Marrs leaves West Ham as “new era” dawns

James Marrs as manager of Gillingham and Brighton (Photos: Julian Hart/Sent Her Forward)

Marrs joined West Ham Ladies in July but left days after the club was taken over by West Ham United

West Ham United Ladies might have been taken “in-house”, but there’s no sign of a let-up in the upheaval at the controversy-hit club as they announce the appointment of their fourth manager in 15 months following the departure of James Marrs, who lasted less than three months. 

The Hammers say the coach’s exit was amicable, although neither the club nor Marrs has commented on the circumstances.

He is replaced by Greg de Carnys, head of performance at West Ham’s academy, who will combine the two roles, with assistants Josh Ewens, the first-team fitness coach, and captain Karen Ray, who is appointed the women’s first-team coach.

The latest drama happened only days after West Ham United took over the running of, and responsibility for, the women’s side following very public criticism of their alleged lack of support for the team.

Marrs, widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the women’s game, had been expected to remain to continue the rebuilding programme he started when he was appointed in July.

Although the previous administration – co-chairmen Stephen and John Hunt and chief operating officer Tim Hunt – all left as part of the deal to transfer West Ham Ladies to the Hammers, Sent Her Forward understands that Marrs’ departure was not a prerequisite.

‘Amicable’ agreement

Yet he was gone by the weekend – ironically, within hours of being cleared by an FA inquiry in respect of a ban imposed by Sussex FA following allegations relating to his time as head coach at Brighton, who sacked him in April.

West Ham United told Sent Her Forward that Marrs “stepped down” on Friday in what the club said was an amicable agreement.

Coach Colin Bennett stood in for yesterday’s first match as an integral part of the West Ham family – a 4-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in the London FA Capital Cup.

But De Carnys – formerly first-team assistant at Watford and an academy coach at Arsenal and Derby County – and his management team will hold their first training session with the Ladies squad tomorrow.

James Marrs, manager, West Ham, against Lewes, August 2016 (Photo: Sent Her Forward)

Marrs’ first league game in charge of West Ham was a 7-2 defeat at Lewes

Marrs, who had just begun to see significant progress on the pitch after a torrid start in his new job, has not commented, but if he does, his comments will be added to this article.

His resignation, as West Ham describe it, means more turmoil for the playing personnel, which has changed radically since last season, under Marc Nurse, who in turn had succeeded Julian Dicks in July 2015, when the former Hammer joined Slaven Bilic’s first-team coaching set-up.

West Ham began this season under Marrs with five defeats and a draw in their first six games in the FAW Premier League Southern, but performances had begun to improve, and they finally earned their first victory at the seventh attempt, against local rivals C&K Basildon on October 5.

Charlotte Gurr and Jay Blackie, who had been with Marrs at Gillingham and were members of his Premier League-winning team at Brighton last season, had joined at what appeared to be a new beginning.

Neither was in the squad yesterday.

Director Karren Brady and co-owner David Gold had both welcomed what Gold called a new era after the club took over the women’s side – currently 10th in the 11-team division, with four points from eight games – with the promise of good times ahead.

Gold told the club website: “If you want the ladies team to compete at the highest level, they have to be associated with the football club. We are now well on the way to doing that and hopefully, we will be able to challenge at the top level in the next few years.”

Fifteen months of turmoil at West Ham Ladies

June 2015 – Manager Julian Dicks leaves to join first-team manager Slaven Bilic’s coaching team
July 2015 – Marc Nurse is appointed his replacement
October 2016 – James Marrs leaves in an “amicable” agreement
Updated on October 17 2016 to include part of formal West Ham United announcement of new management team
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