The kids are alright as West Ham youngsters show promise in drab Europa League defeat to Dinamo Zagreb at the London Stadium.
It was a bit of a damp squib on and off the pitch for West Ham as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat to their Croatian visitors to sign off the Europa League group stage.
Having already cruised through to the last 16 with a game to spare, David Moyes was afforded the rare luxury of resting all his key players.
Five academy youngsters were handed a big chance to impress in a competitive fixture as Harrison Ashby, Jamal Baptiste, Aji Alese, Manny Longelo and Sonny Perkins were named in the starting XI.
And all of them put a real shift in for the side with none disgracing themselves against a seasoned European outfit.
Ashby and Longelo both showed glimpses of their ability going forward. And both Baptiste and Alese evidenced composure beyond their years.
Perkins huffed and puffed but was given little service and some rough treatment from the Zagreb defenders which will do his development no harm at all.
All of them will wake up tomorrow more aware than ever of the levels they need to get to if they want to make it as professionals with the Hammers.
The biggest disappointment was that their senior teammates simply were not at the races.
The kids are alright as West Ham youngsters show promise in drab Europa defeat
Alex Kral and Nikola Vlasic failed miserably to show Moyes they are in any way ready to impact the team any time soon.
Baptiste, Alese, Ashby and Longelo showed flashes of being very capable of eventually stepping up to the West Ham first team squad. Indeed Ashby and Perkins almost combined for a West Ham leveller on a night of very few chances.
Captain Mark Noble suffered in midfield alongside Kral in a partnership that lacked any real physicality.
Andriy Yarmolenko looked like a man who wants out of the club in January.
Said Benrahma – who came on for West Ham at half-time in place of Pablo Fornals – probably staked a claim for man of the match, so drab was the game.
There was another nice touch in the closing stages when Freddie Potts, son of West Ham legend Steve, came on as did fellow academy midfielder Keenan Forson.
The blooding of the youngsters was the only real talking point from a game that very briefly came to life four minutes in when Dinamo’s Mislav Orsic – the man whose hat-trick famously dumped Tottenham out of the Europa League last season – scored an audacious strike from distance.
The kids were alright. It was just a bit of a shame about the rest.
That being said the combination of fringe first team players who have seen very little action and raw academy players was hardly going to be fizzing with chemistry.
But Moyes doesn’t like losing simple as that and will have wanted to see a lot more from certain players.
He will certainly be under no illusions that he needs to add to his squad with the window opening in three weeks.
The Scot knows what he is doing, he would have been well aware of that before tonight.
But if this match served any real purpose beyond the academy starlets cutting their teeth, it was to reinforce that West Ham simply must be ready to make signings in the January window if the club wants to build on this brilliant first half of the campaign.