Ibai Gómez “The Loss At Mestalla Shouldn’t Obscure How Well This Team Has Done”
Ibai Gómez was back in the starting lineup Sunday as Athletic fell 2-0 to Valencia. The winger didn’t have his best game and he joined the Fuera De Juego radio show on Monday night to discuss the loss. He admitted that it was a bad result and that the team has to respond better when conceding the first goal.
“Defeats are painful, but there’s no time to be sad. I don’t think it was a step backwards. Rodrigo’s goal changed the game, although we lacked rhythm in attack. When the opponent goes ahead on the scoreboard we must be more calm. Games are long. There is time and we shouldn’t open ourselves up too much.”
Despite the defeat, Athletic are already looking ahead to Friday’s match against Espanyol. The goal is to take all three points and to do that the Lions have to continue playing they same way they have been over the past few weeks.
“The goal is to win on Friday against Espanyol. From there we will see what we are able to compete for moving forward. We know that we have to continue doing the things that have led us to control matches. The loss at Mestalla shouldn’t obscure how well this team has done.”
Since returning to Athletic, Gómez hasn’t played at the same level that he did while at Alavés. He knows that he is being criticized because of the expectations that he now carries. Handling that criticism is much easier than when he was younger, but he’s still not paying attention to attacks that some fans make.
“Criticisms come as a result of your performances. If you generate low expectations, the criticisms are minor and it’s true the other way. We have to accept it. The criticism doesn’t hurt me because I think that’s one of the areas in which I have grown the most. If this was four or five years ago it would hurt me much more. I don’t lose a second thinking about the destructive criticism or disrespect. It’s not worth it.”
Struggles aside, Gómez is proud of how hard he’s worked since coming back to Athletic. He’s happy to be at his boyhood club and is even glad for the constructive criticism that helps him improve. He doesn’t take any of it home, although he admitted that he still plans to be active on social media.
“I’m very calm. I’m proud of how I work, what I’m doing, and I’m very happy where I am. I’m grateful to the people who support me, advise me, and give me constructive criticism. I make it very easy for fans to criticize me because they know I read it. I am criticized on social networks but I like to talk to the people, be close, respond, and receive that constructive criticism. I won’t change. I will get better and worse, but these things don’t bother me at home. Before being a footballer I am a person. I think and I post to social networks what I want in every moment.”
One of the reasons Gómez hasn’t played every single week is because there is a lot of competition at his position. He knew that when he made the decision to return. Of course, he wants to enjoy more minutes, but he’s going to do so while working hard and staying calm.
“When I returned to Athletic I knew the team that I was coming into. Córdoba, Muniain, Williams, De Marcos, Raúl García…They’re players of the highest level. I did’t come expecting to play 90 minutes in every match. It’s clear that I came to contribute and that’s my mentality, although I’m not satisfied with how much I’m playing. I am at my team, at my home. I’m working 200% and with a very quiet conscience.”
Athletic have put themselves in the discussion for European qualification over the past two months, but they refuse to talk about that right now. At the same time, Alavés are currently in the top four and Ibai Gómez wishes the best for his former club. “I’d like to see Alavés in Europe next year”, he said. “I’m always going to wish them the best. I follow them and that will never change.” The 29-year-old will always have a soft spot for Alavés, but right now his goal is helping Athletic be the best team possible.