Luis working hard to please fans

Liverpool’s Spanish midfielder Luis Garcia, hero of many a game and occasional villain too, says he’s well aware of the jeers he gets from the crowd when a pass doesn’t work out as it he intended and possession is lost. He wants Liverpool fans to know that he is always trying his best; always trying what he thinks instinctively will be the best ball to play at that split second. And because it’s instinctive, it’s not likely to be something that he’s able to stop happening: “It’s not that I’m going to change. I hear everything the fans shout. I don’t like it when they blame or boo me, but it’s something I have to live with. I understand they get frustrated when my pass doesn’t go through.”

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Luis says he’s just as unhappy with the outcome as the fans are: “I get frustrated myself; I hate it when there’s a back-heel which doesn’t work or a pass which is cut out. But I can’t stay frustrated long. This is the way I play and I have to get on with the game.”

He made a plea to the supporters: “I want the fans to understand I am trying, that if something I do doesn’t work, if I give the ball away, it’s not because I don’t care.” Luis says it’s down to his own gut feeling: “Every play I do is because it’s the best thing I can think of at that moment, and, as a player, you’ve normally got to follow it – it’s not because I want to show off.”

Despite asking for understanding that his errors come about in this way, he’s not going to rely on that excuse – he’s working on improving his game: “I’m trying to close that big gap between the best of me and the worst. If I’m playing it’s because the boss thinks my best is greater than my worst, that the best things I do can change something and the worst is not so bad he cannot have it on the pitch. But sometimes people make me feel it is.”

Garcia also points out that perhaps people are expecting a little too much from him, saying that it’s very rare for players to be able to do both the fancy stuff and the simple stuff: “People like a player who doesn’t lose the ball and also like a player who does something that’s nice to see, but how many players do both? Zidane? Not many others. That’s why you need different players, someone like Xabi who can keep the ball, and someone like me who sometimes loses it because I’m trying the more difficult pass.” He is working on those instincts though, and feels he’s getting better at knowing when a simple ball is better than a flashy piece of skill: “I’m trying to learn when to do it and I think I’m much better than in my first season.”

He also says that his reputation for losing possession by trying a trick at an inappropriate time means that the media can be quick to jump on any mistakes he makes, ignoring his positive contributions: “I have a past in my bag – that’s why if I do a brilliant game but I lose one ball, one stupid ball, I know the next day that some newspapers I read will be talking about the ball I lost. So I’ve got something in my bag I’ll never get rid of.”

He’s loving life in England now and feels extremely settled. His young son – the reason for his trademark thumb-sucking goal celebration – is already speaking English more than he speaks Spanish: “My two-year-old son is going to nursery and learning English. He doesn’t even know one word in Spanish, because I speak English with him. I love hearing him talk.” He says it took some time to settle, but any pangs of homesickness are now gone: “For the first two years our family missed the Spanish weather and food, but now I never feel the desire to go back to Spain. This part of the year is the worst in England – you don’t see the sun for days and miss Spanish Christmas.”

Then there are the holidays, or lack of them; Garcia finds it odd that he’ll be playing on December 30th and on New Years’ Day: “In Spain you also get 7-10 days off football. Here, we’re playing on Saturday and again on Monday. I don’t think I’ve done that ever! But I’m happy here.”

He also explained where stories linking him to a move back to Spain and Atletico Madrid may have come from: “That’s because I was speaking with one of my friends in the national team and he said, ‘How long have you got on your contract?’ I said, ‘Three years’ and he said, ‘What are you going to do in three years?’ I said, ‘I don’t even know what I’m going to do tomorrow!’ He said, ‘Would you like to come back to Spain’ and I said, ‘Why not? It would be nice to come back one day and play for Atletico.’ So I think the story came from there and got changed a bit.”

As we move towards the January transfer window opening two weeks today we can dismiss any tales of Garcia being homesick or unwanted, he’s staying: “I never said I want to leave here this year or next year. I don’t see myself going anywhere for the next two years. I’d be 30 then and it might be time to go back, but football can change in two months so I’m not thinking too far ahead.”