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Everton at West Ham - is this Big Sam’s big finale?

Everton will finally bring the curtain down on the most miserable of seasons - but the hard work has only just begun

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

We made it to the other side people.

Everton will finally bring the 2017-18 season to a close against West Ham at the London Stadium, 10 months after they began the campaign with so much optimism for the future.

If you told me then that the club would sack Ronald Koeman by October, bomb out of Europe with the worst record by an English team ever, nosedive towards the relegation zone before employing Sam Allardyce to work his firefighting magic, I would have asked you to check your meds.

But I should have learnt by now, expect the unexpected with Everton. And this season is perhaps the most Everton season ever.

I’ve been counting down to the end of the season pretty much since January, when Virgil van Dijk headed the inevitable winner for Liverpool in the FA Cup derby.

Once safety was secured in March Sam’s job was done and the focus was switched to the changing of manager in the summer.

Or is it?

The continued silence from the board regarding Sam’s future has got the fans twitchy. Allardyce was not the vision they were sold when Farhad Moshiri bought the club two years ago.

He has come in and done the job asked of him when Moshiri panicked in November. It’s time to say goodbye and wave him off yet another hefty payout.

I’m personally still convinced Allardyce will leave this summer and the 18-month contract agreed last autumn was merely his pay-off. But while there is still that nagging doubt I can understand the fans’ frustrations.

At least we just have one more game to endure before yet ANOTHER crucial summer begins.

The opposition

While Everton have been sold a vision that has quite panned out in reality, the same can be said of West Ham.

Two years ago when they left Upton Park on the back of that rapturous 3-2 win over Man Utd and a seventh place finish, the supporters thought they were about to step into a glorious new era in their new shiny stadium.

Unfortunately for Hammers fans the dream has turned into a nightmare. The London Stadium simply isn’t designed for football, despite millions of pounds being spent on retro-fitting it post-Olympics.

The seats are too far away from the pitch with poor sightlines and fragmented stands, it is as away from the tight, claustrophobic, atmosphere of Upton Park as you can get.

That has fueled anger among the supporters who feel the owners have sold them false promises while sacrificing a precious part of the club’s heritage.

Poor performances off the pitch haven’t helped either, with the club struggling in the bottom half of the Premier League in both season’s since their move to Newham.

A familiar face in David Moyes replaced Slaven Bilic in November with the club in the relegation zone.

Moyes has since guided the Hammers away from safety, though it was actually Everton who secure their Premier League status last weekend courtesy of Tom Davies’ late equaliser against Southampton.

The reverse fixture in November was arguably Everton’s high point of the season, with Wayne Rooney scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 win, including that stunning goal from the halfway line.

The Scot’s contract expires at the end of the season and it remains to be seen whether he will stay on in East London.

I doubt either set of supporters will look back on this season with fondness

Team news

Wayne Rooney may well have played his final game for Everton after he was ruled out of the match with a knee injury.

Theo Walcott missed last weekend’s game with a calf injury and will be assessed. Gylfi Sigurdsson remains sidelined though and his focus is now being fit in time for the World Cup.

Mason Holgate is fit again after minor knee surgery and could play some part.

Final word

There has been some antagonism between West Ham and Everton fans over the past few years, mainly on social media, stemming for James McCarthy’s tackle on Dimitri Payet.

However, the two sets of fans look set to come together due to one common cause: a hatred of Sam Allardyce.

The Hammers were equally frustrated at Sam’s style of play when he was in charge at Upton Park a few seasons ago and so have become unlikely allies in the Everton fans’ campaign for his removal from the Goodison dugout.

Expect the anti-Allardyce chant (yep, THAT one) to reverberate around the whole stadium on Sunday rather than just the away end.

Then maybe, just maybe, we can put this whole sorry chapter behind us and pretend it never happened.