Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Rat won't race into Hammers team

Razvan Rat joined West Ham on a free transfer this summer

Razvan Rat has revealed West Ham manager Sam Allardyce told him he would have to wait for a place in the Hammers' starting line-up when the defender arrived in London this summer.

The Romania captain, 32, moved to Upton Park on a free transfer after his contract at Shakhtar Donetsk expired and might have expected to be installed on the left side of the West Ham defence immediately.

But Rat always anticipated he would have to remain patient as Allardyce looked to maintain the stability he had managed to instil in a side that finished 10th on their return to the Barclays Premier League.

"In principle, West Ham finished the last season well," Rat told shakhtar.com

"The manager decided to leave Joey [O'Brien] on the left flank in the opening rounds of this league season. Even before the start of the season Sam Allardyce told me that in the opening rounds he would not field me in the starting line-up.

"This is normal. He wanted me to feel the atmosphere of the English Premier League - it's a new league for me and a totally different level. The coach explained to me that I should first get a feel for the English Premier League, and then he will play me."

Allardyce's decision has arguably been vindicated as his side have conceded just one goal in their first four autumn fixtures.

It proved to be a costly concession, however, as Jermaine Pennant's free-kick earned Stoke a 1-0 win at Upton Park last weekend to leave the Hammers with four points from three league games.

But the club's defensive strength was once again highlighted in a 1-0 friendly victory over Espanyol on Thursday night.

Allardyce used the international break as an opportunity to take those not involved with their countries to Spain for a practice match to help keep their fitness levels high.

And the former Blackburn boss was delighted with the outcome, with a Mark Noble penalty ensuring the team travelled home with a win under their belt.

"It was an excellent game," Allardyce told the club's official website.

"It's a different way to play when you're away in Europe. It's not like the Premier League where it gets frantic and high tempo all the time.

"We played the game out really well, and with no injuries too, which is the most important thing. It's a very good workout and it's given the young boys a real experience.

"For the senior players too - James Tomkins, Adrian in goal, Matt Taylor - it was important for their match fitness. For the whole squad from the aspect of tactical, technical and fitness it was very, very good.

"It was a worthwhile workout for our players in the international break and now we hope our international players come back without any problems."

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