Dani García “We All Know What Matches Are Like In Vitoria”
Dani García has returned to Athletic’s starting lineup with the appointment of manager Gaizka Garitano and the midfielder has played at a very high level. He’s had a big role in the team’s two wins under the new manager and is now hoping to continue to build on the momentum. While several teammates were unable to watch Aritz Aduriz’s stoppage time penalty against Girona, García told Fuera de Juego that he was positive that the striker would score the winning goal.
“I had full confidence in Aduriz when he was taking the penalty. If I had to choose anyone to take the shot it would be him because he is so calm. I watched the penalty and Muniain saw in my face that I was going to celebrate. I didn’t think he was going to take it the way he did. Although we won against Girona we want to string together a couple of victories to make things look better. We have been playing finals since we got into this situation.”
Garitano and García have worked together before. The manager and midfielder helped lead Eibar from the Segunda B to the Primera and became very close on a personal level. Now that they are back together García admitted that they must keep their friendship at a distance and says that Garitano hasn’t treated him any differently than anyone else in the team.
“Garitano doesn’t want us to take a lot of risks, only in the opposite field. Above all, he wants to have a defensive order. Berizzo asked us for more combinations with the ball. Gaizka Garitano and I are friends, but now we must maintain a distance of respect. I don’t think it’s good having the coach as a friend for him or for me. We must have a different relationship than we had in the past. The things that Garitano has talked to me about are the same things he’s talked to everyone else about. I don’t think putting us in the starting lineup has been based on the past.”
Speaking managers, García made it clear that Eduardo Berizzo did everything possible in hopes of fixing Athletic’s situation in the league. The midfielder said that the squad must accept part of the blame because they struggled on the field while also admitting that he wasn’t performing as well as others over the last few games before Garitano was promoted.
“Berizzo gave everything, but if the players do not give the performances that they are expected it will cost the whole team. I don’t think Berizzo lost confidence in me, there were players who were doing better than me. Maybe I wasn’t playing at the same level as the beginning of the season. I accepted the role I played and I tried to help in the ways that I could.”
Like several of his teammates, García said that it was hard to see Berizzo dismissed from the club. The players had faith in the Argentine and had grown close to the manager. The team felt as though they could win every game, but it just didn’t happen and bad luck also made things even more difficult.
“The dismissal of Berizzo has been very painful. We believed in him to the death and we were very close on a personal level. For us it has been painful, a trauma. I hope that, despite the bad results, he will leave a good memory here. We thought we could beat anyone, but we just weren’t able to win. We’ve been very bad. There was a time when the team lost the spark, it was more bad luck than football issues. In the end it cost a coaching staff that had given everything.”
This year has already been a learning experience for Dani García who is no longer a Captain like he was at Eibar. “It’s different going from being a Captain and then not being one”, he told Fuera de Juego on Thursday night’s radio show, “but I am talkative and from the first day I have been integrated into the team. I talk a lot but I know when I should be more silent. It feels different playing without the armband because at Eibar it was mine.”
When asked about Athletic drawing Sevilla in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 García highlighted the importance of the first game. “We will have to get a good result at the San Mamés to bring an advantage to Sevilla, which we all know is a difficult place to play. Sevilla are playing at a very high level.” Both legs will be played in January, but for right now the midfielder is only focused on Monday’s La Liga match against Alavés.
“We know what the matches are like in Vitoria”, he said. “Alavés are doing well. They are in great form, with defensive solidity and offensive players that give them a lot.” The Basque Derby will be Garitano’s toughest test yet as Athletic manager, but a positive result could see the Zurigorri finally climb back out of the relegation zone.