Sunday, 5 April 2009
The Academy of Our Dreams - Not Tottenham's, Newcastle's, Sunderland's, Chelsea's, or Villa's.
We may or may not have a mega rich owner at some point in the near future but, either way, I hope desperately that we do not go the route of Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea et all. City supporters have taken issue with comparisons with Chelsea, justifiably pointing to the kids they have brought through in recent seasons, but we all know that in two years time, they will be the Harlem Globe Trotters of the Premier League, the team sheet packed with razzle, dazzle superstars, living in a hinterland between the professional game and a fantasy league. They will win nothing as per usual but they will win it with a swagger - and probably without a home grown player worth the name.
West Ham are different, always have been. Leaving aside the Tevez fiasco, we are the good guys of the game, playing football the way it should be played and bringing through talented youngsters for the England team. Look at the current squad and you will see Ferdinand, Cole, Carrick, Defoe, Johnson and Lampard. That, conceivably, is six starters. Who else can compare with that? Tottenham would have King but he isn't allowed to play by Doctor Redknapp and Peter Crouch, though he never kicked a ball in anger for the club so hardly counts. Liverpool have Gerrard and would have Traitor Carragher but he declines to play. Chelsea have Carlton Goals and Terry (but he started his career on West Ham's books anyway). Arsenal have Cashley Cole but then they would probably choose to forget that! Everton have Rooney. Villa boast Ivebonkedawhore and Barry, though like Defoe and Terry, his schoolboy days were spent elsewhere (Brighton). What about Manchester United, who previously contributed the backbone of Butt, the two Nevilles, Beckham and Scholes to the side? Times have changed and only Wes Brown and Beckham, a hang over from the previous era, remains. Nobody from Newcastle, only Wright-Phillips from City, though surely Micah Richards will feature soon. In fact, if we look at the squad we see that, West Ham apart, it is lower league teams who launch careers: Green (Norwich) James (Watford), Foster (Racing Club Warwick), Johnson (West Ham), Wes Brown (Man U), Cashley Cole (Arsenal), Baines (Wigan), Upson (Luton), Terry (Chelsea), Ferdinand (West Ham), Jagielka (Shafting United), Carrick (West Ham), Lennon (Leeds) Beckham (Man U), Lampard (West Ham) Gerrard (Liverpool), Barry (Brighton / Villa), Walcott (Southampton), Joe Cole (West Ham), Hargreaves (Calgary Foothills), Downing (Boro) Carlton Goals (Chelsea), Heskey (Leicester) Rooney (Everton), Defoe (Charlton / West Ham), Bent (Ipswich), Ivebonkedawhore (Villa), Young (Watford) Wright-Phillips (City), Crouch (Tottenham with a cough!).
It is a sobering thought for the fans in the North East that Calgary Foothills and Racing Club Warwick combined have produced more current England players than the three North East Giants put together. Is it any wonder the three "sleeping giants" are nearly in a coma?
Why have I bothered with this breakdown? Well England could almost send out a team made up of players raised or signed by West Ham: 1.James or Green 2.Johnson 3.Upson 4.Carrick 5.Rio Ferdinand 6 Tomkins or Anton 7.Lampard 8.Noble 9.Carlton 10.Defoe 11.Joe Cole. Now that wouldn't be the best England team ever, I accept, but nor would it be the worst! That is nothing short of incredible and no other club could come close. Certainly that team would tonk any side composed exclusively of English born players linked to any other club. The message to any promising kid in the game is clear - join West Ham!
And my main point? I want this to continue. If a big money owner comes in, then it should be the signal to stop selling our talent not to go out and buy a team made elsewhere. Let's make West Ham the Academy of Our Dreams and not the Brit School for other club's theatres of dreams!