|Well able for anything the Germans might throw at em|
As Gary Lineker once remarked "Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win."
And so it was in the Betway cup yesterday afternoon where a youthful Hammers side dominated a lively encounter before ultimately going down 3-2 on aggregate.
However, there were many talking points from the two legs as injuries to key players forced Slaven Bilic to field a side that was dominated by players who are on the fringes of the first team squad and, by and large, the youngsters took their opportunity to shine.
Top of the list was young Declan Rice. The Irishman may only be 17 years old but he already looks the part and put in two highly assured displays to build upon his Premiership debut at the end of last season. He seems to have jumped ahead of the two Reece's but only time will tell. With rumours that James Collins may be about to depart, maybe there is room for Rice in his preferred CB spot?
Nathan Holland also shone with his direct style that added considerable excitement to proceedings. At 19 he has plenty of time to make his full break through but on the basis of his preseason performances so far things could happen sooner rather than later. The departure of Sofiane Feghouli and continued disappointing form of Robert Snodgrass add weight to such a possibility.
Toni Martinez has been banging in the goals for the U23 PL2 team for some time and got to open his account yesterday with a delightful headed goal from Andre Ayew's delightful cross. Martinez is now 20 and is surely close to transitioning to the first team squad - that Ashley Fletcher was let go despite the continued injury issues with Carroll and Sakho suggests that SuperSlav may well be thinking of promoting Martinez this season?
Otherwise, Josh Cullen and Reece Burke also enjoyed decent performances, while amongst the more senior players Marko Arnautovic looks sharp and scored on his full debut. Hart and Zabaleta look to be settling in well, while at left back Arthur Masuaku seems to be winning the contest with Aaron Cresswell for the left back berth for the Premiership opener on August 13th against Man United. In midfield, it's good to see Pedro Obiang back to his energetic best and also assuming leadership responsibilities as Captain.
Next up it's off to Hamburg to face minnows Altona 93 where one assumes we can expect to see more of our developing talent and possibly a debut for CHicharito? With our current injury situation whereby Lanzini, Noble, Kouyate, Reid, Antonio, Carroll and Sakho are all absent, we may well need some of the youngsters for the Old Trafford tie.