'We want to improve'

Avram Grant completes his first week at Chadwell Heath today with his new squad in full swing as they prepare for the start of the pre-season friendlies.

With the manager still assessing his squad and looking forward to the first summer fixture at Peterborough United on Wednesday night, he has outlined his hopes for the season - and seasons - ahead.

"The target is very simple and I can sum it up in one word. Improve. We want to be better than we were last year. I can't say we want to be in Europe or in the Champions League.

"The ambition of every club should be to play good football. I'm very happy for this because this is my vision for football. There's always more than one way to win a football match. But we want to do it by playing good football but need to have players that can do it.

"We have good players here and we want to look for young players from the youth academy. We want players here who are experienced enough to play in the Premier League and players who know how to play football. That will be my target.

"I am looking in any area, of course, to improve the team, to make the team stronger. But we have just started training so I want to see by myself the players. I like to speak with the players but for the moment I am watching and I want to see them and then we will speak."

Grant got his first real taste of the Boleyn Ground as manager with his official unveiling on Thursday. He took a good look around the stadium and made personally sure he was able to meet as many of the staff as possible.

Pitch-side, he paid close attention to the huge billboards that feature Bobby Moore and Sir Trevor Brooking before revealing his affinity with the Hammers goes back to the golden days of the club's history. He remembered travelling to London to visit the Hammers of the early 1970s under Ron Greenwood.

"It was exciting for me to be here as this club had a tradition of football and it was a few years after the [1966] World Cup and West Ham were the key players in the tournament. It was just exciting to be here and see the training ground."

Such nods to the club's greats reminds that the burden of history will perhaps weigh on Grant's shoulders when he builds his own West Ham side. He is enthused, not fazed, by such a responsibility as West Ham United's 13th manager. "I hope that there is a pressure. Pressure in football is good.

"People speak about pressure like it is a negative word. But pressure pushes you to achieve something. So we will put the pressure on me and the players to achieve our targets.

"In football, I have said to the players, every year we need to improve and the target is to improve yourself from the beginning and prove that you can do things. This is what I like about [Manchester United manager] Alex Ferguson, their fourth goal against Wigan [last season], he is jumping up like a little child. But he always wants to improve himself.

"The minute you come to football and think you have proved yourself enough, it is the first step down."

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