Athletic Club’s disappointing season has not solely been difficult for the fans. The players have also struggled to come to terms with the failures and are trying to make the most of the final nine games of the campaign. It has been an especially hard time for Oscar De Marcos who has had to deal with injuries all year, but he is ready to put those behind him. In an exclusive interview with DEIA, he revealed that everything has been hard but he is no longer suffering from any pain and is ready to move forward.
“The first three months of the season I didn’t play much because of an injury that I suffered in the first game. In January I missed another month. I’ve been asked about my future because of the injuries but I’m 28 years old. The truth is now I have no pain of any kind. When I go out on the field I’m not thinking about physical issues, which is a good thing. It’s been a hard year, the hardest of all that I’ve had at Athletic. The sensations, the atmosphere at the San Mamés, what is happening with results, our form, everything has been hard. The only positive is that it is an experience that we can learn from and recover next year. In the second year of Bielsa it was also complicated. We came from a very good season and then had to avoid relegation, although the margin was closer than this year. Now there is a lot of disappointment because we as players know we haven’t performed our best and haven’t given the fans what they expect.”
The 28-year-old went on to admit that he understands why the coach is the first one to blame for a team’s failures, but insists that the players are just as much to blame. De Marcos has friends and family living in Bilbao so he is astutely aware of how the fans are feeling about things at the club.
“Immediately the coach is blamed because he is the most visible head of everything. In the squad there have been few changes, like Nuñez and Córdoba, who were promoted, and Iñigo Martinez replacing Laporte. That is why you tend to fix your eyes on the coach, but we know that a lot of the fault is ours because in the end we are the ones who go out and play. We know that we are not playing well and that we are not scoring enough goals or creating enough chances. We want to improve over the last nine games to have a better taste in our mouths. I have not experienced anything like it. I have friends and family here in Bilbao and I know what the atmosphere is like. Against Marseille the atmosphere during the match was good but it is also good for fans to be able to express their disagreements. Fans need enthusiasm and that is something created by what the players do on the field.”
Despite the shortcomings this season, De Marcos says that he has complete faith in the team and is looking forward to finishing the final nine games as strong as possible. He also called on younger players to step up, knowing that Aritz Aduriz cannot carry the team forever.
“I trust one hundred percent in this group. For us to compete for Europe there are many factors that have to come together. It is also necessary for the youngsters to step up more and more because Aduriz is not going to be scoring goals for another 5 years and putting the team on his back. I’m not blaming the younger players, I’m just saying they can play a big role. For instance, I have been here for nine seasons and I’m still not in my thirties. Football is cyclical. Sometimes you have to start falling down a bit to start climbing again.”
With all the talk of a coaching change this summer, the right-back admitted that he doesn’t know what is going to happen with the manager or players in the squad. He stated that Athletic is full of hardworking players who will give their all, and right now they need to focus on giving fans something to be excited about for the remainder of the season.
“It isn’t known that there is going to be a change of coach and to change the players you have to bring in others who can step up the performances. The market is what it is, but in football you have to give your best. Most of us have not given our best level and there are still games left to improve. Right now we are focused on winning games and then at the end of the season we will see what happens. In the years I have been in the team, the overall performance has been good. I do not believe we have stars because I have always said that we are a club of hardworking players. Other than perhaps Laporte, who played every game, there is a lot of equality in the squad. We compete and have quality and I think that is one of the characteristics of this team.”
When the international break comes to an end Athletic will host Cela Vigo at the San Mamés and that is the game that everyone is earmarking as the jumping off point for the rest of the season. The Lions are currently eight points off of the final European spot in the table with 27 points left to compete for. It is going to be extremely difficult to qualify for Europe, but it isn’t impossible at this point. De Marcos, like many of his teammates, are calling for Athletic to give everything they have to finish in a better place and give the fans something to be excited about.