You Can’t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too; The Academy of Football

West Ham academy player Manny Longelo playing for Birmingham City. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)
West Ham academy player Manny Longelo playing for Birmingham City. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images) /
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Outside of the Ashby saga, West Ham also permanently transferred out left-back Manny Longelo to Birmingham, centre-back Will Greenidge to Colchester United, and midfielder Pierre Ekwah to Sunderland.

Longelo’s move came in the final minutes of the transfer window with the fullback remaining at the club he was loaned to at the start of the season. Many had him pegged for first-team football after he played well against Dynamo Zagreb in the Europa League last season, however, his time at West Ham was cut short.

Greenidge, the 20-year-old defender also cut loose, hadn’t been on the radar of many supporters who mainly track the first team, but a move to League Two Colchester United shows where his level is at currently.

Lastly is the move of Pierre Ekwah to Sunderland. Ekwah will join former academy starlet Aji Alese in the Black Cats squad after he too was surprisingly let go. Ekwah, who was doing well in the PL2 this year with 5 goals in 11 matches, was snatched up from the Chelsea academy just last season. Likely in search of a better opportunity for playing time, Ekwah opted for the Championship over development match time.

It’s hard to blame any players for their decisions in these situations, and on the surface is very easy to blame West Ham. All of these players are going to immediately be either bench or rotational players in the first team of the clubs they’ve joined, which is a higher position than where they’d have been at West Ham.

But, what is a Premier League club to do, especially in a relegation battle? Youth is injected into a first team in two ways – through injury, or through luxury. Injury has Divin Mubama close to factoring into the first-team attack, but centre-back depth has sustained injury issues thus far and the fullbacks have been healthy.

Luxury is just something this team doesn’t have this year. That luxury is breathing space in the table or the ability to lean on effective goal-scoring to allow youth players to get Premier League minutes. West Ham has neither.