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Chris Goreham: So it seems West Ham have moved on a touch since the last time City played them

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:12 02 September 2019

Jamal Lewis could have done without the bubbles at the end of the match on Saturday. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Jamal Lewis could have done without the bubbles at the end of the match on Saturday. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

Whatever has happened to West Ham United since Norwich City were last in the Premier League?

The Hammers have morphed into a club that suddenly plays in front of 60,000 supporters and can afford to pay £45 million for a striker.

I knew they'd got their hands on the London Stadium on hugely favourable terms but, having had my head buried in the Canaries' Championship quests over the past three seasons, I had failed to fully grasp the sheer scale of West Ham's transformation.

Their new ground has no history according to its detractors. That sentiment conveniently forgets London 2012 and all those gold medals won by British athletes when, for a few weeks at least, everyone in the country seemed to be getting on with each other and pulling in the same direction.

It's a time that seems as distant now as our commentary position was from the pitch on Saturday.

It may be churlish to complain about the quality of the view when I didn't have to pay for a ticket to watch Norwich City's latest Premier League defeat but it does sum up the sacrifices West Ham have had to make to be able to build a squad that was too good for City at the weekend.

The London Stadium is a perfectly nice place for a day out.

I've seen athletics there and enjoyed myself and could imagine turning up for a concert and having a pleasant experience.

The facilities are all shiny, in perfect working order and there are plenty of places or food, drink and retail therapy nearby.

For tourists looking to experience a Premier League football match it absolutely does the job.

Most people who go to games aren't like that though.

Supporting a team means entering wholeheartedly into a tribalism which runs so deep that it creates a belief in an ability to play a genuine part in what's happening on the pitch.

The London Stadium doesn't have the character of a 'proper' football ground. Many Hammers still pine for Upton Park where supporters were right on top of the action.

It was regarded as one of the most intimidating venues for away sides and the match day experience of the weekend just gone certainly made me appreciate Carrow Road for its compactness and its ability to at least give the impression that the feelings of a crowd are being noticed during a game.

For a while it seemed that West Ham had been so blown away by being allowed to move into the old Olympic Stadium that they had a transfer policy that involved only signing players who were good in 2012. Joe Hart, Patrice Evra and Jack Wilshere are just three such examples of a theory that was backed up further when they appointed David Moyes as manager.

In my mind that's where West Ham still were as a club and when the Premier League fixture list came out and Norwich were issued with an opening five games that included Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City I was rather pinning my hopes on Newcastle and West Ham being the best opportunities for salvaging something from a brutal looking first six weeks.

The Canaries can perform better than they did on Saturday, there's no doubt about that, but the match also provided a cast iron reminder as to how difficult this season is going to be whenever they drop below the relentless intensity we saw in that fine win over Newcastle.

There is still plenty of time to learn lessons and make sure that when we return to the London Stadium next year we are all better prepared for the impressive machine that a Felipe Anderson inspired West Ham now are.

Besides, I had some cracking commentary lines about Norwich City enjoying their own 'Super Saturday' in the Olympic Stadium that will have to wait for at least another year.

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