As the FA Cup game against Nottingham Forest approached, few would have argued that West Ham’s priority should be Premier League survival, and considering Sam Allardyce’s indifference towards playing youth in the first team this season, few would have predicted a team selection comprising a large percentage of the U21 side.
For some time, fans (including myself) have been asking why no youth players seem to be getting a chance at West Ham, with the likes of Elliot Lee, Blair Turgott and Pelly Ruddock showing promise. No doubt this has been a source of irritation for Sam Allardyce who after all is the manager and knows best what his players are capable of. Even when we are so deperately short of fit first team players, Allardyce has preferred playing senior players out of position, and persevering with out of form players like Maiga. Surely blooding new talent gradually in first team games with senior players around them to give them advice and encouragement is the sensible way of going about it? It seems not. Instead, as if to prove a point, Allardyce today fielded a near entire team of young players up against high flyers Nottingham Forest, with only the lightweight collection of Jarvis, Maiga, Diarra and Downing providing the leadership that was required.
Forest bossed the first half and could have had a few, but the young Hammers kept the score down to a single penalty goal. The formation with three centre halves at the back was clearly not working with the defence being run ragged. The second half started and Big Sam obviously thought that things weren’t going quite to plan, and promptly hauled off Diarra and Downing and thrust on yet more lambs to the slaughter to fill their shoes. The tactics stayed the same of course. This had the desired effect, and Forest rattled in 5 goals by the end, and it could have been more.
As Sam Allardyce walked off smiling at the end, the young lads of West Ham trudged off with pain and disappointment in their faces and in their hearts. They had mostly tried their best but had been hung out to dry by their manager who had showed no intent to win the match, and seemed solely interested in proving a point and showing that he was in indeed right all along, such is the arrogance of the man. What should have been an opportunity for a few young lads to show what they can do ended in an exercise in cannon fodder that some of the lads may not recover from.
I have lost all respect I once had for Sam Allardyce, and I will be glad when he leaves these shores with his big fat pay cheque lining his big fat pockets. Shame on you.