18/10/2008

The West Ham Academy - our future?

After today's defeat against Chelsea the Under 18's are bottom of FA Premier Academy League Group A.
West Ham, the producers of young talent, bottom of the table?

It didn't make sense to me so I tried to find an explanation.

So we aren't the home of all future talent, but...
West Ham is still the producer of English talent - right?
In the West Ham U18 4 out of 23 are non-British. I started to look up the nationalities of the players of some other academies in group A.

It turned out that Arsenal had 12 foreign players out of 28! Brilliant, I was on to something!
But after finding that also slumping Chelsea was 12/22, whereas Charlton 2/20 and Fulham 3 of 13 I realized that there was no such easy pattern to be found.

Could it be that we produce the "creme de la creme", but our average isn't any better than the others?
I took a look at the latest U18 national side.
Disappointed! Only Spence (OK so he's the captain) is from our club whereas 3 were ManUre while Palace and M-boro had 2 players each in the squad.
Getting desperate I took a look at the England U19 and U17 sides but it was no better, actually we're not represented in the U17 side at all at the moment!

So these things go up and down -right?
Right, but at this time, when talent is starting to be looked for all over the world by more or less every club in the world, making competition for talented youngsters fierce, it is of some importance to be able to show the prodigies that if they come to the famous West Ham Academy, they get to play with the best.

Are we losing this edge of having a great academy?
Maybe not right away, we can still list quite a few active very successful players that were honed by the academy, and we were second in the group last year. And I recognise that we are fielding young players compared to some of the opposition. However, unless we end up with an owner that transforms us to a buying club, this is supposed to be the platform from which we build success.
I'm a bit worried for the future.
(Sorry about the slightly over dramatic pic...)

2 comments:

Henric Tiselius said...

I would say that it's not only your choice of picture that is overdramatic...
We've got Sears (18 yrs), Hines (19), N'Gala (19), Collison (20) Stanislas (18), Jeffrey (19), Örn (18), Spence (18), Widdowson (19 ), Tomkins (19) and Stech (18) but they dont play for juniors anymore but the A-team. So it will take time to find new youth teams that can compete. But the young Hammers are still out there, and it haven't looked more promising in ten years!. Carr and Zola will continue to grant a youth success!

Joppe - said...

Point taken and I hope you're right.
Arsenal, however, have youngsters in the first team (that get first team experience in the cups) AND a great academy team.
That were we should be!