Not even the football cliché of “the new manager effect” works at Blackpool… The game against Ipswich was one to be forgotten. We were so anxious that nothing worked out the way we wanted. At the end of the game, on my way to the dressing room, I could see the faces of the people leaving the ground and it made me even more annoyed because they weren’t even upset anymore. They were dejected and disenchanted, as if they had finally surrendered. As if we were on a path of no return, or on the way to a disaster that was impossible to avoid. And I will rebel against that.
The team needed a change in dynamics and like it happens 95% of the time, the one who paid for it was Jose Riga, our coach. I felt really sorry as it was because of him that I came to Blackpool. He had an idea of the game that it was very similar to the one I have been practising in my years in the UK, both at Swansea and Brighton, but things didn’t go the way we expected.
I wish Jose the best, from the bottom of my heart, because apart from being a good coach, he is a great person. I am sorry I wasn’t able to help him more. It is the first time since I moved to the UK that my coach has been sacked half way through the season. Now I will concentrate on helping my new coach, Lee Clark, to try to get the team out of this situation. Every single coach I’ve had so far, Roberto Martínez, Paulo Sousa, Brendan Rodgers, Gustavo Poyet, Óscar García and Jose Riga himself, are a far cry from the typical direct British style coaches and I have been labelled as a one style player. Many teams are not interested in players like me because they think we can’t jump, fight or tackle. Or simply because if we don’t pull a face like a bull dog, it looks like we don’t work hard. Now my coach is a typical British one, so I have the opportunity to dispel those myths about me. In the first game in charge he decided to choose other players and I didn’t play from the start but I won’t get depressed by that. I am training well and it’s going to be a nice challenge to earn the trust of someone who wouldn’t normally put a player like me, on his favourite players list.
The game on Saturday was very bad. We abused the long balls trying to reach for the two strikers and we forgot to play football. I don’t believe this is what our coach wants. We should mix our style and try not to be too predictable. We can’t go from trying to always play the ball to, suddenly, trying to kick the ball as hard as we can. Fans expressed their dissatisfaction and to be honest I think they are totally right.
I liked the first two training sessions with Clark, very intense and focusing playing the ball so I am sure he didn’t like what we did yesterday either and he will try to sort it out.
The anecdote of the game was when the PA system called the name of one of our fans. His wife had got locked out of their house and she decided to call the club… Incredible! And very funny really, I couldn’t help but smiling on the bench, since we were still 0-0.
On Wednesday we visit Fulham a team with that many great players that it was obvious they were going to start climbing up the table. It’s going to be a very difficult game. Craven Cottage is one of my favourite grounds, it has some sort of magic. The new stadiums are very nice and spectacular but there are historical grounds in England that I really like. This is one of those, like Leeds Utd’s Ellan Road which we visit next.
I have only played once at Craven Cottage and that was in the FA cup with Swansea. Roberto said to me, ‘warm up, you are going on in 5 minutes.’ He then ended up putting three other players on instead of me! He often pulled those kind of jokes on me….
During the week of Halloween I had the opportunity to attend the Blackpool children’s party that was organised at Bloomfield Road. I had a great time. I love to spend some time with the little ones and make them smile. There were some really good costumes! Some were dressed as Batman. I would have liked to have been able to do these things with the players when I was a kid. I believe this closeness to the fans makes the players more human to them. They see that we suffer like them and that we become involved in what we are doing. Somehow you manage to make them understand that we are all in the same boat.
On the match program on Saturday there was a little interview with me. They asked me about the best moment in my career and I answered getting the promotion with Swansea and my debut with Barça. The interview was accompanied by a photo I had never seen. It was of me crying of happiness when the Swansea fans invaded the pitch after beating Nottingham Forest in the playoff semi-finals with Albert Serran, one of my best friends, next to me and I got emotional again. It’s nice to achieve something with a group of people you have been working with for many months, but what is even nicer is to make good friends in the process. In that team many of us were good friends and that was our secret. We weren’t the favourites, we didn’t have big names, but if I had to risk an injury for any of my team mates I would do it without hesitation. We were a team. This is what we need to achieve at Blackpool if we want to have any chance to stay up.
And this brings me to another anecdote this time a personal one. On Saturday my little Norah told Laura that she didn’t want daddy to go to Blackpool because in Blackpool daddy doesn’t smile. Kids kill you sometimes. Many times you don’t realise they are aware of nearly everything, including your moods and your problems. And I don’t want her to have that idea in her little head, I want her to see me smile in Blackpool.
Yesterday it was a day for the bed and the sofa. Norah is a bit sick and I took care of her and tried to relax myself. We are back at work today and I need to cheer up because for everybody the best thing is to see a smile in a team mate’s face. A few weeks ago, I wrote that this was a time for real men and I stand by that. Winning or losing we have to show that we deserve to wear this shirt.
Big hugs for everybody!
Translated by Alfons Vinent.
Photo: Peter Powell