West Ham’s ‘golden generation’ could have won the Premier League had they all remained at the club, according to Harry Redknapp.
The former Irons boss believes that Rio Ferdinand, Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick and Glen Johnson would have led the Hammers to glory if they had not decided to seek pastures new.
How did they fare after leaving West Ham? Five things to know…
- Between the group, they’ve won 18 Premier League titles.
- Rio Ferdinand was named in the PFA Team of the Year six times throughout his career.
- Frank Lampard captained Chelsea, for whom he is the all-time top scorer, to their first Champions League trophy.
- Jermain Defoe is eighth on the all-time Premier League scorers list.
- Michael Carrick won 18 trophies at Manchester United, including the Champions League.
In an interview with The Athletic, Redknapp compared the group of West Ham academy graduates to United’s iconic ‘Class of ’92’, saying they could have emulated their achievements had they stayed together.
He said: “People always talk about Manchester United producing the ‘Class of 92’ but they weren’t any better than the six boys we produced at West Ham. If you put those two groups of six against each other, there would be nothing in it.
“If the kids had stayed at West Ham what a team that would’ve been. That would’ve been six England internationals in one team.
“That was the difference. Manchester United kept their youngsters and that’s what enabled them to become a great team.
“If I kept those six players together I’m certain I would’ve won the Premier League.”
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Does Redknapp have a point?
It is not the first time Redknapp has compared his ‘golden generation’ at West Ham favourably to United’s.
Redknapp is among West Ham’s most successful managers of recent times: they won the Intertoto Cup while he was in charge and achieved their highest Premier League finish (fifth) under him.
That season, he had Ferdinand, Lampard and Cole at his disposal, although Cole was far less of a permanent fixture than the other two.
The following season, Carrick was integrated into the first-team squad too. West Ham finished ninth but slipped to 15th in Redknapp’s final campaign after the departure of Ferdinand continued the downturn in form.
Given what the group went on to achieve in their illustrious playing careers, it is easy to see why the former Hammers manager may believe he could have achieved great things at Upton Park. Of course, more than six good players are required to win a league title, but a core as strong as that would have been a frightening proposition for the other 19 sides in the league.
However, Redknapp was a part of the failure to successfully replace the academy talents sold, most of whom actually developed into world-class players under their subsequent coaches. It has also been noted that Defoe only played once in the Premier League for Redknapp while Johnson, who became the first confirmed Chelsea signing of the Roman Abramovich era, made no top-flight appearances before the coach’s departure in 2001.