Tony On The Science Of Sport

Tony Strudwick is settling into his new job as the club's sports scientist - and anxious to point out he is not a Spurs fan!

Tony was recently brought in from the FA by Alan Pardew to enhance the backroom team and, before he explains his role, he has one important rumour to put to bed.

"I can categorically say that is absolutely untrue; I am actually from north London, Enfield to be precise, and I think someone has tried to put two and two together - but there is no truth in the speculation whatsoever."

That's that settled, then.

So, apart from not supporting Spurs, what has he been up to of late?

"For the past three years I have been working for the FA at various levels up to the U21s as a sports scientist, which involved travelling with the teams and giving support to all the international players," he explains.

"I have, of course, worked with various West Ham players such as Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, and Stephen Bywater who are at the club at the moment.

"Knowing some of the faces always helps when you come to a new club and the people have been fantastic, to be honest - there is a good togetherness at the training ground."

Tony is delighted to have come to West Ham even though he was previously working solely with international players, and he says:

"Really, it was a case of getting to the stage at the FA where, when you work with international teams, you only get the players for a small percentage of the year - so there wasn't enough of that day to day stuff that I enjoyed in terms of the practical work.

"Another big factor was the manager here and knowing how he works - his thoughts and theories on the game complement the sort of work that I do and that was a massive selling factor.

"And of course with West Ham being the sort of club that it is, a big club, coming here to help them get back to where they belong is a part of the plan.

"I had three great years at the FA, comprising four major championships and including an U20 World Cup which was a really enjoyable experience.

"In this league now it is quite similar in that you often have three games in seven days, which you do get in a tournament setting.

"Understanding the demands of three games in six or seven days is something that we have got used to."

Tony is settling in well and adds:

"It was a big decision and it is one that carried a little bit of apprehension - but after the first few days I knew I was welcome and at a club that is going to go places."

There were understandable frustrations at the FA, and he adds:

"The big thing for anyone involved at international level is that you don't get the sense of developing players; it is more maintenance and continuing what the players are doing.

"And of course the players belong to the clubs, so it is really difficult to implement any development plan when players belong to other clubs - that is a big factor."

At West Ham, though, Tony has that daily involvement he craves - and the knowledge that he is working under a supportive manager.

"Obviously Alan and the other coaches are in charge of the technical side and the way I am going to fit into that will be the physical preparation of the players," he reveals.

"It is no secret that Alan puts a lot of emphasis on the physical side of the game; some coaches put a higher emphasis on the technical side but Alan is big into the physical side.

"I think in terms of importance the way I see it is that he will come to me and talk to me about arranging training and the intensity of it.

"I will be implementing the fitness programmes of the players and continuing the work that has been done beforehand by John McCarthy and Russell Holman, and hopefully taking it on and developing it with the physio department and fitting in alongside Alan in terms of the accountability of the physical side of the game.

"Alan is into tempo and that one of his theories so I am going to try and maintain that philosophy of building a training culture at the club in terms of preparation.

"It has taken off in rugby and the success of the England rugby team has suggested how far you can go with a massive training culture and philosophy.

"Hopefully I can work alongside the coaches and the players to really foster that training culture."

As for the facilities - Harry Redknapp once famously described Chadwell Heath as a "khazi" - Tony enthuses:

"They have just built a fantastic indoor facility for Tony Carr's academy and the club.

"I it is a bit cramped but we have got some good pieces of kit to do what is required and again, mentioning the England rugby team, they did a lot of their preparation out of Pennyhill Park and a Portakabin which is not too dissimilar to what we have got.

"So in terms of space and what you need I think we are okay down there; obviously you can always improve on things, and that might be part of a long term process - but we are okay and there are no real excuses."