Gaizka Garitano Joins Historic Company With Unbeaten Streak As Athletic Club Manager
When Gaizka Garitano took over as manager of Athletic Club on 4 December his task was clear – win the battle against relegation. At the time the team was in the midst of the worst winless streak in club history and floundering in the drop zone. Garitano was clear in his first press conference that achieving the goal of salvation wouldn’t happen over night. It would be a long process and so far that process is looking very promising.
Under Garitano Athletic have won 5 matches, drawn 3, and lost just once. They’ve already picked up 12 points in league play from 6 games and are now in 14th place and 3 points clear of the relegation zone while also being 3 points off of 8th place. The Basques also boast a +4 goal difference in La Liga over those 6 games which is quite impressive considering that they were -9 when the managerial change was made.
There’s no denying that Garitano has gotten Athletic back on the right track. The team is playing exceptional football and could even enter the discussion of challenging for Europe. Fans are certainly excited and breathing sighs of relief, but the manager isn’t. He’s constantly reminded everyone that nothing has been achieved yet and that the team cannot relax because if they do they could find themselves right back in the relegation zone.
Whatever happens in the months to come Garitano has already joined historic company with his 6 game unbeaten streak in La Liga in his debut. He is now just the fourth manager in club history to achieve the feat. The legendary Fred Pentland was the first to do so back in 1929 when he led the team to an entire unbeaten season and won the double. He had previously coached Athletic from 1921-1925 but returned in 1929 for what was a new debut.
Ferdinand Daucik achieved the feat in the 1954/55 season followed by Howard Kendall in 1987/88. Daucik’s streak lasted a total of 9 games without a loss which is a mark that Garitano would equal if Athletic can face Real Betis, Real Sociedad, and Barcelona without suffering defeat. None of the three upcoming matches will be easy and to be fair Garitano isn’t even thinking about the streak. It’s been an impressive start to his tenure but Garitano is solely focused on taking it one game at a time and continuing to add points and climb the table.