Match Preview: West Ham at Villa Park for season opener

West Ham have a new manager, a few new players, a renewed optimism and West Ham are rarely easy to beat and with all that is going on at Villa Park - the owner forcing decisions on the manager, so the manager has to quit, they will be coming here thinking they can leave with all three points.

Fortunately for us, we have Kevin Mac - a man that knows all the players and a man that is well respected for his footballing and managerial pedigree.

The only worry is, he maybe hasn't had long enough, but that is something he knew when taking over and that is something I am sure he would have factored into his game plan for tomorrow, but whatever happens tomorrow, it doesn't matter.

In the grand scheme of things, the result doesn't matter

We could lose 3-0 tomorrow and when we look at it with fresh eyes on Monday morning we could all come to the conclusion that Kevin mac tried to change too many things and the players were not ready for it. So what.

We could play out a boring 0-0 and see little invention but plenty of stubbornness - much like the O'Neill days. It doesn't matter.

We could go out tomorrow, play a super composed passing game, keep the ball better than we have done for years and win 3-0. It also doesn't matter.

Okay, three points would be fantastic, but if we don't get them, lets not throw the baby out. It is his first game, he has only had five days and if we lose, it is because of that, if we draw, it is probably because he played a cautious game and if we win, it certainly wont be because of five days with Kevin Mac.

If we had a time machine

A lot rests with Randy Lerner and Paul Faulkner. Now, if they are picking the team for tomorrow, we are doomed. However, if they have given complete control to all footballing matters to Kevin Mac and they have given him a period of time to demonstrate that he is capable of managing the club, then we have hope.

You see, Kevin Mac needs a bit of pressure too and he needs to know that this is a true opportunity and that he isn't going to be replaced next week or the week after.

Three questions with the opposition

This might become a regular section - it might not. You have to tell me if you want it for the next game. Basically I ask a blogger from the opposition three questions and we publish them.

For this game, I asked West Ham blogger Iain Dale three questions and here they are, with his answers.

1What do you think your chances are this season?
Better than last - unlike yours, I'd say! I'm gutted for you that O'Neill has gone. He's one of the few people everyone in football has huge respect for. We liked him for the way he treated Reo Coker... I reckon we have a good chance of finishing in the top half, but I think after last season we'd all settle for mid table mediocrity and give Grant a chance to build a team for the future.

2What do you think our chances are for this season?
It depends on who Lerner appoints as manager and who is sold. If Milner and Young go, I think you'll struggle to stay in the top half. I can't see where your goals will come from if Agbonlahor loses form. But you have a good central defence. James Collins is a player we all regret losing to you.

3What is your prediction for Saturday?
It's difficult to call. We have a team with four or five new players so it depends how they gel. We have had a good pre season, but that means nothing. I think a draw is the most likely result but I am optimistic we could grab three points if Carlton Cole is on form and our midfield performs to its ability.


Like Mr Dale, I'm also optimistic, so I'm going for a home win and I fancy Webcam will get a goal too. I think Webcam knows this is his football club if he wants it to be now and he is going to shine this season.

I'm not going to predict formation or team - only because Kevin Mac has told us that there is a clean slate for everyone so while I expect Luke Young to start at right back and Carlos Cuellar in the middle - I'm not sure.

I'm also not sure the formation he will play, but I suspect he might leave 4-4-2 where it should be left - in 1995, but we will find out tomorrow. I for one cant wait.

Match result and any time scorer odds

End note

There is a certain Thomas Hitzlsperger coming back to Villa Park tomorrow. This was once his home and I suspect if you gave him the opportunity again, he'd jump at it. Give him a nice welcome home.