Sam Allardyce is loving life in London and loving life as West Ham United manager.

Big Sam is about to embark on his tenth season as a Barclays Premier League boss, having enjoyed spells with Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers prior to joining the Hammers in July 2011.

Now happily settled in Canary Wharf and looking forward to building on two successful seasons in the Hammers hot seat, the manager is relishing what promises to be an exciting and challenging 2013/14 campaign.

"It has been a really good couple of years for me, not just from a football point of view, but from the fact that we're enjoying our time living in Canary Wharf," said Big Sam. "The big city has been great to explore and it takes the pressure off when you want to get out and get away from it all, you've got plenty to do and plenty to see.

"Obviously with the football side going well as well, it has been a really good two years. And hopefully it will be more successful, building up to getting in that new Olympic Stadium.

"I think the fans will all be itching to get the season started again. When they see everybody coming back for pre-season, everyone starts looking forward to the start of the season. With great expectation, every club will be expected do better than they did last season."

While the pressure-filled Barclays Premier League is still two weeks away, Big Sam has been working hard with the Board and his recruitment staff all summer, identifying and attempting to sign transfer targets.

Four new players have already joined - Andy Carroll, Razvan Rat, Adrian and Danny Whitehead - while the Club have made no secret of their desire to bring in one more forward.

That said, the manager is delighted that he has not had to overhaul his squad to the same extent that he did in the summers of 2011 and 2012.

"It has been one of the quietest pre-seasons I've had for about eight years I'm glad to say. We have done some good business, obviously the Andy deal was the first one. We've got a new goalkeeper, Adrian, from Real Betis, who seems to be settling in very well.

"We've got Razvan Rat from a defensive point of view, so we're probably looking at securing one more player within the budget we've got available this summer. And hopefully that will make us a little bit better than last year.

"From our point of view, we have to look at everybody else's spending throughout the summer up until the deadline. Then we'll have a better idea of if the Premier League going to be any stronger from last season and that's the challenge you have to face up to."

West Ham have three pre-season fixtures with Portuguese opposition to tackle before the big kick-off at home to Cardiff City on Saturday 17 August. The Hammers will face Sporting Clube de Portugal and SC Braga in the Algarve early next week before welcoming Pacos de Ferreira to the Boleyn Ground on 10 August.

Looking further forward, Big Sam is hoping his squad will make the same strong start that stood them so well last term.

With home games against Cardiff and Stoke City and away matches at Newcastle United, Southampton and Hull City to begin, the manager believes the Hammers can put points on the board again in August and September.

However, the manager is eager for West Ham to improve an away record that saw them win just three times in 19 games on the road last term.

"Yes, they are [winnable games]. Our home form was the key to our success and our away form, in the end, wasn't very good, considering that when we got promoted the year before our away form was better than our home form. So it was quite strange from that point of view.

"The fixtures have been reasonably kind but there are no easy games in the Premier League as everybody knows. A good start for us like last season, we got 14 points out of the first eight games, is something that we need to target yet again if we want to be as good as were last year.

"With that group of fixtures, not that I'm saying that they're easy, but if you started off with Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester City in the first eight, that would be difficult. But we haven't got that to begin with and we need that strong start yet again."

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