Put yourself in my situation. Sunday morning, music on, Norah running around impersonating the most tribal Shakira (the current one doesn’t motivate us), Emma in her chair eating her own socks, the warm coffee waiting in Valentino Rossi’s mug… And the best thing of all, 4 points out of 6 in front of two of the promotion candidates. If this is not happiness, it looks very similar to it. These moments have to be enjoyed properly, especially in a year when they don’t come very often. Saying that, happiness is a bitch and is always in a rush to leave and sometimes we even push it away ourselves! So, I am going to enjoy every single sip of my coffee with a big smile on my face.
To understand how complicated this Championship league is you just have to have a look at the table to find out that the bottom four teams are the ones who not long ago were playing in the Premiership, including Blackpool. Fulham, Bolton and Wigan are also down there and these negative dynamics are not easy to control. Only if the team is united you can overcome these situations and somehow we are and we maintain this union and make it stronger every day.
On Saturday night most of the team went out for dinner. We have been thinking about going out a while ago just to unite the group and it happened to be in our best week so far, so it couldn’t be better. I love the spirit of this team and this is not an empty sentence. We played very well in Middlesbrough on Tuesday but on Friday I didn’t make the team against Cardiff. The problems in my foot were the same as before the game in Boro and even though I thought I could play, the coach decided that it would be better for me not to play so I watched the game from the stands. I enjoyed the victory like a kid in a candy store. It was a tough win. We suffered and fought hard but we deserved to win. During the dinner on Saturday night I felt happy, the team felt happy and it is this spirit which is going to make us come back from the bottom of the table.
I have already talked about some of the characters that we have in the team. And I don’t get tired about it. We can add other players like Ell Parish to the well-known Oriol twins and the big Nile Ranger. On Friday against Cardiff he played his first game and he played superb. I was really happy because he always works hard and never complains but sometimes euphoria makes you do silly things and he came to the dinner with an “interesting” jacket….I won’t broadcast some of the comments I heard!!
Let’s talk a bit more about football. On Tuesday at Middlesbrough the team really stepped forward. For the first time we managed to recover after conceding an easy goal and we played good football. We were the better team without a doubt. On the pitch I felt good, confident and sure of myself. We could and we should have won, but it was a good point nevertheless. Given that Sunderland is very close, Jordi Gomez and Berta came to watch the game. I have told you about him, he is my sister in law’s partner. His name will be forever present in Wigan’s history because he scored the winning goal against Manchester City last year in the FA Cup. Imagine Alaves winning the Spanish cup against Real Madrid. No need to say more.
Anyway, he came to the Riverside stadium and both himself and Berta told me that they didn’t understand how we could be bottom of the table because we play good football. And the truth is I believe we played our best game. And thanks a lot to all the fans who came to support us. I’ve said and I will repeat it again, we continually underestimate the importance of the support of the fans, but I can assure you that when you are out of breath and our legs feel heavy, the shouts and songs of the fans help us to carry on and to give our best right up until the last minute. I am not sure how many fans came over, maybe 150? They were like 150 lions helping us.
Against Cardiff, the long awaited win finally arrived. Cardiff disappointed me a bit to be honest but they have just replaced their coach and they are not at their best. They let you play and that helped us. That and Perkins hair dye! I have never see a hair shining so much on a football pitch. During Saturday’s dinner I told him how much I disliked him when he played against me. He has chilli for breakfast! He never stops. Having him as a team mate is a relief and he is a top bloke too. Years of experience have shown me that sometimes the first impressions on a football pitch are wrong.
By the way, I would like to send a big hug to Oscar Garcia. I hope he uses this break from training to recharge his batteries and we can soon see him again on the bench. And I would like to say hi to someone who reads “Orlandi’s Monday” from Barcelona, Jacinto Ela Eyene. He was a role model for me when I was in Espanyol’s youth team, the world’s best under 14 player who was signed by Southampton at a time when only a few foreign players were chosen to play in the English football league. He opened the door for those who arrived later on. A big hug to you my friend.
Now we have a week off and I will go back home to spend some time with my family in Barcelona. I will try to switch off a bit, but not too much and will try to sort the problems in my foot. In the weeks ahead, we have many games and challenges and I can’t wait to experience this happiness more often. By the way, if you have time, think for a few seconds about poor Cubero, his barber has retired and the poor boy is struggling. Let’s hope Perkins takes him to one of his beauty sessions….
Next week, more and better.