WEST Ham United have touched down in Sweden for the start of the
Club's pre-season tour. Alan Pardew's men will play three
friendly games to kick-off their Premiership preparations,
beginning with a clash against Falkenbergs on Thursday.
For the next week the squad will be based in the town of Kungsbacka, on the outskirts of Gothenburg in Southern Sweden. Pards said: This is a good chance for us to get some games under our belts early and really get us into the pre-season schedule.
"Since reporting back, everyone's been on a high and there's a real buzz around the training ground. "It's important that we hit the ground running with this trip to Sweden and make sure we get off to a good start.
"This is an exciting time for the Club and everyone in the
squad is looking forward to the coming weeks. "We're just
embarking on our pre-season preparations," added the Hammers
boss. "We have an excellent staff in place and I'd like to
reassure Hammers fans that this will be one of the most vigorous
pre-seasons in the Club's history.
"It's vitally important that we make sure the squad is strong and fast enough for the start of the Premiership season. "My backroom team has taken two years to build and now that it's complete I'm extremely happy with the set-up.
"Of course, the playing side is something that we look to continually improve and with promotion it's our aim to continue to take the Club forward on the pitch.
"We've made four new signings who have all settled into the squad very quickly. There is a terrific spirit within the camp from last season's Play-off Final victory and that's something we're looking to maintain and build upon for the new campaign.
"Going into the start of our pre-season schedule I'm very pleased with the shape of the team." However, Pards is still looking to add to his squad before the big Premier League kick-off against Blackburn Rovers on August 13th.
"I definitely want to bring in a striker and a midfielder," he said. "With the defence it is important to implement a level of strategy and discipline, which is why I wanted to get that area of the team sorted out first. "I want to continue to bring top-quality players to West Ham United. Our aim at the moment is to inject some more flair into the squad. The commitment and structure of the squad is solid, but we still need a player who will be able to unlock defences and turn games in our favour.
"Giving the West Ham fans a product on the pitch that excites them is definitely in my mind, because there is a long tradition at Upton Park of playing good football. "I want to bring that to the Premiership, but most importantly, we must take the Club forward in a constructive manner.
"West Ham United is a great club, which is run in an organised and disciplined way and it's certainly on the up." "We've got a fantastic young squad, you will not get better support from the fans and it's a very exciting time to join the Club."
Pards was disappointed to see experienced left-back Chris Powell leave Upton Park to rejoin Charlton.
"We offered Chris what we believed was a fair contract for somebody who would be our second-choice left-back," he explained, "but for his own reasons Chris chose to move on. "We must never forget Chris' contribution to the team during his time here, especially the Play-offs and the Final against Preston when he was magnificent.
"He's a good friend of mine and I certainly wish him well from everyone here at West Ham United. "I hope to be playing golf with him in a couple of weeks' time so there are certainly no hard feelings there.
"What we need to do now is bring in another left-back as cover for Paul Konchesky." Scotland midfielder Don Hutchison is another to have left Upton Park this summer after almost four years at the Club, following his move from Sunderland in August 2001.
"I can confirm that Don Hutchison has also left the Club," added Pards. "He's a great lad, but his contract has expired and I thought that it was best for all concerned to let him move on."I certainly wish Don well for the future. "I've also told Steve Lomas that he's no longer part of my long-term plans and that he's free to leave if the right club comes in for him."