Gaizka Garitano “Athletic Is A Family”
“For us, it’s a very big day” President Aitor Elizegi opened during Friday’s presentation. The club was formally presenting Gaizka Garitano as the manager for next season after the Mister signed a contract renewal the day before. “We dreamed of this 100 days ago. Gaizka has been our bet since day one.”
The President would go on to explain that he has the utmost confidence in Garitano’s ability to lead the team. “The most precious thing that this club has is the first team and we decided to leave it in the hands of a group that I consider to be at home and with the ability to bet on them this season” he stated. “They deserve to enjoy it, to have a quiet summer and prepare. I hope this is the beginning of a long relationship. Gaizka is one of our people and he has a close philosophical circle around the bench.”
It was then the Sporting Director’s turn to speak. Rafa Alkorta echoed the understanding that it was a great day for the club and praised Garitano for the fine work he’s done since taking over as the manager back on 4 December. Since then Athletic boasts the 4th best record in La Liga.
“As the Sporting Director, this is a great day. I knew that betting on Gaizka would be good and we’ve been looking forward to this day. Gaizka has done a spectacular job. Apart from his personal ties, I am happy with his work at Athletic. He is a good coach and has a good team. That’s why things are going well. If the work and the staff remain the same, the goal is to qualify for Europe and the team is ready to do it.”
When the attention turned to Garitano, the Mister was quick to thank the club. From being entrusted with the team during a difficult time to be rewarded with a new contract he’s very excited to continue coaching next season. Garitano also wasn’t put off by only being offered a one-year renewal. He understands the way things unfolded with Kuko Ziganda and Eduardo Berizzo.
“Today is a day for thanks. The truth is that I’m grateful for the confidence that the club has given me, to take over during one of the most difficult situations in the history of the club and for now being able to continue as the manager for another year. We have achieved the goal and I’m happy to coach another year. The club offered me a year and I see that as normal based on the latest experiences at Athletic. The credibility of a coach is very short and every day you have to show that you are valid. Hopefully, we will be here longer. From the first day they called me I was very optimistic. When you know someone you have confidence in them. I’m satisfied with the recognition that I have.”
From day one Garitano has always put the club first. He’s renewal had actually been agreed for over a week but he decided to wait on the announcement in order to not cause a distraction. The manager celebrated the family aspect of Athletic and made it clear that everyone has to work together to achieve good things.
“I will always prioritize the club. