Trevor: We're The Ones To Beat

Trevor Brooking reckons that West Ham will be the team everyone is desperate to beat in the first division next season.

The fixtures, released on Thursday, have focused the attention on the campaign ahead and Trevor says:

"I think a lot of matches will be played in a hot atmosphere; we finished quite well in the Premiership in the last three months and most people, depending on the comings and goings, are putting us as the favourites to bounce back.

"The expectancy level is there and we are going to have to cope with that but I do believe if we retain our better players we will be the side that everyone wants to do well against or beat.

"Most teams will raise their game to show they can match them so it will be important early on to get some good results and that includes any derby games like Millwall and Palace.

"It is a nice long trip to Preston for the first game and you'd have to be about 40 years old to remember that game which was the '64 cup final of course when West Ham won 3-2 with Ronnie Boyce getting the winner.

"Craig Brown, the old Scotland manager, is there now and after a transitional year last year when he took over from David Moyes I think they will be looking to push for a playoff place themselves, so it is not an easy game.

"I will probably have to tell my wife where some of these places are but I hope to get to quite a few games and certainly hope to be up at Preston for the opening day.

"Some of the home games are quite tough with three out of the first four the playoff teams from May; Sheffield United, Forest, and Reading, and then there are two London derbies to follow that in Millwall and Crystal Palace.

"So the first half a dozen fixtures will be important ones to make sure we start better at home than we did last season."

He anticipates transfer activity in July and adds:

"I think next month, when you think we lost eight or nine off the wage bill - which was fortunate from that point of view when you are trying to reduce the wage bill anyway - with eight games we will have to boost the squad.

"One or two will come in during the preseason and there will be loan deals as well depending on what we can arrange with Premiership clubs.

"That will help build up the squad."