From The Other Side - West Ham United
Ipswich Town travel to face Championship title favourites and former playoff rivals West Ham United at Upton Park on Tuesday evening. Looking ahead to kickoff, we got in touch with our colleagues at Vital West Ham to get their opinions on the match as well as the past, present and future for each club. So, From The Other Side, here's what they told us:
Vital Ipswich: Looks like it's been quite an eventful year for West Ham United. What have fans made of the last twelve months at Upton Park?
Vital West Ham: They've been horrible! Relegation is never an easy pill to swallow and although we eventually accepted the inevitable, slipping out of the top flight has been a real kick in the nether regions. Our managerial rollover didn't help and part of me wonders if it was a mistake to sack Gianfranco Zola and bring in Avram Grant. Thankfully Big Sam Allardyce looks to have steadied the ship and we're optimistic we can bounce straight back up.
Vital Ipswich: What do you think was the biggest factor in the Hammers' relegation from the Premier League last year, and how might it have been avoided?
Vital West Ham: Having the wrong man in the managerial role! By the time he was eased out of the door it was too late. We should have looked at the warning signs coming from Portsmouth the year before.
Vital Ipswich: Your squad looks pretty impressive at this level and you've had a good start to the season - is it an absolute must this year for West Ham to win promotion, or beyond that, the Championship title?
Vital West Ham: Promotion is a must. We need Premier League football to be able to sustain our dream of moving into the Olympic Stadium. Filling such a venue will be a challenge in itself but if we are a Premier League club we stand a better chance. But, with no respect to teams like Doncaster Rovers, we'd never fill it for that sort of game. Winning the title isn't that important, I'd settle for a last-gasp play-off win if it meant we were back in the Premier League come next August!
Vital Ipswich: Wouldn't we all! How are the fans feeling about the departure of Scott Parker? Were the majority expecting it after relegation, and is there much disappointment that he decided to go?
Vital West Ham: Scott was a legend, nobody can blame him for going. He gave so much to the Hammers cause, playing when injured and driving us on in the face of adversity. What surprised me was it took so long for a Premier League club to snap him up! We're disappointed he's gone but we realise it was, probably, inevitable.
Vital Ipswich: What do you make of new manager Sam Allardyce? How do you feel he has performed in the job so far, and is he the man to take you back up?
Vital West Ham: Sam has been a breath of fresh air. Stories of him being a long-ball merchant have been found out to be not true and his signings have all settled in well. If Big Sam can't take us up then I don't know who can!
Vital Ipswich: I don't know how much you follow what goes on in Suffolk, but do you have any views on what has been happening at Ipswich Town over the past year? What do you think we might achieve this season?
Vital West Ham: I watched the Roy Keane situation from afar and I've also watched Paul Jewell coming in but that's about as far as it goes. You've got some decent players, Jimmy Bullard is no mug and that lad you have in goal, David Stockdale, is good. I'm not sure you can win promotion but if you can get the foundations in place who knows when it comes to next year.
Vital Ipswich: On to the match then - funnily enough, since Norwich's promotion, this is probably the closest Ipswich get to a local derby this season! How will West Ham fans treat this clash, and do you think there may still be a rivalry from our playoff contests a few years back?
Vital West Ham: Not sure the rivalry is two-way! We've got a small club called Millwall not too far down the road! As for the play-offs, they're in the past now and our playing staff have moved on.
Vital Ipswich: As did ours at the time, and we've never gotten as close since! And yes, I should imagine feelings towards Millwall are rather more 'intense' than anything towards East Anglia! Anyway, who do you feel will be your key men for this match?
Vital West Ham: Kevin Nolan and Henri Lansbury are our men to watch, plus we've got a pretty decent keeper between the sticks, despite him being remembered for that England gaff.
Vital Ipswich: Yes, we remember Lansbury and Robert Green from up the road! Never mind the gaffes though, England have better goalkeeping options anyway - I think there's a chap at Portman Road... *wink wink!* So then, how about the Ipswich side - is there anyone who catches your eye?
Vital West Ham: Jimmy Bullard - but for injury this lad would have gate-crashed that England side he was so close to in his Fulham days. We'll have to be wary of his free kicks!
Vital Ipswich: Neck on the line time then - what's your score prediction, and where do you think each team will finish this season?
Vital West Ham: The score, this Tuesday, I'll go for 2-1 West Ham. As for the season, West Ham to get promoted and Ipswich to finish seventh!
Our thanks go to Vital West Ham for their participation in this interview. Here's hoping for a good game at Upton Park - and maybe a minor upset too!
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