Athletic Club President Josu Urrutia gave a regular press conference on Friday to discuss the state of the club and potential decisions moving forward. Understandably, he was immediately asked about expected coaching changes in the summer, but he was quick to state that decisions will be made when the time is right. He likened this season to the second year under Marcelo Bielsa, but also seemed to drop a hint by saying that contracts aren’t a guarantee. Kuko Ziganda still has one year left on his current contract.
“There will come a time to make decisions. When that time comes we will make those decisions with consistency as we have always done. There are similarities to the second year of Bielsa. We were eliminated from the Copa del Rey by a Segunda B team and in the League things were even worse. We had fewer points and were battling relegation. We have to analyze the situation to make the best decision. Contracts do not give guarantees in today’s football. Joseba Etxeberria? He is always close to Athletic.”
Urrutia went on to say that there have only been two disappointing seasons over the last seven years, which he sees as a success. The fans may not be happy with how those two years went, but the President admitted that staying great for a long time is extremely difficult to achieve in today’s game.
“In seven years we have had five that have been very good and two that haven’t. I think everyone would sign up to repeat these last seven years again. If we review the history of this team it is strange to have five good years out of seven. Being constantly great doesn’t happen and won’t happen in any area of life. But I think any of us would sign up for these seven years agin. I spent 16 years in the first team and now as President and the reality is that it isn’t usual to always be in Europe or playing in finals.”
In closing, Urrutia touched on the fans of Athletic who have been quick to voice their displeasure with how the season has gone. He admitted that he understands, but also valued the fact that they will stand behind the club and players even in the bad times. The players are human and need support, especially when things aren’t going well like this season.
“The fans have shown their disappointment in the form of whistles or banners, such as the match against Marseille. I understand their frustration. The fans want to be connected to the team and feel valued. What we have achieved these years is that the fans can be with the team even in the bad moments. The players are not machines, they are human and they are all in different types of circumstances. They need the support. This year there have been many circumstances such as injuries. Players like Kepa, De Marcos, Beñat, Muniain, and Yeray missed several months and were starters last year.”
As of right now, even though the President isn’t addressing it, it looks certain that Kuko Ziganda will be relieved of his duties when the season ends. Argentine Eduardo Berizzo is the heavy favorite to take over and reports suggest that he is already deep in negotiations with the Basque giants. For now the Lions will continue to fight for seventh place as they currently trail by ten points with eight games remaining on the calendar.