Big Sam says West Ham United make an instant impact when they kick-off their return to the Barclays Premier League on 18 August.
With a first game of Aston Villa at the Boleyn Ground in a reverse of the first game of the Premier League season two years ago. Avram Grant's side went down 3-0 that day at Villa Park before losing their first four Premier League games, Big Sam in speaking to West Ham TV has warned that his new-look West Ham side cannot afford a similar start.
"The first nine games up to Manchester City are ones we must try to achieve as many points as we can. It will be hugely difficult but not as difficult as what follows," he told West Ham TV. "We get through October and then November and December are the toughest months of the season, not only because of the fixtures but the number of games we have to play.
"We've got to get off to get off to a flying start and achieve as many points as we can in the first nine or ten games. The fixtures are difficult though; nothing is going to be easy at all."