How many weekends have you sat at home watching Soccer Saturday and counted the number of former Hammers or on loan players making a bit of a name of themselves? If you’re anything like me, I expect the answer is quite a few.
We all know how many former Hammers are playing in various leagues in the UK and, let’s be honest, many of which failed to make a massive impact in claret and blue and then disappeared elsewhere only to become fast paced, goal-scoring machines. Well, that’s sometimes what it feels like. A few weekends ago, this situation seemed to be at a peak.
I kept hearing Jeff saying names of familiar players scoring goals, and all I could mutter was: “Yep, of course he did”. I said that a few times, and then thought about all the thousands of others thinking the same as me, but realised quickly that this isn’t a healthy attitude to have.
Let’s have a quick think about a few of those players. The most obvious choice at the moment is Ravel Morrison. I’ve written about him before, so you may well know my stance on his undeniable talent. I was gutted we didn’t give him more of a go, and now we’ve seen him slot in five goal in eight games for QPR. Despite Harry Redknapp’s confirmations that this lad doesn’t concentrate on football and needs a lot of work, it’s still hard to watch the number of goals going in that could be counting towards our own tally
Also over at QPR is Yossi Benayoun, remember him? Although not prolific in his scoring, he did score twice in the space of four days recently, making it feel like he couldn’t stop scoring. But he did gain an uncharacteristic red card too, so swings and roundabouts. Oh, and in the same week as Ravel and Yossi scored, Bobby Zamora got in on the act too. Surely won’t be long ‘till the QPR hoops turn claret!
There are a couple of other names that pop up every now and again, and although admittedly they are playing in lower leagues, they are players that never really got a chance with us, even in the Championship. Junior Stanislas was a great prospect when playing at Under 21 level and knocked in a couple for high flying Burnley recently. Freddie Sears is playing down in League One and has seven so far this season for Colchester United. Jordan Spence is another one – he’s got a couple of goals for MK Dons this year
Then of course there are the players that it hurts that little bit more to see doing so well, the ones that we may hate, but would love if they’d never left in difficult circumstances. Defoe, loved by Spurs fans and now already scoring in Toronto. Lampard, now a Chelsea legend who will grace the history books for years to come.
Just in the last year, we’ve shipped off Jack Collison, Blair Turgott, George Moncur, Pelly Ruddock, Dan Potts and Elliot Lee on loan to name but a few. I’m not convinced that most of these have been loaned out in order to play regular football and then come back, and I would think that they’ll be off on a more permanent basis sooner rather than later. For now, we’re left to ponder how many of those may go on to bigger better things, as well as the rest of our current Development Squad
Although the tone of this article may sound a little too dwelling, I think that as fans we need to change our outlook on such matters as ex-players going on to better things. Sometimes we have to just accept that this is football, and fans of clubs all over the country are thinking the same when their players move on and do well.
It’s especially frustrating I guess when we’re in our current plight. It feels a bit like these ambitions are a million years away and our direction is uncertain. We have to remember that these players probably would be in a different situation if they were still playing at the Boleyn. Their team-mates and maybe even their attitudes would be different, so if Ravel Morrison goes on to be a record-breaking goalscorer, it doesn’t mean he would have done that if he’d stayed with us (although we hope of course he’ll come back and prove me wrong!).
West Ham also has an unfortunate tradition of playing players out of position. Not just under Big Sam, but managers before him have fallen into the trap of playing men in an unnatural place on the pitch, which undoubtedly limits their ability and flair. There has been a lot of talk over the last few weeks about this subject, and maybe in the pre-social media days we tended to keep our opinions to the terraces, but now such matters pick up pace pretty quickly and can lead to a generally unhappy camp.
Sometimes, it feels like we are the only ones, but I think we can rest assured that most other fans go through the same thought processes at some point. It’s just naturally frustrating. Maybe giving up watching Soccer Saturday is the answer!