Underneath the club crest by the tunnel at Upton Park reads: “The Academy of Football”. After all, in recent years they have produced some fantastic British talent. Rio and Anton Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Jermain Defoe and even John Terry spent time with the club in his youth.
The current generation may not be displaying the same level of potential, but it’s argued they could perform in England’s second tier. Scott Parker is likely to depart meaning Mark Noble may inherit the captaincy should he stay with James Tomkins and Saturday’s full debutant Jordan Spence filling out the back line.
Examining the squad further shows more of a British core emerging with Freddie Sears, Gary O’Neil, Zavon Hines, Junior Stanislas and Welsh pair Jack Collison and Danny Gabbidon all likely to be important players next year.
With owners in poor financial health, supporting the high wage earners is simply not conceivable. That would in theory force an exodus meaning holes will need to be filled. In a slightly baffling move prior to relegation, Gold and Sullivan openly stated they will not stand in the way of the club’s England internationals, meaning Robert Green is likely to move.
His back up little known Belgian stopper Ruud Boffin who made his Premier League debut this season. From research online, the name Sebastian Lletget is one that crops up with regularity and one US fans may want to watch. Scouted through a satellite club he represents West Ham’s constant desire to unearth the next generation of talent.
Of course the Internet is full of pages claiming that their club has the next star biding his time in the reserve ranks. Players like Anthony Edgar also seem to have a bright future was well as a man I recently had the pleasure of watching take on England U21’s with good success, Icelandic centre back: Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson.
It would be naive to say relegation is a good thing. It cripples you financially and teams often spend their first season playing the dangerous game of keeping on high earners in the hope of bouncing back up. Many have claimed this was the mantra Mike Ashley adopted. The keen gambler deciding to keep some of his stars on the basis they would get back into the top flight and make his asset more appealing to potential buyers.
Unfortunately as I mentioned Mr Gold and Mr Sullivan lack the financial ability to do this. By their own startling admission they’ve already sunk the majority of their fortunes into the club. So if things are to be done on a stringent budget you can see why Chris Hughton’s name adorns the newspapers as a potential manager.
Many noted he operated with a fairly small squad and despite signing nine players in his first season that was offset by the departure of nine first team players from the period between relegation and the new season.
Of course the other aspect of Hughton’s appeal is the unity with which he bonded Newcastle’s downbeat squad. Joey Barton’s dedication of the home victory to Liverpool days after the former Tottenham assistants departure speaks volumes of how much his players trusted and believed him.
As for West Ham’s fans, the advantage of Hughton is not only the Championship winners medal he possesses but his demeanor off the pitch and general ‘nice guy qualities’. The hierarchy at Newcastle hasn’t always been as normal and pristine as many fans would hope but regardless Hughton maintained a professional and respectable manner even after the day he left.
It may seem a bold claim to make but much of Newcastle’s success in the last 18 months goes to the calming influence of the former manager. Stability allowed for unity which in turn gave the players the chance to reach their potential and perform as expected.
I’m sure some would argue this mirrors the predicament West Ham find themselves in. Poor man management and a squad that shouldn’t really be propping up the Premier League table. By contrast, if true, financial frugality is the order of the day as former West Ham player Kevin Keen may be given the job having so openly expressed his desire to undertake the role.
Without wanting to sound too much like his booking agent it should be remembered however that Hughton was in fact the lowest paid managers in the Premier League. So while to some there may seem a wealth of options available, in my opinion there is but only one.