Sam Allardyce returns to Premier League management with the aim of retaining West Ham United’s status as a top-flight side following their promotion via the play-offs last season. His first game is against an Aston Villa side who have new manager Paul Lambert looking to shake off the ghosts of last season’s poor performances.
West Ham fans questioned Allardyce’s style of football last season, but the experienced manager knew he had to do what it takes to get the club back into the Premier League. Things should be a little different this season, as Allardyce looks to re-establish the old West Ham United footballing ethos. Modibo Maiga has been signed from Sochaux and he will alternate with Carlton Cole as the main striker for the Hammers. Jussi Jaaskelainen, one of Allardyce’s signings as Bolton manager, has been signed on a free transfer following the departure of Robert Green to QPR.
The Hammers fans are delighted to be back in the Premier League and with a favourable start to the season, there will be a chance for Allardyce’s side to create momentum heading into the season. Relegation is not an option for West Ham fans who have seen their side lose their top-flight status twice in the last decade and Allardyce prides himself on performing in managerial roles. They face a tricky test on their return to the Premier League with Aston Villa looking to prove a point.
Under Alex McLeish last season, Villa fans were extremely disenchanted with the way the season turned out. They languished in the bottom half for the majority of the season and there were fears about relegation at one point during the campaign. McLeish had to go and in his place came former Norwich City boss Paul Lambert, who enjoyed a great campaign at Carrow Road. This season will surely be one of transition for Villa, as Lambert looks to stamp his authority on the job, but there could be hope for a bright future with a talented crop of youngsters currently at Villa Park.
Lambert has immediately replaced James Collins, who will face his former side on the opening day as part of the West Ham lineup, with Ron Vlaar from Feyenoord. Karim El Ahmadi has also joined from the Dutch side and young right back Matthew Lowton has been brought in to add competition to Alan Hutton’s place in the line-up. El Ahmadi has looked sharp in pre-season and he could be a key player in midfield as Stiliyan Petrov continues to battle leukaemia with everyone wishing him good luck.
The game at Upton Park will signal the beginning of a new era for both sides, as West Ham look to return to the old days where they were solid in the Premier League and Aston Villa try to climb back into the top half.