Will The Youth Get A Chance Under ‘Big Sam’?


Think of the Hammers manager Sam Allardyce and a few things come to mind depending on your persuasion and preferences. Some football fans may only have the thoughts of long ball and hard tackling, other fans may think of players like Jay Jay Okocha and Ivan Campo. However, there’s certainly one stigma that is never put into the same sentence with Big Sam and that is the development of youth players.

Should this be a cause for concern for the Hammers? For many years we pride ourselves on our excellent youth academy with the likes of the Youth Academy Director, Tony Carr getting the praise and respect he deserves in recent years. We don’t need to mention what players came through the West Ham ranks in the last decade as it well known enough, however I am more concerned with the next generation of West Ham youngsters.

Despite the misery of relegation from the Premier League, it has caused releasing the dead wood of high earners from the West Ham playing staff like Matt Upson, Kieron Dyer and many more. However, I was disappointed to see the release of youngster Anthony Edgar.

Perhaps being the cousin of former West Ham striker, Jermain Defoe caused high expectations but the 20-year old should’ve been given a chance to perform in the Hammers shirt during this Championship season. The left winger, who could also fill in at full-back only made 2 senior appearances for the club whilst also being loaned out to Bournemouth.

He has now signed a deal with League One Yeovil Town, where I wish him the best of luck. Let’s hope it does not come back to haunt us in the future! On a wider scale, I am concerned about Allardyce’s treatment of the youth players within the West Ham squad.

With Kevin Keen being poached by Liverpool, Allardyce appointed Gillingham assistant manager, Ian Hendon as the clubs Youth Development Coach. Hendon, who played under Big Sam during his playing days at Notts County is another ally of Allardyce at the club.

Relegation to the Football League means that the Hammers will not be competing in a Reserve league structure this season and instead the Hammers will play in Friendly games throughout the season, designed to help and prepare the youth players for first-team football which is where Ian Hendon role comes in.

Whilst it’s disappointing that there will be a lack of competitive Reserve action this season, it’s a good sign that Allardyce has got a coach in place to still coach and guide the youngsters from the academy in preparation for the first team. Maybe Big Sam realises what gems the Academy may have to offer and wants to ensure they are given the right preparation to bring them into the squad in the future.

Hopefully the likes of Junior Stanislas, Zavon Hines, Jordan Spece and Matt Fry to name a few can be given more first team football throughout the coming season. Whilst the Hammers will have experience with Kevin Nolan & Co it will make Hammers fans smile even more if we can have a successful season with players from the academy.

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