'Evolving West Ham are like no other Premier League team', says boss of Europa League opponents

Slaven Bilic - West Ham Vs Birkrikara

Marius Sumudica, the manager of West Ham United's Romanian Europa League opponents FC Astra Giurgiu says the Hammers are a one-off in the Premier League.

Sumudica has seen a lot during his managerial career so far having taken charge of no fewer than 16 clubs over nine years in three different countries.

So the former striker, who scored 100 goals in 350 games during an equally nomadic playing career, is well qualified to talk about the different challenges posed by teams his side come up against in the Europa League.

Having got a taste of British opposition when Astra saw off Scottish Premier League side Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the last round, Sumudica hopes his players can cause Slaven Bilic's Hammers problems in the first leg at Upton Park tonight.

But having watched the Irons in their pre-season friendly at Norwich on Tuesday night, he has told West Ham's official website he was left somewhat intimidated by what he saw.

"They left a very good impression, the team has changed under the new manager and I can say they play a different type of football to the other English teams," Sumudica told whufc.com.

"They have a high pressing line and they try to play football.

"We will have to be very careful, (they) have a very high quality."

Praise is far cry from '19th century football' accusations

Sumudica's words are a far cry from the kind of assessment opposition managers have been making of Sam Allardyce's West Ham in recent years.

Managers have been quick to label the Hammers one-dimensional and a "long ball team" in recent seasons.

Most famously Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho accused the Hammers of playing '19th century football' – as reported by the BBC at the time – after their defensive display earned them an unlikely point at Stamford Bridge two seasons ago.

Allardyce was always quick to refute any such claims, saying it was an unfair tag that has never left him since his Bolton Wanderers days.

Are Hammers rediscovering their roots?

But West Ham and their fans have always prided themselves on playing attractive, attacking football true to their Academy of Football roots.

However, under Sam Allardyce many supporters grew tired of what they saw as negative tactics, particularly away from home.

So they will find it refreshing to hear a neutral such as Sumudica speak in such glowing terms about what he described as Bilic's 'evolving' side especially given the fact the Croatian is only a month into his Hammers tenure.

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