Football Football
Horse Racing Horse Racing
Cricket Cricket
Basketball Basketball
Golf Golf

Terry Westley: We’ll learn a lot about our younger players in this Europa League campaign

09 Jul | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Terry Westley: We’ll learn a lot about our younger players in this Europa League campaign

West Ham's Academy Manager takes time out ahead of the club's Europa League second leg clash with Lusitans to talk us through his vital role in youth developement

Hi Terry. Firstly, tell us a bit about your role at West Ham.

Academy manager and in charge of development of young players, from 21 down to 9 years of age.

So that consists of: Which players should train with the first team, which players we should try to bring into the club and who we should secure, and at the top end, what players we think should go out on loan.

So that includes scouting of young players?

Well, we have a scouting system. We have a head of recruitment, Dave Hunt, and he has his army of scouts. We have people we know from Europe who we’d contact, or they’d contact us, if there’s any one we should be looking it.

Between us, we’ll then slowly sift through this list and take a decision as to whether we should bring those players in or not.

We have quite an extensive format with people looking at players all over, but I think first and foremost you have to look at players within your own 2 mile radius that you can sign.

In this competitive market at the moment, with Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal particularly in our region, we’re all after the very best players.                                                             

How does the relationship work between yourself and the first team manager, Slaven Bilic?

Obviously, it’s new, and things change.

The integration of any young player into the first team is the final step, so that relationship between the academy manager and the first team manager needs to be a tangible one.

I have an office which is integrated with the coaching staff so when we start talking about teams for friendlies, under 21 matches and if there a first team player that needs a game and so on, that link between the manager, his staff and myself is crucial.

So far, it’s been very pleasing because we went away with the Europa League squad to Cork on a training camp, and it was while we were there that the new manager was then announced.

He came straight over and met the staff and all the players involved in the Europa League. It’s been very very positive and he’s already shown the utmost respect for the academy and to his new staff aswell.

You’ve been more involved in first team matters for the past few weeks. How have preparations been?

Well, this goes right back to the end of last season. When we knew Sam would be leaving us and there was going to be changes, we then found out we were in Europe, and you can’t just wait until a new manager is suddenly announced.

The Board of Directors were searching for who they wanted, with Slaven being the man they chose, but in between that time the friendlies and training camp had to be organised.

So a management group set about organising pre-season so that when the new manager was announced, it was seamless. He could come in and things were in place for him.

Once we knew we were in Europe, we had to make a decision about a group of players coming back early, so on the 22nd June we came back. And then the pre-season trip to Cork was organised.

Do these Europa League trips serve as a good chance for the squad to bond?

Well, that was what the Cork trip was all about. Now we focus on the task at hand.

It was the decision we took after the Newcastle game last season to say “Right, we’re going to enter this competition.”

We can’t just rock up 10 days before a game and think we’re going to be OK. It’s just too big a risk.

We’ll do it properly. We’ll come back early. A group of players will go away to Cork and that was really the time where the seniors and the younger ones bonded, and the cohesion of the team was put together.

And that has been very, very good, it’s been a massive plus for us, and you see that round the training ground now since we’ve been back.

For the first time, the younger players and the senior players are integrated and it can only bode well for the future.

Slaven watched the first game from the Director’s Box while you were in the dugout. What was the thinking behind that?

For Slaven, it was easier for him to say to me “Look, you take the first round, you know the players, you know the under 21 players, you’ve been involved with the senior squad now” and he’ll emerge himself into that.

He’s had another group of players who’ve gone out to Cork for the training camp and he’s also working on bringing in new additions, sorting out the staff, trying to find a place to live – so it was a practicality thing really.

I was still at the club, some of the young players were going to play, it was a good chance for the manager to take a bit of a back seat and review everything from a distance.

He’s got an awful lot on his mind, and he’s been very respectful to both this competition and the opposition. He was in Cork, then he was back for last week’s game, he spoke to the players before the game and was in the dressing room at half-time, and watched from up the top.

Slaven will join you in the dugout for the second leg but with the tie seemingly dead and buried at 3-0, how do you keep the players motivated for a match such as this?

It’s another experience. It’s an experience that for some players they won’t have had before, playing in Europe. They won’t have come away for a game.

You’re right in saying we are in a very commanding position.

If you look at the stats from the [first] game, we dominated in all areas, which you would expect. But now it’s about professionalism and seeing the job through, the professionalism in playing in front of the manager, who’s here.

The senior players want to do well to impress him, and also the younger players get another opportunity to play in front of him.

So there’s a lot of wins for us. We want to play well, we want see the game through properly and there’ll be a lot learnt from this game from the manager’s point of view and from a coach’s point of view.

We’ll learn a lot by tomorrow, in terms of who can mentally switch on and do the job properly.

Speaking specifically about the younger players. What are you looking to see from them in a match such as this?

Reliability. Can they show they can open the game up? Can they do something that is going to win a Premier League match? If you’re a defender, can you be reliable out on that pitch? Can you control your temperament – Are you going to make a silly tackle and get booked and put yourself under pressure?

Can they win the game? Can you play when you’re 3-0 up and the game’s, perhaps, already won? Do you still have that tough mental attitude to still see the game through? All those little bits.

The young players will have the chance to prove themselves in the Europa League this season.