Happiness sometimes comes off the football pitch and joy was what we had when Biel Oriol Rull, Edu Oriol and Macarena’s son was born in another bad week for the team. I can’t wait to see good old Edu being a daddy, getting up at funny times in the morning, changing nappies and giving him the milk bottle. The bags under his eyes are going to become part of his life now, but I am sure that being a father will help him with the hard times at work. If you are a father you will understand what I am talking about. I just hope that the birth of Biel will provoke a reaction in the team.
We are going back to training today and I still feel as if we had played a full champions league game against the best Barça of Guardiola. And I only played 45 minutes at Ellan Road… Yes I am physically not well and morally down. We came from playing a very good game at Craven Cottage, where we went 2-0 up and should have finished the game. What happened? Like always, we let Fulham breathe because of our mistakes. Still, we played with ten men for nearly one hour, against quality players like Scott Parker or Brian Ruiz and we competed well and I am sure that if it had been 11 against 11 we would have won the game. But then, we began to get on top a bit and we travelled to Leeds with great hopes but they just ran us over.
We faced adversity from the first minute. Straight after the initial whistle you could see the storm coming and it’s difficult to comprehend and justify what happened. At half time, 3-0 down, the coach made his anger very obvious and I was the one who got replaced. Apart from this fact, I liked the way he tackled the situation and the team reacted in the second half, although it is true that everything was lost by then. Blackpool is going to be one of the few teams with only two free days this week, as when the national teams play it gives a bit of a break to most teams. But if you think about it, it’s the logical thing to do as we have to work even harder and look at each other face to face to try to understand what is going on. I look at the table and I want to cry because the gap is getting bigger and bigger, but the feelings in the training sessions are good and make me be optimistic.
The day before playing at Fulham, the coach tried a different tactic, a 5-3-2 with a very tight defense whilst trying to organise quick counterattacks. And this is why I can’t understand what happened at Leeds, especially when the difference between both teams is not as great as the game suggested.
Going back to the game against Fulham, we travelled by train and we stayed in an hotel very close to the QPR training ground so we could have a last training session before the game. Everything was ok until the afternoon…the bad thing about having the hotel in London is the traffic and it took the coach 3 hours to get to Craven Cottage with the equipment and then he had to come back to pick us up. We set off late and we arrived only 50 minutes before kick off. It was so close that the captain and the coach had to run from the bus to be able to sign the pre-game paperwork on time. There is always something going wrong every week but saying that, we didn’t do too badly against Fulham despite having a player sent off.
Another thing that has changed with Lee Clark is the food that we eat after the games. At Swansea and Brighton we had a chef in the bus and we even had a menu to choose from. In Blackpool we aren’t that well off and we used to get Domino’s pizza after the games. I don’t know if you like it or not but I am unable to eat a pizza after a game. It is seriously bad for your stomach and certainly not the best way to refill your energy. Now with the new coach, we eat pasta, vegetables, sandwiches and more healthy food.
Yesterday, my family left to go to Barcelona for a week. I guess it will be good for Laura to be away from me for a few days as I am not very good company at the moment. I will miss them but I will have a few days of quiet and hard daily training sessions until the weekend when I fly to Barcelona.
This last week I have experienced two very similar things one in Leeds and one in Fulham and they have really touched me, especially on Wednesday at Craven Cottage. I spoke to my friend in Barcelona and he couldn’t believe it. On a Wednesday at 9 in the evening in London, which is more than 4 hours away by car from Blackpool there were still many Blackpool fans in the stands supporting us. Even after having lost the last 4 games, after losing at home against Ipswich and being 7 points away from the non-relegation teams…I wanted to go to them to say thank you but I didn’t do it in the end because I really didn’t know what to say other than thank you and sorry.
I have been in England for many years now and I love the atmosphere, the stadiums, everything else. Football in England is fantastic because of the fans. In Spain you couldn’t imagine that the bottom team would be accompanied week in week out by 500 fans willing to travel over 350km away, and that is what happened last Wednesday. I think Blackpool fans are made from something different and it made me realise that we not only have to win for ourselves but for them. It is something more than a professional challenge, because I will leave Blackpool one day, like I did from Brighton or Swansea, but they will stay. They keep on going to Bloomfield Road whether it is in the Championship, in League 1 or in the Premiership and they will follow them to Newcastle or Portsmouth, like they did on Saturday at Leeds. We were playing against a team who hadn’t won in 8 games and they ran over us in a bad way. I felt ashamed to thank them for their support. I was reading a post from a good friend later on that night about his experience abroad a few years ago, with a struggling team. I started to think about Blackpool and I looked at our players and I got even more upset, because we have good players who are my friends!! Some are very good, therefore I can’t understand why we can’t get out of this situation and perform at the weekends the way we perform in the training sessions.
I go over it again and again. I go over some of the games and I get really depressed when I remember that goal, that missed chance, that pass… Maybe we would still be bottom of the table but I am sure we would have 6 or 7 more points. Surely the coach is also thinking how to sort this out, we start working today and I am sure that there will be tough physical sessions. If we have to work harder we will work harder. We don’t have any more options as the next game against Bolton is a must win.
I have never experienced such a fragile situation in my career as a football player. But I don’t give up. I have never surrendered and won’t do it now.
Translated by Alfons Vinent.