West Ham’s youth team coach has admitted it was “hard work” to get former manager Sam Allardyce to notice exciting prospects.
Despite co-chairmen David Gold and David Sullivan announcing in January they wanted to see Academy talent given a chance in the first team, only 18-year-old Reece Burke was given any real game time during the second half of the season.
Given the somewhat insipid end to the season, there seemed to be growing frustration amongst fans and senior figures at the club towards Allardyce’s refusal to blood players such Elliott Lee and Reece Oxford.
And Under-18 coach Mark Phillips said he felt promising youngsters may have gone unnoticed by the former boss.
“It’s been hard work at times under Sam, getting the players in front of him,” he said.
“But it just shows the ones he has played, such as Reece Burke, have stepped up to the mark, and we’ve got a few more in the wings.
“I’d like to think we’re always giving 100 per cent. But it is an interesting time to see who will come in and what they’re philosophy on the game is, and see if it sits with ours.”
A young squad competed in the Hong Kong Soccer 7s tournament last weekend, and only just lost out to a golden goal against Spanish side Atletico Madrid.
The team was praised for its technical ability and pace against often older opposition, and Phillips hopes the players on show will get their chance under a new manager.
“I’d like to think we’d be playing in the same philosophy as the new manager, and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
“Sometimes maybe our philosophy didn’t collide with Sam’s, who might have been looking for a slightly different player – players who are maybe a bit physically stronger.
“I like to think that whoever the new manager is will think we’ve got good youth at West Ham, a good youth policy, a good academy, and we can show we can produce good players.”