We all know the better team doesn't always win in this beautiful game of ours and after watching West Ham play Blackpool in the npower Championship Play-Off Final at Wembley on Saturday, I'd have to say the old adage was borne out once again.

Congratulations of course to Sam Allardyce and the Hammers but I genuinely think that if Carlton Cole had been playing for Blackpool rather than West Ham, we'd have seen a very different result. Matt Phillips had two or three very presentable chances for the Tangerines and if he's stuck them away, it would be Ian Holloway and his players thinking about Premier League football as they stretched out on the sun loungers this summer.

I suppose no-one should have been surprised by the manner of West Ham's victory. The ability to grind out a result has been one of the hallmarks of their season and you've got to admire a team that can go to Wembley on such a big occasion, not really fire on all cylinders and still walk away with the required result.

Thoughts inevitably turn to next season for both clubs and for Blackpool it will be a pivotal summer. The good news for Ian Holloway is Kevin Phillips' decision to activate a clause in his contract that will keep him at Bloomfield Road for another season but I'm sure Ollie will be preparing himself for overtures from other clubs for the likes of Tom Ince and Matt Phillips.

Saying that, I'd expect Holloway himself to be in demand. It's very easy to get caught up in the media circus that surrounds him and the happy-go-lucky persona he cultivates but brush aside all that and he has a proven track record and while I'm not suggesting he wants to leave, it would be naive to think certain club chairman aren't giving him some serious thought at the moment.

Blackpool did well to reach the final after the disappointment of relegation 12 months ago but they know it will be harder to do it again next season. The arrival of Wolves, Bolton and Blackburn will spice things up while I expect Leeds and Ipswich to be stronger and more consistent next term and if you add Leicester and Middlesbrough into the mix, we have a fascinating battle on our hands.

And that's not to rule out the two clubs definitely coming up from the npower League 1 - Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday - who will be mindful of what Norwich and then Southampton achieved with their recent back-to-back promotions.

But what next for West Ham? A big party obviously but then Sam must begin planning for next season and I don't think he'll be under any illusions that the squad needs a significant overhaul.

It seems a bit churlish to pick holes in a squad that has just won promotion but you have to be brutally honest and I think Sam's top priority must be to add a bit of pace into the mix at Upton Park. There's more than one way to skin a cat in terms of surviving in the Premier League, as Norwich and Swansea have shown this season, but doing it without pace is a tall order.

The other big question is whether Sam will be prepared to be a bit more expansive next season and in the process placate certain sections of the West Ham crowd who still aren't convinced he's the right manager for the club.

I'm guessing Sam will stick to his principles.

It's been an uneasy marriage ever since Sam got the job but he has delivered on his promise to get the team promoted, which I'm sure will make him feel vindicated. I just can't see him suddenly becoming a convert to all-out attack next season, especially with his previous experience of the Premier League with Bolton, Newcastle and Blackburn.

I heard this week that Sam is in no rush to extend his West Ham contract, which has 12 months to run, but I don't think anyone should read anything suspicious into that news. A five-year deal means nothing if you get sacked, so I'm really not convinced the failure to extend Sam's current contract represents any lack of commitment on either side.

The expectation levels at West Ham next season - not to mention Reading and Southampton - will certainly be high. There was a time when it was all about survival in the season immediately after promotion but the way Norwich and Swansea have prospered in the Premier League, not forgetting that QPR did manage to stay up, has not gone unnoticed.

I don't believe any of the three clubs leaving the npower Championship will be getting ahead of themselves but I do feel the supporters will be dreaming of a little more than merely finishing 17th or better.

And why not? It's all well and good being pragmatic and practical but there should always be room for a bit of aspirational thinking as well.