Injuries to blame for West Ham's loss of intensity, says Slaven Bilic
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic has leapt to the defence of his staff and believes injuries have affected his side's rhythm this season.
Bilic questioned his players' commitment to the club and suggested there had been a loss of intensity in training following the 5-1 home defeat to Arsenal last weekend, but attempted to put the record straight ahead of another tough game for his side at Liverpool on Sunday.
The Hammers are just one point above the relegation zone and have not won in the Premier League since a home victory over Sunderland on October 22.
Bilic wrote in the Evening Standard: " My comments after the Arsenal match, about us losing our intensity in training, have provoked some reaction, as I expected. I spoke honestly, as I always try to do and I am not one for making excuses, because the fans can always see through that.
"I would take this opportunity for the first time since then to make one thing clear, though: when I talked about the loss of intensity, some people thought I was pointing a finger at my staff.
"That was wrong. I think I said, four or five times, that it is me and it is my job to take responsibility. Believe me, we're not having a jolly-up in training... it's not like that."
West Ham have been struggling with a number of injuries with Diafra Sakho (hamstring), Reece Oxford (ankle), Cheikhou Kouyate (groin) and Sam Byram (hamstring) on the sidelines and Bilic believes the squad has struggled without a number of key players.
The injury concerns are starting to ease off as striker Andy Carroll played his first game since August last weekend and wing-backs Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell, who were unavailable after picking up groin injuries in the 4-1 defeat to Manchester United on November 30, are available for selection for Sunday's game.
"The main reason why we lost that intensity is that we have had so many injuries, all in a small space of time," added Bilic in his column.
"Then, because we had three games in a week, we had to balance things, not walk on eggshells exactly, but to be careful in training.
"I would like to clarify this now. I was not criticising my staff. My reason was not to moan because we had lost to Arsenal but to provoke a reaction so we can get back that intensity.
"We have had a good few days' training but, rather, I want and expect to see a good reaction in the long term.
"The bottom line is yes, it is my job to get the best out of my players - and I said just that, a few times, straight after the Arsenal match. I am not in the blame game because that achieves nothing.
"I was very disappointed after that match and what I said was from the heart.
"Now, almost a week later, I just want to make it clear that it is because of the disruption to our squad caused by so many injuries.
"Maybe I should have made more of the effect of those injuries after the game and I know many would have done. Maybe that was my mistake, but I have always hated to say something following a defeat which sounds like excuses."