Sam Allardyce is excited about taking charge of his first West Ham United game this pre-season against Boreham Wood tonight as he welcomes a new assistant manager to his coaching team.
Rob Burgess-Allen won the right to be Big Sam's right-hand man for the day during the auction at the Player Awards back in May and arrived at Chadwell Heath early on Tuesday in a chauffeur-driven Bentley to prepare for the game with the squad. Regular assistant manager Neil McDonald will be on hand to offer some words of wisdom to Rob, whose new boss thinks it will offer a good taste of what goes on behind-the-scenes on a matchday.
"Rob can get a bit of insight and be close to the way we prepare and do things at this stage of the season, which is a lot more relaxed than later on in the season when the games are coming thick and fast," Allardyce said.
"I'm looking for him to be a good communicator and introduce himself to the lads. He should just enjoy himself and enjoy the fact that he's helping the Academy by bidding for the prize and I hope he get value from what he has done. We'll welcome him and hopefully give him a good day to remember.
"I'm looking forward to seeing Rob arrive in his chauffeur-driven Bentley to see the look on Neil McDonald's face to say 'Why do I never get treated like that?'"
The match has been arranged as part of the transfer of Development Squad midfielder Pelly Ruddock from The Wood to West Ham in December. As such, it is expected that Big Sam will start with a strong team at Meadow Park, before introducing some younger players such Ruddock, Kenzer Lee, Leo Chambers and Blair Turgott later on in the game.
"It's going to be a good day as we got one of their young players in and part of the deal was to play a pre-season game. As early as this is, it's good for the first-team squad to get in another 45 minutes. It helps Boreham Wood and it helps our lads in their preparation."
With the Hammers' trip to Austria last week focusing on intensive training work, Big Sam stayed in the UK to focus on securing more new faces for West Ham's Barclays Premier League return. He was in regular contact with McDonald and the coaching staff and was pleased with the progress the team made while they were there.
"Everyone seems to be moving along quite well. There was a small incident with Guy Demel got caught in the eye but he should be back in a couple of days.
"Right now, our main aim is to improve the quality of the squad and get some new faces in as quickly as possible. That has been the most difficult task of the summer."
West Ham United have been allocated 2,250 tickets for tonight's game, which kicks-off at 7.30pm. Tickets are available on the gate from £16 for adults and £10 concessions. Please see whufc.com's ticket news page for more information.