The summer break might not have been as long as they would have wished, but West Ham United will hardly care now that they are preparing for a season in the Premier League rather than the Championship.
Joint owners David Gold and David Sullivan demanded promotion from manager Sam Allardyce last year following the club’s relegation to the second tier after the disastrous tenure of Avram Grant (perhaps the worst manager in Premier League history).
And alhough automatic promotion was the aim, everybody connected with the club will be delighted that it is trips to Manchester and Liverpool this season rather than Barnsley and Huddersfield after their play-off win over Blackpool in May.
Of course, given their budget and the players at their disposal West Ham should have walked the Championship – something which Allardyce must take responsibility for after too many dropped points at Upton Park cost them the title – but there was a happy ending and both the club and Big Sam will feel they are back where they belong.
Winning the play-offs, great as it is, does have a downside, however, as it makes pre-season a little bit more difficult than it should be. The summer break is shorter, and the uncertainty about which division the club is playing in can affect transfer targets. Allardyce will no doubt have had a contingency plan (he does love a wheel and deal, after all) but it means West Ham are at a slight disadvantage as the big August kick-off approaches.
It is perhaps because of this uncertainty that the Hammers have been playing matches against lower league, mainly local opposition, but their preparations will kick on now they have arrived in Germany for a pre-season tour.
The first match of their German stay is a fixture against FC Rot-Weiss Erfurt, who currently play in the 3. Liga. West Ham are the 91/100 favourites with bwin to emerge victorious, with their hosts at 12/5 and the draw at the same price.
FC Rot-Weiss Erfurt began their season on Saturday, losing their opening match 3-1 away at Wehen Wiesbaden to start their fifth consecutive year in the third tier of German football in poor fashion.
But even allowing for a fitness deficiency fitness, it is hard to look beyond the Hammers for this one. Erfurt have finished fifth the last two years but haven’t been able to gain the promotion they so dearly crave and have none of the quality of West Ham, who at 91/100 are good odds-on things in this friendly.
Recommended bet: West Ham @ 91/100
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