Sam Allardyce enjoyed a superb second season in charge at West Ham United.
The manager built on the promotion he achieved in 2011/12 by guiding the Hammers to the calm waters of tenth place on their return to the Barclays Premier League. Having put together a strong squad and laid foundations for the future, Big Sam was rewarded with a new contract in May 2012.
In the first part of an exclusive interview with West Ham TV, the manager told of his delight at the Club's achievements over the past two years and revealed his main priorities for the summer.
WATCH PART ONE OF BIG SAM'S INTERVIEW NOW!
Sam, can you please start by summing up your feelings about the 2012/13 season?
SA - "It's been fantastic from start to finish. It's been a hugely enjoyable season for everybody. We have had our down moments, like every club would have in the Barclays Premier League at some point, but those down moments have been few and far between.
"The overall performances and results have delighted everybody at West Ham United and especially at the Boleyn Ground. We have provided entertainment value and nine wins and six draws. Only four defeats says volumes for the part everybody has played this season. It's not just me, the backroom staff and the owners getting together and putting the squad together and the players on the field, but the fact that virtually every single home game was a sell out.
"The backing of the fans behind the players and the performances of the players have made it a very enjoyable season for everybody. Away from home, of course we'd have liked to have done better, but it's always better to perform in front of your own fans to send them home happy. It was a massively enjoyable season for everybody."
So, is the aim in 2013/14 to better what you achieved in 2012/13?
SA - "Yes, that's our minimum ask now, whereas tenth-place was our maximum ask last year. It's not just me demanding that but the supporters will be demanding it as well. They will be saying 'You finished tenth in your first year, so surely you can finish higher'.
"It does depend on what players we bring in and their quality, and on how much we spend. Unfortunately, for the first time ever, there is a restriction on that [spending] throughout the football in this country [with UEFA's new Financial Fair Play rules]. It will be difficult to deal with but we'll have to get through it and see how it works.
"Hopefully, at the start of the season we will have a stronger squad in terms of strength in depth and talent then we had at the start of last season."
What are your main priorities at this time of the off-season?
SA - "At this moment in time, our first priority is signing Andy Carroll, if we can. We have nearly finished our planning for pre-season and the players have all had their programmes given to them to take away to start training while they are relaxing at home or on their holidays. They are asked to do some active work while they are away so, when they come back on 1 July, they are ready to go and we won't have too many tight muscles. We want them to be able to cope with the demands we put on them from the very beginning.
"Then, it's about the recruitment of the other players who we want as quickly as we possibly can. That will be the most difficult part of this summer."
While the players will be working during their summer break, presumably the same will be true for yourself as you try to recruit new players?
SA - "The work never really stops over the summer, but I can do it from where the sun is shining because of the communication levels you can achieve today with the technology. Via Skype or phone or email or conference call, it is pretty easy to keep in touch with everybody and we can all link-up together if need be.
"If there is an imminent signing, then I'll be straight back to meet and greet the player and shake hands when he's signed the contract and to welcome him to West Ham United."