Mikel San José “Garitano Has Proven That He Should Continue As The Manager”
Mikel San José has taken on a more important role in the Athletic team since Gaizka Garitano became the manager a few months ago. The midfielder has featured as a vital substitute, a starter, as well as playing more offensively at times and has done well no matter what he’s been asked to do. In a recent interview with Oye Como Va of Radio Popular the Lezama product stated that he believes Garitano has earned a new contract.
“Coaches have a lot of merit when they get the best out of a team. When things weren’t going well it was more our fault as the players. Gaizka is getting a better performance out of the team. That has to be acknowledged. As for the numbers, the sensations that the team gives, and the connection with the fans, I think Garitano has proven that he should continue at the manager. It’s not my place to get into that, but I think he has shown merit for it.”
Speaking about Garitano, San José highlighted the manager’s methodical approach to preparing for games. He may not be as relaxed as his assistant coach, but he does a great job of relating to the players.
“We prepare for every match many days in advance, but the Mister always says that the most important thing is ourselves. He’s quite methodical. Garitano is more serious than Patxi (Ferreira), but he is also very kind and a very normal person. The fact that he was a footballer helps him connect with the players.”
In Garitano’s system the Athletic defense has become one of the best in La Liga. The team isn’t taking unnecessary risk and have found a great rhythm that has resulted in several clean sheets. San José believes that there is a lot that can be improved, but he’s excited about where the team is now.
“We don’t want to risk too much, although this doesn’t mean that we don’t want to have the ball. It’s clear that matches are won in the final thirds. In the end, the most important thing are these areas of the field, and that is where we have based our game. Now we are more solid, more organized as a team. We have gone from conceding a lot of goals to allowing very few. That is a big part of the success we are having. There is still a lot to improve. We are not getting enough good chance or creating as much as we should. It has hurt us. Things can go even better if we improve in that area.”
Back when Athletic were struggling in their battle against relegation San José constantly said that he didn’t believe it would last very long. “I never had the feeling that this year would be like the Black Biennium, where it took until the final days of the season to achieve safety”, he told Radio Popular. “The league is very tight and at the time I knew that winning a game would help relaunch us a little which is what happened.” The 29-year-old was right to be so optimistic and now the Basques are in the conversation for European qualification.