Potts pleased with U18s progress
Steve Potts has been encouraged by the form of his much-changed U18s in
Steve Potts has been encouraged by the form of his much-changed West Ham
United U18s in recent weeks. With a number of U21s out on loan, Potts'
Academy side has lost a number of players to the Development Squad, leaving
the U18s boss to blood a number of schoolboys. However, the changes have not
affected the Hammers' form, with the youth team going top of Barclays U18
Premier League South following a 2-0 win at Fulham on Saturday. "Credit to
the boys because they deserve all the praise they have got recently," said
the former West Ham defender. "The effort they have been putting into their
training and the games has seen them get their rewards. I've been really
pleased with them. "The pleasing thing has been that we've kept winning,
despite having to make lots of changes to the team. I had quite a settled
team at the start of this season, but lately openings have appeared for the
schoolboys. "On Saturday at Fuham, I had three schoolboys starting alongside
four first-year scholars and four second-years, so I had quite a young team
against a good side. They did well to do what they did."
The U18s' win at Fulham was their fifth in succession and ninth in ten
league games. During that run, West Ham have scored 23 goals and conceded
just seven, pleasing Potts still further. However, he was quick to point out
that there is a big jump between U18 and Barclays Premier League football.
"I think the lads are just working really well for each other as a group.
All I am looking for is for them to keep improving individually and as a
team. "They have got to make a lot of improvements to make it to first-team
level and show that desire to want to improve. The day they don't show that
desire is the day they are going to struggle, I think, but the way it has
gone so far has been pleasing. "They are at a level now which is a good
standard, but they're not at the standard to go into the first team, and
that's what they need to get into their heads. They've done OK so far, but
they have a long way to go."
A number of U18s have been playing U21 football in recent weeks, including
Kyle Knoyle, Lewis Page, Reece Burke, Kieran Bywater and Josh Cullen and
Potts has been happy with their contribution at that higher and more
physical level. "I took the game against Southampton earlier this month and
I went to the game against Reading on Monday and the boys coped with it very
well, which was pleasing. "It was interesting to see, because they have done
well in the youth team and you want them to go to the next level and see how
they perform. They held their own and hopefully there will be more of the
U18s pushing in there, because that's what it's all about."
Potts saw Burke make his first-team debut at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup
with Budweiser third round in January, and now his ambition is to see one of
his charges graduate to make a debut in the Barclays Premier League. "That's
why we're all here - to try to get the boys up to that level and in the
first team. That will be a real buzz, I must admit, and it will be nice for
it to happen. "It's tough and a lot tougher than it was years ago with all
the money in the Premier League and a lot of foreign players here, so you've
got to be special to get in there. "You don't get there without a lot of
hard work and I've got a group who know how to work hard and that's the main
thing. They need to keep doing what they're doing."
The U18s have a free weekend coming up, but Potts' side will return to
action at Arsenal on Saturday 8 March.
Reid feeling lucky
Winston Reid believes West Ham United have deserved their recent run of good
At the beginning of the current season, West Ham United did not exactly
enjoy the rub of the green in the Barclays Premier League. The Hammers
suffered a horrendous succession of injuries, losing Andy Carroll, Winston
Reid, Alou Diarra and Ricardo Vaz Te to long-term absences, while a series
of agonising defeats left the players and staff wondering what they had done
to deserve their misfortune. Now, West Ham's fortunes are no longer hiding,
with a run of four straight victories in February carrying the Club from
18th to tenth in the table. Reid's return to the squad after three months
out with a high ankle sprain has coincided with the upturn in results, and
the No2 believes West Ham have deserved their improvement. "The last five
games, we have been performing really well and have picked up four wins and
draw, so points-wise it's been brilliant," said the New Zealand defender.
"At this stage six weeks ago, it wasn't looking the best, but we've picked
up a lot."
"I just think we have had luck on our side as well, which we didn't have at
the beginning of the season when free-kicks were going in from everywhere
and decisions were going against us. "You always get that over the season,
so you just need that little bit of luck and I think we're playing well as a
team, scoring goals and keeping the back door shut."
