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West Ham Cottee: Europa League group stage would have been a great experience

PUBLISHED: 14:31 31 August 2016

West Ham legend Tony Cottee

West Ham legend Tony Cottee

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Our West Ham columnist is looking forwards but thinks the Hammers have missed great opportunity

Astra Giurgiu's Cristian Oros (left) and West Ham United's Cheikhou Kouyate (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League - Play Off match at the London Stadium, London.Astra Giurgiu's Cristian Oros (left) and West Ham United's Cheikhou Kouyate (right) battle for the ball during the UEFA Europa League - Play Off match at the London Stadium, London.

I have made my opinion about European football quite clear in this column in the past and that is why I am gutted that we went out to Astra last Thursday.

Getting into the group stage would have been great experience to our players, but I am one that is always looking forward and we just have to get on with it.

On reflection, when you look at our injury list and the amount of Thursday games we would have played, perhaps it is a blessing in disguise for us.

Thursday’s game was such a low-key performance. We had chances, but you never felt that we were likely to score and that was a big disappoiontment for me.

West Ham United's Michail Antonio scores his side's first goal of the gameWest Ham United's Michail Antonio scores his side's first goal of the game

Sunday’s game at Manchester City was certainly one of two halves.

I said last week that I wanted us to park the bus and with three centre-halves playing, it looked like we were going to do just that.

But in the first half you have to say Manchester City were superb and we could not have argued if they had scored three or four goals.

It was a different story in the second half when Sam Byram came on and Michail Antonio moved further forward.

Simone Zaza West Ham's new signingSimone Zaza West Ham's new signing

We got a goal and you have to say that we caused them a lot of problems.

Michail Antonio scored another goal for us and then got his international call-up and I have to say he really deserves his chance.

If Big Sam wants a quick right winger who can score goals, then there is nobody better in the England set-up. Just imagine him playing with Kyle Walker on the right.

For Mark Noble it was another disappointment. I think the problem he has is that there are so many top class midfielders and even Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere missed out.

I think he just has to keep battling and working hard and his chance may come.

We have signed another striker in Simone Zaza and I think that makes it six at the club right now, which is maybe too many, even if some are injured at the moment.

Maybe one or two of those will have to go out, and maybe we should look at other positions before the window closes tonight.

Despite our exit from Europe, I am still confident we can have a good season in the Premier League.

We have a week off for the international break and though sometimes that can be disruptive, I think it has come at a perfect time.

When we return we should have a much stronger line-up.

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