West Ham United was finally relegated at the weekend despite having a number of household names in their squad including Matthew Upson, Carlton Cole, Scott Parker and Robert Green. But a number of their top players will need to be sold because the players will want to remain in the Premier League and their wages will simply not be sustainable in the Championship. However, the spin-off on that is the talented group of young players are sure to get plenty of opportunities next season and could be a key factor for West Ham to make an instant return to the top flight.
The current squad includes player on very lucrative contracts that in some cases are worth up £3m a year. The West Ham owners will probably want to keep hold of their current squad but I would be careful about going down such a road. The money paid to a lot of these players will cripple the club and could cause the situation to spiral out of control and have West Ham heading towards League One. West Ham will be confident of making an immediate return to the Premier League and if they can get their ship in order have a great chance of doing just that. However, they should not gamble the club’s future on that goal.
I feel that the way forward for West Ham is to sell off the most expensive wage earners and put their faith in a young squad full of their most talented youth players. The new look West Ham squad with a younger and hungrier feel to it should be built around players like James Tomkins, Jack Collison, Mark Noble, Freddie Sears, Junior Stanislas, Zavon Hines and Anthony Edgar. The West Ham youth system has a very good reputation and the club may even find one or two more gems before the new season begins.
The club may need to help these players with some experienced heads alongside them but don’t underestimated what these very talented young players can achaive. Many people still think that you can’t win and be successful purely with players such as these. However, the West Ham youth set-up is something truly special and has produced some great players over the years that played Premier League football for West Ham and then later for other Premier League clubs and at international level. Notable examples include Frank Lampard, Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Rio Ferdinand; all of these players have played big clubs in the Premier League and have represented England.
In addition to the current crop at West Ham the Hammers academy has also produced Premier League defenders Anton Ferdinand and Elliott Ward. Therefore, West Ham should have no reservations in putting their faith in their current youth stars and know they could well be top level players in the Premier League and at international level in the future.