A former West Ham Academy prospect says Sam Allardyce “neglected” the youngsters at the club and ruled by fear at Upton Park.
Seb Lletget, 23, who is currently playing for LA Galaxy, has revealed how he and his fellow youth team players were used as pawns in the infamous 5-0 defeat to Championship side Nottingham Forest in January 2014.
Lletget was one of six debutants in the FA Cup game at the City Ground on that fateful day and the San Francisco-born midfielder believes the “uninspiring” Allardyce, who had a four-year spell in east London, used the game to make a point about his lack of first-team options.
“I look back at that now and it’s just like ‘oh!'” Lletget told KUMB.com.
“I enjoyed it because it was our only opportunity. But we played a formation that we’ve never played in our life and we didn’t have too much experience on the field – which I realise is important now having played with Stevie [Gerrard] and Keano.
“It’s important having those senior guys around to control things, the kind of things the fans don’t see. We had none of that. We were just improvising really and I’ve never been in that position before. I couldn’t even tell you what he said to us out there because it wasn’t inspiring.”
Lletget, who left to join LA Galaxy in May 2015, also slammed Allardyce’s perceived lack of interest in the Academy players .
“I can say this now as it’s been a long while and a lot has happened,” he added. “But I believe there was a lot of neglect,” added Lletget.
“It’s not that he didn’t care, but it’s like he had better things on his mind. He didn’t have time for us and I couldn’t understand that.
“Being a Premier League manager is tough, it’s not easy. But I feel like even if it’s tough, you can still care and show that. With us, all we wanted was a handshake in the morning, for him to know our names – but he had none of that.
“People respected him because they were scared of him, but they all wanted to do well and make it because they didn’t want to get exiled. And a lot of players did, immediately, without a second thought.
“It was a real shame because we had a really good group of lads and a lot of talent, but it never got to shine.”