Firstly I wish you all a happy new year and hope that you all had a good Christmas. I hope 2010 is good for you all.
We were lucky enough to have seven days off over Christmas which was pleasing for us all as a little break was very much needed. Our life as apprentices can become quite monotonous at times, so a break up in the routine was refreshing and allowed us all to switch off from football and recharge our batteries.
Personally I think the week flew by and it seemed more like two days rather than seven. I wasn’t able to get out of bed for three of the days as I had flu which was a bit of a killer as it zapped all my energy and prevented me from getting out and enjoying the time off as I would have liked. I did manage a few days out in the end though before we were due back in on the 31st of December.
I enjoyed Christmas in the right way and tried to keep professional in what I chose to eat and drink. None of us were stupid enough to pig out over Christmas as we all knew our weights would be taken and our body fats measured on our return. So maybe it was a good job in the end that I had flu and I lost my appetite! I consumed the correct things and made sure I kept my diet the same.
We had to train on New Year’s Day as well so whilst everyone else was out having a jolly, I stayed in and chilled out. We had a hard day on the Thursday and a lighter day on the Friday, because of a game the next day.
On Saturday 3rd January we had a friendly game against Wycombe Wanderers at Bisham Abbey which we won 3-0. Our team consisted of some under 16s, some youth team players who needed a game and Gus Sow who is an under 15. We played in a diamond formation which I think helped us a lot as it suited the players we had. The game was a good work out and turned out to be good for our confidence.
We were much better than them and played some really good football at times especially in the second half. The first half an hour of the game was a little bit scrappy, but after that we dominated and the ball rarely came back in our own half. I thought our two best players were Wilfried Zaha and Jonny Williams who both stood out.
Wilf played at the point of the diamond just behind the two strikers in what I think is his best position. He would call himself a striker, but every time I have seen him play in the hole I think he’s looked quality. He has great feet and is very tricky to play against. Jonny also had another good game and didn’t stop running. Jon has a very low centre of gravity which makes him hard to tackle and get close too. On a personal note, I think I played well and enjoyed the run out.
I was surprised the game even went ahead as the pitches were rock hard because of the frost. All the pitches were frozen but we moved about a bit as some of the other pitches at the Abbey were slightly better. We started off warming up on one pitch, finished warming up on the next one and started the game off on a third one. They thought the pitch would thaw out and be alright, but even at the end of the game the pitch was still incredibly hard.
I must say that the referee’s performance was disappointing and was insistent on breaking the game up with free kicks due to the conditions under foot. Maybe Santa had got him a new whistle for Christmas but he certainly got some use out of it.
At the start of the game the ref told us to be careful of the conditions, which is fair enough, but literally every tackle he was blowing up for saying that it was ‘too dangerous’. How can you say yes the game can go ahead, but you can’t tackle? These weren’t 50/50 sliding challenges, these were little nicks and all part of the game.
The games either on or it’s off, how can you prevent people from tackling? In the first half, Gus made a great tackle and won the ball cleanly, but the ref blew up and gave them a free-kick “because of the conditions”. He even said it was a good tackle but because of the conditions it was dangerous? I asked him if Gus had made that tackle in the box, would a penalty be given? He just smiled and said ‘I don’t know’.
I know I go on about referees but it is frustrating for players when you are out there playing and you get these decisions go against you. They have a difficult job and I know decisions can’t be changed but as you know I always like to have my say – it may make the next call go our way during the game!
We have got a very important 10 days coming up with our league game against Southampton on Saturday, our youth cup game against Derby County on Tuesday and then a league game on the Saturday against Norwich City. We fear no one, and all three games are winnable so we are looking to make a good start to 2010.