West Ham boss backs Greg Dyke plan for Premier B teams
PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 May 2015
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Hammers manager Sam Allardyce says blooding a young team in the lower leagues is the best plan
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce says he is in favour of FA chief Greg Dyke’s plans for Premier League B teams to play in the football league.
The Hammers boss introduced Reece Burke for his Premier League debut at QPR last weekend, but he says that it is increasingly difficult to play the youngsters in the top flight.
“Too much pressure is an understatement,” said Allardyce this week. “There is all that about playing more under-21s, but first they have to be good enough. Can they cope with the pressure to stand up at this level of football?”
Burke clearly did, but Allardyce is wary of bringing others into the fold.
“You see very few under-21s playing in the Premier League which just shows you how difficult it is to break through.
“That is why I quite like what Greg Dyke said. It is about finding first-team football for players at 17, 18, 19 and 20, they need competitive football as quickly as they can, because it is not going to happen in the under-21s.
“We have to find another solution. The loan system is the only one we have at the moment, but because of the financial restriction, particularly in the lower divisions, we subsidise most of the players we let out on loan.
“But does the manager want to play them because if results go bad, his job is on the line, particularly in the Championship where there have been more chances than anywhere else.”
So has Allardyce considered bringing any other youngsters in? He says he has, sort of.
“I think Doneil Henry would have got a chance if he hadn’t been injured,” he admitted. “Josh Cullen in midfield might have had a chance, but he has been suffering from too many injuries this year.
“People talk about Reece Oxford, but I think he is a little bit too young at the moment, even though in desperation, we have had to put him on the bench this season, which has been a great experience for him.
“Somebody at 16, playing at this level is tough, but we might have to use him.”
West Ham’s glory days of bringing players through the Academy have stalled recently with Mark Noble, James Tomkins and Jack Collison the last three to become regular first-teamers via that route.
Hopefully the likes of Burke and Oxford will follow suit, but Allardyce thinks there should be a better way.
“We all strive to get better youngsters if we can, but we have to find a better way to give them first team experience quicker,” said the boss.
“But, of course, as soon as Greg Dyke mentions anything at all, he gets lambasted and criticised and he gets blown out of the water.
“It is change and not many people like change.”
Allardyce has clearly thought about the prospect of a young West Ham B team playing in the lower divisions of the Football League.
“I would run the team like I run this team,” said the manager. “It would be a model with the young lads playing like we do in the Premier League, so if they could make the step up there it would be a great way forward.”
Allardyce’s previous dabbling with youngsters in his team proved to be a disaster as a hugely inexperienced team were thumped 5-0 in the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest, three days before their Capital One Cup semi-final clash with Manchester City at The Etihad.
But the unrepentant manager insisted he would do it all over again.
“I would do exactly the same if the situation arose,” he said. “There were too many injuries and the priority basis was the semi-final was more important than the third round of the FA Cup.
“That team was a necessity to try and keep the best team for the Wednesday, as simple as that.”
West Ham followed up that five-goal hammering by Forest, by being thrashed 6-0 by City, but the manager was quick to point a couple of things out.
“Adrian played in that game and then on the Wednesday and look at him now,” he said. “Reece Burke also came on as a sub.”
So will it be West Ham B in the league against Leyton Orient or Dagenham & Redbridge? It seems unlikely, but we will have to wait and see.