West Ham’s O’Brien: We are under starter’s orders

Hammers defender Joey O’Brien believes the first 10 games will decide West Ham’s destiny this season

West Ham are under starter’s orders in the Premier League and for defender Joey O’Brien, he thinks the start is the most vital part of the season.

Of course, there are no easy games in the biggest league in the world, but when you scan the opening few fixtures for the Hammers there is the possibility of points aplenty and that is exactly what they are aiming for.

“It is all about how we start in those first six or 10 games,” said O’Brien, who has a wealth of Premier League experience, despite still being only 26.

“When you look at the likes of Swansea and Norwich last season, they had good starts and went on to have a good season, it really is all about the start and getting those points on the board.”

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West Ham will visit both Swansea and Norwich in those first 10 games and they will also look to glean as many points as they can from clashes with Aston Villa, Fulham, Sunderland and Southampton at home, as well as on trips to QPR and Wigan.

It is a glorious early opportunity and the Hammers hierarchy were determined to make full use of it, that is why they returned to pre-season training earlier than any Premier League team, despite only clinching promotion on May 19.

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“I think we need to be stronger for the start of the season,” said the Ireland international. “The manager made the point that we need to be ready for the get go, so we came in a bit earlier to get that bit stronger so that it won’t take us three or four weeks into the season to get going.

“We will be ready from the start.”

When the Hammers were last in the Premier League under Avram Grant it was once more the start that was to prove crucial.

They were given a tough task, but of their first six games they lost the first four, including an opening day encounter with Villa, drew the fifth, before finally getting their first win against Spurs on September 25.

Something similar this time round would be disastrous and everyone knows it is the secret to the season.

“I think it is one of the reasons we came back early,” said the defender.

“We are looking at the first 10 games and if we are in a comfortable position after those, then I think we are going to have a decent season and of course, the opposite means a tough season.”

The question is, are West Ham strong enough to make that glorious start? O’Brien is confident.

“Player wise, a lot of ours have been in the Premier League,” he said. “They know what it takes and I think that is very important, I don’t think you can beat that experience.

“On the other hand we have boys who haven’t done it and they have plenty to prove that they are good enough at that level.”

After the disaster under Grant two seasons ago, everyone at Upton Park has something to prove.

Whether they can do just that remains to be seen.

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