Orlandi’s Monday: My home, Swansea, Laudrup and Blackpool’s adventure

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As I told you last week, I have spent a few days in Barcelona. I needed it! Going back home means seeing familiar faces, getting a hug from your mum, eating home cooked food, having your in-laws spoiling you, believe me they do! And overall being able to go for a walk wearing a t-shirt. How nice the weather is back home and what a shame that the weather in England is not that nice….But you can’t have everything.

I hadn’t been back home since I left at the beginning of July. After what happened in Brighton, I was still waiting for offers when all the clubs had already started their pre-season. Every day I would go for a run and would burn adrenaline on the bike with my friend Curro. Thanks to him, I managed to avoid more than one tree and I only got some knocks. Let’s say that on the bike, my performance is as good as Casillas

What is difficult to understand if you are from England is what is going on in Spain. The first infection due to the Ebola outbreak in Europe had to be in Spain. But what is really destroying this country is the corruption. A long time ago, I declared myself a non political person and I reaffirm that now. It is mind blowing that some people use their official status to steal and then they get upset when everything blows up. It’s not any particular political party, is every single one and with everybody around them turning a blind eye as the situation gets worse. The last case has been the company credit card affair, with the conformity of the treasury. If any normal citizen forgot to pay their council tax or were delayed in paying their bills they would have the bailiffs round straight away to take their possessions, and yet these people keep living normal lives. Anyway, it’s better not to carry on because my british friends won’t understand how this is possible…

I was talking about my escape back home. My parents and my sister Chiara live in Barcelona and I have a flat in Vilanova i la Geltru, a village 30km away from the city where my in laws live. Therefore Laura and I try to spend as much time as possible in both places so the grandparents can enjoy as much time as possible with their grand daughters. I haven’t been able to totally switch off, because I have been treated for the problems in my foot but I have felt an improvement. I had a scan and had PRP, platelet rich plasma, which is very painful as they inject your own blood mixed with plasma into the sole of your foot. A very painful and strange thing. The fasciitis is still there but getting better.

Let’s get back or I will lose the plot. I was telling you how I started to train on my own in July waiting for an offer to arrive. When I saw that time was ticking on I decided to text my friend Gary Monk, Swansea’s coach to see if he would let me train with the under 21s team, and he immediately agreed. So I spoke with him in the morning and in the afternoon I was on the plane on my way to London. I went to Brighton, picked up my car and drove to Swansea.

The people who know me will know what my opinion is about the club, the fans and all the employees. They treated me like I had never left, I was able to use all the facilities, I ate with the first team, the physios treated me… Everybody welcomed me with open arms. From the kit man (woman in this case) to the gardener, they all made me feel like I was at home. If the second team wasn’t training, the physical trainer Sam Huggins would work with me one to one on hard physical sessions. It is a very special club. I spent 5 years there that will never be forgotten.

During those days I saw myself all over the world. I was very close to sign for the MLS team Vancouver Whitecaps, I had an offer from Turkey and one from Greece, a couple of Championship teams… And suddenly Jose Riga rang me and said that he wanted to talk to me face to face. Talking to the coach in person is unusual. I didn’t think twice, I got in the car and drove up to Blackpool to have a meeting with him, and here I am!

It wasn’t a nice situation to be in, going through the summer knowing that your future is not sorted, with two daughters and a wife, a family… But you have to be positive and never give up. And that helps, believe me!

Blackpool was a breath of fresh air. The coach was very candid with me it was clear that the team was incomplete and that it would be anything but easy. But it was an exceptional challenge. This has also helped unite us as the beginning of the season has been very difficult. Getting to know the new players, both on a personal and sportive basis, knowing how everybody is, their mannerisms…and from there realising that despite all the difficulties, we have what it takes to move forward.

I still think that we could surprise many people this year. Looking back mentally at the first few games of the season, I am convinced we should have 5 or 6 more points and looking at the stands and seeing the mood of the fans, I am convinced that this team must give them some joy. We are professionals, and today I play in Blackpool like I did before in Brighton or Swansea and I am lucky enough, here as well, to feel like I am part of something, a project, a big family both in the changing room and in the stands, that walk together hand in hand. I have always thought that this union is the strength of this team and this is in part thanks to our coach.

I wrote earlier about Monk. He was my team mate in Swansea and I believe that sacking Laudrup and getting Monk to replace him was the best decision the club has made. I was very excited about Laudrup. I admired him as a footballer and I liked everything about him. But I got very disappointed. Sometimes you get a shock when you meet people who are your idols. It happened to me with Gullit and also with Jordi Lardin, a very good winger who played for Espanyol. I cannot say much about Laudrup as a person, always correct and diplomatic, as I never got to know him enough to be able to judge him at that level. But as a coach he was a great disappointment and I promise I am not saying that with resentment, that is a word that doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. On the other hand, I think he did me well by showing me the door from Swansea because my time there was over and I am convinced of that given the experience of that pre-season in 2012. Now the team is in the hands of someone who loves the club, who really works hard and who studies the opposition and tries to become better. You can be sure I know what I am talking about.

All this aside, we now have something else to concentrate on. We are looking for a flat in Barcelona and it’s not easy. Prices have gone down but are still expensive and we want to find the right place where we will spend the rest of our lives when we retire as I know for sure that Barcelona is my city and the place where I want to live when I hang up my boots.

I started to write this article in Barcelona and I am finishing it in the UK. Sad at leaving home but really looking forward to getting back on the pitch, meet my team mates again and start playing games. It would be amazing to win two games in a row and start a winning streak that will allow us to climb up the table.

On Saturday we play at Huddersfield, who beat Wolverhampton and drew against Blackburn both away. They started pretty bad but they have scored 7 out of the last 9 points so it’s going to be a tough game.

But here we are, on good form and willing to start climbing up the table.

Come ooooooooon!!!

Translated by Alfons Vinent

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