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Cottee: Use Europa League as pre-season preparation

08:00 04 June 2015

Tony Cottee

Tony Cottee

EMPICS Sport

Our West Ham columnist Tony Cottee discusses the Europa League, new signing Darren Randolph and departing Carlton Cole

Chairman of West Ham United David Sullivan  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)Chairman of West Ham United David Sullivan (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Our place in the first qualifying round of the Europa League has been confirmed now and I actually think it is a good thing, but it does depend on how we approach the tournament.

If we approach it as part of our pre-season and use it as a chance to build up to the new season then it shouldn’t be a problem, but the last thing you want to do is bring players back earlier than they should be back for it.

It is a bonus for me and if we get through to the group stages then great and if we don’t, well it was good for our pre-season plans. The problem is that it does put a strain on the squad if you are playing every Thursday and Sunday and unfortunately we haven’t got a squad good enough to compete in the Europa League.

Reece Burke of West Ham on his Premier League debutReece Burke of West Ham on his Premier League debut

I see it as an opportunity to blood some of the youngsters like Elliot Lee, Reece Burke and Reece Oxford. They can all get game time, but we do need to add other players. The trouble is you can’t really do that when you haven’t got a manager in place.

It does baffle me why it takes so long to appoint a new manager. I guess they are sieving through the candidates and making sure they pick the right man because that is a hugely important decision.

If the players are going to come back in late June to get ready for the Europa League a decision needs to be made sooner rather than later.

Darren Randolph when of Birmingham   (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)Darren Randolph when of Birmingham (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Although we haven’t got a manager in place we have signed goalkeeper Darren Randolph and we need him as back up to Adrian now Jussi Jaaskelainen is moving on.

I hope I am not speaking out of turn here, but I believe Phil Parkes was instrumental in the signing. I believe the deal was done on his recommendation and if the greatest goalkeeper in our history is happy with Darren then he should prove to be a good signing.

We said goodbye to Carlton Cole last week and I have always sung his praises. He has always given 100 per cent and it is important to remember when we were relegated in 2011 he took a pay cut. He has scored some important goals during his time at the club.

West Ham United's Carlton Cole.West Ham United's Carlton Cole.

Guy Demel and Jussi were also released and they all played their part in our progress. You have players that get you out of the Championship and then players who help you establish yourselves as a Premier League club and we have done that now thanks to Big Sam.

Those players have all played their part and I just hope we can replace them. You want to replace them with even better players because otherwise we will be going backwards.

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