Thursday, February 9, 2012
As soon as the final whistle blew for Chelsea’s visit to Carrow Road a few weeks back, they flew out for a “bonding” trip in Majorca – the more cynical of you might suggest it was a bit of a distraction as the clock counted up to 90 minutes.
• Anyone out there looking forward to the Euros this summer? I don’t mean for seeing the likes of Spain and Germany in action, but what England will offer… Didn’t think so. For all the promise of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, there’s the fiasco of John Terry’s pending court appearance, his probable falling-out with Rio Ferdinand and now Fabio Capello’s mini-rebellion over his ex-captain. Not the sort of adversity you expect to bring England closer together in Poland and Ukraine, is it… (Ed: All written before a rather extraordinary Wednesday)
• I’m sure some West Ham fans are in the midst of a moral struggle – to enjoy or avoid the sight of the most grim football possible? I wonder if Paolo di Canio will get a call if the Hammers enlighten the Premier League with similar style and grace next season?
• I managed to see through the whole four hours 48 minutes of the Super Bowl on Sunday night. Surely American football is the most contrived, deliberate sport there is – but it didn’t stop the game in Indy being a real cracker and worth staying up for. Sporting drama at its best.
If so, then there is good news – Swansea City are off to Tenerife after hosting Norwich City on Saturday for some days with sun, soccer and recovery.
That is the benefit of being knocked out of the FA Cup – a free weekend and a trip to La Caleta, with facilities previously used by the likes of Manchester City, Newcastle United and Everton.
That means: one grass pitch, a 3G artificial pitch, three-lane running track, indoor and outdoor gym, 25m swimming pool and “hydrotherapy flume channel for injury recovery”. Hmmm… I guess the higher temperatures at least provide vindication for the trip.
Given Paul Lambert’s public dismissal of any Christmas party for his players back in December, I doubt he would take his City squad on a jaunt to warmer climbs mid-season – not before the job is done, anyway.
“It’s a long season and we have a tough schedule coming up in March and April, so this is about trying to make sure the players are refreshed and ready,” Swans chairman Huw Jenkins to the South Wales Evening Post.
“It is a chance for us to recuperate because of the good weather and nice surroundings – it’s not about training so much as recovery.”
Saturday’s trip for Norwich is a tough one – even in a world where ‘every game’ is ‘always tough’. Only Manchester United have left the Liberty Stadium with all three points this term, while the Swans’ clean sheets tally was previously held up by some as why the Welshmen’s adaptation to the top flight was more complete than that of Norwich.
Therefore, that same cynical group out there will have a ready made reason should the Swans’ appear to cast their eyes south an hour or two before they should.
Much like Norwich had Leeds as bedfellows during their rise through League One and the Championship, it has been Swansea’s turn to follow the Canaries since May – it is rare to hear a national commentator say one club without tacking on a mention of the other. But while Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea squad prepare to get out their sunglasses and Bermuda shorts, Lambert’s men will be staying at home…
In the freezing British winter… and without gloves.
As the eagle-eyed saw, City beat Bolton without a single mitten in sight. Lambert denies it is an edict from on high – but his players suggest otherwise.
“It’s something the gaffer doesn’t want us to be doing,” revealed Elliott Bennett – producer of a star turn at right-back in City’s Trotters win.
“We are all men…I wouldn’t say it’s a weakness (if players wear gloves). If you’re from South America, for them not to wear gloves when it’s freezing outside and they’re used to 27 degrees, then that’s a bit different.
“But we’ve all played in England for a long while and if you’re not used to the cold by now then I don’t think you ever will be.”
Anthony Pilkington’s message was similar: “We’re not allowed to wear gloves – even in training – and the same applies to woolly hats and scarves… and as for snoods, don’t even think about it.
“You always run around and if you’re still cold after doing that, maybe you’re not running around enough. But three points is the best insulation against the cold.”
Too true. Leave Swansea to their warm weather recovery. Even without snoods, hats and gloves, no one will feel the freezing expanses of Colney on Monday off the back of a win two days earlier.