Gianfranco Zola signed off on a "exhausting season" with praise for all connected to West Ham United and a slight note of regret at what might have been.
The manager saw his side earn a 1-1 draw with Manchester City, which confirmed his team finished in 17th spot to go with his ninth place last season. The Hammers had taken the lead through Luis Boa Morte's goal on his first Barclays Premier League outing for a year only for Shaun Wright-Phillips to equalise with a rare headed goal.
One of the highlights of the day was Carlos Tevez - a City substitute - making the crossed Hammers sign and also donning a home shirt in the post-match festivities. Tevez added late energy to the visitors' attack but neither side were able to find a winning goal, with Diamanti crashing a right-foot shot against the post and Robert Green denying a well-placed Emmanuel Adebayor.
Zola and his men took to the Boleyn Ground pitch after the final whistle to offer their thanks to the supporters who had stuck by them so well this season. The manager was sorry not to finish with a win but was still pleased with the way his team performed against a City side who were the league's fifth best this campaign.
"There probably wasn't the tension or pressure that you normally would expect but I can assure you we tried to win the game," he said. "We tried hard. I am delighted with the way the game was played. Of course, it was an end of season game and you could not expect anything more.
"I think the quality of the football wasn't bad. Actually I wish we could have played with the same freedom throughout the season, our season would have been different."
That feeling also applied to Boa Morte, who missed the whole of the campaign with a serious knee injury. The Portugal midfielder would have been a regular for Zola this season for his experience and enthusiasm, as well as ability. His goal - after a delightful Alessandro Diamanti pass split the defence - was a fitting reward for his effort to come back for a final hurrah.
"That man makes me crazy," Zola said. "We missed him so much. Not only in terms of what he can give you on the pitch but also the importance he has in the changing room. I didn't realise just how important he was."
Zola was slow to join his players on their 'lap of thanks' after the game once new Hammer of the Year Scott Parker had led the way with the award ceremony. "I thought it was for the players. They are the main protagonists. They deserve to go in front and then I said it was nice to go and say 'thanks' myself for what they did throughout the season.
"It has been a long tiring and exhausting season for us. The whole staff has been under a lot of pressure because we wanted to give something different. Circumstances didn't allow us to give what we wanted to give to the team. There were moments when it was tough for us.
"For me personally, football has always been a joy, a pleasure. I played until I was 39 and I never considered it a job or a difficult thing to do. But this year because of all the pressure around us, it was difficult to take it in the same way."
"It has been very tiring. This week I am going to have a meeting with the club and we will see what the outcome is going to be.
"It is only my second year as a manager. You take on board everything so I need to get used to it. It is not for me to say whether I have got the managerial qualities. But I enjoyed it last year very much, this year a little bit less but I know where the mistakes and faults lie. I will be working on that."