Joseba Etxeberria dreams of one day coaching the Athletic Club first team. After retiring as a club legend, he went into coaching by joining Lezama before eventually serving under Ernesto Valverde as an assistant. Last year he served as the manager or feeder club CD Basconia but he will not be around for the upcoming season. He recently accepted the offer to coach Segunda B club Amorebieta which will be the highest level he’s over overseen. On Monday he gave an exclusive interview with Javi Beltran of AS and revealed that he has been discussing the project for a while now.
“We had been talking about the project for some time. We will look at the situation of the current staff, the needs of the team, and the players who should continue and we will design a group based on the needs. We want to try to balance everything in terms of veterans and youth to have a competitive squad. We only have five players under contract but we have offered renewals to some and tried to recruit others. The plan is the have a balanced team with two players per position to compete. I believe in training a lot and I want to work with both defense and attack. We haven’t talked about Lezama players on loan, but it is important to be attentive to the movements at Lezama just like those of Zubieta, Eibar, and Alaves.”
The manager was then asked about what he learned in his year in charge of CD Basconia. Above everything else, Etxeberria says that knowing how to communicate with each player was most valuable thing he took away from the experience.
“The demand was greater with an extremely young team. You learn to live with the players, regardless of their age. Every footballer is different so you cannot speak to everyone the same way. There are some that need more affection and some need more of a whip. Was I disappointed to not get the Bilbao Athletic coaching job? Not at all. Obviously I would have liked it, but it wasn’t a disappointment. Since I started in Lezama at the Cadet level I have been climbing slowly. As a coach you have to keep climbing to improve.”
That coaching vacancy was filled by Gaizka Garitano, who Etxeberria says was a great signing for the club. He also took the time to praise Ander Alana who took over his role at Basconia.
“I know that he [Garitano] has very clear ideas on how to play and train. He is a very successful signing for the club. Alana will be good for Baconia. Both he and Tiko have been with the 2000 generation which is great. In the Tercera there will be a new requirement and demand, but he is a calm coach and analyzes everything very well.”
Etxeberria went on to explain that he discussed the opportunity to coach Amorebieta with Athletic President Josu Urrutia who thought it would be a great chance for him. Once the season is over, Etxeberria will return to Athletic.
“I spoke with President Urrutia and I told him the possibility that I had. He saw it as a very good opportunity and next season I will return with a year of coaching experience in a superior league.”
In closing, Etxeberria discussed several players. He praised young strikers Asier Villalibre and Inigo Vicente, while also saying that the club should always look at Lezama first when needing to upgrade the first team. Athletic’s interest in Alex Berenguer has been seen by some as unnecessary, and Etxeberria wonders if the club would be pushing as hard to sign Lezama standout Inigo Cordoba if he were at Osasuna.
“Villalibre and Vicente are two great strikers, but they are very different. I’ve got to see them in the training process and I hope to see them at the San Mames. After coaching them both I know that they can work together because at the youth level they played together and understood each other very well. Our main source of additions at Athletic should come from Lezama and Bilbao Athletic, although it is important to be alert of what is on the market. Would Inigo Cordoba be wanted if he was at Osasuna? Maybe. You always want what you don’t have.”
Etxeberria’s situation is odd to say the least. In short, he has been loaned to coach Amorebieta which is practically unheard of in today’s game. However, it will give him the chance to continue growing as a manager and test himself against a higher level of football. As of now there is no word on what the future will hold when he returns to Athletic next season, but he is clearly taking the right steps to achieve his dream of one day coaching at the San Mames.