Over the years I have developed a soft spot for West Ham, for the type of club it is and the way in which they have tried to play football.
This admiration started in 1990 when I was lucky enough to part of a team that played a pre-season friendly against a West Ham U-17 team at Chadwell Heath.
At the time they were in the old Second Division and ended up finishing just behind Oldham Athletic that season. The thing that struck me the most that day after travelling up from Kent was that the club did not come across as pretentious and in fact it looked like (and was) a great place to play football.
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While you cannot deny Sam Allardyce’s effectiveness as a football manager, as good as guy he comes across, (although I would never speak for any West Ham fans), he never struck me as the type of manager that the fans would warm to.
The first ever game I watched was Liverpool v West Ham and seeing them subsequently first hand on numerous occasions down the years, the ethos has always been to get the ball down and play cultured football.
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Big Sam did an important job
However, all credit to Sam he has put the club back onto a solid footing and they have a real opportunity now to push on and start re-creating some of the great football that I watched when I was younger.
If you look into the annuals of footballing history, you find an interesting chapter that relates to Bayern Munch. A club that had not stamped their authority on German football to any extent, until they moved into the Olympic Stadium and started to benefit from all that comes with playing in such a venue. I have written before about no guarantees in football but I can understand why even Tottenham considered a move to the East End of London.
Slaven Bilic is and to this day remains a respected man both on Merseyside and in and around Green Street.
Looking at the Croatia national team and Bestikas more closely last year, he clearly sets about creating teams that are hardworking and aggressive, similar to Allardyce, but with one major difference: Bilic’s team will want to get the ball down and play more than what has been seen at the Boleyn Ground over the last few years.
European qualification possible for West Ham?
If I was a West Ham fan I would start to look at European qualification as something that is a tangible objective over the next few years. Add Bilic and the new stadium together in an equation the potential answer could be a great deal of success.
In the summer of 1990, we narrowly lost 3-2 to the West Ham U-17 team, but both sides where all about getting the ball down and playing good football. My manager at the time was a West Ham fan.