With first team football off the menu at West Ham until this weekend, with the club out of all cup and European action, fans have been paying particular attention to goings on in the youth team.
A number of top talents have been spotted and were showcased in a 2-0 win over Fulham for the development squad at the London Stadium on Monday evening.
A lot of the talent coming through the ranks has been brought in over the last couple of years as they look to boost the numbers that can make a difference in the first team. With rules over home grown players, and what defines them, becoming more and more important in the makeup of a side over the last few years, the battle for top young talent is ever intensifying.
The way the Hammers have gone about their business at youth level in recent years has been impressive and will, undoubtedly, pay dividends over the coming season, whether that be to the first team, or to the budget laid on for manager Slaven Bilic.
However, what has not impressed in east London so much, has been the transfer record of those involved in the first team. Over the summer, as the club moved into a new era at the London Stadium, leaving Upton Park behind, a total of 13 new first team players were brought into the squad.
Not one of those 13 can, at the time of writing, be labelled a success at their new club. The big name addition was Simone Zaza, who is now on loan in Spain after failing to score a single goal in eleven outings for Bilic’s side. Furthermore, signings such as Alvaro Arbeloa and Havard Nordtveit have also failed to make any impact in Stratford.
Whilst it can be argued that it takes players time to settle in the Premier League, which it does, you would think a club of West Ham’s size would have managed one canny new addition to the side in a crucial summer window.
It is unfair, however, to judge just yet. The likes of Sofiane Feghouli and Jonathan Calleri are both slowly settling in their surroundings whilst both Arthur Masuaku and Andre Ayew have struggled with injury.
In addition to that, the January signings of Robert Snodgrass and Jose Fonte, although made more out of need with Dimitri Payet’s departure and Angelo Ogbonna’s injury forcing Bilic’s hand somewhat, seemed to have remedied the situation somewhat.
However, with the club now looking comfortable after a poor start to the season, with nothing too much to worry about in the Premier League, planning will surely have begun for their summer signings. Something which, in order to progress, Bilic & Co. must get right this time around.
With that in mind it may be wise for the first team management and scouting staff to take a look at their development squad counterparts and take note of their dealings. Replicate the signings of top prospects from within the English setup at first team level and Bilic could have quite the summer signings to announce and coupled with the emergence of the likes of Reece Oxford, Jonathan Calleri and Manuel Lanzini the future all of a sudden has much optimism when a a few weeks ago it looked rather gloomy to say the least and let’s not forget the stability that Jose Fonte and Robert Snodgrass have provided to the club. The times they are the changing for the better for sure!!