Having recently written a decidedly young approach to my favourite West Ham team- which was limited to players I’ve actually seen play in the nine years I’ve been coming to Upton Park- there were a lot of (justified) criticisms of players I’d included as my ‘best-ever.’
This got me thinking – they were the best players I’ve seen in my tenure at Upton Park, but I certainly agree that they were by no means the best players to have graced the hallowed turf- so what does that say about the quality of player that West Ham have fielded in the past 5-9 seasons?
Have we been woefully deprived of ‘great’ players lately? And if yes, then why- are we lacking in outstanding players, or do you need to attach a time period of reflection to a player in order to consider him ‘great’?
The players that I (and most of the younger supporters) know and love from our Upton Park experience will all be more recent players- let’s look at 2004 onwards as that was the year of my first season ticket– so who of them have really qualified for the status of West Ham hero?
Carlos Tevez is of course the main name that springs to mind. The man was enigmatic, energetic, creative, and passionate. He also saved our season by the skin of his teeth. His subsequent shows of respect to the Upton Park faithful have allowed him to remain a fond face to all of us.
Then the names start allowing for more opposing arguments. Joe Cole certainly has (had?) the potential to go down in history as a great, but I think it can be agreed that his second round at the club has as of yet not been as successful as his first stint. Rob Green is still many people’s preferred keeper over Jussi Jaaskelainen, but do you think his years with the club are enough to qualify him as a ‘great?’ James Collins and Winston Reid are great at the back, but could they be heroes ten years from now?
I would count the one and old Tomas Repka as a great, but I do realise he is an acquired taste! Loyal Mark Noble will never be revered in the same way that Brooking, Julian Dicks et all were- simply because he’s the marmite of West Ham United. Sadly I think one of the few names from recent years that would have been a great was Dean Ashton. He absolutely would have gone the distance had it not been for his untimely injury. I think Andy Carroll sure has potential but I’ll let him get a full season under his belt before handing out accolades.
There are not a lot of names thrown into the hat from this period in our history. Are we not signing/cultivating enough heroes, or, in ten years time will we be looking back at the players we have now and know them then as our ‘greats?’ Let me know your thoughts below or tweet me @makingthemarrow