Sorting The Men Out From The Boys

Author: . Published: at 8:08pm

Written by @farehamhammer

Like a heroin junkie desperately needing a daily fix, West Ham fans are desperate for stars to emerge from The Academy. Harping back to the days when The Club’s Academy, was envied and respected all over the world. We kept on producing top quality players, players who were taught to play football the right way. Stylish inventive football on the deck. Sadly, those days have long since gone, but it has not stopped fans clutching at straws. You only had to look at the Luton Town bench, for the recent Check-a-trade match against our U23’S: On the bench was Dan Potts son of Steve Potts, and the Lee brothers Olly and Elliot. All played for our Academy and were thought to have a great future in the game. None, more so than striker Elliot Lee, who scored a hatful of goals for the U21’s. The clamour for him to be picked for the first team, was greater than the demand that David Moyes picks Tony Martinez. Sadly, Elliot Lee was not good enough and got released and struggles to make the Luton Town first team.

To make it in the harsh world of Professional football is a tough ask. It is equally as hard for Clubs to attract the right sort of players to The Academy, Clubs are competing for an ever-decreasing pool of players. Many complain there are too many foreign youngsters in our Academy’s. Yes, that is true! But what choice have Club’s got, when there are not enough local boys good enough to make the grade? Twenty-five to thirty years ago things were very different. You had far bigger families for starters, five, six or more children in a family was not unheard of then. Today you often get a family of a single child or two children in it. Marriage was the in thing back then, as a result the father was always around encouraging his lads to play football. With, the internet explosion kids have a whole array of attractions they can involve themselves in.

Twenty-five to Thirty years ago kids would put down jumpers down as goalposts, and two teams of twenty a side would play football, till Mum called them in for tea. Kids were always their hero’s when playing in these games. The highlight of these games was on a Sunday afternoon, when the old-man would rise himself from the sofa after a few beers, pot-bellied, decides he is Bobby Moore, next thing he is charging round a pitch full of kids. Sadly, he only lasts ten minutes, realizes father time has caught up with him. Turns around and heads meekly back to the sofa. Football, and more football, was what young lads lived for then. Not now. Things that matter now is how many kills in Call of duty, spending hours on Facebook. Different times, different interests. But, in a season of so much negativity, we have got players from The Academy who with a bit of good luck will make the grade and save The Club millions.

One of the pleasing aspects on David Moyes managerial reign is, that he is taking a real good look at the youth, sorting the men out from the boys. I’m afraid that both Josh Cullen and Reece Burke, are not going to make the grade in my opinion. Both played under Phil Parkinson at Bradford City and followed him to Bolton Wanderers. That they struggled to get into the Bolton team, who are bottom of The Championship speaks volumes. Cullen was ok against Shrewsbury when moved to centre midfield, nothing more. League one is their level in my opinion. I fail to see the fuss made about Domingos Quina, the Portuguese attacking midfielder. I’m afraid at this stage it is more hype than anything else. Part, of the problem is that the hype is mostly promoted by his agent, always trying to hawk him round to bigger clubs. But, if you think it’s all doom and gloom at The Club, and more so specifically The Academy, nothing can be further than the truth.

We have four players who stand a great chance of making the grade, Declan Rice, 18 is a future captain in waiting. Such composure on the ball, has been a great success in defence and when called to play in midfield, has been calm and used the ball intelligently. What price young Declan in years to come? Millions. When people say we have only one creative player at The Club. I would have to disagree, we have the wonderfully talented Martin Samuelsen, so skilful, so good technically, the elegant Samuelsen glides across the park, a West Ham player if ever I have seen one. Sure, he had a couple of poor loans. So, did Frank Lampard Jnr as a kid. There are all sorts of reasons why loans may not work out. Sometimes it’s because a style of football is different, or there is a managerial change. The important thing is Martin is back at The Club, playing well and knocking on the first team door.

Another player who I really have high hopes for is the winger Nathan Holland, who is injured unfortunately. He is pacey, direct, reminds me a lot of Matty Etherington. Finally let’s take a look at two players who have been on the bench. Sead Hakšabanović attacking midfielder, and of course Tony Martinez who made his debut against Shrewsbury in The FA Cup. Hakšabanović like Rice, 18, is a skilful, attacking midfielder who never stops working. What impresses me most about him is the intelligent use of space. At 18 and already a fixture on the bench, tells you how highly The Club rate Sead. So, they should! Finally, we come to the striker Tony Martinez. At U23 level he has a telepathic understanding with Martin Samuelsen. I’m unsure about Martinez to be honest, although I hope he does make it. He, seems to score a hatful of goals, then have a period when he does not find the net. Never the less that we have five youth players that have every chance of making the grade, should excite every West Ham fan. The West Ham ‘Way’? Arnie, Lanzini, Samuelsen, Sead, Holland would certainly be able to deliver the stylish, inventive, one football on the deck. Granted not all will make it, but we have a good core coming through. No, need for the utter despondency around The Club, the future is Claret and Blue. The transfer window? Well, apart from Liverpool spending a portion of the Courtinho money, nothing has been going on has there? Like them or hate them, but judgement day transfer wise, regards Gold and Sullivan must be on 1st Of February.

We are more than a football club, we’re a way of life!!



(Edited by Danny Twigg)


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  • Tim
    11th January 2018 at 8:54 pm

    What about Diangana?