Gaizka Garitano “Being Cautious Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Also Be Ambitious”

Gaizka Garitano

Gaizka Garitano has Athletic back into the top half of the La Liga table (AS)

Athletic’s fantastic run under Gaizka Garitano continued on Saturday in the form of a 1-0 win over Eibar at the San Mamés. The only goal came just 42 seconds into the game when Raúl García finished off a nice play from Yuri Berchiche, but it was enough to secure all three points. After the match the manager praised his team’s ability to control the game.

“We knew that against Eibar one of things that would decide the game were the individual duels on the field. Today we were equal or better than them in those moments. Other than the first 15 minutes of the second half we controlled the game and held them pretty well. These are close matches and no one wins easily, not even Real Madrid or Barcelona. Everything is close this year and putting yourself ahead early is important. We knew that those first 10 minutes were very important and we were lucky to go ahead 1-0 with a good play. It made things easier for us. I’m very happy with the work of the team.”

Garitano went on to highlight the performances of Dani García, Ander Capa, and Yuri Berchiche who all used to play for him at Eibar. He also pointed out the efforts of Iker Muniain who had a good game in a very difficult position against a physical Eibar side.

“Iker Muniain played a good match with and without the ball, especially in front of Peña who is a great player. Dani García and Ander Capa did well against their former teammates, Yuri as well. We have a good defensive balance. Tactically the team is doing well and we are creating chances. If we scored a second goal we would have been more calm, but Eibar is a physical team that forces you to do a lot. If you don’t go into 5th gear they will run over you.”

Celebrate Eibar

Athletic celebrate Raúl García’s goal against Eibar (LaLiga)

While fans are talking about the possibilities of qualifying for Europe more than ever, Garitano still wants none of it. He took the time to point out that being cautious doesn’t mean you can’t also be ambitious, but he prefers to take the season one game at a time instead of setting new goals moving forward.

“No, Europe is not a taboo subject, but understand me here. You have to be cautious, you can’t be arrogant. We have to continue with our weekly game plan. It doesn’t bother me that people have hope for Europe, but that isn’t what I’m talking about or thinking about right now. Being cautious doesn’t mean you can’t also be ambitious. We are a few points from places above us. Caution and ambition can go together. You have to be cautious every game and continue to fight every week, that is what will help us move up the table. Now we will focus on Valencia. We aren’t looking up or down, we are looking forward.”

There has been a lot of talk about extending Garitano’s contract which will expire at the end of the season. Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta has already admitted that the club would like to do it “sooner rather than later”, but also stated that they would wait until the team’s situation in the table was more settled.

“I’m not worried about it”, Garitano said when asked about his contract renewal. “I was promoted from Bilbao Athletic to try to help. We have very good players and fans. The club will decide when the season ends. If we achieve our goals we are at the disposal of the club, but the first thing to do is finish this work that isn’t finished.” Garitano is expected to sign a renewal with Athletic Club, but right now he’s only focused on guiding the team one game at a time.

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