Yesterday was a long Sunday, one on those in which the hours go slow and the anguish over Saturday’s game becomes unbearable. Outside there is snow everywhere and below freezing temperatures, very cold weather that makes you think about what happened. Wolves are a great team and they play in a beautiful stadium that was full on Saturday to honour Sir Jack Hayward, once owner of the club, who passed away a few days ago. We are in opposite poles…
We didn’t play badly in the first half. We stood tall against them and we only made one very big mistake which nearly ended up in a goal, but we held them and we played with good intensity. But in the second half it felt like the pitch was downhill to their goal. It was continuous suffering and although it was hard to accept the fact that they equalised so near the end, they made it looked like they needed the points more than we do, when it is actually the other way round. If when we give our all to the game, we struggle, but when we leave the intensity in the changing room it becomes mission impossible.
When the game finished the changing room looked like a funeral parlour and the coach got really annoyed. He had a reason to be so upset, because we either all pull together or this boat will sink. We all have to pull together with rage and tenacity. Now more than ever because every game is crucial and we have to really step forward. It doesn’t help having to play Watford next week but we have to get up and fight. When I looked at all the results after, I realised that we were so close to be 5 points from salvation. We are 9 points from the safe positions again. The mountain is still here and the climb is harder every day.
Yesterday I spent the morning watching Sporting de Gijón v Betis from the 2nd Spanish division, a game that was better than many premier games I’ve seen this season. I watched mainly because my friend Dani Pacheco was in the starting line-up for Betis, coached by Pepe Mel, the coach who gave me the opportunity of being a professional at Alaves. It’s been a long time! The game ended up being the first home defeat by Sporting, but I really liked the way Abelardo has worked that team. Abelardo was a great center back who played with Barça and you can see he is applying the ideas that he learned in Barcelona, with a very young team and in a club who hasn’t got much money to spend.
In the end Betis won by coming from behind. They are a better quality team, with experienced players and I believe they will be fighting for promotion with better chances than Sporting. It was a nice game to watch, despite having Norah around me running all over the house! Norah is obsessed with the bogie man and she is convinced he lives in our garden, and despite knowing the story by hand, as I have read it to her around 500 times, she still gets scared, even though I have given it the friendly face of Íñigo Calderón whom she loves dearly. I am sorry Calde, but with that beard you are the bogie man!
In two weeks I will be able to tell him face to face because we will play in Bloomfield Road against Brighton and it will be one of those games which could decide many things. They lost on Saturday at home against Brentford and they are not in a good position either, but still better than ours.
On a personal note, the week was very entertaining. My sister’s brother Jaume, came to visit and Norah really likes him. She does whatever she wants with him… Now he is moving to Bali, Freixenet (the cava makers) are sending him to be their commercial manager in Indonesia and I hope he will succeed. A new world of opportunities opens in front of him now. I wanted to show him Blackpool but we could hardly get out of the car as it was extremely windy all week. We even had to change the training plan because we couldn’t train outdoors and we went to an indoor complex to prepare for the game against Wolves. Talking about Jaume, if you ever go to Bali and you see the locals talking about Cava, you know whose fault it is!
On Tuesday, Jose Cubero and I went to visit the children at Claremont Primary School in Blackpool. I always volunteer to do these activities. I already told you that I really like spending time with the little ones as I used to do it during my time at Brighton. We went to different classes and they asked us lots of questions that we tried to answer in the best possible way to try to convey some of the things that we have learned as professional footballers. I hope these will help them in whatever they decide to do in the future. The important thing is to try to let them know about the importance of living a healthy life, to fight for their dreams and to never give up, whether you are a footballer, a teacher or anything else. Funny enough, the only kid who approached us to let us know she wanted to be a footballer was a girl and I encouraged her to follow her dream. I hope her parents will approve of my words!
Our dream today is to remain in the Championship. Hard? Very much so. But I would like you to check the table and to look at some of the teams. Forest have had a really bad patch and they managed to beat Derby away; Fulham, that had lost the last 3 games, managed to beat Reading in the last minute of the game and Rovers, that on day 19 were in the promotion spots are now 8 points below Watford, who are 6th and play against us on Saturday…
Greetings to everybody, especially those who came to support us at Wolverhampton. You must know that we will keep fighting. The word surrender doesn’t exist in my vocabulary.
Translated by Alfons Vinent.