When Dmitri Halajko joined West Ham in the summer, he faced an uphill task straight away. He became the manager of the U23 team, who had just been relegated to the Premier League 2 Division 2.
Halajko’s appointment was met with measured scepticism. He has spent most of his time working with academy players but his previous job was overseeing the Leicester City academy and not a coaching role.
But since he has arrived at West Ham, there is a different buzz around the academy. The former Colchester and Norwich coach has taken the Hammers youngsters to new heights since joining.
Dmitri Halajko inspiring the next generation
Including pre-season, West Ham’s U23 team is unbeaten in 14 games under Halajko’s leadership. On Monday night, the young Hammers won 2-0 against West Brom to extend that run to 14 matches.
And this is no mean feat, especially considering the quality of the opposition and his limited resources at times. Whatever is thrown at him, Halajko seems to be able to handle.
West Ham U23s have beaten teams like Newcastle U23s, Valencia B and Newport County’s senior side. There have also been draws against Manchester United and a Brentford friendly team.
Halajko has already been inspiring the next generation and he could produce some top players for Manuel Pellegrini. Conor Coventry, Nathan Holland, Joe Powell, Dan Kemp and Ben Johnson are next in line to become first-team players.
Then, he has helped players like Anthony Scully, Bernardo Rosa and Alfie Lewis raise their games to the next level. In addition, he has given U23 debuts to Harrison Ashby (17), Keenan Appiah-Forson (17) and Jamal Baptiste (15). The future looks bright with Halajko steering the academy ship.