The future’s bright – the Academy of Football
Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 3 February 2020 at 8:02pm
Written by: @karenbeardy
West Ham’s academy, or the Academy of Football as it is warmly known, has a long history of producing a string of fantastic footballers and the current cohort is no exception: Grady Diangana, Josh Cullen Conor Coventry, Nathan Holland, Joe Powell, Dan Kemp, Ben Johnson, Nathan Trott, Jeremy Ngakia – the list goes on.
Whilst Joe Powell has been sold to League One Burton Albion this transfer window (a surprise to many who regularly watch the under 23s), in recent months others have signed long contract extensions, implying the club intend to continue to develop the youth with a view to pushing more through to the first team. This is surely music to the ears of many fans, considering the dire situation we find ourselves in.
However, in recent years this has not proved the case. With the exception of Declan Rice – who has not only made the transition to Premier League football, but has become probably the first name on the team sheet – Academy players have consistently been overlooked and eventually sold or released (most recently Reece Burke, Marcus Browne and Joe Powell), whilst big money signings come in, bleed the club dry and fail to deliver on the pitch.
The faith put in Declan Rice must be heartening to those Academy players who have recently taken up loan deals: Diangana, Coventry, Holland and Kemp, but it remains to be seen if the same faith will be put into some of these hugely talented and high rated youth players.
With our current squad threadbare, plagued with injuries once again and ageing, some are questioning why we are sending so many talents on loan when in fact, we could be using them, if only as back up from the bench. But the bigger question surely has to be, why bother with an academy at all if you are not going to push these players through?
In short, the future is really very bright. Young, talented and energetic players are at our fingertips; we just need to take a chance on them – that’s assuming we can hang onto them…