Athletic Club knew going into Saturday’s game against Celta Vigo that they needed all three points to have a realistic chance at competing for the seventh place spot in the La Liga table. The Lions dominated from the start and scored a goal in the 55th minute, but as the game continued they began to sit back in defense and it cost them in the form of a stoppage time equalizer. There were also some questionable decisions by the officials, but manager Kuko Ziganda refused to discuss the referees after the game.
“I’m not going to take about the referees. It hasn’t been an easy year in any aspect. We have been unlucky in a lot of ways, but we respect the officials. We know what we signed up for and that’s it. Mathematically there is still a chance and we will believe in that as long as it exists. We have to go with everything we have. If we play against Villarreal like we did today then we are confident. This team does not give up and wants to achieve things. We will fight until the end of the year.”
Ziganda went on to say that the game was Athletic’s until the final ten minutes. Many fans have blamed the coach for moving into a more defensive style of play following their goal, but he claims that it was due to fatigue rather than wanting to simply hold the lead and kill the game.
“For eighty minutes the game was ours. Of the games I’ve studied on Celta today they had less possession. The effort has been brutal and we tried to do good things. It is true that in the last ten minutes we were very tired. Every bit of effort was squeezed out of each player and fatigue began to show up. It is normal that a team cannot play the whole game in the opponent’s side of the field because they will send players into your area and take risks. You have to be able to defend yourself, but I think this was more of an issue of fatigue.”
Rumors continue to swirl regarding a coaching change at Athletic this summer, but Ziganda stated that he has not been told anything about his future. He is solely focused on the next game and helping the Lions continue to fight to make up the eight points that separate them from European qualification.
“No, I haven’t been told what will happen this summer. I do not read or listen to anything in the media. I have my office at Lezama and I am at ease preparing for each game that is coming. I am aware of the situation that I am in, but my desire is to prepare for the next game against Villarreal.”
Fans were not happy after the late equalizer and have come out to blame the coach for how the team changed their tactics in the final 20 minutes. Some have already voiced their displeasure with Ziganda blaming it on fatigue despite the players having two weeks off for the international break. The fans are not happy and with eight games remaining in the season many are already looking forward to the summer and some big changes.