There are few clubs in England that have a greater tradition of putting faith in youth players than West Ham, so much so that it is known as the academy of football in some quarters. With Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe just some of the many examples in recent years and the current Hammers boss, Sam Allardyce, believes it is vitally important that clubs look to develop their youth set-ups for the sake of the future:
“I think that every football club’s strategy should be to develop young players and I think there should be more emphasis on it than there has been in recent years. The problem is that results are everything in the Barclays Premier League and everybody focuses far too much just on that. People forget that development and long term strategies are extremely important.
“West Ham’s history is one of the best, the development of players at West Ham has been an outstanding bonus to the football club over many years. Tony Carr has done an absolutely terrific job but unfortunately it is getting more and more difficult due to the circumstances that we have to work under. There is more development money coming into the game but yet again it is still a question of time. There really isn’t enough time.
“We don’t have enough qualified coaches in this country and until we get that sorted out and act in the same way as we did towards the Olympics, we will not develop the next generation of top players for the England team.
“From a club perspective at West Ham we work very hard to get as many academy graduates in the West Ham side as we possibly can. At the moment we have got Mark Noble, Jack Collison, James Tomkins and Danny Potts who is only 18. We are on the right track but we should be developing more.”
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