There has been a strange relationship between England and West Ham in recent history. It has always felt as if our players have been overlooked for inferior alternatives by whichever ‘yes man’ was in charge of the Th ree Lions at the time — particularly over the past few years under Roy Hodgson. But could this be about to change with former West Ham manager Sam Allardyce now England boss? I’d certainly like to think so.
If you take a wander back to the joy of last season and the English players in our squad who were all in the form of their lives — Aaron Cresswell, Mark Noble and Michail Antonio — it’s almost mind-boggling that not a single one was even considered for Euro 2016. All three were so crucial to what became a record-breaking Premier League campaign for us, but the likes of Jack Wilshere, who played 146 minutes of Premier League football last season, get picked instead.
The big club mentality that has been rotting away at the England set up for so long ultimately led to England’s disgraceful Euro 2016 exit to Iceland in June. But with Hodgson’s resignation and Big Sam’s appointment comes new opportunities, and ones that should have our boys quite excited for their chances. As mentioned before, there has a been a big club mentality with England for so long. It was so obvious that English players who didn’t play for the likes of Arsenal, Man United, Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham were almost like an aft erthought to those picking the squad. Th en it would be Southampton, because they’re pretty much a modern day West Ham with the amount of promising English players they tend to produce through their youth system.
And of course, Leicester had a few call ups last season because Hodgson was never going to ignore the Premier League champions — though the fact Danny Drinkwater wasn’t in France will forever be a mystery to me. But under Allardyce, things should be diff erent. We all know Allardyce doesn’t care for big name players and over-infl ated egos. He cares for form players and ones who he knows will fi t seamlessly into the system he prefers. Th is is predominantly why Andy Carroll must’ve been sitting at home praying that Allardyce got off ered the England job.
The big man is Allardyce’s dream centre-forward, and he would fit in perfectly at international level. Heaven knows we could’ve done with him in France this summer. And the likes of Aaron Cresswell, who Big Sam brought to West Ham, and Mark Noble must surely be hopeful of getting the call now their old club boss has taken on the biggest job in England. His appointment must also have got all of our English players thinking about what the future may hold for them. The simple fact is this — every single England player who went to France in the summer, and even those who have represented the Three Lions prior to then, should no longer be guaranteed their place at international level.
Raheem Sterling was a disgrace, Joe Hart was a liability, Harry Kane was wasteful and the rest of them were sub-standard, over-sized ego millionaires clearly unable to comprehend the sheer honour of pulling on the famous white shirt of England at a major tournament. So now it should be a clean slate for all. Before his injury, Aaron Cresswell had been the most consistent left-back in the Premier League over the last two seasons, missing just one game in that time. There wasn’t a left-back in the country who could boast such an impeccable run of form and I’m sure he’ll return as good as ever.
Michail Antonio was one of the surprise packages of the Premier League last season, making the step up from the Championship look easy, and showed just how dangerous he can be running at defenders. Mark Noble has to be one of the most hard-working, passionate, determined and consistent central midfielders in the Premier League and, of course, has plenty of experience with England’s U21s having captained them for so many years. And then there’s Andy Carroll, who we all know can change the game in an instant with his unrivaled aerial ability and lethal eye for goal. Literally one of a kind. All four of the above now have a chance to prove to the nation that they have been unfairly overlooked for too many years. And with West Ham now entering a new era and, hopefully, using last season as a benchmark for future success, there will no longer be any reason for future England managers to overlook West Ham because it’s ‘not big enough.’ The days of West Ham’s English players being unfairly ignored should now be over. Perhaps then we might finally lift another major trophy, because we all know it was West Ham that made it happen in 1966. BBM