West Ham’s London Stadium - what do we make of it?
PUBLISHED: 17:30 09 August 2016
PA/Press Association Images
West Ham Correspondent Dave Evans gives us his verdict on the Hammers’ new home
Two matches completed at the London Stadium and what do we make of it?
A fellow journalist came up to me at half time on Sunday and said ‘It’s magnificent here, but it’s not West Ham is it?’ But that is sort of the point. Like anyone moving house, it takes a bit of time to turn it into your home.
When it comes to the view, it is not as bad as some fans had painted it. It is not as close as Upton Park of course, but it is no more distant than Wembley and the retractable seating does seem to be the best spots in the house.
The atmosphere is pretty good too. There have been quiet moments, but that is inevitable without away fans. When the crowd struck up with a rendition of ‘Bubbles’ and on Sunday, of ‘We’ve got Payet’ it was inspiring.
Of course there are minus points. The walk from Stratford station must be tough for some fans and the queues to get into the station afterwards need to be sorted as they are perhaps even worse than they were at Upton Park station.
But these teething problems can be sorted out and if West Ham are to move onwards and upwards, they need to be.
Sunday’s game against Juventus perhaps gave us a glimpse of things to come. Taking on the European giants is something that was always part of the overall plan for the club.
And despite the 3-2 defeat, the gulf between Juve and the Hammers was a palpable one.
“It was a good test for us,” said manager Slaven Bilic. “We started sloppily and if you are on the back foot and give them a yard, they can pass the ball and play football.”
The Italian champions certainly did that. Enner Valencia hit the post after a cautious start to the match, but that seemed to wake Juventus and almost immediately they were in front through Paolo Dybala.
It was 2-0 a couple of minutes later through Mario Mandzukic as Juventus cut West Ham open with a simple, but stunningly effective, pass-and-move tactic as they looked like running riot.
Andy Carroll met Sam Byram’s cross to bundle the ball in after Gianluigi Buffon’s save and make it 2-1, but it was Juventus who came closest before the break as Adrian made a fine save, Carroll cleared off the line and Juve hit the post all on the same attack.
It was something of a surprise when Carroll levelled, but as multiple subtituions stopped the flow, ex-West Ham target Simone Zaza had the last laugh as he got away from Reece Oxford to finish coolly with five minutes left to secure the Betway Cup.
“It was a packed stadium against one of the biggest clubs and best teams in Europe,” added Bilic. “If you give them three or four yards then it is easy for them, but after that start we were much more aggressive.”
There were lessons to be learned, but perhaps the most important of all is this stadium is a superb venue and it will surely serve West Ham well.
Don’t forget to check out our interactive West Ham timeline, telling the story from the Boleyn to the Olympic Stadium.