West Ham United have appointed former Arsenal and England physiotherapist Gary Lewin as the new Head of the Medical Services. His main task will be in running the physiotherapy department following the departure of former Head of Sports Science and Medicine Stijn Vandenbroucke.
According to a club statement the latter has moved on to seek fresh challenges and the Hammers wasted no time in wishing Stijn the very best of luck in his new venture.
Having turned to Gary Lewin with the close season now upon us and several players unavailable either through long term injury or recent surgery, it’s going to be a hectic schedule ahead for the former Arsenal physio.
He’s certainly going to have a busy summer. Michail Antonio (hamstring), Cheik Kouyate (wrist), Mark Noble (groin / abdominal), Pedro Obiang (ankle), and Winston Reid (knee) are all going through different phases of post-operative recovery.
Diafra Sakho, with a recurrence of the symptoms similar to those before his back operation and Angelo Ogbonna who is still in the throes of recovery after knee surgery are two others who will demand time from the new man in the coming weeks. So too will Andy Carroll who has still not regained fitness as yet; and by all accounts continues to struggle with groin pain.
As well as the above players, there are always the ongoing niggling injuries to be addressed over the summer; the ones we don’t always get to hear about but demand just as much input and attention in their own right.
There’s not going to be much time for Gary to settle in; although I’m sure he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Even with Gökhan Töre leaving the club to return to Beşiktaş recently, that’s only one injury less to look after; although in reality, coach Slaven Bilić would likely have been happy to see Gökhan stay with the East London side, work throughout the summer to get fit, and ultimately return to the Hammer’s first team.
It remains to be seen whether there will be any other changes on the horizon. Goalkeeping coach Chris Woods, whom Gary Lewin will already know as a former England goalkeeper and Julian Dicks, the other members of Slaven’s coaching team will continue in their present roles.
This is something that Slaven will be happy with. Fiercely loyal to the staff he appointed, Nikola Jurčević, Slaven’s current assistant, has a similar approach to that of his manager’s and shares the same, shall we say ‘enthusiasm’, on the bench.
Like Slaven, Nikola also has a tendency to leave his seat during the games and makes frequent appearances at the side of the field; something which got them both in trouble after the Hammers drew with West Bromwich Albion in February.
That episode resulted in an appearance before the FA and a hefty fine for the former Croatian team mates; who were also together at Lokomotiv Moscow and Beşiktaş.
According to the latest reports, both Edin Terzic, another member of Slav’s coaching team, again formerly of Beşiktaş; will remain. Croatian fitness coach and Head of Performance Miljenko Rak (pictured above with Andy Carroll) is the oldest member of Slaven Bilić’s backroom squad, and will also continue in East London this coming season.
Despite Miljenko’s age, Slaven obviously values his experience and no doubt his trust as well.
Although the Hammers’ don’t return to full training until early July, that’s not really too far away; either in terms of weeks or in rehabilitation stages for the various players who will working throughout the break.
That time will soon pass. Six weeks isn’t long in football and given the fact that some of the players have only had their surgery in the past few weeks, several others may be cutting it fine in terms of being back to full fitness by early July.
Ironically, one of Gary Lewin’s first patients / clients is likely to be none other than Slaven Bilić. Having recently undergone a hip operation, Slaven will also be working over the summer in order to regain his own fitness after the surgery.
There’s surely no better way for any manager to get to know a new physio than by having treatment himself!