Wednesday, 30 December 2009
The Great Academy Ruse
Anybody remember 'Arry upsetting our fans last season when he said the current Academy crop were not a match for the kids he brought through at Upton Park? Quite why his views were considered so controversial I'm not sure, given his crop included Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Jermaine Defoe, Glenn Johnson and Michael Carrick. Now, apart from the Giggs, Scholes, Neville, Neville and Beckham generation, you would have to go back a lot of years to find that level of quality coming through to the first team from a club's academy over such a short span of time. Who exactly in our current squad matches up to that bunch?
Collison looks classy. He is not a Joe Cole but he may be a new Carrick. I love his attitude and his confidence and he has quick feet and great control. Only stamina appears to be an issue. He could have played for England, but stupidly he opted for Wales. How many GCSEs has the lad got I wonder?
Noble has flattered to deceive and will never be in the Carrick class. He is the third best of an ordinary looking bunch but lacks the pace and class to become an England player. Yes he has a career in the Premiership ahead of him, but nothing more. Remember Geoff Pike? I see Noble in that class - and the sooner he understands his limitations and plays within them, as Pike did, the better. Despite what some think, Parker is not that fantastic, he just looks it because the players around him are so ordinary.
Tomkins, I think, will emerge as the other true class act from the current crop but I worry that we are damaging him by expecting too much, too early. He is looking pretty good at the moment and, apart from being done by Defoe for the second goal, coped very well despite all the pressure we found ourselves under at Tottenham. The trouble is, he does not have a turn of pace and lacks the experience to compensate for that at this stage. He needs a pacey, experienced centre back alongside him. At the moment he has the experience in the form of Upson, but if we lose Matty, I fear that Tomkins will be horribly exposed. Tomkins probably has what it takes to play for England but Anton looked just as good at the equivalent stage and his form has dipped - that is part of growing up for a centre back which is why I would buy him back because he will "come again" when the right manager makes him feel good about himself. But Ferdinand and Tomkins as a pair? Sharp intake of breath I'm afraid!
What about Stanislas? Well until we see the lad played on the right, I don't think we can judge. The boy is horribly one footed and that foot is his right, so the insistence on playing him on the left is madness in my book. Defensively, he is a disaster so clearly he needs to mature, but that's not a surprise. To me, he shows in flashes and lacks mental toughness. I don't see him ever playing for England and fancy that he may end up playing in the Fizzy Pop, hopefully not in a West Ham shirt!
Freddie is coming home! But he is coming home without a goal! Remember when Sears was being spoken of as the new Cottee? Well even Cottee didn't manage to net an England goal! Is the guy any good? Well he looks very very average to me and the decision to recall him smacks of desperation. He needs a goal, any goal, and then he may just kick on again but his physique is against him and he certainly does not have the mental toughness a top striker needs.
And then there is Zavon. That goal against Villa was pure class, but then we were all very excited when Sears burst onto the scene weren't we? You have to be very special to cut it in the modern game if you are small and, that goal apart, Hines has not shown anything to excite me so far. Yes he is willing but effort is not enough, the game has moved on.
Duxbury has used this crop of 'if, buts and maybes' to excuse shrinking the squad to generate cash. In the past we have sold our kids, now we are selling our experienced players and asking kids to do a job that they are not yet up to doing. It is all a huge con, with the Board exploiting our passion for our home grown players. I remember the days when you would see new cars driving at 30mph with "running in" notices on the back. I also remember 'Arry operating with big squads at West Ham and easing the kids through to the first team. The way we are doing it now, there is a danger we will burn out these kids and make them even more average than they already threaten to be.
As for 'Arry's comments last season - they weren't controversial, they were a generous wake up call. But we didn't want to listen!
Posted by Hammersfan at 09:54