Upton Park was filled with the supporters of West Ham in a game against Andorran Lusitanos for UEFA Europa League first round qualifying first leg. Not only the game itself which those spectators were waiting for, there is one more attraction which is more enchanting for them, it was Slaven Billic, the man who will be in charge of manager position of West Ham United this season. Billic came out of the tunnel five minutes before the kick-off and so the crowds made a very loud uproar to welcome their new leader. However, Billic was not in charge of the team that time, he had the academy manager, Terry Westley to give instruction to the players.
The new era of the club under Billic is expected to bring the club to higher level among English Premier League big teams. They will move to the Olympic Stadium in 2016 – 2017 which is also expected to bring them a new success in all the competitions the Hammers are in. Now as the club taste the continental competition once again in Europa League, they will reflect on their 2006 UEFA Cup when they were beaten by Italian representative Palermo.
Lusitans which were accompanied by their 82 fans in their visit to East London could not do much against the home team which regularly play against Premier League giants. The differences in all aspects between the two teams were clear as day. Lusitans could only hold the dominance of the Hammers attacks in 90 minutes. The Andorran side managed to hold all the Hammers’ attempts until 40th minute when Diafra Sakho opened the first goal for West Ham. Sakho scored another goal before the first half ended. The last goal was scored by the Hammers’ captain James Tomkins who also took care of team-sheet required for pre-match hunting.
The 3-0 lead is a good result for the Hammers before they go for the second trip for the second leg. The success of this first game left a question whether the result of the match really represents Billic’s capability as the team’s manager since he did not directly lead the team. Bilic succeeded the previous manager Sam Allardyce on June 9 but he appointed Westley to take care of this match. Westley bravely included four youngsters in the starting line-up but everything went according to plan and the match ended in their victory. The Hammers still need to break through three more two-legged ties to reach the group phase of the Europa League.