Almunia: West Ham are the best team in the Championship

Hammers loan goalkeeper Manuel Almunia is convinced that this West Ham squad has what it takes to bounce straight back into the Premier League

West Ham’s new goalkeeper Manuel Almunia believes the Hammers are the best team in the Championship after keeping a clean sheet in his second West Ham game against Blackpool on Saturday.

The experienced Arsenal goalkeeper stepped in at a day’s notice for the Crystal Palace match following the injury to Robert Green, but he now feels that he has settled into his new surroundings at Upton Park.

“The first game came very quickly, I just trained one day and then I played after not playing for a few months,” explained the 34-year-old Spaniard.

“But in the last week I’ve been training every day, making contact with the players and setting things up and everything is right now.

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“I feel very good and happy with the victory today.”

In truth, Almunia had very little to do against the Seasiders as the West Ham defence held them at bay, and the goalkeeper rates the Hammers back-line very highly.

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“I was very pleased with a clean sheet and with the work and effort of the team,” he said. “Blackpool are a good side, they played in the Premier League last season and we were expecting some better play from them, but I think we used our style well.

“We have a strong defence. They are Premier League players and they have the qualities and the skills to be great defenders in this league,” he insisted.

“With good communication we can do anything because these players have talent to be playing in the Premier League.”

So are they better than the Arsenal defence at the moment? Almunia was suitably diplomatic.

“It is a different style,” he said. “Arsenal like to play with the ball from the back, so that is different to West Ham’s style, but we have the right players for that.

“For me, we have the best team in the league. As well as that I think everyone is very committed, the team as well as the manager and I think we are going to be at the top of the table for the whole season.”

So what about the goalkeeper’s ambitions? Does he want to stay at West Ham and is it a huge drop to play in the Championship?

“I want to play as many games as I can here and not disappoint the manager and the club,” he said. “We will have to see about anything else, but at the moment I am happy.

“It is a good club, nice people and that is enough for me. It is good to play the game again and with people here it is easy.

“It is football. Champions League or Championship or anything, you have to do the same things.

“The style is different and the quality of the players is different, but it is football and I enjoy playing no matter what category.”

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