Three things are certain in life: Death, taxes and a West Ham injury crisis.
You could probably add a handful more West Ham-related certainties to that cliche but our injury crisis happens to be today’s talking point. A study by Sky Sports claims that West Ham have been one of the unluckiest team when it came to injuries this season. Up to the end of March our crocks had been out for a combined 1,574 days second only to relegated Sunderland (1,761).
Th at number should not come as a surprise to anyone, though. It will have increased significantly since its initial publication but the fact remains; we have a serious issue with keeping our players fit and it’s a serious problem. A large percentage of that total can undoubtedly be attributed to Andy Carroll who, if you include his injuries this season, has been injured for almost 800 days and missed over 100 games since he joined the club on loan from Liverpool back in the summer of 2012.
But we’ve also seen Angelo Ogbonna, Pedro Obiang and Michail Antonio all suffering season-ending injuries, while the likes of Sam Byram, Winston Reid, Arthur Masuaku, Sofi – ane Feghouli and Diafra Sakho have all spent long periods of time on the treatment table this season.
So what could it be? Are the players failing to warm up properly before games? Are their diets wrong? Have we just simply signed injury-prone players? Or perhaps it’s something to do with the level of physiotherapy and fi tness training the players get? It had initially been claimed that our injury woes were down to the poor quality of training pitches at Chadwell Heath, a concern that ultimately led to the first team fast-tracking their planned move to Rush Green midway through last season
Since then, though, we’ve still struggled to keep our fi rst team players fit at all times. According to PhysioRoom.com and at the time of writing, our first team players have picked up a total of 74 injuries since the beginning of last July. Last season PhysioRoom.com only records 53 injuries to our first team players.
That suggests our move to Rush Green perhaps hasn’t had the desired effect Slaven Bilic and the club thought it would have. Granted, every club will have to manage without some of their key players every season due to injury but you have to wonder where the underlying issues lie at West Ham, particularly after we went in to our goalless draw with Everton without eight first team players available for selection.
The aforementioned injury statistics do indeed point to Rush Green as a potential problem that needs to be addressed this summer but it wouldn’t be unfair to take a closer look at the work done by the club’s medical staff, either. Illnesses and ACL tears are unlucky injuries but players consistently being sidelined with groin strains, pulled hamstrings and calf strains do point to a lack of preparation and conditioning either during training or before matches.
I’m no fitness coach, doctor or physiotherapist but it’s hard not to look at our injury record over the last couple of years at least and see that the finger cannot be solely pointed towards bad luck. Do the players need better diets? Longer warm ups or warm downs? Should the club be more disciplined when it comes to giving the players the green light to return to action?
Rushing players back is always an issue for clubs, particularly for us when we already have five or six key players out injured and we’re in need of personnel during a difficult run of results. Indeed, our current problems could well be down to a combination of the above points but something has to be done quickly in order to improve. That improvement doesn’t just mean the reduction of injuries every season but also improvement on the pitch.
It’s very difficult to achieve goals when you’re never at full strength. So, while we all hope the club invests time and money wisely in the transfer market this summer, we should all be hoping for similar focus on reducing the injuries that are crippling the players but also our progress.