I f you’d looked at this month’s clash with Sunderland at the start of the season you might have expected it to be all about the Poyet’s. However, things don’t always turn out how you think they will as Gus has just been sacked by the Black Cats and his son Diego is unlikely to be involved in the West Ham side. Signed in the summer, Diego Poyet has been largely resigned to the shadows.
Nonetheless, there is still an aura of positivity surrounding the 19-yearold’s future with the club – a view that the player also shares. After what has, on a personal level, been a difficult maiden campaign at the Boleyn, the former Charlton Athletic star would love to underline his worth between now It is time Big Sam gave Diego Poyet his big chance to shine Gus’s son should feature now Irons’ dream of Europe is slipping away Diego Poyet LIAM NEWMAN @ThatLiamNewman and the season’s end. With a mid-table finish virtually guaranteed, the youngster might just get his wish over the coming weeks.
Poyet was brilliant at Charlton last term and was named the Championship club’s Player of the Year but by his own admission, the step up in quality has been difficult and the already enormous task of cementing a regular position has been made even harder by a severe lack of playing time. The midfielder’s firstteam opportunities have been restricted to just five appearances but he has recently declared himself happy and seems willing to wait in the peripherals of Allardyce’s plans until the time is right. Meanwhile, Poyet’s appreciation of training alongside the likes of Alex Song additionally highlights a level of maturity well beyond his years.
In spite of limited chances, the hype surrounding Poyet’s future has remained at a consistently high level. This sentiment was personified towards the end of 2014 as both England and Uruguay battled for the player’s international commitment before the youngster eventually pledged his allegiances to the South Americans. He also showed promise during a brief stint on-loan at Huddersfield Town, whilst also performing well when selected for the West Ham Development Squad.
Progress has been steady since joining this summer but this has been the case with hundreds of young players over the years. Unfortunately for Poyet, though, the spotlight will forever be intensified as large sections will naturally draw comparisons to father Gus, who was of course in charge of Premier League rivals Sunderland.
Whereas other developing talent up and down the country will be allowed to quietly finetune their skill, there will be vultures ready to pounce should the young West Ham star fail to deliver. Thankfully, the astute teenager doesn’t seem fazed by that scrutiny and is fully focused on the task at hand. When analysing the lack of playing time afforded by Big Sam, it’s quite easy to understand the manager’s decision.
Breaking into a central midfield role would be a big challenge for any upcoming midfielder, especially when you’ve got the likes of Song and Mark Noble sitting higher in the pecking order. The middle of the park can be an unforgiving position where costly mistakes will be hammered by the media and perhaps Allardyce is right to protect his young prodigy. You only need look at on-loan defender Carl Jenkinson’s early Arsenal career for verification that one bad game can halt a young player’s progress.
There is no definitive answer but bedding Poyet in slowly appears to be a shrewd move for both the player and team’s fortunes, particularly at the beginning of the campaign when the much-changed Hammers were stepping into the unknown. Now that Europa League football seems unattainable, it could be the perfect timing to give Poyet a more prominent role within the squad. Falling away from the European challenge has seen the limelight fade, which could be beneficial for any young players afforded more playing time over the coming weeks.
The fact there is no threat of relegation means that they can also express themselves on the pitch without fear of repercussions should an error be committed. Of all the promising youngsters at West Ham, the former Charlton man has to be front of the queue. Another point for Allardyce to consider is that Song’s long-term future may not be secure. The on-loan Barcelona star has made a huge impact at Upton Park and would be a welcomed permanent addition, but contingencies have to be established in case that outcome doesn’t materialise.
Rather than risking money on another signing, it has to be worth testing the waters with Poyet – especially while the pressure is off. Anyone that followed Poyet at Charlton will confirm that the player has bags of potential and the player himself has additionally voiced his firm belief that this year has been a great learning curve. Additionally, West Ham boasts a rich history of discovering young talent and there is no doubt that Chadwell Heath remains the best place for nurturing future stars. Perhaps the coming weeks will uncover the birth of yet another after all.