avid Moyes hailed a fitting send-off for Mark Noble as his West Ham side dented Manchester City’s title charge, and once again emphasised the need to “go again” after the Hammers secured a second successive season of European football.
Jarrod Bowen’s first-half double was cancelled out by Jack Grealish’s deflected strike and Vladimir Coufal’s own goal after the break but Lukasz Fabianski’s penalty save from Riyad Mahrez earned a 2-2 draw in the Irons’ final home game of the season.
It was an emotional afternoon for the club as home supporters said farewell to club captain Noble for the final time, the midfielder set to retire at the end of the season following an 18-year career.
Noble started on the bench but was sent on to a huge ovation on 77 minutes and then honoured again in a special presentation post-match.
“It would’ve been better if it was a win but against the team we were playing, I think a draw was an excellent result for us,” Moyes said.
“It was fitting for Mark Noble and rightly he played as well, it wasn’t out of sentiment, I thought we needed him to control the ball a bit better and pass the ball a bit better and he helped us for the final 15 or 20 minutes.”
The result, coupled with eighth-placed Wolves’ draw with Norwich, means the Hammers can finish no lower than seventh and are therefore guaranteed European football next term.
As things stand, they will play in the Europa Conference League but Moyes’ men are just two points behind Manchester United and a spot in the Europa League heading into the final day of the campaign.
“I’m hoping that we can build again,” Moyes added. “We need to go again now, we need to challenge. I think the big thing this year is I wanted to challenge a lot of the top teams here, maybe in the past we haven’t done that. We’ve had a pretty good go at it, drawn with Man City a couple of times here, we were close up there, lost 2-1, we’ve beaten Liverpool and Chelsea here.
“We’re showing we can compete but I feel as if we have to try and build on it again, and especially when you lose people like Mark Noble who are so important to the dressing room and the club, so it’s a big job the next year or two.
“I’m happy because I thought when we started that staying in a similar position [to last season] would be really, really difficult. If you think about the big six clubs in England and look at how many teams break in, it’s very few. We had it last year and we’re really close this year.
“I want to try and get in amongst it, upset it if I can. I want to build and this next season for us will again be hard but for us to have European football is fantastic, whether we finish sixth or seventh. I’d rather finish sixth.
“The only disappointment I might have is that is we couldn’t hang onto fourth or fifth earlier in the season when we had those positions but it was going to always be really hard because we were trying to cope with European games. Most of the teams, if you look all around Europe, that play Thursday and Sunday, can’t maintain their levels.”