ham play it among themselves in their own half. «Culture wise, Sheffield have Jarvis,» says Chris Bird. «What do Wigan have except a book about a pier? West Ham, of course, have The Krays and Kier Hardie but not in that order…»
49 min We’re off at Bramall Lane now too. «I think its disgraceful that Man Utd aren’t playing their full side,» fumes Neil Mackie. «You’d never see Liverpool do that against a side fighting against relegation. Eh? Oh.»
52 min Another Manchester United corner is cleared via the shiny £60,000-a-week forehead of Lucas Neill. West Ham charge up the other end and nearly make it two when Tevez speeds past a dozy Wes Brown and clips it wide.
54 min Nearly a third for Wigan! From a corner, Emile Heskey attempts an overhead kick, which connects perfectly. Paddy Kenny is as shocked as the rest of us but recovers to make a fingertip save. The danger isn’t over, however, and from the resulting corner, Jagielka clears off the line.
56 min: What a chance for Danny Webber! Quinn’s flick on put him one-on-one with Pollitt, the Sheffield United striker takes it into the box … and hits the post!
58 min A triple substitution for Manchester United: Ronaldo, Scholes, Giggs on. Smith, Carrick, Evra off. United are absolutely dominating this, but Green has only had one save to make. «Any team that does the double over Arsenal for two seasons in a row should definitely stay up, no?» chuckles Arun. «I’m sure Spurs fans would agree.»
60 min Latest relegation odds: Sheffield United evs, Wigan 13-8, West Ham 9-2. As it stands, Sheffield United are going down…
61 min Wonderful skill from Giggs, who lands a cross on Solkjaer’s head. But it had no power and Green easily saved.
62 min West Ham sub: Zamora — who’s been hobbling for the last five minutes — off, Harewood on.
64 min Chance for Ronaldo! A goalmouth scramble ends with Ronaldo miskicking a chance from 10 yards, and Anton Ferdinand clearing off the line. Meanwhile Emily Heskey seems to have turned the clock back seven years. He’s terrorising Sheffield United’s defence like he did Nesta and co against Italy in 2000.
65 min Another United corner — their 11th of the day — comes to nothing. Earlier, Rooney had tried working some space, but his shot was smothered by three West Ham players. They’re certainly committed today.
67 min Yellow card for Collins for a two-footed ankle-breaker on Rooney. «Chris Bird asks what culture Wigan have,» says Ian Kay. «How about Wigan casino, George Formby, the Verve and 18 Rugby League titles? Not bad for a population a hundred times smaller than London.»
68 min For the 2435345th time this season, a Ronaldo free-kick from 30 yards crashes into the wall.
70 min Boa Morte outmuscles Wes Brown and has a free shot about eight yards from goal … only to hit the post. Cue hundreds of chavvy-looking West Ham fans punching the air in frustration.
71 min It’s classic route one stuff from Sheffield United right now: a long throw pinballs around the box before Emile Heskey blocks. Unless they score in the next 20 minutes, or Manchester United score two, they’re going down.
73 min Latest relegation odds: Sheffield United 2-5, Wigan 5-2, West Ham 11-1. «As my wife constantly told me whenever we watched an X-Men movie, Sir Ian McKellan is from Wigan,» says Rob Fletcher.
75 min: What a chance for Ronaldo! From Giggs’ corner, he seems to hang in the air like a primetime Michael Jordan before heading it down from six yards best canada goose coat for women out. Green doesn’t know much about it, but he’s able to make the save.
77 min: Wigan down to 10 men! Lee McCulloch goes after picking up a second yellow. «The second-half kick-offs should have been synchronised,» fumes Joanne Leeakajo. «If West Ham lose, which could still happen, the other two teams can fix the match to save themselves, which given all the Tevez grief they will do. Not fair!» A bit like West Ham lying to the Premier League and not getting points deducted because it was near the end of the season, perhaps.
79 min: Sheffield United are pressing now, as you’d expect, but Pollitt hasn’t had much to do this half. They’ve got a great chance here though, with a free-kick 20 yards out. Morgan’s shot is feeble though.
82 min: United have a cast-iron penalty turned down! At Old Trafford! No, you’re not dreaming. O’Shea was tripped from behind by Boa Morte, yet the referee didn’t buy it. The ball then went out to Giggs, whose shot curled just over the bar.
84 min Now Collins hits the woodwork for Sheffield United! It was supposed to be a cross, but it nearly drifted in. Seconds later, Tonge beats two players only for his cross to be blocked by a desperate last-ditch challenge.
86 min Manchester United press forward, Sheffield United press forward. «Come on Sean, do you have nothing to say about Michael Owen getting stretchered off at Watford with a suspected fractured cheekbone?!» says Jonathan Whitling. First I’ve heard of it Jonathan.
87 min A rare West Ham break ends with Van Der Sar fumbling a regulation Marlon Harewood shot. It goes for a corner: unsurprisingly West Ham keep eight man back.
89 min The West Ham fans are celebrating, they think they’re safe. «What league in the world could produce this sort of drama,» asks a drooling Alan Parry. Er, the Dutch league where three teams were still in the running for the title on the final day? Or Serie A, where about eight teams are within three points of the drop?
90 min Three minutes of stoppage time at Old Trafford. Kieran Richardson has just missed by this much with a 25-yard curler.
90+1 min Green easily tips Scholes’ 20-yarder over the bar. There’s five minutes of stoppage time at Bramall Lane. «Keir Hardie’s from Lanarkshire,» says Marc Breen. «Are the Hammers gonna lie about everything to stay in the league? Hope they do though, hope Wigan go down. Wigan is only good for northern soul.»
90+2 min West Ham have survived! Alan Curbishley is smiling, the West Ham fans are going wild. They’re safe, unless the courts decide otherwise of course.
90+3 min Sheffield United continue to attack. A ball flashes across the box, missing Webber by inches.
90+4 min Heskey, who’s now permanently stationed in Wigan’s back four, hoofs another ball clear. «Don’t forget the Bundesliga and La Liga titles are still up in the air too,» says BC.
90+5 min It’s desperation time for Sheffield United. Paddy Kenny goes up for a long throw, but there’s a foul in the box, and Wigan win a free-kick. Seconds later, referee Mike Dean blows up and that’s it. Wigan have survived, and Sheffield United are down. Cue hugs and tears and, you sense, forthcoming recriminations. Thanks for all your emails. Cheers, Sean.
Man Utd: Van der Sar, O’Shea, Brown, Heinze, Evra, Solskjaer, Carrick, Fletcher, Richardson, Smith, Rooney. Subs: Kuszczak, Ronaldo, Giggs, Vidic, Scholes. West Ham: Green, Neill, Collins, Ferdinand, McCartney, Benayoun, Reo-Coker, Noble, Boa Morte, Zamora, Tevez. Subs: Walker, Harewood, Mullins, Spector, Davenport.
Referee: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
Sheff Utd: Kenny, Jagielka, Morgan, Kilgallon, Geary, Gillespie, Montgomery, Tonge, Stephen Quinn, Nade, Stead. Subs: Bennett, Davis, Webber, Leigertwood, Kazim-Richards.
Wigan: Pollitt, Taylor, De Zeeuw, Boyce, Baines, Valencia, Scharner, Landzaat, Kilbane, Heskey, McCulloch. Subs: Filan, Camara, Folan, Skoko, Unsworth. Referee: M Dean (Wirral)