Are Slaven Bilić’s Training Methods Causing West Ham’s Slow Start?

Are Slaven Bilić’s Training Methods Causing West Ham’s Slow Start?
Aug 20, 2017

Featured West Ham

Under Slaven Bilić, West Ham have continuously gotten off to slow starts. In 2015/16 the Hammers did beat Arsenal 2-0 on the opening day, but proceeded to lose to Leicester and Bournemouth at home in back to back weeks, conceding six goals in the process. During the 2016/17 season, West Ham won only one of their first seven matches, conceding 17 goals over those seven games. Now this season, Bilić’s men have conceded seven in the opening two games, losing them both. But, why does this seem to be a recurring theme for the Irons under the Croatian’s leadership?

Many have pointed out the fact that West Ham have often looked unfit at the start of the season over the past few years. This is especially relevant for the past two seasons. During the 2016/17 campaign, the Hammers conceded 17 goals after the 75th minute, that’s 26% of the goals they conceded. Only two teams who weren’t relegated conceded more that late in matches. Now the Irons have already conceded three goals after the 75th minute, only two matches in. This has caused many to question Bilić’s training methods, and rightly so.

These aren’t just random hypothesis’ either, many players who have left the club on loan have stated that training was much more rigorous at their new club. Last season, when Reading took Oxford out on loan, Jaap Stam claimed that the young defender had been surprised at the intensity of training at the club. Reading’s manager was quoted saying, “Reece Oxford has been surprised at the level of intensity in training at Reading, compared to at West Ham.”

This isn’t the only incident of this happening either. Last season when Enner Valencia was sent on loan to Everton, the Ecuadorian also had a lot to say about the Hammers’ training methods. In one of Valencia’s first interview’s at Everton, he told the media, “I have enjoyed training with my new team-mates, it’s different to my last team – it is a little bit harder.” This is only two incidents indicating that West Ham’s training methods aren’t up to par with other teams, but there are most likely many more who have not said anything.

During the Hammers’ pre-season training camp in Germany, the intensity in training was reportedly being upped by not the manager Slaven Bilić, but by summer signings Joe Hart and Pablo Zabaleta. It is a very worrying sign for West Ham that more experienced players feel the need to take it on themselves to make training harder and more intense.

This is also the second season in a row that West Ham have started with multiple key players out injured. Last season the Hammers had key players such as Dimitri Payet, Sofiane Feghouli, André Ayew, Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini, and Angelo Ogbonna miss significant time in August. These injuries woes have continued this season, with Michail Antonio, Manuel Lanzini, Andy Carroll, and Cheikhou Kouyaté all missing time this August.

That’s without mentioning that Winston Reid left pre-game warmups against Southampton on a stretcher earlier today. These injury problems are not just bad luck either. Last season, West Ham led the league in injuries, allocating 82 over the course of the campaign. The Irons were the only club to have more than 40 injuries lasting 14 or more days.

It’s not hard to see that Bilić’s coaching staff plays a massive part in West Ham’s recurring slow starts. With the amount of injuries the Irons have to start off with each season makes it extremely hard for the club to get results against relatively healthy squads early on in the season. Something needs to change at West Ham, or these slow starts will become an even more repetitive theme for the Hammers than they already are.

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