Tony's Pre-season Test

THIS weekend sees the start of the Academy season as West Ham United travel to Bolton Wanderers and here Tony Carr gives his thoughts on the season ahead.
"In terms of preparation, the balance between games and training has been very good," said the West Ham United Academy Director.

"With regards pre-season results we haven't done particularly well and defensively I think we've conceded too many goals, which is something we need to tighten up on.

"But results are not the be all and end all in pre-season. In some games we've used trial players, which can disrupt the shape of the team, and really the main goal is to prepare the squad for the new season.

"We concluded our pre-season schedule with a tournament in Japan, which was a very interesting week and successful in terms of how the boys coped with the experience.

"We looked a bit tighter in defence over in Japan, so the signs are good and hopefully we will come into the new season peaking at just the right time.

"All in all, pre-season is about fitness and preparation and trying to get the squad to a point where come the first Saturday of the season everyone is ready and raring to go."

Tony and his squad flew back from the Osaka Tournament in Japan, where they finished third, under some pretty unusual circumstances, but he believes his players will be able to cope with the tough schedule this week.

"We heard over the weekend that BA had gone on strike and we were worried that we might be stuck an extra few days in Tokyo.

"Thankfully though when we flew out on the Sunday the only thing we had to contend with was a 20 minute delay. That and the fact there was no food on the plane, but all of the boys had brought sandwiches and the like with them so nobody starved.

"It's a tough schedule because we only got back from Japan at the start of the week, then some of the boys will have played in the Reserves last night and now they are preparing for the first game of the Academy season.

"But that is what it has to be and the players cope remarkably well."

It has been another successful summer of Hammers Academy stars past and present representing their countries. West Ham United had three representatives at the Nordic Cup in the shape of Lorcan Fitzgerald, Jordan Spence and Lee Hales, while this week Anton Ferdinand was chosen for the England Under-21 squad.

Tony added: "It's a fantastic honour that these boys represent their country and we just have to get on and try and promote younger players through the ranks.

"Some of the older Academy players have gone out on loan at the start of the season, which is another step in their development.

"They will be playing for and against teams who desperately need the points, and at this stage winning starts to become really important. They start to develop their mental strength and determination, and learn how to use their ability to help win a game, as well as simply developing their technique and skill.

"We are now looking forward to the start of the season and after a tough couple of weeks we will see how the players respond."