We are well beyond the half-way mark of our pre-season in Valencia and I thought it would be nice to take out a little time and connect with all of you.
This isn’t really a peek into our lives because all we have been doing is training twice a day, eating well and resting as much as we can! We’re holed up in a town called Alboraya and our training facility, the Masia La Grava, is a thirty-minute bus ride away. All of us are making the most of being together where we are getting to know each other better. There are a few new faces this season and we also have a few youngsters from the B team with us on the trip. Building relationships is such an important part of this team and it’s one of the big reasons why it has been so successful.
The training sessions have been fantastic, to say the least. The team is taking complete advantage of the facilities we have. The pitches are nice as is the weather and we have all we need to make it a fruitful pre-season. Sessions are double on most days but that’s absolutely normal during pre-season.
In Carles, we have a coach who knows this team and the boys really well. More importantly, he’s stuck to the same philosophy that this team has embraced, along with bringing in a few additional aspects that we have incorporated very well. We know what the coach and his staff demand from us and we are all working hard to deliver it.
I sometimes get asked whether a pre-season with defeats in friendlies does more harm than good to the confidence of the team. But I beg to differ. We’ve played two games against good opposition and two more against even tougher teams and all of this will only go on make us better if we choose to learn from it. Of course, we step on the pitch wanting to win every single game – be it in competition or a friendly with no consequence. But pre-season games are more about ensuring that you are giving one hundred percent in every session and every game. You need to keep making mental notes of what the opposition is doing better than you. If we do the right things in pre-season, we will know exactly what we have to do once the season begins.
Like I mentioned, we have two sessions a day and training takes place at a very high intensity, leaving us little time to do anything else. I usually take a walk around the team hotel to take my mind off football for a bit. Valencia is a fantastic city and I allowed myself a nice little flashback when I went to the Mestalla and spent a few minutes there, recollecting how I came to the Stadium as part of Numancia to play Valencia in La Liga. Personally, it was a happy week for me because my wife and daughter joined me here and it’s always nice to have them around. The team had half the day off on Wednesday and it was nice to see the boys go out and explore the city.
We are now preparing for the games against Villarreal B and Barcelona B and I believe these will be bigger learnings for us. Every single thing we are doing at the moment builds up to the game at the Fortress on August 22. We’re training at an empty stadium here in Spain but we want to play to one that’s packed in Bengaluru!