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Please do not ruin Reece Oxford

West Ham youngster Reece Oxford produced an assured performance in the Hammers 2-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday

West Ham youngster Reece Oxford produced an assured performance in the Hammers 2-0 win at Arsenal on Sunday

West Ham’s 2-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday was a massive shock considering the Hammers had failed to beat the Gunners in the Premier League since 2007.

Perhaps equally surprising was the inclusion in the West Ham team of youngster Reece Oxford.


That was the question many fans and pundits alike were asking. The versatile 16-year-old was thrown in at the deep by boss Slaven Bilic, but luckily enough the youngster shone at the base of a diamond midfield.

Oxford is that young that he was not even born when Bilic played for the Hammers. The youngster has yet to even receive his GCSE results. Something tells me he will not have to take the academic route to be a success in the future.

In making an appearance at his tender age he became the Hammers youngest ever Premier League player. Everybody at the club seems to speak so highly of the England under-17 international, who did not look overawed by the occasion.


Oxford looked very cool on the ball and assured against formidable opponents such as Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil. He never seemed to panic and always seemed to be in control of his positioning.

For a young player he showed great discipline. He can also play as a ball-playing centre-back, but did not look out of place in midfield. The obvious comparisons have now been made with former-Hammers and England star Rio Ferdinand who also broke into the West Ham team as a teenager.


There needs to be a few words, ok a lot of words of caution here. No doubt Reece is a bright prospect, one of the brightest to come out of the clubs academy for a long time. However some young players can be given too much too soon.

The money, the fame and the adulation can go to their heads and they end up not fulfilling their potential. The reports from West Ham seem to suggest that the youngster has his head screwed on right.

Earlier this year Oxford captained England’s under-17 side in European Championships, so he obviously has leadership qualities at a young age. However he will need to maintain a good attitude to go with his ability if he is to be a success in the Premier League.


Everybody gets excited when a youngster emerges in a Premier League team. The fans are excited, pundits are excited and most crucially the British media seems to wet themselves at the sight of a young English player in a Premier League team.

The British media are famous for overhyping young English talent. I cannot exclude myself in that, as I have probably been guilty of this in the past.

However, fans must understand that football writers, journalists and bloggers are only supped-up football fans, who are lucky enough to get paid to write about the beautiful game.

We are fans like everybody else. However there is something fresh and romantic about a young English talent breaking into a Premier League team and being successful that seems to get some people over-excited.

The press needs that sort of excitement to fill newspapers, websites and magazines (just like I am doing now!).

Without that sort of excitement football becomes mundane and dare I say boring. The British media do get a tendency to get carried away sometimes though. There have been so many young players that have been over-hyped and fallen by the wayside in recent years.

Fans want to know about the latest young potential star, but the press often build up the young players so much that when their form inevitably dips they then jump on the youngster and they get the backlash.

Certain sectors of the British media like to build up players just so they can knock them down. In recent times the likes of David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard have see-sawed from being villains to heroes and back again.


The media spotlight will now be firmly on young Reece and hopefully he has the mental attributes to go and have a good career at the top-level of the game.

However, I just hope that the media spotlight is not too much for the youngster and he is not distracted by it. He does look like a promising young player, but he has made just one Premier League start and he has a lot to do a lot more to remain in that West Ham team this season.

Are young English players overhyped?

Mon 10 Aug, 2015
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