Hammers on Tour: Day 7 in Austria

Catching up on daily life with Slaven Bilic’s squad during their pre-season training camp in Austria…

Working body and mind!

With double training sessions the order of the day again on both Friday and Saturday, there were understandably some tired limbs at the team hotel on Saturday evening. However, that didn’t prevent a number of players from exercising their minds with an impromptu quiz night alongside members of the backroom staff after their evening meal. Some impressive knowledge was on display – with Andy Carroll pulling some particularly memorable answers out of the bag – but in the end it was a victory for experience as a team containing Head of Medical Services Gary Lewin and Cub Doctor Ian Beasley triumphed, with Mark Noble, Winston Reid and Aaron Cresswell’s side finishing a close second.

Pablo proving his class

Pablo Zabaleta

He may have only been in training with the Hammers for just over a week, but new arrival Pablo Zabaleta has already shown his class both on and off the pitch. The 32-year-old Argentine right-back, despite being a double Premier League winner and 58-times capped full international, has displayed his hunger and quality every day on the training field, while offering advice and guidance to the young players within the squad and making every effort to get to know team-mates and staff. “Pablo walks in the dressing-room and gets respect straight away,” said skipper Mark Noble. “To have someone of that quality and experience with us, and to see how he works, is fantastic.”

Double bogey for Woods

Following their sudden-death play-off victory on the golf course on Thursday, James Collins and Winston Reid, didn’t waste any time in accepting the challenge of a rematch from their defeated opponents, goalkeeper coach Chris Woods and physiotherapist Fraser Young. With a clear afternoon following Sunday morning’s training work-out, the clubs and buggies were out again and this time the defensive pairing didn’t need the 19th hole – winning by 4&3 to make it two straight victories. Although former England stopper Woods wasn’t shy in revealing that a certain New Zealand international, playing off an 18 handicap, had found the green on a par four with his tee shot…!

Bilic shows support for Cilic

Sunday afternoon also gave Slaven Bilic the opportunity to take a well-deserved rest, but sport was still on the mind of the Hammers boss as he sat down with his coaching assistants Nikola Jurcevic, Edin Terzic and Miljenko Rak to cheer on their fellow Croatian Marin Cilic in his Wimbledon final against Roger Federer. Cilic, only the second Croatian after Goran Ivanisevic to reach the final at SW19, sadly went down in straight sets to the ice-cool Swiss legend and Assistant Manager Jurcevic admitted afterwards: “There was a lot of pressure on Cilic and, unfortunately, it seemed that he allowed the occasion to get to him.”

Rice rocks the mic!

The days of Crazy Gang-style initiation ceremonies for young players breaking into a club’s senior squad may be a thing of the past, but youthful Hammers don’t get off completely scot-free. Young central defender Declan Rice, who made his first team debut on the final day of last season up at Burnley, was on the receiving end on Sunday evening, when ordered to stand on a chair in front of the entire squad and staff at dinner and belt out a song of his choice – which he did with admirable courage…if not talent! To spare his blushes, whufc.com did plan to keep Declan’s ‘performance’ of R Kelly’s The World’s Greatest under wraps. However, in today’s world of instant social media coverage, it didn’t take long before several of his more senior team-mates ensured the 18-year-old was given his moment in the spotlight!




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