West Ham are in Dubai on a mid-season training break making the most of their weekend off from competitive fixtures.
With the east London club not involved in any Premier League or European football, they’ve a break until the league fixtures return next weekend.
The club head off to the Middle East in a markedly better state than they were just a month ago and Slaven Bilic will be looking to take advantage of the time away to have the team focus on training with no distractions with the hopes that it can help them go on a good run of form in the Premier League.
Go back to the middle of the January widow and, having been dumped out of the FA Cup amidst a poor run of form, the saga surrounding star man Dimitri Payet was in full swing. Having told manager Slaven Bilic that he wanted out, the Frenchman had created a toxic atmosphere amongst the club, fans and players.
However, the Hammers manager stood firm and made his feelings towards the playmaker very clear, ‘buck your ideas up or you’re not coming back.’ Payet chose not to buck his ideas up and was, thus, sold back to Marseille for £25m.
With the club having lost it’s best player for good you would probably have forgiven them for enduring somewhat of a slump.
However, aside from another humbling defeat to a frankly outstanding Manchester City, the side have rallied and turned a corner.
Without the France international, who was their lynchpin and attacking focal point until his departure, they look a more resolute and cohesive attacking force, and have shown as much in dismantling Southampton, who beat them 3-0 earlier in the season, and putting in an impressive showing against West Brom, where they were hard done by to only draw.
With new additions Robert Snodgrass and Jose Fonte beginning to settle in their new surroundings, and Bilic looking to land on a set system, the break from fixtures could be just what West Ham need to really kick on in the second half of the season.
The Hammers are nine points off Everton in the last potential European spot, depending on who wins the domestic cups, with thirteen games left to go. It is a big gap but you cannot rule out the likes of Everton hitting a poor run of form over the coming months.
A short trip to Dubai may not seem like the thing that can change a club’s season, however, with new players still getting to know their teammates, such a trip can accelerate that process which, in turn, can result in top performances once they are back in the Premier League.
With nothing else left to play for aside from a good standing in the league, Slaven Bilic must use this time away to further rally his squad in order to ensure a strong return ahead of their run-in. Do just that and it could be quite the end of the season for fans at the London Stadium.