Reid has been part of keeping that 'back door shut' in recent weeks,
appearing as a substitute in the victories over Swansea, Aston Villa and
Southampton when Sam Allardyce has opted to go five at the back late on.
Having had a replacement's role in those wins, Reid is now biding his time
as he works to win back his place in the starting XI for the first time
since the goalless draw at home to Aston Villa on 2 November. "It's been OK.
I've come on for the last 15 minutes a couple of times and I've had to do my
job to help us to keep a clean sheet. "I've been out for three-and-a-bit
months so I need time to get myself right and take it from there."
Reid may or may not start at Everton on Saturday, but whoever does line up
in the back four will have a testing afternoon on their hands against
Roberto Martinez's top-four challengers. "It won't be easy because it's a
tough place to go. They are a good team with a good manager, so it'll be
tough but we've shown we can pick up points left, right and centre in the
last five games. "Hopefully we can go up there and pick up some more points
and bring them back to London."
One player who West Ham will have to watch carefully is Everton forward
Romelu Lukaku, who scored the late winner in the reverse fixture at the
Boleyn Ground in September and is expected to return from an ankle injury on
Saturday. "I think you have to accept that sometimes he is going to get the
ball and you can't really do anything about it. You have to pick your
battles and pick your moments when you're going to go for the ball. "He's a
good player, he's strong and he finishes his chances off really well too, so
we'll have to watch him."
While Reid and company will take nothing for granted at Goodison Park, the
No2 says West Ham can go to Merseyside in relaxed and confident mood
following their recent run of results. That said, the 25-year-old says the
Hammers are determined to finish the season strongly. "I think we can go
there confident and looking up the table rather than down it. Maybe six
weeks ago, we weren't thinking that, but there's now seven points between us
and the bottom three, so we've given ourselves a bit of breathing space.
"We'd like to hit the 40-point mark as quickly as possible."
Macca relishing Goodison return
Assistant boss Neil McDonald wants the Hammers to maintain their fine form
West Ham United assistant manager Neil McDonald is looking forward to
returning to his old stamping ground in Everton this weekend. McDonald
played 90 league games for the Toffees between 1988-91 and now the Hammers
will travel to Goodison Park on the back of the four wins out of four. While
confidence is high, McDonald says nobody is getting carried away and there
is still work to do to pull away from the relegation zone. He said; "We are
in a really good habit at the minute, the team spirit is probably the
highest it has been since coming to the Club and the boys are trusting each
other, working hard for each other, and even when we go behind now, we seem
to respond in the right way. "The response was fantastic against Southampton
to score two goals in a few minutes, one from a corner ourselves and one
from a great ball from Kevin Nolan to Matt Jarvis. That put us on the front
foot. "It was a difficult game, all the way through Southampton played
really well but at the end of the day, you have to create the chances and
score from them to win the game. We then took our chance again in the second
half, carried on and it was a terrific finish from Kevin, that then killed
them off. "We are looking to reach those magic points of safety, there are
still a number of tough games to play and Everton will be difficult. "They
are an excellent side so we have to be on our guard, but we will be focused
and we will be ready."
Lee thrilled with Royals strike
Elliot Lee hailed his goal against Reading on Monday night as one of the
best of his career
A spectacular strike against Reading on Monday night saw a welcome return to
the scoresheet for Development Squad marksman Elliot Lee. The frontman
opened the scoring with an impeccable volley after 43 minutes, watching
Danny Whitehead's lofted pass drop over his shoulder before firing the ball
into the opposite corner of the net. It had been over two months since Lee's
last goal for the Under-21s, after he struck in a 2-1 win against Bristol
City in the U21 Premier League Cup on 2 December, and the forward was
delighted to be back amongst the goals. When asked if the goal was one of
his best, he told West Ham TV: "Yeah definitely, it's up there with my best.
It was a great ball from Danny and I've just hit it and it's gone in the
bottom corner so I'm absolutely delighted with it. "I made the run and I
didn't know if Danny was going to play it, but he's put it on an absolute
plate for me and I've done the other bit. It was a great goal and I'm really
happy with it. "As a striker, you go through these little blips and I think
I'd gone four games without a goal but I never lost confidence. I knew I was
going to get a goal soon and hopefully they'll keep coming now."
