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View from the South Stand - West Ham United 24/10/11

Brighton and Hove Albion host recently relegated West Ham United at The Amex on Monday night infront of the Sky Sports cameras.

With the Hammers being arguably the biggest side to visit our new ground in league action, we asked Gordon Thrower from the famous to answer some questions for us as Gus Poyet's men look to end their seven game winless streak

West Ham were obviously being talked about as one of the pre-season favourites. Can the club make an instant return to the Premier League?
Yes – we still have a decent squad but we need to improve consistency. We’re second as I write this without actually having been on any sort of run yet.

With a quarter of the season gone, who do you think will be the sides battling it out at the top this term?
I think the current top 4 (Southampton, us, Derby & Boro’) will be the ones looking towards automatic promotion. Throw Ipswich, Leeds – and despite their start – Leicester into the mix for the playoffs.

There was a lot of talk about Big Sam not fitting into the West Ham style. How is he doing so far?
There have been spells in matches where we’ve played football. Those are the matches where we’ve profited from getting the ball on the deck, out to the wings and getting crosses in. Then there have been spells where we’ve lumped it long to an unsupported striker (or three as the manager insists it is). That hasn’t worked. We are second at time of writing so I suppose we’re where we need to be but I’d prefer to see more of the former style than the latter – not just because of the aesthetics – we’ve got more out of playing that way.

Obviously we've spent twelve years playing at an athletics stadium and can safely say it was bloody awful. Do you think you will one day be watching your home games from the Olympic Stadium and what is the general consensus among the fans about the potential move?
Well the Withdean wasn’t a great place even for athletics really! I think we will end up at the Olympic Stadium eventually, though exactly how it’s going to look for football nobody knows. There haven’t been any proper plans set out yet so everybody’s  perception is based on the current seating arrangement plus where the athletics infield is at the moment. That’s obviously far from ideal. There are strong views both for and against moving – the one area of consensus being the lack of fan consultation over the move in the first place.

David Gold and David Sullivan seem to be characters that divide opinion in the game. How would you say they are doing at Upton Park so far?
I think there’s a grudging respect for SuGo (as we call them) insofar as whilst they may not be everyone’s cup of tea, they have stuck their hands in their pockets. Hey have made mistakes though – the appointment of Grant and the failure to replace him while there was a chance of staying up were errors by their own admission. At the end of the day they were just about the only serious game in town when it came from rescuing the club from the Icelandic ownership. We were effectively owned by a bust bank that had made no effort to run the club so the fact that we now have owners trying to actually do something with the club is an improvement on that.

When they took over they said they had a seven year plan to take West Ham into the Champions League. Is there any realistic chance of that ever happening and where can you see the club regularly finishing under their stewardship?
It’s nice to aim high but realistic? For that to happen we’d need to improve our financial position beyond all recognition whilst those in contention for the so-called Champions League spots would have to stand still. As we’ve seen with Liverpool’s recent grubby little bid to try and go it alone on tv rights, everything is geared towards maintaining the status quo for those clubs, You’ll always get the odd blip such as Spurs gate-crashing the party but that will always owe more to one of the top four having an off year. A regular challenge for European places should be a realistic aim once the finances are sorted out but the changes to the European competitions over the past 10 years or so have ruined that for fans.

You've obviously got the big name players like Kevin Nolan who Albion fans will be looking out for. Are there any less heralded stars we should be wary of?
Sam Baldock is beginning to show promise. However his selection depends on the system employed. Whilst there have been signs that a nice little partnership between Baldock and Carew is beginning to develop, Allardyce has made no secret of the fact that he will tinker with the formation on a match by match basis. Matt Taylor is useful from dead ball situations – but is an injury doubt.

How much do you know about Brighton and Hove Albion?
Although you’ve gone off the boil a little bit since the start of the season there’s still a useful side there. It remains to be seen whether you can maintain the promotion challenge – no disrespect intended (honest!) but squad depth may be an issue over the season. Poyet seems to have a promising managerial career ahead of him and you may find him difficult to keep hold of him if you’re not challenging once the Premiership panic buttons start to be pressed. Mackail-Smith was a target for us during the summer – apparently we “dithered” over the fee. He’s impressed me in what I’ve seen of him on the box this season and he’ll have a point to prove. I’m amused by the inclusion of some famous players relatives in the squad (Bergkamp & LuaLua) – though I’d beware if someone called Sid Messi comes knocking on the door. And I’d check with Southampton before returning any calls from George Weah asking for a chat about his cousin.

Obviously this is your first visit to The Amex and arguably the first really big club to visit the stadium in the league. Are you looking forward to seeing our new home?
I was looking forward to the visit – I was surprised you didn’t go for a big club to christen it (!). Unfortunately the change to midweek (thanks Sky) coupled with a family bereavement means I’ll watching this one on the box. Glad you finally got it sorted out though.

Finally, a score prediction please?
I’ll plump for an entertaining 2-2

Many thanks to Gordon Thrower for his insight into the forthcoming fixture. You can follow Knees Up Mother Brown on Twitter and send them lots of lovely tweets about the game.

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