Neil McDonald has hailed West Ham United's pre-season training camp in Austria a success.
The Hammers have been in the village of Bad Waltersdorf since Monday, working hard on their fitness on the pitch and in both the gym and swimming pool.
West Ham will complete their stay in central Europe by taking on 23-times Bundesliga champions FK Austria Wien in Vienna on Saturday afternoon.
With manager Sam Allardyce remaining in England to work on prospective new arrivals, No2 McDonald has been in charge in Austria and told whufc.com has been happy with the squad's start to the 2012/13 campaign.
Macca, it appears to have been a very productive week in perfect surroundings in Austria?
NM - It's been great. We have had some good training sessions and they've had plenty of the ball. They have worked on their fitness as well and done a little bit of technical work, which is excellent. It's been fantastically hot, but everybody has come through it reasonably well and we're all looking forward to the game now just to finish the week off.
The players must have been pleased to see the ball so often during their first few training sessions? It is all a far cry from when you were playing in the 1980s!
NM - It is totally different from when I used to play, of course, but I think the boys work even harder with the ball than they think they do. That's the reason why we get them out and they enjoy it. It's great to see them passing and moving and scoring a few goals as well, so it's been good for them.
Have you been generally pleased with the level of fitness among the players?
NM - It's still very, very early. That is the first week done and we've still got a lot to do. The boys have worked hard and we'll see if it pays off in the game on Saturday.
Aside from the players, the staff have also worked extremely hard to ensure the training camp has run smoothly. It is a huge logistical operation, isn't it?
NM - That's part of our jobs, to make sure that when the players turn up that everything is sorted for them. We did that all last year and it makes it nice and comfortable and relaxed for the players. It gives them a chance to concentrate on what they need to do and that is to play football and win matches. That is what we have done in pre-season for them - we get out here early it's not just a case of turning up and training. It is well thought-out and I think the lads appreciate it.
The new signings appear to have integrated into the squad quickly. Would that be fair?
NM - Yes. Mo [Diame] has slipped into things nice and easily. It's nice when you sign a player who has Premier League experience before and he's been fantastic. Jussi [Jaaskelainen] knows what the Premier League is all about and he's been training with Hendo [Stephen Henderson], so there is good competition for places in different positions. Whoever is going to get the nod will deserve it.
Finally, we are taking on FK Austria Wien on Saturday. They have been in pre-season training for a few weeks longer than us, so do you expect the boys to have to work hard against such opposition?
NM - That's right. I think they are two or three weeks ahead of us so it'll be hard work, but then it always is in the first game back. The majority of the boys will play just the 45 minutes so hopefully it'll be the perfect end to a perfect week.