Iago Herrerín “Right Now Every Game Must Be Treated As A Final”
Earlier this season Iago Herrerín was called on to make saves several times in every match. Athletic’s struggles at the back led to many chances and the goalkeeper struggled to keep opponents from scoring. Now, under Gaizka Garitano, the defense has been stronger and the results are clearly seen. The Basques have earned three straight clean sheets and Herrerín told reporters on Wednesday that the team is just trying to focus on the basics.
“The team is stronger in defense. In this sense, it has changed with respect to Eduardo. The style and composition is different, with more order and strength from the defense. Order comes from holding on to our zone and not going crazy with too much pressure. There is no team that can press for a full 90 minutes. We prefer to play a game that isn’t pretty and get a point than to try to play a pretty game and concede four goals. We have to simplify things. From there we will try to play better football.”
Herrerín said that he didn’t feel tension despite the poor run of 13 consecutive league games without a win, but he was definitely aware of the issues. Despite beating Girona and picking up a valuable point against Alavés, the keeper firmly stated that the team is still in the relegation zone and every game should be treated like a final at this point.
“There wasn’t tension before, but the results weren’t coming. Now we are better but we can’t think that we’ve done anything. We are still in the relegation zone although the win against Girona has helped us a lot. The match against Girona was very important for our mood and the fans. Right now every game must be treated as a final. We have to be realistic. We are in a moment of emergency and we have to win and then look up.”
The appointment of Garitano has seen Athletic change the style of play that was used under Eduardo Berizzo. Herrerín admitted that the best thing about the new manager is that Garitano has clear ideas and knows the players well. The results seem to suggest that the Lions are playing much better football. The keeper is hoping that fans will respond by filling the San Mamés on Saturday when Athletic host Real Valladolid.
“Football is about results, not so much style. If you play a style and get 5th or 6th with it why are you going to change it? What we are most fond of with Garitano is that he has very clear ideas. He knows what he wants from the first minutes and knows us well too. The fans have always responded in both critical moments and at our best. On Saturday I’m sure there will be a full San Mamés for the match. Valladolid are having a great seasons. They are a tough and dangerous team in attack. We can’t just focus on them, we have to focus on ourselves.”
In closing, Herrerín was asked about his relationship with Unai Simón who is also competing for minutes this season. He said that they talk regularly and that whoever starts will have the support of the other. The most important thing right now is that Athletic have gotten three straight clean sheets.
“The Mister is the one who chooses the goalkeepers. Unai is great and if he plays I will encourage him as always and if I play, he will do the same. Unai and I have talked about it. In the last few games we haven’t had many shots. The important thing was to get clean sheets. It wasn’t an easy week when Berizzo was dismissed. The only people responsibility for the loss of the coach are the players. Besides, Eduardo and I had a good relationship.”
Barring any unforeseen changes Iago Herrerín will start in goal for Saturday’s match against Real Valladolid. If Athletic are able to pull off another big win it could be enough to bring the Basques out of the relegation zone where they can then set their sights on higher places in the La Liga table.