Once upon a time West Ham were Upton Park and the east London ground was as synonomous with West Ham as Old Trafford is with Manchester United.
But in 2005 the super city of London was awarded the Olympic Games of 2012. For the event a new stadium was contructed commencing in May 2008 and eventually completed in October 2011.
Thereafter, came the question about what to do with the huge construction in East London; the legacy of the games if you like. While both West Ham and Orient considered moving it was announced on 22 March 2013 that West Ham United had signed a 99-year lease for the Olympic Stadium after the government agreed to put in an extra £1 million towards the costs of converting the site.
The current West Ham side may be doing well but it has not always been this way.
Just a few seasons ago it seemed that unhappiness with the club owners would spill over into something quite nasty. A pitch invasion at the stadium saw the board being confronted by fans hostile to the malaise on the field which many perceived was not helped by the unfootball friendly venue.
Since the appointment of David Moyes as manager for a second time in 2019 West Ham United have become a compact and high achieving side; and a successful season culminated in the qualification for the Group Stages of the UEFA Europa League for season 2021-22.
Success under Moyes
One of England’s star performers at Euro 2020 Declan Rice is a powerful box to box midfielder who quite soon could be departing West Ham for in excess of £50m.
West Ham eventually settled this Group H Europa League Group Stage contest with two fine goals the first coming on 29 minutes from the hugely impressive Rice. The often ungainly Rice was a commanding presence in midfield, bursting forward to score the opening goal that saw Rapid fans react to home fan celebrations.
But like the West Ham fans who defended themselves ain the face of Austrian agression Rice has never being slow to engage in eye catching defensive responsibilities which Rapid (like fans in away area) could not find a way past.
Sitting three points above Dinamo Zagreb West Ham are excelling in their first competitive run in Europe for many years. Winners of the 1965 Cup Winners Cup in a team that included Bobby Moore Moyes has installed a pragmatic and solid steel to a side notorious (and which prides itself) for good football but consistently proves to be brittle at the back.
It looked at one point however that Rapid would find a way back into proceedings deep into the second period. The referee, Tobias Stieler, awarded a soft penalty but eventually reversed his decision after consulting the pitchside VAR monitor. The young right-back, Ben Johnson, had made no contact with Marco Grüll when the Rapid substitute tumbled in the area forcing the referee to disappoint the Rapid penalty taker who stood waiting with the ball in his hands.
In the crucial final third of the game West Ham brought on a group of impressive subs which included Soucek, Lanzini and eventually Fornals. Niether of these players were brought under control by Rapid and a final sub Bowen should have put the game to bed just before the 90 minutes were up.
Deep into additional time West Ham sealed another 3 points through Said Benrahma who cut in from the left and placed a strike past Paul Gartler.
West Ham look a completely different team to the disparate group of individuals which struggled under Pellegrini and during Moyes’s first interim period at the club. Moyes now has the best win rate of any manager ever in place AT the club (48.8%) and the current season may well see the team qualify for the UEFA Champions League.
West Ham: Areola, Johnson, Dawson, Diop, Cresswell, Noble, Rice, Yamolenko, Vlasic, Behrahma, Antonio (Subs: Fornals, Lanzini, Bowen, Soucek).
Rapid Vienna: Paul Gartler, Emanuel Aiwu, Leo Greiml, Kevin Wimmer, Maximilian Ullmann, Dejan Petrovic, Srdjan Grahovac, Kelvin Arase, Christoph Knasmullner, Taxiarchis Fountas, Ercan Kara (Subs: Ljubicic, Stojkovic, Auer, Grull, Kitagawa)
West Ham United Album