No match this weekend. The last free weekend until March. So now starts the moment of truth. No breaks, no time to moan about a bad result as we will have another game straight after. The next one is against Bolton. Not long ago we were together down there at the bottom of the table and now they are way up. They are the example that we have to follow. Four good games and things will be different.
This week has been tough, very tough. We have worked nonstop, with lots of intensity and lots of running. When I was 20 I always finished first, now I just manage to finish, which is good enough! The new coach is trying everything to get us off the bottom. We have signed quite a few new players, I haven’t even been able to learn their names yet. I wrote about Jamie O’Hara last week, the truth is that you can tell he has played in the Premier for many years. He has come to show us he’s not finished, and you can tell he is not!
On Friday we had planned a friendly against Wigan but it had to be called off because their coach Uwe Rosler was sacked. There are not training sessions close enough to the competitiveness of a game, mainly because of the intensity of a competitive game. So Lee Clark did his best to have a training session as similar as possible to a game. I am not sure if it was two hours and fifteen minutes or not but it felt like 4 to me. Plenty of football and I like that but lots of physical training too. This can only be beneficial to the team and more even for me, as I didn’t have a proper pre-season and have had a few problems with injuries over the last few months. The reality is that I am able to motivate myself and, if I can improve even if it is only by 5%, I will be happy. And I start feeling that all the hard work is paying off. My trick is to think about the girls, some will think that I am a bit soft but that is the way it is. Sometimes I am that tired that I think about them and what is waiting to me at home and I get more tired… But it works most of the time. You run, you suffer, you struggle but you work to give them the life they deserve. After one of the speed runs in the training sessions Edu Oriol told me that not even thinking about his son Biel could get him to go faster! The reality is that our new coach is making us sweat. If we were Barça or Madrid and we won every week, maybe we wouldn’t have to do this, but this is a necessity. But we will have to show that we can do it with the ball as well, because it doesn’t matter how much you run, if you have feet like bricks, you won’t beat anybody. So we have to keep playing our passing game.
We had the weekend was off so I went to Barcelona. I flew from Manchester with the Oriol brothres and their dad. And at the airport we met Marc Muniesa, former Barça player now at Stoke City. A few days ago it was the Oriol brother’s birthday so we celebrated this weekend in Barcelona. We did it moderation of course; we didn’t want to throw away all the hard physical work we had done in Blackpool over the week.
Also on Saturday I went to see Antonio Orozco in concert with Laura and our friends Curro and Maria. I had been wanting to see him live for a long time although I guess most of you would have never heard of him before. I was never in Barcelona when he was playing, last summer he played in Vilanova, where we have our apartment and I bought tickets. A perfect place, in front of the sea, open concert, it looked spectacular but it was rained off. It hadn’t been raining for ages in Vilanova and that night it rained buckets. We had to run for cover and the concert was called off. So I really wanted to go to this concert. I am not sure whether I was 100% because of the tiring week but I left the tickets at home, so as you can imagine the wife got really mad and I had to rush home to get them. Luckily I made it back on time and we even missed the long queues. Fantastic!
And yesterday? How beautiful are Sundays in Barcelona…Going out for walk, breakfast with the girls…I love it! I am not sure if you like fruit and veg juices but I love them thanks to Jordi Gomez, the healthy life guru. On first sight, a cucumber, celery, spinach and apple juice doesn’t sound too good but you should try it. Very healthy and delicious…
Later on we went to my parents’ house for lunch and then I caught the plane back to the UK; full of energy, in a good mood and willing to start the hard week with the team. I have always put on a brave face and this is not going to be any different. It was funny as when I got to Manchester airport I met a Bolton fan who started joking with me about Saturday’s game. He said he would come to Bloomfield Road beat us. He was shocked when before saying goodbye, I told him with a smile in my face that I would look for him on the stands when we scored a goal. It was a funny situation and again another example of the polite yet loyal character of the English football fans. Now, however, the week starts and words must not give way to facts. If we work with the same intensity as last week, I am convinced we will get a good result.
To you, our fans, what can I tell you? Sometimes I feel bad because I remember how I left good memories and friends at Swansea and Brighton and here in Blackpool I am living in an unknown situation as things are not going the right way. And the mood here is not that cheerful. However I have been given only support; in the supermarket, at the petrol station, on the pitch… I can see that, despite all the bad times the fans stay loyal to the team. I remember the bad times in Barcelona when the fans were saying that they should rip up and burn their membership cards. Here the fans are waiting for a reaction, a sign that things will change. And it is up to us to make that happen.
I have now been in Blackpool for four months. I am not one to start kissing the crest and pretending I have been a Blackpool fan all my life. But right now, I would tackle Roy Keane and clash with John Terry and I would fight with Vinnie Jones if necessary (I have a crazy friend in Barcelona who supports Wimbledon and has shown me a few videos of him).
I want to say that you can criticise us for playing bad or for losing, but I can assure you that there is not a game in which I don’t give 100% and fight like an animal for this team. This is my commitment and I hope with it, happiness will come.
Translated by Alfons Vinent.