Despite the often unfavourable kick off times, almost every Premier League game is available, making it fairly easy to follow West Ham’s progress and performances.
Sadly, that benefit does not quite extend to the second round Capital One Cup tie against Cheltenham Town on a Wednesday morning.
That meant an early start, huddled round a laptop searching fruitlessly for a live stream, a radio link and refreshing score commentary updates online.
The first news through was the team line-up. Four full debuts signalled Sam Allardyce’s intent to shuffle his deck for the cup tie.
What was encouraging was the inclusion of Leo Chambers. By all accounts, his solid performance backs up the positive sounds coming from the club about him, and ensures we may have greater depth in our defensive ranks than just the regular names.
The hype before the game (if indeed there his hype before a clash against Cheltenham), was about Ravel Morrison making his first start. He seems to have had an energetic display, capped off by a well taken goal.
The test of his temperament will come if he is not selected to start against Stoke City. One good outing against lower league opposition does not mean he can compete as well at the top level yet, and Sam Allardyce is not renowned for his tinkering just for sentiment. He picks on performance, and from the two Premier League results, there doesn’t appear much reason to change it up.
We once again created plenty of chances, with some good build-up play, but the lack of a finishing touch will further frustrate the manager. Had we been in a more comfortable position going into the final 15 minutes or so, he may have been tempted to give Lletget and Lee a run out to gain some first team game time.
The other stand out point for me too is, whatever the situation, Joe Cole and Stewart Downing are in direct competition. That was the second time in a matter of days they have swapped places. Whether Allardyce is testing who is better before installing one more permanently or just keeping both players fresh and oppositions guessing, is yet to be seen.
But what it does prove is there is competition in the squad, which is always a good thing. And given a long season ahead, it is great to see each player upping their game on every opportunity to guarantee as much match time as possible.
This wasn’t our first choice side by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a strong showing from the second string.
It has been an undefeated start to the season, our cup-run is successfully underway, and it’s sunny again in Sydney. It’s a good time to be Hammers’ fan.