Jeremy Ngakia’s West Ham emergence appears to demonstrate that the decision-making process on whether youngsters learn their trade at the club or are allowed out on loan is largely correct.
The 19-year-old received the most severe test possible against Sadio Mane against Liverpool and came through with flying colours giving a near faultless performance. People may say the lad has made just eight appearances at under 23 level for the club, and remains an extreme Premier League rookie in real terms but his performances in two games against Liverpool this season show his achievements cannot be overstated.
Indeed he was only 0.26 percentage points behind Angelo Ogbonna as the Hammers man of the match on ClaretandHugh’s fans ratings. That’s an extraordinary achievement for the teenager who was also very impressive on his debut appearance for the first team against the Premier League leaders at the London Stadium on January 29.
It had been a similar story during the London Stadium confrontation against the champions elect when he did himself nothing but good on his debut. Jamie Carragher – who knows a thing or two about full back duties – spoke of him in the most glowing of terms after the Anfield clash declaring him a fabulous player who had indeed been his man of the match and most influential Hammer on the pitch.
Like Declan Rice and Grady Diangana before him, Jeremy has been developing his game at West Ham whilst others like Conor Coventry and Nathan Holland were allowed to get regular football elsewhere. Hailing from Deptford, Ngakia joined the Hammers at the age of 14. He made 17 appearances for the U18s side during 2016/17 while still a schoolboy and signing his first scholarship papers that summer.
Now he looks set for a highly successful Hammers career and with Ryan Fredericks on the long term injury list could have staked a major claim for his job by the end of the season. During one of the most anxious seasons we have suffered in a long time, the development of our youth academy is something of which we can feel very proud.
There have been numerous complaints that players such as Nathan Holland and Conor Coventry have been sent out on loan. But lead coach Dmitri Halajko can surely be trusted to know what he’s doing during a season when the Under 23s have remain unbeaten in Premier League 2 Division 2.
That division is about the same level as League One and the fact that young Jeremy has made such an impression at Premier League level immediately is testament to the fact that we have one hell of a prospect on our hands. Given too that Ben Johnson is considered to be better in the position, we are looking very good indeed at grass roots level. Rather glad my name ain’t Ryan Fredericks!