‘I know what it will take for us to go on and win this division’

West Ham Ladies boss James Marrs outlines his vision for the club

I t’s great to be in charge at West Ham Ladies and I’m very much looking forward to the challenges ahead. It’s very different to life at Brighton but that’s a passage in my life that’s gone now so just want to be focusing on where I am now. There’s lots of work to be done at West Ham and it’s going to be a tough job to try and get the club up near the top of the table but one that we’re all looking forward to trying to complete.

I won the league with Brighton last season but it was a long hard slog and I know from that experience that there are no easy games in this league – as we found on the opening day at Lewes. The Women’s Premier League is a tough division and it is a difficult one to get out of at the right end, so my primary objective is to keep the club in the division, anything on top of that will be a bonus.

We have a talented squad here and the players are currently working hard in training, as well of adjusting to some different ideas that are being brought in. Something we’re keen on is applying for the club to be given Tier 1 status as a Regional Talent Centre (RTC); this would allow us to develop the next generation of English female football talent. I was fortunate enough to be in and around the RTC at Brighton so I am familiar with what needs to be delivered on the grass and also familiar with some of the structure that would need to be in place off the grass. We wouldn’t want our project to be the same as anybody else’s as that would be what made us different.

I would hope that I could maybe add one or two ideas as to what I believe should be in the RTC project but that would be down to the board and those at the top of the club to make the decision. In the meantime, I would like to improve the squad in order to ensure that we have the best possible chance of competing in this division and am hopeful of bringing in some new additions.

In order to succeed in this league, the spine of your team has to be strong and competitive and your fitness levels normally have a part to play as well. If you can get both of those correct then you have an excellent chance of doing well.

My top priority will be getting the players’ fitness levels up to the level they need to be in order to compete in this league; against Lewes, they weren’t quite up to that level and it showed. We’ve got some tough fixtures coming up this month, with Coventry, Basildon and Palace all visiting us at Thurrock in September and we’ll have to bounce back quickly from the opening day disappointment at Lewes in order to take points from those fixtures, as this league isn’t a forgiving one and mistakes are punished quickly.

Th e club pulled in some decent crowds last season, especially for the visit of Spurs at the Boleyn Ground towards the back end and the support from the fans really does make a diff erence out there, so I’d encourage as many Hammers fans as possible to get down Ship Lane and cheer on the Ladies when they’ve got a free Sunday.

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