The kids are alright for Big Sam

Sam Allardyce was happy with a good afternoon's work as West Ham United registered their first pre-season victory with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win against Schalke 04 on Saturday afternoon.

After the game had failed to deliver a goal over 90 minutes, the shoot-out matched the biblical weather outside by raining goals, with two Jussi Jaaskelainen saves proving decisive as the Hammers ran out 7-6 winners. A maiden pre-season win coupled with five Under-21s gaining valuable first-team experience - Diego Poyet, Elliot Lee and Dan Potts all netted in the shoot-out - saw the West Ham United manager conclude that the game was a perfect preparatory exercise.

"The game was very good from our point of view in terms of the physicality and the technical ability of Schalke, which took us to a level we haven't reached before in pre-season," Big Sam said. "We were a bit unfortunate to win it on penalties as the woodwork stopped Schalke scoring a couple of times during the match.

"But from our point of view it was a very good exercise, not only from the senior point of view but also as we played five Under-21 players and that experience has been massive for them in terms of the demands of first-team football."

Although Jaaskelainen's matchwinning save sent the near 1500 Hammers fans inside the Veltins Arena into wild celebrations, Big Sam was keen not to put too much emphasis on results at this stage of the season. Instead, he was keen to place the focus on fitness and familiarity, with the Barclays Premier League opener against Tottenham Hotspur now just two weeks away.

"I don't really worry about winning games in pre-season," he explained. "It's a means to get the players to match fitness and results are not the important thing. It's about steering clear of injuries and building up that sharpness and the team getting to know each other.

"We've obviously got quite a few new players that have arrived and young players that have integrated into this pre-season, which is great for everybody. It is always nice to win a game of football of course!"


Earlier on Saturday afternoon, the manager had exclusively told of his desire to sign another striker as what would be his seventh summer signing. After a series of names were thrown at him during the post-match press conference, he was keeping his cards close to his chest, but he did admit the Joint-Chairmen had been working hard back in the UK to secure one of his top targets.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Certainly while we've been here the Chairman has made enquiries, whether they can be finalised I won't know until I get back. Everyone is working hard to bring in a new face to give us the opportunity to score the goals with the chances we're creating.

"We've got Enner Valencia but obviously we need to do three weeks work with him before we consider him for the first team so we've got other players we hope will be successful on the front line in that time."