Irons in the Middle

Last updated : 03 April 2002 By Mike Reich
Carrick: Staying
Michael Carrick
One of the Hammers' best young players, Michael still has a chance of getting to the World Cup this summer, but a double hernia operation a couple of months ago may have scuppered his plans. He is a quality player though, and he will still have the England aim in his head. He is likely to be included in the friendly squad against Paraguay before the end of the season, giving him one more chance at that level before the summer.
Michael's vision and awareness are brilliant for one so young, and his long range passing is only bettered by Steven Gerrard in his age group in England. He has often been alikened to Hammers legend Trevor Brooking, and there are some similarities. Michael likes to shoot from the edge of the box, and has got a few since edging into the first team in the shadow of his team-mate and friend Joe Cole. He was fortunate inasmuch as not much was ever expected from him - he was an unsung player for a lot of his academy years, and has emerged all the better for it.
Together with Cole, Glenn will be looking to build his midfield around Michael - a vital player to keep at Upton Park.
Here next season? Improving at Upton Park...8/10

Joe Cole
It is still possible for Joe to head to Japan and Korea for the World Cup this summer, and he knows it. He didn't blow his chance of inclusion following mistakes in the recent friendly with Italy - whatever anyone says. The main problem with Joe is inconsistency. He is blessed with such skills, but can drift in and out of games.
He also needs to get on the scoresheet more. For an attacking midfielder, he has scored far too few goals - and more importantly, missed too many good chances. Joe does persevere though - he is not a player whose head will drop in a game after a missed opportunity, or making a mistake. He will fight for the ball, and try and make up for his error.
For one who has had such pressure heaped on him from such a young age, he has fared remarkably well in the spotlight, and his head seems firmly screwed on those shoulders of his. He is only 20 though, and Paul Gascoigne didn't make a huge impact until Italia 90 - when he was 23. Joe will probably go to Asia with the senior squad this summer - much like Rio Ferdinand did in 1998 with Glenn Hoddle. That experience did Rio the world of good - now he is England's No. 1 centre-back. With Sven focussing more on the future than this tournament, he will be hoping to take a younger squad with him - including stars like Joe.
He is one of the players that Glenn Roeder wants to build a team around - and he can't be sold: not at any price.
Here next season? Stays after trip to Asia...8/10

Laurent Courtois
Brought to Upton Park in the summer on a Bosman free transfer, Laurent impressed in the opening week of the season, only to fall into obscurity at Upton Park. He was signed on the recommendation of his good friend Freddie Kanoute, but since the arrival of Don Hutchison, and the return of Steve Lomas the young Frenchman has found it hard to even make the bench. He is not a big player, and that may have gone against him - up against tough midfield opposition, you need some weight in the centre of the park - and with Joe Cole also being relatively small, it could make the Hammers midfield too lightweight.
But having been signed on a free, and on a very low wage for a Bosman signing he has been far from a disaster signing for Roeder, who might let him go in the summer for a low fee, but a profit all the same.
Here next season? Might seek first team footy...6/10

Don: Still Recovering
Don Hutchison
Don was incredibly unlucky to have his second debut season at Upton Park ruined by such a serious injury. He has since flown off to Canada to have an operation on his anterior curciate knee ligament, and is expected to return to the team at the tail end of this year.
For that reason alone, Don is not going to be leaving the Hammers in the summer, or before he recovers at the every least. One of Glenn's biggest signings since he was made manager, he cost £5m from Sunderland. Unfortunately, Hammers fans still haven't been able to see his excellent form at Sunderland reproduced at Upton Park, but he was beginning to play better when his season was ended prematurely.
Glenn was able to play his first choice midfield a few times this season: Sinclair on the left, Joe and Michael in the middle, and Don wide on the right. That was before the return of Steve Lomas though - who has been playing better than ever since his return from injuries. It may be a battle between Don and Steve for the fourth midfield place - or Glenn may decide to rotate the midfield, with different players performing depending on the opposition.
Either way, Don is a player very much in Glenn's plans, and is therefore staying at Upton Park.
Here next season? Still recovering...9/10

