Slaven Bilic, like all football managers, is living a personal and professional nightmare. Firstly the Croatian manager has to keep his family safe from COVID-19, whilst he has to keep a squad of highly professional and motivated players on the same page.
Speaking exclusively to beIN SPORTS Turkey, Bilic explains how his team remains in close contact with his players’. “We gave them all the programmes. We’re monitoring them on GPS. Those programmes are, at least for West Brom, [are] very simple.”
There is no rest for the squad, even though no date has been set for a return. Keeping trim is important during a time when indulgences may seem enticing, “I told them it is very important to not gain any weight,” stated Bilic.
It seems that Bilic is a man with a plan. It’s a reason why West Brom are flying high in the championship. The team from the Midlands are in second place - just one point off the leading team, Leeds United.
The former player from West Ham is preparing for any eventuality as he looks to lead his side into the Premier League. He says, “as soon as the guys from the [UK] government and the FA say now you can train, now you can play in two weeks, then we’re going to need, I don’t know, two weeks of training altogether to be fit.”
It is, of course, difficult to train with players and staff in isolation during this pandemic. Aside from these programmes, West Brom’s training programme solely focuses on well-being, as Bilic explains “Very little with the ball – if they have a garden. There’s nothing tactically. Nothing like that, but it’s just to keep them in a good shape fitness wise.’’
That level of training will come when the virus recedes. It is an awkward moment for Bilic personally too. “We have to be disciplined. So me and my family, we are in three locations,” he says.
As Bilic talks from his home, he shares that football is not the priority, ‘’the virus and people’s lives” are the focus. When asked about when he thinks football in England will resume, Bilic reveals that “everyone is talking about it. I don’t think it will return anytime soon.’’
As Bilic like the rest of us, rides the storm out, he did end with this despite all the gloom, he remains optimistic by saying that “football is also very important for the morale of the people and it brings people happiness and joy.”
Bilic and West Brom have experienced great moments this season. When football does return, those at the Hawthorns will continue their great support, and the players will be fully prepared as they look to the Premier League elite next season.