Talking Athletic Club With Nika Cuenca
Inside Athletic had the honor of speaking with Nika Cuenca of FiebreRojiblanca.com where we discussed new manager Eduardo Berizzo, the goalkeeper situation, and which players from Bilbao Athletic could earn a place in the first team. Be sure to follow Nika on twitter @NikaCuenca and you should be because he is one of the most reliable sources for Athletic Club news and information. We hope you enjoy this exclusive interview and we want to thank Nika for taking the time to answer our questions and giving his opinions on some important issues.
Many fans quickly blamed Cuco Ziganda for what happened last season. Do you think that is a fair assessment or are there others who should share the blame?
I would say that the responsibility for the bad season can be blamed 60% on Ziganda and 40% on the players. Also, the club should have reinforced the squad.
What do you think of Eduardo Berizzo as the new manager? Was he the right hire or would you rather have seen someone else?
Eduardo Berizzo is a different coach, with hunger, character, and he brings offensive football. I was attracted to the idea of the club signing Thomas Tuchel.
What should the fans expect of Berizzo’s Athletic this season?
For the team to recover the emotion of the game and make the San Mamés a fortress again.
Athletic have already signed Capa, Ganea and Dani García. Who else should they be targeting?
From my point of view, the best signing would be Mikel Oyarzabal. They tried to sign him long against and they should try again.
Right now there is a goalkeeper problem at Athletic with Iago Herrerín and Alex Remiro not willing to be substitutes. How do you think Athletic should handle the situation?
I think that if Remiro wants to continue at Huesca, he should renew his contract first. If he is not willing, then he should return and give that chance to Unai Simón. You could listen to offers for Iago Herrerín but he renewed in January and should have imagined the possibility of Kepa renewing his contract.
Berizzo has called up six Bilbao Athletic players this summer. Which players do you think have the best chance to stay with the first team?
Honestly, I think it will be difficult for anyone to stay with the first team. Andoni López has improved a lot and will have options if Ganea advances in his position. Gorka Guruzeta is a talented goalscorer and could use a loan to the Segunda. Iñigo Vicente must split time between the reserves and the first team. Peru Nolaskoain should remain at Bilbao Athletic, just like Iñigo Muñoz. Simón has the talent to step up, but it would be best if he developed in the Segunda like what happened with Kepa and Remiro.
Do you think that Unai López has done enough in the Segunda to have a place in Berizzo’s team?
Unai López has had a sensational season. I think he may be the revelation of Athletic’s midfield. He has gained reliability and a presence as a player.
Aritz Aduriz is not getting younger. Do you think Iñaki Williams can eventually take his place, or is there someone else?
I don’t see Iñaki Williams as a specific number nine, but more of a secondary striker. For the San Mamés, I see Raúl García as a better fit in that position.
What do you think Athletic needs to achieve next season for it to be classified as a successful year?
The objective is to fight for Europe, but above all make the fans pulse with an offensive game.
The Presidential Elections are coming up next year. In your opinion, who are the best options to run for the position?
The elections will be held before March, but I still think that it isn’t clear who is going to run.