Steve Lomas
Surely one of the most unlucky footballers in the Premiership this season, Steve returned from injury twice before he was able to get a good run of games in. Since his return though, the Northern-Ireland skipper has been playing better than ever - he has scored twice the last three games (from headers) - providing West Ham with an extra man up front almost. For a midfielder who is naturally more a defensive or holding player than attacking, due to his fighting spirit and hard tackles, it is no coincidence that we have hit a run of form since his return - and got only our third away victory of the season.
Personally I have never rated Steve highly - I always felt he could win the ball off the opposition - but when he did, he seemed to pass it straight back to them. However, his passing seems to have improved in his time out, or since the club came under new management. He has not yet won back the captain's armband, but he still has all the leadership qualities and capabilities that he had before, and he isn't afraid to use them. The fact that it is a certain Paolo di Canio in the captain's role at the moment is probably the sole reason that Steve has not been given it back.
Steve is only just 28, and should be approaching the best years of his life - and Glenn will want those to be with West Ham.
Here next season? At the peak of his game...8/10

Grant McCann
One of a few former youth players that Glenn has played since his appointment, Grant has already played for his home country of Northern Ireland. It was in their most recent friendly against Liechtenstein that he damaged his medial ligaments, effectively ruling him out for the rest of the season. He has already played several matches for the Hammers, and it is unfortunate that his most telling contribution so far was an own goal in the 7-1 thrashing by Blackburn earlier this season. Opportunites have arisen since then, but Richard Garcia has been in front of him in the queue it would seem.
With his injury occuring at such a crucial time, it rules him out of any more appearances this season - but Grant has admitted that he would like to be much more involved next season. With only three substitute appearances to his name this season, Grant will be looking to get some starts next. With only a year left on his contract, Glenn will decide this summer whether there is any possibility of him fulfilling his potential at Upton Park, or if he should get half a million for him now. Either way, if he isn't going to make the grade at West Ham, expect him to have gone by transfer deadline next year.
Here next season? One year left...5/10

John Moncur
Mad Moncs has been at Upton Park since summer 1994, making him one of the longest serving players at the club - after Steve Potts. In that time he has notched up just 132 appearances, and probably a similar number of bookings. He is the certainly the prankster at West Ham, and there are loads of stories to tell: involving sandwiches, refs and bus trips. It is never a bad thing when he is on the bench, as he will inevitably warm up and bring a smile to the faces of those in the lower West stand (or Dr Marten's stand).
His disciplinary record is poor, and that is probably one of the main reasons why he is only a squad player at the club - he is volatile (to be polite) and there are often bets between spectators as to how long it will take for him to get booked once he comes on. His record must be within 1 minute!
This season he has featured in 17 games - the same as during the whole of last season - and will probably have a few more in the final few games, as he can steady the midfield, with his experience and hard tackling. He is certainly a squad player at best, but a fringe player might be a more accurate description. For that reason he may be one of several players heading out of the doors this summer, as he is also one of the older folks, being 36 this summer. He will certainly be remembered fondly if he does go though.
Here next season? Time is against him, he might go...5/10

Trev: Off to Asia?
Trevor Sinclair

Trev's season has been one full of ups and downs. He struggled with injury during last season and was ruled out of the last few games as well. He was tipped to be in the England squad several times, after impressing Sven Goran-Eriksson and his right hand man, Tord Grip, but failed to play because of his time in the treatment room.
His aim this season was to make the World Cup squad - something that is certainly not beyond him still. When he had played enough games to get back to full match fitness and sharpness though, Trevor unexpectedly put in a transfer request. Although Glenn and the fans wanted him to stay, the request was accepted, although the asking price was set at £10m - several million more than he was valued at. Both Liverpool and Sunderland showed interest, but at a few million lower. After a couple of months, he eventuall withdrew his request stating that he was happier at the club.
Since then, his season has improved immensely. He has scored 4 goals all season, including an awesome overhead kick against Derby on Boxing day, and has also been handed his full England debut. He received his second England cap against Italy in March, and will be looking to add to that in Asia this year - if he gets the nod from Sven.
Glenn has made clear his desire to keep him at West Ham, and it seems he has brought Trevor around to his way of thinking. Hammers fans will be hoping that this continues to be the case over the summer.
Here next season? Decided to persevere...7/10

To read about Hammers in goal, click here, to read about the first half of defenders, click here, and to read about the second half of defenders, click here.