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Tottenham boss Redknapp backs West Ham to return to academy roots

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp says West Ham United's future must be focused on their academy.

"I thought we had so many good players and West Ham were in a position to move forward," he said of his time at Upton Park. "It was difficult, but that is life. You just get on with it.

"I loved watching those kids play. I used to go to all the youth games on a Saturday morning and followed them winning the FA Youth Cup, when they beat Coventry 9-0 on aggregate in 1999.

"To see them develop after bringing them in at 11 years old, getting to know Michael Carrick, Rio, Joe Cole, it's fantastic."

West Ham are relying on youth again under Gianfranco Zola, tightening the purse strings after the collapse of owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson's empire in Iceland.

Freddie Sears, James Tomkins and Jack Collison are the new breed, players for the supporters to hang their hat on in these troubled times.

Redknapp added: "It used to be a conveyor belt. They didn't have a Scottish player or a northerner, let alone a foreign player. Everyone was from the area - Essex, Canning Town or east London.

"You didn't have to go anywhere else, there were that many kids around. When I was there as a player they had the best coach I've seen. No one could get near Ron Greenwood: they all look so poor in comparison."

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