Ibai Gómez Praises The Atmosphere At San Mamés And Defends Markel Susaeta
Ibai Gómez is happy to be back at Athletic after spending two and a half impressive years with Alavés. On Thursday night the winger joined Radio Nervion’s Bilbosport for an interview where he covered several topics. To begin with, he mentioned that fans have to understand that Athletic has always been the club he has supported, but now he also has affection for Alavés.
“I’m the same as when I was with Alavés and while I was there I never hid that Athletic was my life-long team. Now I can also say with a clear conscience that I love Alavés. When we get angry with these kinds of things it’s because we put on our scarves and we stop being objective. I recommend that everyone go to a game at Mendizorrotza. It’s a spectacular stadium with incredible fans.”
Gómez really missed seeing the special atmosphere at San Mamés which went missing last year during the reign of manager Kuko Ziganda. He says that the magic is back at the Cathedral and that it helps the players with confidence. Having the support of the fans can never be understated.
“I haven’t missed hardly any Athletic matches the last few seasons and I missed seeing the San Mamés the way it is now again. The atmosphere is something vital for the players on the field. You miss a pass and you feel the fans love you. For the players, that gives incredible confidence. San Mamés is very important for us, but when it isn’t good the fault is ours. We are guilty as players when we don’t give the fans joy. This has always been a family club and there have been times where there has been a lot of estrangement. It’s important that the club, the fans, and the players are all one.”
Today Gómez is battling Markel Susaeta for the starting role on the right wing. Despite the competition, he still has a lot of reverence for the Captain who has made over 500 appearances for Athletic. Gómez also admitted that not having Ariz Aduriz available over the past few months has hurt Athletic, just like losing the top scorer would be difficult for any team.
“I have always been a defender of Susaeta. He is one of the most undervalued players I have ever seen in football. How many assists has he given? Why does every coach continue to use him? I admire him very much because he has received a lot of criticism and has never hidden on the field. When we are talking about Aduriz we are talking about one of the best forwards that this league has seen in recent years. Ask Madrid if they miss Cristiano. Football is about scoring goals. Williams is doing a wonderful job and Kenan, when he has played, has done well. Raúl is scoring many goals for us, but that doesn’t mean that a player like Aduriz isn’t missed.”
In closing, Gómez praised Gaizka Garitano’s system which has gotten the best out of the players. He says that Eduardo Berizzo wasn’t a bad manager, but his style of football just didn’t fit the team. The Lions will go through good times and bad times, but over the winger believes that Athletic have proven themselves under Garitano.
“Berizzo’s plan didn’t work, but not because he’s a bad coach. What he did with Celta was spectacular. There are no better or worse coaches, just coaches who have better systems for the players they have. This Athletic team is better suited to Gaizka style. The dynamic since Gaizka took over is remarkable. That is seen in the results. You see yourself climbing, but then you lose in Valencia and draw with Espanyol. Still, what stands out is that Athletic is a compact team that competes against everyone. We all have better and worse days. What you have to look at is the overall aspect and the team is growing.”
On Saturday Athletic will host Atlético Madrid at San Mamés which will bring another night of fantastic atmosphere. The Zurigorri know just how hard it will be to take a good result against their opponents, but Ibai Gómez and others are full of confidence. Garitano has been putting together the gameplan over the past few days and Athletic are ready for a fight.