The GoatyGav Column
It’s a big congrats to Reece Oxford for his ‘Golden Boy’ nomination from me. The responses to the recognition he’s earned have been mixed from the West Ham supporting element of social media but I’m chuffed for him. He’s one of our own – why wouldn’t you show your backing for him.
Out of the twenty five nominees for the award this time six are English. The highest number of any single country on the continent. Something else to celebrate. Linking to my piece from last week it looks like there may be some initial sparks of talent coming through from the investment in the elite youth that Sir Trevor oversaw during his time in charge of development at the F.A. The under nineteen world cup winning team gives further evidence of this.
Rashford, who was runner up last year
Reece is in good company amongst his fellow nominees. The list includes Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Solanke, Rashford, who was runner up last year, and Gabriel Jesus. To Reece’s on-line detractors I would contend that there are many experts sitting on the panel that have drawn up the final twenty five of Europe’s brightest prospects. Clearly they see something in the lad. That is a clear indicator, at the very least, that he should get a chance to learn and grow in to an even better player – hopefully, eventually, for West Ham.
English players have won twice
Previous winners of the U21 most exciting talent award include Aguero, Pogba, Fabregas, Rooney and one of my favourite European players Isco. Interestingly when you look at the nationality of winners, compared to the nation that the player’s clubs are in, English players have won twice, since the award’s introduction in 2004, and players at English clubs have won six times. Players at clubs in the best technical league in Europe, Spain, have won three times. Personally I’d have expected that number to be much higher but ‘them is the facts’. Equally as surprising is the fact that the two English winners, Rooney and Sterling, are joined by two from Spain, two from Brazil, two from Argentina, two from France and only one from each of Germany, Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands.
players at English clubs have won six times
So what’s best for Europe’s elite young talent in terms of their own careers. The best continental flair is often snapped up by English clubs nowadays, which some argue is denying our lads chances, but how about players going in the other direction? Rather than loans to the Championship, as was usually the case over the last 10-15 years, is it not better for our future prospects to spend a season or two in other top European leagues? I believe so. In terms of development I’m of the opinion that they can learn aspects of the game that they wouldn’t do in England – giving them a more rounded knowledge, and experience, and developing them in to more complete players. At under twenty one level we’re definitely in the mix in terms of the best players coming through. So what’s going wrong seems to be to do with what happens after twenty one. Here’s where the F.A. needs to focus and where English players are getting left behind for no, apparently, good reason. As a nation we appear good a coaching youth but don’t have managers in charge at the top level who are able to bring the youth through to the top level.
And so back to Reece Oxford. His loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach has not provided him with any first team action as yet. That said he has been on the bench for all of their Bundesliga fixtures except the opener against Essen following his pre season goal against Malaga. Monchen have started well with two wins and two draws from their first five leaving them seventh in the table. Personally I think it’s only a matter of time before he gets on from the bench. Wouldn’t it be a great opportunity if it were against league leaders Dortmund this weekend? Whichever game it is, if it comes to pass, I wish him all the best and hope that he grabs his opportunity with both hands. Call me old fashioned but I don’t want to see a West Ham entirely devoid of any home grown talent. Rice and Oxford snapping at the heels of the likes of Reid, Ogbonna, Fonte, Kouyate, Noble and Obiang in the squad would restore some pride in, what was long ago known as, ‘The Academy of Football’.
Finally a well done to the team for progressing to the next round of the League Cup (I give up trying to keep up with what it’s called). The exciting prospect of a great game at Wembley, and progression to the quarter finals, in the fourth round awaits.
COYI! West Ham 4 the Cup!