Gaizka Garitano “We Need To Win To Get Back To Who We Are”
Gaizka Garitano has been entrusted with the difficult task of leading Athletic out of the relegation zone. The new manager oversaw his first training session on Wednesday, followed by a press conference ahead of tomorrow’s Copa del Rey match against Huesca. Garitano showed obvious excitement about facing the challenge and said that the team will have to work daily to improve.
“The first day is always special and I’m happy. I knew some of the players already and had trained others before. I have enthusiasm, desire, and energy. I want to transit desire to work and it’s a beautiful and difficult challenge. We will face it. There are no miracles or magic recipes. We have to work daily and we play with the same illusion as always, as if we are at the top of the table, in order to continue. I don’t see this as a problem, I see it as an opportunity. I’m happy to be here and do my job and I will try to do my best.”
When discussing the process of taking over for Eduardo Berizzo, Garitano said everything happened as normally as possible. He was approached by the club about becoming the first team manager and said that he didn’t have any doubts about accepting the offer.
“It was a normal process. I took the call and we met in the afternoon. It’s just the way things are. At no time have I had any doubts about taking on this responsibility. They spoke with Eduardo Tuesday morning and told him that he would not continue. At noon I was asked if I was willing to take the team and I said yes. We met in the afternoon and everything was normal.”
Garitano recognizes that the situation is different due to the Presidential elections which will take place in December. He says that he is at the expense of the club and comes with some new ideas, although he didn’t want to talk about them publicly out of respect for Berizzo.
“This is a new situation because of the elections. All of those who work at the club, including myself, will be at the expense of what the clubs needs. I have a lot of respect for Eduardo and for the work done before. I come with my own strategy and some changes in mind. To be honest, there isn’t really time to create a new strategy. We will work day after day with the focus of winning. I don’t want to talk about those things publicly and how I compare out of the respect that I have for Eduardo.”
Turning his attention to the team, Garitano said that the players are doing well and he’s looking to inject some new energy and desire into the squad. At the end of the day Athletic have to win games to get back to being the club that they are expected to be every season.
“The players are well. They know what it is to lose and get back up. It’s the routine for a footballer. In difficult times you have to work hard and move forward. We have to play football without stress, except for the standings alone. Football is a dynamic sport and we can’t made a drama out of it. We have to play to win. We need to win to get back to who we are. We must prepare to win each win, with the players we have, with the sole intention of winning.”
The new manager’s first squad list wasn’t all that different from Berizzo’s. Iñigo Córdoba retuned to the list in place of the injured Cristian Ganea, while Gorka Guruzeta was left out. Garitano revealed that Guruzeta is dealing with an injury and wasn’t able to train on Wednesday. He also highlighted the addition of physical trainer Juan Iribarren who has joined the coaching staff.
“Guruzeta is injured and wasn’t able to train today. I know Peru well because I have coached him and he can play both center-back and midfield. Ander Iturraspe hasn’t had many minutes this season but he is another option for us. We will choose each week the most appropriate squad for each game. Juan Iribarren, our new physical trainer, has spent 15 years with Javier Aguirre. He’s had a long career with experience with teams in the Primera and abroad.”
In closing, Garitano made it clear that he is focused on Thursday’s match, but also has one eye on Monday’s La Liga fixture against Girona. However, Wednesday’s training session was in preparation to play again Huesca because the round isn’t over yet despite Athletic’s 4-0 lead from the first leg.
“Tomorrow’s game has a lot of relevance, but we must also keep in mind that on Monday we will also play a very important game. We have to keep an eye on Monday and manage our strength. Today we trained with the players with the focus on tomorrow’s match. The round is not decided.”
The dismissal of Eduardo Berizzo and promotion of Gaizka Garitano has left fans excited and hopeful. Athletic are currently planted firmly in the relegation zone and the new manager’s ultimate goal is to help save the club from the drop. All eyes will be fixed on his first match on the sidelines with the team needing a win to advance to the next round of the Copa del Rey and start building confidence.