Which Iron was top of the class and who deserves a detention?

David Bowden writes to the players' parents following a few very tough terms..

The 2017/2018 season was a forgettable season aside from a few magic moments. When a school year comes to an end, a child will come home with a dreaded folder of paper usually with the message of: ‘Archie has talent, but his lack of attention will hold him back’.

So here at Blowing Bubbles, we decided to put the West Ham squad through the dreaded ‘school report’ test. Given the nature of the season you can suspect you will see the phrase ‘must try harder’ and ‘I recommend summer school for your child’ to show up quite frequently on this list.

I will stick to the retro A-F system, as frankly, this new number marking system doing the rounds is even a little tricky for even me to get my head around.


Joe Hart – D

Joe has come to this school with a great reputation, but has ultimately failed to live up to his hype. He has constantly struggled for consistency and is prone to plenty of mistakes. It comes as little surprise that the head has transferred him to a different school. It simply hasn’t worked out for Joe here at the London Stadium.

Adrian – Grade C

The Spaniard is full of exuberance and flair, and it has rubbed off on other pupils, and he has become a popular member of the club. Like Joe, he does have the odd blunder in him, but his passion and love for the club means he is an integral part of the furniture. He is well aware that he needs to improve in some areas and some extracurricular activities will help him develop.


Aaron Cresswell – C

Aaron is still yet to fully fulfil his true potential, he has the ability but after being held back a couple of years ago, you feel he is still catching up. He is still producing the odd flashes of quality, and we hold out hope that next year will be his year.

Arthur Masuaku – C

Has the talent to go all the way but lacks the discipline at this stage to fully reach his potential. He needs to hone his concentration skills and not spend too much time trying to show off to others. He has developed excellent relationships with other members of the group, which is good to see, and he will hopefully use those relations to good use next year. I think the weeks of writing lines in the detention hall did him a world of good after his midterm misdemeanour.

Sam Byram – D

Samuel went missing for most of the year, and frankly his truancy was unacceptable. He will be transferred to a different area if we can find a school that’ll take him. It is hard to judge an individual who continues to struggle to stay in the school environment. If he is to stick around next year, he really must try to improve his medical record.

Pablo Zabaleta –

B The older statesman of the group and he has been the father figure for the boys. A true example of what it means to be professional and his mentality has rubbed off crucially at times this year. He may be entering his final year at the school, but his attitude has been fantastic, a real honour to work with and watch.

Winston Reid – C

Like Sam, he had another challenging year, finding himself constantly in and out of the nurse’s room. This naturally held up his development, there is still talent in there for sure, but it is becoming increasingly worrying that he frankly will not live up to the reputation that once tipped him to get a move to higher fields. He must improve on a host of levels, and we would recommend summer schooling to enhance his chances of achieving the heights of two years ago.

James Collins – C

It is with great sadness that we see Ginge leave the school. Like Zabaleta, he has been a wise head that helps monitor the progress of many of his fellow pupils. He has always been popular and excelled in his studies. Nothing could stop his belief and desire to achieve even when the going got tough. We wish him the best of luck in his future.

Declan Rice – B

Declan has been put up a year by his head of year, and hasn’t looked out of place all year. He has excelled and even showed great leadership when called upon in class. We have high hopes for the youngster and if he continues to improve he will soon be head boy. The fact he is one of the most liked characters in the school given his age shows the maturity and the levels of respect he has earned since joining.

Angelo Ogbonna – B

Another boy who has excelled this year, he has shone in what have been difficult circumstances this year. He has always maintained his composure, and while he has struggled at times, he has always maintained that level of calmness. He is a talented lad and with the right tutelage could become one of the best boys in this school.

Patrice Evra – F

Joining the school with a bit of a bad boy reputation, Patrice settled quickly in the group. He has an infectious personality, but going around shouting ‘I Love this game’ can get tedious after a while. Particularly when his performances in the classroom weren’t so lovely. While he was good to have about the place initially, we are pleased to see the back of him.


Cheikhou Kouyate – C

Cheikhou has all the talent to be anything he wants to be, but his lazy attitude at times is continually holding him back from fulfilling his potential. On his day he can be unstoppable, but that day isn’t enough, we are hoping his extracurricular activity this summer away in Russia will help him develop his attitude. We are hoping to see a much better year from him next year.

Mark Noble – C

The top dog in the school, the man who everyone idolises and the leader of the pack. Mark has never been the most gifted person, but what he lacks in talent, he makes up for in heart and spirit. He endured a challenging year with many of the school’s problems landing at his door and words were had with him for his moment of rage in March, but since then he has pulled his socks up and led the boys brilliantly.

Pedro Obiang – C

Another man who spent more time in the nurse’s room than the classroom. But he did enjoy a solid start to the year and even starred on a trip to the arch-rival school down the road. We know what Pedro brings to the table, he is a talented, tenacious boy who is determined to succeed and if he can stay illness and injury free, he will live up to his potential.

Edi Fernandes – D

Hasn’t enjoyed the same success as Declan after making the jump up in school year. Whilst he has shown flashes of being able to fit in, he hasn’t quite got there yet. We have high hopes for him, but we expect him to work hard over the summer to improve on his weaknesses.

Joao Mario – C

After transferring to the school as part of the foreign exchange scheme in the winter, he took his time to settle in, which is only natural arriving from abroad and settling into his new environment. Once he developed his relationship with many of the more experienced boys in the group, he began to show the undoubted potential he has. We hope to bring him back next year to help him fully reach his potential.

Manuel Lanzini – B

A frustrating character, Manuel can be terrific or can go missing in class. His attention span often means his drifts off in class for a period of time, but when he switches back on, he often brings insightful and useful moments. He is one of the more naturally gifted pupils.


Marko Arnautovic – A

The star of the class, after a difficult start with the school which saw him in and out of the detention room for various misdemeanours, we were glad the penny finally dropped when we replaced his head of year with a harder taskmaster. Suddenly his grades improved and he appeared far happier in his new environment. His effort in class was noticeably improved and by the end of the school year he had become the head boy of his year such was the impression he made. Long may that continue next year Marko, excellent work.

Andy Carroll – D

Another frustrating year for Andy, we are now on first name terms with his doctor which is never a good thing, but when he does turn up, he can be one of the brightest kids in the classroom, which makes it all the more frustrating for us. We hope to see more of Andy next year as he approaches his final year at the school because frankly if he is going to reach his full potential, he really does need to be more consistent with his performances.

Michail Antonio – D

It was an illness-ridden year. A favourite character amongst the group but constant trips to the nurse’s offices means he regularly fails to make the impression he did when he first joined. He is a bright, strong boy who offers a lot when he is in class, but he really must improve his body management if he is going to progress at this school.

Javier Hernandez – C

A difficult first year settling in for Chica. In truth, we feel we let him down as a school, perhaps not giving him the fairest opportunity to shine. When he was asked to participate more often than not, he shone as we all predicted he would given his pedigree before joining us here in east London. We hope that under new stewardship next year that he is given a chance to show us all what he is capable of.

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