Blair Turgott added to Lee's opener with just three minutes left on the
clock, finishing off a swift counter-attack to wrap up all three points. The
second goal came a just a matter of seconds after Reading had gone within
inches of pulling level through Liam Kelly's long-range half-volley which
struck the post with Raphael Spiegel helpless in goal. It would have been
harsh on the Hammers, who dominated for large portions of the match and Lee
believes the result was fully deserved. "I think a lot of credit's got to go
to the back five. In the last two games they've limited the opposition to
very few chances and that's a big reason why we're winning. If us attackers
can do our job upfront then we're going to win games if we can keep keeping
clean sheets. "As we progress through the levels I think the margins become
smaller and smaller and I think it showed great character from the boys
today. "If that shot had of gone in then I think a few heads might have
dropped, but we went up the other end and we scored a great goal to kill the
game. It was a great performance from the boys, fully deserved."
Victory over the Royals means the squad have now picked up back-to-back wins
following their win against Southampton in their previous outing. The wins
have moved the Hammers back into the top four of the Barclays Under-21
Premier League, and Lee is hoping they can continue their fine form. "I
thought the lads were brilliant tonight. From goalkeeper to attack we were
all brilliant, and ground out a great result, on not the best pitch, but
it's another three points and hopefully we can keep going. "As you know, we
had a few disappointing results which saw us drop down the league a bit, but
the last two wins have given everybody a confidence boost and I think
they're fully deserved wins as well."
The Big Interview - David Gold
Joint-Chairman David Gold talks exclusively to whufc.com
Joint-Chairman David Gold is thrilled at the Club's upturn in fortunes over
the last month. The Hammers have climbed away from the bottom three with
four straight wins, in a five-game spell which has yielded 13 points and
just one goal conceded. Sam Allardyce's men have risen up to tenth in the
Barclays Premier League table as a result and Mr Gold is keen to maintain
the upward momentum.
Mr Gold, we've won four straight games - you must be delighted with the
team's form at the moment?
DG: "I'm absolutely thrilled. When Andy Carroll got sent off and we knew
he'd miss three games, you start thinking if we can get a point a game you'd
maybe live with that, but then to go on and win all three without him is a
great relief and very, very important to the football club, because you
could argue now that, dare we say it, we're [nearly] safe. "We've certainly
given ourselves a fantastic chance, and Sam was saying to me that this time
last year we actually had one point less than now. So this is a great
It's amazing to think that just a few weeks ago we were in the bottom three,
and now we're into the top half of the table. We could match last year's
tenth place finish if we keep this up...
DG: "There's every chance we can do that. Early in the season we had a lot
of bad luck, particularly with injuries and I know people say that it all
evens out, but early in the season I thought we had some poor decisions go
against us. I remember going away to Hull, and they had the softest of
penalties, then in the second half there was an absolute blatant penalty for
us which wasn't given. We could have won the game 1-0 when in actual fact we
lost it 1-0.
"There were a number of games not dissimilar to that, and then the injuries
started piling up. When I say it's bad luck with injuries, we all have
injuries, we know that, but it's when they all fall to the same area. You
wake up one morning and you don't have any centre-backs available - that's
when you feel the luck's running against you. But I think it's turned now."
We were asked to judge Sam and judge the team when all the options were back
available to him. Now they are it's beginning to bear fruit, isn't it?
DG: "Sure. Fans are frustrated, are angry and the first thing that happens
is that they want a change of manager, then the second thing they want a
change of the Chairmen. It comes with the territory, and there's no question
that Sam's vindicated himself and I'm delighted for him."
As well as the manager, it has been great to see the captain return in great
form after his suspensions...
DG: "He'll be the first to tell you how disappointed he was at getting
sent-off. He definitely felt that he let the team down, he let the fans down
and most importantly of course, he left himself down. He found it hard to
deal with, but he's dealt with it in the best possible way in coming back
and scoring five goals in his last four games. You couldn't ask for more
from him. It has been a true captain's performance on the field and what
people don't often get the opportunity to see, but I do, is what a great
captain he is off the field, in the dressing room and on the training pitch.
