The success of the U23s in gaining promotion to Division One of PL2, seeing some of them on the bench for the Premier League team and then Declan Rice getting some game time against Burnley at the end of last season, the kids are doing alright.
Now, Nathan Holland and Declan Rice are shining on pre-season tour, Josh Cullen and Reece Burke are doing well too and Toni Martinez scored his first senior goal for the Hammers on Saturday.
They aren’t doing too bad for some players are unlikely to “break into a team of seasoned internationals,” which is what Gold has said.
The backlash to that was not unexpected and this surely isn’t a PR spin from the co-chairman
But one thing hinges on the future of these youngsters at the club and that is Slaven Bilic, who is entering the final year of his current contract at West Ham. Understandably when results weren’t good last season the club didn’t enter contract negotiations but the club has backed him to the tune of £23m for Marko Arnautovic and £16m for Javier Hernandez, plus a loan deal for Joe Hart in this transfer window.
Bilic chose to bring Holland, Rice, Martinez, Burke, Cullen and Moses Makasi on pre-season tour to Austria and Germany and he needs to be backed to develop them as well. You can add Reece Oxford into the equation, currently on a season-long loan at Borussia Monchengladbach.
With some of the seasoned internationals underwhelming massively, the opportunity is now there for the youth stars, who are learning quickly under Bilic and what would happen to their development if a new boss came in next year?
The “Academy of Football” moniker couldn’t have been more wrong over the past couple of seasons but now it is starting to show signs of making a return. Along with academy director Terry Westley, Bilic needs to be at the forefront of it.