The unexpected consequences of David Moyes’ admirable faith in West Ham academy prospects

The West Ham academy is continuing to produce first-team players for the Hammers but David Moyes’ faith in youth could have impacted the Hammers’ season in an unexpected manner.

Since returning to West Ham in December 2019 Moyes has dipped into the West Ham U23 squad and handed a number of youngsters their first-team chance in both domestic and European action.

In a bizarre way, Moyes’ faith in youth and West Ham’s success in Europe could have come at a cost to the Hammers due to the youngsters now being deemed “appropriately experienced Under-21 players” after making their senior debuts.

Once the academy stars have appeared for the first team they are understood to be considered part of the senior setup and as such should West Ham request a postponement due to COVID and injuries in the squad they would be included in the Premier League’s decision.

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Moyes was unhappy with the timing of the rescheduled clash against Norwich City when other Premier League teams have stretched the rules to force postponements and opponents, such as Leeds United, were not in midweek action when they have a number of fixtures left to fulfill.

“We did not agree with why we had to play Norwich when we did. We missed one game and not by our doing and we were made to go again at this point in the season,” Moyes said.

“We had a busy Christmas period like everybody else, like Leeds but Leeds have two games to play and were not asked to play midweek but we were. I cannot understand it and it only tells me that the people making those decisions do not understand what recovery means.”

West Ham have not called for any matches to be postponed and after Arsenal managed to have their clash with Spurs delayed Moyes has questioned whether he needs to reconsider his stance on pushing for every match to be fulfilled in its allotted time slot.

“Maybe I am not being tough enough in saying we could have done with the game against Norwich being off and we could have fought harder for it,” he added.

Since 2019 Moyes has handed 12 academy graduates their first-team debut with the highlight being five full West Ham debuts and two players making their first Hammers appearance in December’s Europa League clash with Dinamo Zagreb. The seven youngsters joined Mark Noble on the pitch making it eight West Ham academy products to feature in the match.

With progress to the knockout rounds and top spot in their group secured Moyes was handed the opportunity to blood the youngsters. However, with the Premier League now deeming these players ‘appropriately experienced’ the move could have unintended consequences for West Ham should they apply for a match to be postponed in the future.

It is not just the Hammers squad that have benefitted from the West Ham academy. According to a study conducted by the Hammers have produced 39 players from their academy that are in action across the English Football League this season.

West Ham have 39 academy players in action across the English Football League this season (Credit –

Only seven other clubs have made a greater contribution across the English game this season with Manchester United top of the pile with an incredible 71 academy players in action.

Despite the immediate disadvantages caused by the Premier League COVID rules, in the long run Moyes’ trust in youth is sure to benefit West Ham in the future.

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A number of the Hammers youngsters have tasted first-team action and will now be even more determined to follow in the footsteps of Noble, Declan Rice and Ben Johnson in moving from academy prospects to establishing themselves in the senior squad.

Even if not all make the grade at Premier League level the Hammers could still benefit financially by moving the players on either permanently or temporarily and bringing in loan and transfer fees to the club.

West Ham have a long tradition of producing top-quality youth talent and that run looks set to continue under Moyes’ watch.

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