Once again this season it’s too often been too easy to focus on the West Ham negatives when the merest glance below the surface shows a club which is truly on the move …notably at grass roots level.
Four defeats at the start of the season…a colossal injury list…the Arnautovic saga…regular inconsistency as a new manager got to grips with his new club…terrible defeats at Wolves and AFC Wimbledon along with deep seated issues between WHUFC and the stadium owners….I could go on!
Maybe there’s never dull moment at WHUFC but frankly we could have done without them on a lot of occasions particularly those concerning often unnecessary stadium issues.
However, for me events within the academy under the leadership of Terry Westley, have been nothing less than extraordinary along with the arrival of a boss who genuinely nurtures youth.
It’s perfectly conceivable that within the next two or three weeks young right back Ben Johnson will find himself a first team squad member following an excellent Malaga as reported here earlier today
That he will follow Declan, Grady Diangana and Xande Silva – who made his debut in the FA Cup clash against Birmingham – really is as exciting as it gets. Beyond those four, midfielder Conor Coventry is knocking hard on the squad door along with Nathan Holland.
After years of suffering an academy wilderness when only Mark Noble and James Tomkins had been the only two to emerge – the events of this landmark season cannot be overstated.
And with Brexit now looking a certainty, the importance of hanging onto – and developing our best youngsters – has never been more important.
Of course it’s important to look at the sort of down sides listed above and ask our questions but there are plenty of positives to enjoy at the same time.
That we have a manager who is ready to promote the best youngsters in the club is as good as it gets – that remains the heartbeat of a football club to me.
And this season that heart has been ticking faster and faster!