Galey set for opening day

West Ham United will have a tough test on the opening day of the new Barclays Premier League season at Wolverhampton Wanderers but Tony Gale is confident for the new campaign.

The former Hammers defender turned Sky Sports pundit said facing top-flight newcomers is always a tricky test, and predicted it would be no different for Gianfranco Zola's men at Molineux on 15 August.

"The Wolves game is a tough one as you don't want to be facing the promoted sides first," Gale said. "They've still got their peckers up a little bit and they haven't had any good hidings.

"Although people will look at it and say 'that's an easier one on paper', it's actually not because you would probably prefer to face Wolves ten games in after they've had a few defeats."

Wolves manager Mick McCarthy guided his side to the Championship title last term and the home support in the Midlands will no doubt be in good voice as Wolves get their second spell in the Premier League under way.

"It's a big test and their crowd will be buzzing for the first game after coming up," Gale added. "It certainly won't be as easy as some people might think."

With the 'big four' teams set to visit the Boleyn Ground before Christmas, the second half of the campaign has thrown up some tricky-looking fixtures and Gale believes it is vital that West Ham start the season strongly.

"I always look at the run-in and although I can't see us being in any problems this season, it is not easy. I think we've got a tough run-in as we play Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool, Fulham and Manchester City.

"I'm thinking we could get off to a good start in the first half of the season and that's what we need."

Gale himself knows all too well about off to a flying start, having scored a superb free-kick winner against Coventry City in the opening game of the 1986/87 season.

"It's probably ranked as one of the best goals ever at Upon Park," Gale joked. "We knew what it was going to be like as they got ten men behind the ball. It wasn't until ten minutes before the end that we broke them down when I got a curler from 25 yards from Steve Ogrizovic. I didn't get many but that was one of the better ones."

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