Marcos Alonso received more than his fair share of criticism this season, but as he tells the Evening Standard ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final, that’s not something he cares about at all.
It’s probably one of the first things any professional footballer or athlete has to learn to deal with, how to maintain self-belief in the face of an angry and unreasonable mob.
“Has the criticism from the fans affected me? No. Football is like this. The better team you play for, the more fans follow you and there are millions of coaches and managers around the world! Some of them understand football one way, some of them has another opinion.
“I am the best to judge when I play well and when I don’t. Of course during the season you play some bad games, but it’s been a good campaign. I’m always looking for more, looking to improve and get better. That’s something inside me, I know I have to work for it.”
“I don’t really care about the critics or when people talk good [about me]. It can’t affect you. I’m the one to trust myself and to look for more. I had a good season and hopefully the next one will be even better.”
Every person in the stands, in front of the television sets, and on Twitter — especially Twitter! — might fancy themselves an expert in all things football, but Alonso must only listen to one self-styled expert in the room, his head coach.
But unlike Conte the previous two years, who used Alonso in a way that suited his skills the best, as a wing-back, Sarri has changed a few things around, some for the better, some for the worse, both in terms of the whole team’s setup as well as the requirements from Alonso’s position. Those changes certainly affected Alonso’s performances, as changes often do, but he thinks he’s got it now.
“For me personally, the path changed. I started very well, then the manager wanted different things from me. After that I was trying to do what he wanted and then he told me he wanted to play like I was at the beginning of the season. So maybe that has conditioned a little bit the way of my game.
“I think I’m settled now. I am very happy at Chelsea and looking forward to finish the season with a win and a cup.”
It’s a bit ironic that after putting pen to paper on a new five-year extension in October, Alonso was dropped from the first-choice starting lineup for the first time in two and a half years. Perhaps it was the miles catching up to him, or the aforementioned adjustment period, of the good showings by Emerson in training and in midweek games of lesser importance — whatever the reason, Alonso’s iron grip on the left flank has been released.
Who starts the final is quite unclear at the moment, but either way, Alonso’s happy to stay and happy to play and of course happy to win. But if Real Madrid come knocking, as it’s been rumored a few times, he also wouldn’t be unhappy...
“I am very happy here, but we will see what happens this summer. There is always talk [like this]. Is [Real Madrid’s interest] a compliment? Yes. It means I’m doing well if other teams are trying to get in touch.
“But first of all I’m focusing on the final. I am very happy to have four more years here and hopefully I will stay many more years here.”
-Marcos Alonso; Source: Evening Standard
How about a goal on Wednesday, Marcos?