Whilst a mass exodus is underway in the Development Squad at West Ham United, which has seen a number of prospects departing, one joining the management team at under-21 level is a certain Steve Potts.
The former Hammers full-back, father of youngster Dan Potts has overseen the rise in promising youngsters at under-18s level is now hoping to continue to nurture that talent and help them reach the next level – just like he did back in the mid 1980s. Known as the Academy of Football, the Irons have seen the talent reel dry up in the recent times, and have called upon Pottsy to find those next stars.
The days of a West Ham United starting XI boasting a host of academy products in the first team are a thing of the past, with just Mark Noble and James Tomkins flying the academy flag nowadays. Since joining the Little Heath staff in 2011, Potts guided the under-18’s to the play-offs last season and his experience will be key to developing young players for the future. If any young player struggles to be inspired by what Potts achieved at West Ham, you may as we give up as a young star already.
Having graduated from the academy in 1985, the full-back went on to make a total of 399-league appearances for the Hammers. His experience and knowledge will prove key to get those players to the next level. We have already seen with Reece Oxford that it could be just getting the player into the right frame of mind to kick on.
With Oscar Borg, Oxford, Joe Powell and Jordan Brown just some of the names that Potts has helped to convince the future at West Ham is bright and helping to resist their heads being turned when bigger clubs came a knocking for them. It comes as no surprise to me that the former hopes from the academy have been released with a firm eye fixed on the next crop.
Having successfully coached the 18s to glory, in my view at that level that continuity is key. As a youngster it is far more important to be coached rather than managed. And I think that is where the Hammers have gone wrong in the past, having formations and ‘style of play’ thrown up left, right and centre when in reality at that age you just want to play football and hone your skills.
I believe with Potts at the helm, that he will prove to be far more approachable than a coach who hasn’t been there and done it. With his sons both in the academy his knowledge of the system will be second to none.