This was the big one. The start of a new era for West Ham and to put a finer point on it, it was a game that the Hammers just had to win.
NK Domzale provided a bit of a shock last week with a 2-1 victory in this Europa League qualifying round and I don’t like playing these games. Last year was a bit of a disaster crashing out at this point last season, so I did expect the same again.
West Ham refused BT Sport to televise the match, thus ensuring that there were around 54000 seats filled for the occasion. If I was in the UK, I would have definitely gone.
But being on holiday and trying to watch Zootopia onthe telly with the family meant that the only way to really follow the game was via BBC Sport on the phone. And what a start to the game with Cheikhou Kouyate getting two goals in the first 25 minutes.
That meant the opposition had to get at least one goal to take it to pens or two to go through. New boy Sofiane Feghouli added the third towards the end of the game.
I can’t say too much about this game as per last week as it is difficult to judge a performance when you have only seen it via text, but from what I read, it was a solid performance and job done. Two more games to play and we are in the Europa League proper, which will be a great experience, but potentially at the detriment of a league performance. But this is what the players would want – European football and this is also the second year in a row that the Hammers have played in this competition.
I am not so bothered about the Juve game as this is just a bit of a warm up. However with less than two weeks to go until Chelski for the start of the season, it was important to get this one under the belt. I am not sure what to expect for this season after last year’s heights, but I would am I am expecting more the same. If we don’t deliver, it will be quite annoying.
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic: “It was difficult psychologically for us but for the stage we are at we played really well. We were fit, aggressive and played good football.
“We could have scored more goals, but it was a very mature performance. We played badly in the first leg but a week later we are fresher and closer to the season.
“I didn’t know what the atmosphere would be like. This was the first time we could judge it and it was more than I expected. It’s loud.”