The Big Interview - Steve Potts

Steve Potts' West Ham United U18s have made a fantastic start to their league season having taken 19 points from their first eleven games. This impressive vein of form coincided with a eight-game unbeaten run at the start of the season. 

As a West Ham player Potts made 506 first team appearances, and he currently holds the Club's record of Premier League appearances. 

As the U18s approach the half way point of their league season, we caught up with the two time Hammer of the Year winner.  

Steve, your U18s got back to winning ways against Norwich City with a 1-0 victory on Saturday. What did you make of the game?

SP "I thought we played very well, we controlled a lot of the game better than we had been doing earlier in the season. Even though we were winning games I still I wasn't happy enough, but on Saturday we got a lot of the ball and moved it around well.

"We created a number of chances and their keeper had a fantastic game. I thought we weren't going to get anything out of it but thankfully at the end we got the three point and not just the one."

You have had a number of injuries to deal with, but Jerry Amoo came in and scored his first goal of the season, which must be very pleasing?

SP "Yeah, he's been unlucky with injuries, he's missed a large part of the season. He's come back and he's still regaining fitness really. With his goal it was good to see him hit it first time with his left foot rather than take a touch. He put it away well."

We are halfway through the Barclays U18 Premier League with eleven games played, so how do you assess the team's progress?

SP "We've progressed OK, we had a very good start but we're always hoping for more. We had a little hiccup results wise at Fulham but otherwise our performance was good. Against Aston Villa [the previous week, when we lost 3-1] we didn't get a performance or a result we were looking for. But to get the result against Norwich last Saturday shows we learnt the lessons from that match so it's good."

You are currently joint-top on 19 points. Does that haul exceed pre-season expectations?

SP "I didn't really think about any targets before the season. What we look at is the performances and the efforts the boys are putting in. We have to look at whether the boys are improving, individually and as a team.

"We also have to consider if they're giving it their best shot which is what we insist on. If they're not you have to question whether it's worth them being here. I know that sounds harsh but there are thousands of boys who would like to be in their position and they've got to make the best of the opportunity they've got. We've learnt quite a lot about the players this season, good and bad."

The FA Youth Cup is not far away from getting started, so are you excited for that?

SP "It's a different competition and opportunity for the boys, they got the chance to play in the stadium in front of a crowd so it's a good experience. It's a very tough competition, with the league programme the boys get moved up and down between the age groups but with the Youth Cup you tend to find every club puts their best team out so it's a very tough cup to win."

A number of the U18s have moved up into the Development Squad. How do you think they have coped?

SP "I think they've done OK. It's a big ask to play a few years up but in reality that's what they need to be doing. They need to prove themselves at that level before they can go any further."

They have also faced some tough opposition in a strong Manchester United side and Bilbao Athletic in the Premier League International Cup?

SP "Exactly, and that can only be a good thing for them. Manchester United are near the top of the division as well as having a number of players with first team experience in that side. At the other end if you don't put the ball in the back of the net you're going to pay the price."

A number of players have been awarded their first professional contracts. That must be testament to their hard work and the good work going on at the Academy?

SP "It's pleasing. It's another step on the ladder for them really. I think contracts take care of themselves really. In terms of how well they do in the future I don't think they need to worry about that too much. At their age they just need to concentrate on their football and let their performances do the talking."