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We Have Entered the Josh Cullen Era

With Nordtveit sold, it’s time for the young midfielder to shine.

Bradford City v Fleetwood Town: Sky Bet League One Playoff Semi Final: First Leg Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It’s a new era for West Ham United: the era of Josh Cullen. Cullen has been massacring in the trenches of League One, winning Man of the Match more oft than not. Now, with Havard Nordtveit moving on, it looks as if the club could be commencing the long-sought-after Youth Movement™.

As mentioned before, Josh Cullen absolutely tore apart League One last season. There are plenty of cases, of course, where this doesn’t translate to the Premier League. Cullen was just so dominant that it’s not likely he’ll be a complete bust when he moves up to the big leagues. It will take time for him to adapt like it would anyone else, but it’s very well believable that Cullen could be playing in the first team pretty regularly next season, preparing to take the spot of Mark Noble, who is now 30 years old. It’s been stated by some that if Cullen could perfect his shot he would’ve been in the Premier League last season; but, for now, the incredible distribution ability from the 21-year-old will do just fine.

There’s been concern that Slaven Bilic fears playing youth because it seems that his job depends almost solely on final table position. If the youth are all as talented as Cullen, though, it looks as if Slaven’s hand could be forced a bit: if not by the board, who can be cheap and don’t want to shell out the money to buy talented first teamers in the transfer market, then by the supporters who can see like anybody else that these young players aren’t going to get any better if they stick to lower league loans.

Supporters have moaned for far too long that West Ham has an incredible youth squad, as evidenced by their back-to-back PL2 championships, and that the kids should be getting more Premier League playing time. It seems that finally the club has commenced that process. Possibly by choice, or possibly due to fear of losing their talented youth players to clubs that won’t be afraid to give them first team minutes.

With the emergence of legitimate first team contenders in Josh Cullen, Domingos Quina, Reece Oxford, Declan Rice, and Ashley Fletcher, among others, it’s time—now more than ever—for West Ham to begin the process of giving Premier League minutes to their youth. That won’t happen this season for Oxford, who just went out on loan to Borussia Mönchengladbach, but the Youth Movement™ is creeping into the club for the 2017/18 season nonetheless, and it will be in full force for the 2018/19 season.

These youth players are at the point in their careers where they’re ready for first team minutes. They’re ready to truly be put to the test. They can’t gain enough experience to play in the Premier League without—you guessed it—playing in the Premier League. Now is the time for the youth to get those minutes; and now is especially the time for Josh Cullen to get those minutes.