Paul Lambert kick-starts his managerial tenure at Aston Villa with a trip to newly promoted West Ham on Saturday.
The former Norwich coach has been handed the task of guiding Villa up the table after the club endured a horrific campaign under Alex McLeish, which saw them avoid the drop by only two points.
The signings of Feyenoord pair Ron Vlaar and Karim El Ahmadi and Brett Holman from AZ Alkmaar will add a much needed boost to the squad.
And despite conceding six goals against Nottingham Forest and Werder Bremen in their final two games of pre-season, Lambert is pleased with the side’s performance throughout the offseason.
“It will be a tough game at West Ham, but I’m looking forward to playing for real,” he said.
“I can’t ask for any more from the players in terms of effort.
“There’s been some tough games and they’ve done well.”
Meanwhile, Sam Allardyce may split opinions among fans and pundits alike but the manager has proven his worth at Premier League level.
Allardyce has kept Bolton and Blackburn in the Premier League and West Ham will be hopeful of a similar performance beginning at Upton Park on Saturday.
West Ham’s pre-season has been less than impressive, consisting of two losses, two draws and just one win from their past five outings.
However, the recent influx of players has played its part.
Allardyce signed a staggering eight players, while seven have headed for the exit doors.
Known for his wheeling and dealing, the former Newcastle manager has attracted Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton) and Mohamed Diame (Wigan) on free transfers, with the likes of Alou Diarra (Marseille) and Modibo Maiga (Sochaux) joining for a combined total of seven million pounds.
Prior to West Ham’s relegation in the 2010/11 season, goals from Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor lifted Villa to a 2-1 win at Upton Park on April 17.