Football: `A Cole Comes along Every 15 Years' ; Ronald Atkin Sees the Academy Still Planting Seeds for Future Success
Atkin, Ronald, The Independent (London, England)
IN THE wake of Harry Redknapp's departure, symbolism was rampant at West Ham's Chadwell Heath training ground yesterday. As a reminder that life goes on, the main pitch was being reseeded ready for a new season, and as a reminder of what life used to be like there were six pictures in the foyer of Bobby Moore and one of Geoff Hurst walloping that goal of goals in 1966.
An unhappy week was completed, however, when the club's Under-17 team were beaten 2-0 by Ipswich in the play-off semi-finals of the FA Premier Academy League, despite the rallying cry from one spectator, "Come on West Ham, think of Harry Redknapp".
The departed manager was a prime topic for those watching, not to mention where you were when it happened. "I was halfway home when I heard the news on the car radio," said one venerable Hammer follower in a collapsible chair. "Was yer?" said his pal. "I was down the boozer. Better place to be when you get that sort of news."
Another codger, wearing a batik shirt and carrying his half-time sandwiches in a blue plastic bag, had news for those willing to listen. "See that girl over there? George Graham is her uncle and she says he has applied for the job. Guess who else? Iain Dowie, and he's thick as two planks. I'm glad Redknapp has gone, the team are crap. He spent pounds 8m on players who are no good. You have to blame him because he didn't give the youngsters a chance."
This was a bit harsh considering the Under-17 match was being played on the pitch where Joe Cole learnt his trade. They could have used him, too, against an efficient Ipswich side who profited from West Ham's early profligacy to collect a goal in each half from Darren Bent, a talented striker whose speed of foot was matched by speed of thought as he put away two rebounds, one off the bar and the other off goalkeeper Glen Jackson's chest.
"They should give the job to Tony Carr," was Batik Shirt's final offering. …