He is a special character."
This recent run has been based on defensive solidity and that shows that the
team is working hard together to keep it tight...
DG: "I thought the Adrian's Wall picture was brilliant and I loved it when I
saw it. The four defenders with the goalkeeper in the middle and the wall
behind. that was great, and of course they've been a stalwart. That's only
one goal in five games and i feel sorry that Adrian couldn't go on and break
some records because he was very close and it was unfortunate that he
conceded on Saturday, because James Tomkins told me that he never touched
him [Adam Lallana] to give away the free kick and I believe him! That
wouldn't have been a free kick and they wouldn't have scored. That would
have been nice, but having said that, to beat Southampton, who are a very
good side, was fantastic."
How much does this run boost the Club?
DG: "The good run we're on raises the spirits of the fans, the players and
the football club - it's buzzing. We were in a dark place for months,
worrying about what we were doing wrong, and of course we kept turning back,
claiming that it was bad luck, and once that turns we'll be in a much better
place. We are now and we can start thinking again about the future.
"Don't misunderstand me, we're not clear, our position is not guaranteed in
the Premier League, but we're in a good place and you would be very, very
disappointed if we were to fail from here."
DG: we're nearly safe
Filed: Wednesday, 26th February 2014
By: Staff Writer
David Gold has praised Sam Allardyce for West Ham's recent run of 'Champions
League' form - and believes that February's results have staved off the
threat of relegation. Allardyce is odds-on to be named as the Barclay's
Premier League Manager of the Month for February having led his team to four
successive victories - a string of wins that have taken West Ham from the
relegation zone to tenth place in the table. February's haul of a maximum 12
points has led to a renewed sense of optimism at the Boleyn Ground, as
exemplified by co-owner David Gold who believes that we should now be
looking up, rather than down, the table. "You could argue now that, dare we
say it, we're [nearly] safe," he told.whufc.com. "We've certainly given
ourselves a fantastic chance. "Early in the season we had a lot of bad luck,
particularly with injuries. I know people say that it all evens out, but I
thought we had some poor decisions go against us. I remember going away to
Hull and they had the softest of penalties. There were a number of games not
dissimilar to that and then the injuries started piling up.
"Fans are frustrated and the first thing that happens is that they want a
change of manager. Then the second thing they want a change of Chairmen. It
comes with the territory, there's no question that Sam's vindicated himself
and I'm delighted for him. "The good run we're on raises the spirits of the
fans, the players and the football club - it's buzzing," he added. "We were
in a dark place for months and we can start thinking again about the future.
"Don't misunderstand me, we're not clear, our position is not guaranteed in
the Premier League - but we're in a good place and you would be very, very
disappointed if we were to fail from here."
West Ham chairman David Gold heaps praise on 'vindicated' boss Sam Allardyce
Feb 26, 2014 16:41 By Liam Prenderville
West Ham joint-chairman David Gold is delighted the club have been justified
in their decision to stick with boss Sam Allardyce. After just one win in 10
games through December and January, the Hammers looked almost certainties
for relegation with most sections of the Upton Park crowd calling for
Allardyce to be sacked. However, the 59-year-old has since masterminded four
wins on the bounce, with last weekend's 3-1 success over Southampton lifting
the club to 10th in the Premier League table. And Gold is delighted to see
Allardyce emerge through the difficult period and prove the club were right
to keep hold of him. He told Goal.com: "Fans are frustrated, are angry and
the first thing that happens is that they want a change of manager. "It
comes with the territory and there's no question that Sam's vindicated
himself and I'm delighted for him."
Someone else who has been rejuvenated in the past month is captain Kevin
Nolan, having scored five times in four matches. He also came under fire
after two petulant dismissals in games at Liverpool and Fulham and looked
set to be stripped of his captaincy. But Gold has also saved words of praise
for the in-form midfielder. He added: "Kevin definitely felt that he let the
team down, he let the fans down and, most importantly, of course, he let
himself down. "You couldn't ask for more from him. It has been a true
captain's performance on the field. "And what people don't often get the
opportunity to see, but I do, is what a great captain he is off the field,
in the dressing room and on the training pitch. He is a special character."
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