Big Sam loving life

Big Sam is understandably pleased about how well his first seven months in the job as West Ham United manger have gone.

With his side sitting top of the npower Championship for the first time this season and a three-point gap to second-placed Southampton ahead of the visit to Ipswich Town on Tuesday, fortunes on the pitch are certainly looking good.

It is not just the results and the league table that are pleasing the boss, however, as he feels his team have been exceptional in the way they have developed a strong bond away from the Boleyn Ground this season.

"As I have got to know the players and build the club within the football fraternity, they have got more focused and ever more driven," Big Sam said. "I think the team spirit among the players has got better.

"They seem to be more united among themselves and that makes my job a little bit more enjoyable every time I come in."

Taking over a club with a following as big as West Ham's is no easy task, particularly as the Hammers had just completed a difficult season that ended in relegation from the Barclays Premier League. After dusting down and regrouping, Big Sam has instilled a steely determination in his squad to ensure that they are focused on just one thing - promotion back to the top tier.

"The pressures are no easier than I expected. The fact we are expected to do what we are doing and be where we are, there is no real praise coming from outside because that is what we are expected to be doing.

"We are working very hard for the ultimate goal and it is just a case of looking, listening and making sure everyone stays focused"

The first few weeks in his new role were certainly not plain sailing for Big Sam as he had to oversee a huge turnaround in playing staff. Several high-profile players chose to leave the club following relegation to the npower Championship and their places in the dressing room had to be filled with new blood.

"The start of the season was extremely difficult, the start of the job was extremely difficult but doing everything as quickly as we possibly could to get the squad together meant that we were able to get results quicker than perhaps might have been expected from me. The players have bonded very well and have grown as the season has gone on."

Due to the location of his new employers, Big Sam has had to quickly adjust to life living in the capital.but just like his players this season, he has taken to his new surroundings well.

"I am really enjoying life in London so far. One it is because I'm managing West Ham, two because we are winning and three because I like where I live.'

Millwall