Wardie Backs West Ham

FORMER Hammer Mark Ward reckons West Ham have what it takes to get back into the top flight - but admits the division is the toughest it has ever been.  

"It is amazing," he says. "I think it is probably the strongest first division for a long time with the likes of Leeds, Wolves, and West Ham competing for promotion back to the Premiership," he says.  

"You couldn't pick a winner - it is going to be a real strong season. 

"West Ham will be very hard to beat at home and the support there will be a real help as it was when I started playing for the Hammers in the 1985/86 season. 

"West Ham should be in the Premiership and I will be really crossing my fingers for them - and going to a few games before I return to Australia."  

Mark has been doing some coaching Down Under and adds:  "I have just got back from Australia where I have been for three months and I was following West Ham all the time. I was so gutted that they lost in the Play-Off Final.  

"But considering all the changes, they did very well to get into them last season and I think they have got a better chance this time around."  Mark thinks the signing of Sergei Rebrov could be a masterstroke and adds:  "I was speaking to a good friend of mine yesterday and told him Rebrov is a player I really admire - I think he will do well.  

"He was an £11m player when he joined Spurs and he is still young enough to do a lot of damage in the Coca-Cola Championship. 

"I have seen a lot of him when he was playing for Tottenham and skill-wise he should be able to dominate sides in this division even if he shows half of the ability he has. 

 "He can play alongside Teddy Sheringham without a doubt. He is neat, tidy, quick, goes past players, and scores goals.  "I am sure he has come back from Turkey hoping he can get back into the Premiership with West Ham." 

Mark is confident the Hammers can go one step further this time around and adds:  "The Club has lost so many great players over the last two seasons and when that happens to a side morale and confidence goes, but as I've said under the circumstances I think the manager, Alan Pardew, did a great job to get them into the play-offs.  

"Luck wasn't on our side in Cardiff,  but I think West Ham are one of the favourites for promotion this time, to be honest.  "The experience is there and they have some great young players as well. All the right qualities."

Mark is hoping to carve out a career in Oz and says:  "Soccer is going big time out there now and the European Championships helped because there are a lot of Greek people in Australia. 

"It is the second biggest Greek contingent outside of Athens and it was pandemonium when they won it.  "Soccer is played more in the schools now and a lot of girls are playing it. 

"There is cricket, rugby, and Australian Rules but soccer is coming on strong and I am hoping to open a soccer school there.  "It is a fabulous place and although the players are technically not as adequate as we are, they are great sportsmen and if you look at the national side they have got some excellent players.  

"When they get their best side out they are a match for anybody."