Pride and sportmanship

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I don’t want to talk too much about what this week has meant for Blackpool. To begin with, I can only think about 3 things: 1st, until we are mathematically a League One team we have to keep fighting hard; 2nd, my pride as a profesional footballer won’t allow me to give up even when everybody else has given up and 3rd, to try to make people understand that Lee Clark is not to blame for the situation we are in. Has he got to asume part of the responsibility? Without a doubt, of course. He is the first one assuming that. But it is also on us, the players, the ones who get out there and play and if the results are what they are, maybe we don’t deserve better.

I can see lots of animosity towards our coach out there and I believe its not fair. Since he arrived he hasn’t stopped working hard even if you disagree with his ideas. But sometimes when someone falls when he is about to score or when we lose the ball and the opposition end up scoring a goal or we finish badly, is it his fault? Or he is to blame for us playing on a really bad pitch…I have spoken so much about the condition of our pitch that I won’t waste more time talking about it.

I have the impression that the footballers are not getting blamed for the situation that the club is in but our coach is and the reality is that things are not much different from when Riga was here. I am convinced that many of us are not bad players. I do know what kind of player I am and I feel really bad going through what we have to go through. But I don’t deserve any better now because we are all equally responsible and we have to assume our responsibilities. We could bring Guardiola or Mourinho in but if we don’t raise our game on the pitch, miracles won’t happen.

Where have you ended up? A friend of mine asked me last week. My worst season in the Championship before was an eighth place with Swansea but despite what has happened since August I feel honoured to be a Blackpool player because the greatness of a club is not only measured by success but also by what this club means to the community and I have realised, day by day, how attach people are to the team. In Spain, we would be alone by now. That is not the case here and that says a lot.

I mentioned Mourinho earlier. I used to be a fan of the Mourinho who made Chelsea a big team, of the one who won the Champions league with Inter and even of the one at the beginning of his spell at Madrid. But despite being a great coach, I have despised his attitude for a while now. His campaigns against other coaches, against the referees, the commitees… That victimisation, his propaganda campaign and his incapacity to lose with sportmanship are things I cannot comprehend. Someone who has won that much shouldn’t look for enemies where there are only rivals and he shouldn’t turn any game that he loses into a battle against the world.

He won the Capital One cup against Tottenham yesterday. Good. Congratulations but that won’t make me forget about what he said 10 days ago to my friend Ashley Barnes. How does he dare to insinuate that a football player is a criminal? Him! I will not recall past episodes with some of his former players because I am a footballer and I know more than anybody that what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch, but he was completely out of order.

Ashley has lots of character and he plays to the limit like most players in England, but he has never tried to harm another player. His tackle against Matic was a nasty one, I agree, but everybody should remember that it happened when he just got to the ball a tenth of a second too late, late enough to catch Matic. But today I want to use the video and tomorrow I don’t. It all depends on who would benefit…Not very nice and certainly very arrogant. Funnily enough Mourinho didn’t see one of his players stamp on Messi’s foot in Madrid a while ago. End of story.

Well end of story? Not really. Who is Mourinho to demand a ban to Barnes? Or to say that Matic is lucky to be able to play football again? It is the same person who sends his players to a war in the Spanish cup final against Barça? I would go to the end of the world for Ashley, I know what kind of person he is and I am really annoyed at the campaign against him, orchestrated by Mourinho. To label someone a criminal who humbily plays his first season in the Premiership in a modest club like Burnley and knowing the repercussions that his words would have, is utterly out of order.

He should waste his energy in winning titles. They just got the Capital one and most probably will win the Premier. He will continue to be an excellent coach but he could do with starting to behave like a sportsman. To put himself on the level of the English sportsmen.

They can also win the Champions league of course but for that Chelsea will have top lay bordering on perfection. They are favourites against PSG but after watching Barça playing City or the superiority of Madrid or the good season Bayern are having, I think it will be really be over for them in the quarter finals. I can’t overlook the fantastic first half of Barça in Manchester. That first half was a sublime lesson. Brutal but sublime. Pellegrini was brave but giving Barca superiority in the midfield is suicidal. When you see the accelerations of Messi football becomes art. He made Clichy look slow and that says it all. City really struggled to recover the ball and when they had it the pitch seemed huge. They have Kun Agüero and they will have Toure for the return leg but this Barça, especially the one of the first half, is the clear favourite.

I am really bad at predicting but my overall favourite is Bayern Munich. It is true that things will change depending on who has to play who in the quarter finals but if everything goes to plan, I see Bayern as the favourite team. One of the reasons being the fact that they have a more comfortable position in their league than Barca or Madrid or even Chelsea as in the Premier any team can give you a hard time.

Our particular Championship match takes place in Birmingham on Wednesday. I guess no one will bet on us but we will keep fighting until the end. You can all count on that.

Come ooooooon!!!

Translated by Alfons Vinent.

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