Razvan Rat has revealed West Ham manager Sam Allardyce told him he would have to wait for a place in the Hammers' starting line-up when the defender arrived in London this summer.
The Romania captain, 32, moved to Upton Park on a free transfer after his contract at Shakhtar Donetsk expired and might perhaps have expected to be installed on the left side of the West Ham defence immediately.
But Rat, who is likely to lead his country out for their World Cup qualifier against Hungary on Friday evening, said he always anticipated he would have to remain patient as Allardyce looked to maintain the stability he had managed to instil in a side that finished 10th on their return to the Barclays Premier League.
"In principle, West Ham finished the last season well," Rat told shakhtar.com
"The manager decided to leave Joey [O'Brien] on the left flank in the opening rounds of this league season. Even before the start of the season Sam Allardyce told me that in the opening rounds he would not field me in the starting line-up.
"This is normal. He wanted me to feel the atmosphere of the English Premier League - it's a new league for me and a totally different level. The coach explained to me that I should first get a feel for the English Premier League, and then he will play me."