George Parris: ‘The sun is rising on a new era at West Ham but let’s hope it’s not another false dawn’

Even with the new manager and new faces coming in, I still think we should finish around 7th, 8th or 9th

Post-match sun setting at the West Ham United v Manchester City EPL match, at the London Stadium, London, UK on 16th September, 2023.

Whenever a new manager comes in, you hope that he hits the ground running and the release of the Premier League fixtures will have an impact on Lopetegui’s start to life as a West Ham boss. I know all games in the Premier League are hard but he won’t want to play last season’s top six home and away in his first six games.

He’ll want games where it’s likely he can get some early points on the board to help everyone settle. He’ll definitely want to get a home victory under his belt early doors too. I’m sure he, like us fans, will be pouring over the fixtures once they come out and plotting where we’ll most likely get points from, and which months will be toughest.

As for the players, they will be looking forward to meeting the new manager and hoping to make a good impression from the start. They will be playing for themselves first and foremost because they’ll know if they don’t perform well, then they won’t get into the team.

Depending on where they were in the pecking order under Moyes will also have an impact on their thinking. If you were one of the first names on Moyes’ team sheet, you’ve got to go again to make sure you’re in the new manager’s plans but for those who were frustrated with a lack of game time under Moyes, now is their chance for a fresh start and a chance to impress the new manager.

And, of course, Lopetegui will want to bring in new players and I’m sure there are conversations going on already, even though the summer transfer window doesn’t open until mid June. There are also a good number of players whose contracts are up this summer so he may have already had an input in these discussions, but certainly he will also want to ensure the likes of Bowen, Kudus, and Paqueta remain West Ham players.

He’s certainly going to be kept busy at the very start of his time as West Ham manager, and it’s going to be interesting to see who stays, who leaves and who arrives. What won’t help him is the Euros in Germany as this can delay transfers, it always makes things a bit more unpredictable.

Even with the new manager and new faces coming in, I still think, as I’ve said before, that we should finish around 7th, 8th or 9th. That’s where I feel we are as a club at the moment. Now, I’m sure because we finished towards the lower end of this that people might be disappointed but it really was a bit of a topsy-turvy season, and a season of two halves.

From a player’s point of view, whenever you finish a season badly, people forget how well you did in the first half of the season. In an ideal world, you’d want the good and the bad to be spread out throughout the season, but it was just a good thing that we had a lot of points on the board around Christmas time because after that, we really did fall away.

I would hope that we would be fighting for seventh again next season because usually, for most seasons, that will be enough to get European football. I’m sure there will be people looking back at the season and pointing to a few games where we could’ve done better and could’ve picked up more points to get seventh but that wouldn’t have been good enough to get a Conference League space with United winning the FA Cup.

But there’s a good foundation for the new manager to build upon after three top nine finishes in four seasons and a European trophy in the cabinet, and I think we’re all hoping we can secure European football again after this upcoming season. This gives us something to aim for this season because our Europa League run last season was amazing, a fantastic journey. It was just a shame we couldn’t take it further and reach the final.

My only concern is that the expectations from some fans will be that we should be breaking into the top six but I’m not sure that’s as realistic as aiming for seventh. Either way, it’s important for the team to hit the ground running next season and get some points on the board early to ease us all into the campaign.

As for Moyes, I don’t think he’ll be out of a job for long. I actually spoke to him at the recent League Managers Association dinner. I personally thanked him for his time at the club and what he’s done, and he seemed quite relaxed about it all. I’m sure if he wants to be back in the job soon, there will be jobs there because it seems to be a manager going every day at the moment.

As I wrote in my column last month, I think him leaving at the end of the season just gone was the best for all parties. We’ve seen in the past that managers don’t tend to leave clubs by mutual consent, they are normally sacked so I think it was right that they reached an agreement and it was announced before the last home game of the season against Luton.

Finally, I mentioned the Euros a bit earlier, and on paper, I think England have a fantastic chance of winning the tournament. If we can stay clear of injuries, then I see no reason why we can’t win it.

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