Sam Allardyce has been criticised for many things during his time at West Ham - with playing unattractive 'effective' football and being too conservative in blooding up and coming talent two of the most recurring gripes.
With that in mind, the old trickster shocked the footballing world by naming 15 year old Reece Oxford on the bench for last week's midweek Capital One Cup encounter with Sheffield United. The England under 17 captain is a stylish centre back in the mould of Rio Ferdinand and can hold his own against the older boys even though he is not 16 until the 16th of December!
The move is much more than a media stunt as Sam tries to prevent Man United and Arsenal from attracting the youngster away from west Ham. A key element of his new deal is that he will get to play more football at the higher level.
Moreover, he still has almost 6 months to force his way onto the Premiership pitch if he is to beat the current record for the youngest player which is held by Matthew Briggs who played for Fulham at the tender age of 16 years and 65 days.
Interestingly, the third youngest ever did make the Upton Park pitch on Tuesday as Sheffield United's Jose Baxter made his Premiership debut for Everton on the opening day of the 2008/09 season aged 16-years and 191 days!
If Oxford is to break the record, he will have to leapfrog another Reese - Burke who also got another decent run out last week to follow up on his Preseason heroics!
|Extra time: That'll take it way past my bed time!|
Whatever happens, the 'academy' feeling is definitely back!