Well, to be fair it wasn’t exactly a Cup Classic, was it ? Once again we failed to put our stamp on the game, create a number of goalscoring opportunities or even pass the ball to a teammate with any conviction. And while Shrewsbury are a very talented and organised outfit they are still a League One club. So seeing us stumble and stutter our way to a replay wasn’t beautiful. It would have been even more dreadful if it hadn’t been for the efforts of our East London kindergarten out there, with some very decent shifts put in by Declan Rice, Reece Burke, Toni Martinez and last but not least, Mr.Josh Cullen.

Not only did he make some very tidy interceptions, playing some nice passes into the bargain, he also literally put his body on the line by way of taking a kick in the North and South. I could sympathise a lot with Cullen in that fateful moment as I lost some teeth in similar fashion when I was around the same age. To then finish the game and still throw yourself into blocks and challenges takes a lot of guts and I can only applaud young Cullen for his bravery and exemplary display of willingness to take one for the team and go right through the pain barrier.

I won’t blame our youngsters for failing to take the game by the scruff of the neck and win it, for that to happen our more experienced players would have been required to play a bit more like the footballers of Premier League standard they presumably are. In fact, I’d say our youngsters were by far the best players on the pitch wearing claret and blue, grazing The New Meadow.

It’s too small a sample size yet to decide if Cullen and Burke should remain on the fringes of our first team now or if we should send them back to Bolton on loan for the rest of the season (their only options now after playing in the Cup game against Shrewsbury).

I will always advocate the idea of giving our youngsters a shot at first team football. I think guys like Rice, Oxford, Burke, Cullen, Quina and Martinez all have a decent chance to make the step up, some sooner (like Rice and Oxford), others maybe later (the rest).

In any case I think it’s well worth it to keep some patience with them as they are unlikely to command high transfer fees anyway should we decide to sell them.
And knowing our rather thrifty approach in the transfer market I’d rather see us showing some trust in our prospects instead of getting out the scattergun, signing some South American punts who might be able to adjust to Premier League football given some time or crash and burn quickly.


Our business in the transfer window will be highly interesting because it might give us some answers (again) in terms of the actual level of our board’s ambition.
Will we be happy enough to simply replace the players we ship out ?
Or will we push the boat out just a little bit further and try to nail down a quality signing or two if possible ?

Will the owners really be happy to just stay up ? Or will we give it a genuine shot to finish at least in a more respectable midtable position ? I reckon we should go for the latter as it can only help our transfer business in the summer if we finish as high as possible.

Players surely prefer to join a club that finished 10th instead of one that only just escaped relegation on the last day of the season. I’d love to see one or two quality signings arriving in the next few weeks, but I won’t be holding my breath and I will definitely continue going to bed during the transfer window!

One thing’s for sure. January won’t be boring for West Ham either, with plenty of twists and turns lurking with intent, on and off the pitch. Let’s hope the rollercoaster will be kind and we don’t get stuck, hanging upside down in a looping…COYI!


By Daniel Hatcher

Jon Pope

By Jon Pope

Use to sit in the BML for 10 years, been a West Ham fan all my life, and my great grandfather was a founder member of the TIW. I also help run the Hammer Chat website.

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