Skipper Kevin Nolan has challenged West Ham to follow in the footsteps of former club Newcastle and set sail for Europe.
The Magpies fought their way back into the Barclays Premier League in the wake of relegation and managed to qualify for the Europa League just two seasons later. However, their hopes of repeating that feat were dealt a blow at St James' Park on Sunday when old boys Nolan and Andy Carroll, as well as former boss Sam Allardyce, returned and left with the three points.
Nolan, whose goal secured a 1-0 victory on Tyneside, is confident the newly-promoted Hammers can build upon a start which has seen them take 18 points from their first 11 games. He told the club's official website, www.whufc.com: "We knew that we had a big enough squad. What both chairmen did in bringing in new players and backing the gaffer was fantastic."
He added: "They were trying from day one that we got back in pre-season to get the players in, and I think it's showing. Hopefully, if we can steer clear of too many injuries, we are aiming to stick around that top 10 and have a comfortable season, and hopefully build on that.
"When I came up with Newcastle, I spoke about getting them back to where they belong, and it's the same with West Ham, getting into Europe and then back to the top end of the table. With the support and plans we have got, that's where we should be aiming for, the same success that Newcastle have achieved."
Nolan struck six minutes before half-time in front of the Gallowgate End, where he was once adored by the locals. As a mark of respect, he shelved his customary "chicken dance" celebration, but there was no hiding his delight.
The 30-year-old, of course, might still have been a Newcastle player had owner Mike Ashley sanctioned the long-term contract for which he was looking during the summer of last year, but he will continue to look back fondly on his time on Tyneside.
He said: "I loved everything about this club when I was here, and I still do. I have fond memories and many friends and my family enjoyed it up here. My little boy is a Geordie.
"I thought it was a fantastic performance from us. I was delighted to get the goal and just delighted with how the day went. I would like to thank the Newcastle fans for the fantastic support they gave me while I was here, and for the reception they gave me on Sunday.
"Obviously I could not have asked to have gone to a better club than West Ham for the following we have got and the commitment they have shown, so I'm delighted to be at another wonderful club. Hopefully I can do as well for them as I did up here."
- Sports & Recreation
- Barclays Premier League
- Europa League