Football: West Ham in race for fitness

West Ham United 1 Jokerit 0

PAULO WANCHOPE should formally become a West Ham player later today and Harry Redknapp wants to sign two defenders as soon as possible, but for the time being the club's most important new recruit is an Italian of indeterminate age named Arnaldo Longaretti.

"Arnie", or "Aldo", who previously worked with Roy Hodgson at Blackburn, is being employed as a fitness coach until the end of August, by which time a gamble in entering the Intertoto Cup will either have paid off with a place in the Uefa Cup, or will look like a bad misjudgment.

If it succeeds, West Ham will have played 10 matches in six weeks, but will still be two games behind almost everyone else in the Premiership. If they fail to come through the three two-leg rounds, even Redknapp admits: "It wouldn't be worthwhile".

Hence the importance of Longaretti's role in bringing the players to peak fitness unusually early. As competitive football got underway on Saturday, even before the school holidays had started, it did not require the observational powers of an expert to note how badly the home side faded after half-time, or why. They had been back in training for only 10 days - a surprisingly short time, given the importance being attached to this competition by a club long smitten with European football but starved of it for 18 years.

Jokerit, for all their limitations, are in the middle of the Finnish season and are therefore far better equipped to cope with a rush of games and Saturday's heat. Briefly bemused by the ball skills of Joe Cole and Paolo Di Canio, as Paul Kitson headed a smart goal and Trevor Sinclair hit the inside of a post, they realised soon after half-time that their vaunted opponents were not just running out of steam but clanking to a halt.

Mika Nenonen, a Finnish Under-21 international midfielder, broke past labouring defenders three times in the last 20 minutes, twice forcing Craig Forrest to save and once curling a shot past the post.

Redknapp must hope his team are sharper, as they should be, by Saturday's return game, in which success would mean a second-round tie against Hammarby, of Sweden, or Heerenveen, of the Netherlands.

Despite having Rob Jones from Liverpool on an extended trial, he would still like to reinforce his defence, if possible with the return of Everton's Slaven Bilic. Steve Potts, deputising for the injured Ian Pearce on Saturday, broke his nose, while Marc-Vivien Foe, having unexpectedly turned down the chance to join Liverpool, has suffered a bout of malaria.

Wanchope's arrival should make football's East Enders one of the most attractive teams in the country going forward - "we'll need three balls", Redknapp said - but there may not be many goals left in television presenter and male model Ian Wright, an ineffectual substitute against Jokerit, who yesterday suggested that this might be his final season.

Goal: Kitson (18) 1-0.

West Ham United (4-3-1-2): Forrest; Potts (Wright h/t), Ferdinand, Ruddock, Minto; Lampard, Lomas, Sinclair (Keller, 60); Cole; Di Canio, Kitson. Substitutes not used: Moncur, Abou, Coyne, Carrick, Bywater (gk).

Jokerit (4-5-1): Laaksonen; Rasanen, Hyrylainien, Holmgren, Tuunainen (Paavola 37); Helin, Roiko (Rantanen, 61), Nenonen, Koskela (Pylkas, 80), Viren; Sumiala.

Substitutes not used: Hiukka, Lehtinen, Yla-Jussila, Heikurainen (gk).

Referee: M Liba (Czech Republic).

Bookings: West Ham: Lomas. Jokerit: Rasanen.

Man of the match: Cole.

Attendance: 11,098.

Chris Sutton and Didier Deschamps made their debuts for Chelsea on Saturday in a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City. Sutton, signed for pounds 10m from Blackburn this month, made little impact and was replaced at half-time by Tore Andre Flo. Gianfranco Zola was on target for Chelsea, who were denied victory by Birmingham central defender Michael Johnson, who scored seven minutes after half-time in front of 7,779 fans. Zola had pounced on a mix-up between his former Chelsea team-mate Eddie Newton and Birmingham midfielder Bryan Hughes to give the Premiership side a 26th-minute lead. Chelsea took off most of their big names as the match petered out into a draw.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships