As you can see, I don’t exactly live in luxury. I’ve been brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink, which I think is a surefire sign of poverty. At least the Swedish standard for poverty. The only other thing I did on my day off was watch the Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich Champions League with a bunch of they guys. Bayern won, but there’s no question that Madrid will win the return leg and go to the final (where they’ll play Barcelona, even though Barca also lost.)
Thursday was pretty interesting because I spent the entire day with Siggi, Daniel and Fabian. In the morning we had a finishing session at the training ground. For the last 30 minutes or so of that session we had a number of finishing competitions, with Siggi (much to his delight) being crowned the overall champion and me coming in 2nd. When the session was over, I planned to go home and rest before the team training in the evening, but instead I was invited to lunch with the guys. Siggi offered to pay for my lunch because I was the runner-up in the finishing competition. In reality, I know that he was just being nice because he knows I’m currently in the poorhouse. I’ve been here for exactly 40 days and I haven’t gotten a paycheck yet so I’ve been living on the money I had when I came over to Europe almost three months ago. I don’t spend a lot so it’s ok, but it’s still a bit stressful to only have $100-200 to your name in a place that is not your home. Siggi knows that so he helps me out. The other guys realize this too and offer to pay for me all the time, but I typically refuse because I don’t really want a handout. I have money, I’m just trying to save it rather than spend it on clothes and meals. Surely that’s not so crazy?
Anyway we went to lunch at K14, which is kind of a de facto team restaurant. I’m pretty sure we get special rates there and it’s the restaurant where the club wanted me to pay 3000SEK (kronor) a month to have lunch and dinner. I refused so I’ll (hopefully) get that money in cash on payday. If I don’t get that money there will be one upset cookie. After about an hour and a half at K14, they guys wanted to go shopping, so we went around Enkoping looking at the most Swedish looking clothes on the planet. Daniel, Fabian and I went to a 2nd hand clothing store, but realized it was only women’s clothing and left quickly. At this point I thought we must be heading home, but instead we went to Café Wickman. We weren’t hungry; our sole stated purpose for going to Café Wickman was to look at hot girls. Keep in mind that this plan came directly from the coach. We spent some time at the café then finally, mercifully, headed home. Training was uneventful, but I was a beast and did well. It was after the training that was interesting.
Siggi decided that we would watch a video of our match after training. As has been noted many times in this blog, I do not speak a word of Swedish. As such, any meeting held is really just a time for me to sit quietly with my thoughts while everyone around me communicates ideas with each other. The only point I really picked up on was that Siggi really wants us to press our opponents. I’ve never really been of the whole pressure school of thought on defending, simply because I don’t believe it’s effective. People see it work for Barcelona and think anybody can do it. You hear all the time, “It doesn’t take skill to pressure”. Well yeah that’s true, but you DO need skill to actually have enough of the ball to have the energy to chase whenever you lose it. Barcelona can press because they have 70% possession, they don’t have 70% possession because they press. What that means is that if you have the best midfielders on the planet then of course you keep the ball so much that when you lose it you have energy to get it back. If you’re not stringing 20-30 passes together at a time then it’s going to be difficult to constantly press. You end up in a sort of track meet where you run like crazy to win the ball, then run like crazy to attack in the five passes you typically make before losing the ball. I can do this somewhat because I’m quite fit at the moment, but for most players on this team it’s very difficult if not impossible. Maybe Siggi rectified these problems with his comments in the meeting but I don’t know.
That’s all for now. Today is April 20 and for some God awful reason it’s snowing. We were supposed to have a small group of us do a morning training, but that got canceled because of the terrible weather. Hopefully we can get some good work done tonight despite the weather.