Michael: Onwards And Upwards

Michael Carrick insists that West Ham are looking to continue their upward curve in Glenn Roeder's second season in charge - and thinks the personnel are there to do it.

Michael knows that West Ham exceeded a lot of people's expectations last campaign, and is only too aware that to do that again, having finished seventh, will require a monumental effort.

But he is confident that that is exactly what the players can give, and, on the eve of preseason training, says:

"I can't wait to get back; we finished on a high last year and I am sure the lads who were on World Cup duty will return full of confidence.

"Hopefully we can build on what we did last year, not slip down the league.

"We want to carry it forward and keep improving, and if we can finish in the top six next year then it will be a great performance from everyone.

"You want to keep getting better - it is no good having one good season finishing seventh and then finishing 13th or 14th the next season, because that is not going to do anything for you.

"You want to be with the big boys and bridging that gap into that top six - we want to be part of that."

And, incredibly for a 20 year old, he believes the youngsters snapping at his heels will carry the club on!

Michael has seen what talent, including, it must be said [though not by Michael himself], is coming following him through the ranks, and adds:

"It is possibly the best crop of lads for a long while and it goes with the experience and the talent we have got at the moment.

"There is nice mix and blend to create a good team."

Although the campaign should see in the continuing, if not complete, maturity of himself and Joe Cole, he says:

"I think it is going to be a big year, but not just for me and Joe, who both had injuries last year.

"It will be a big team effort and we will all have to stick together because you very rarely have your strongest eleven.

"It has become more of a squad game because the days of knowing your strongest 11 and sticking with it are done.

"I'd be surprised if we had the same team twice last year; you can always get injuries and suspensions - let's just hope they are kept to a minimum."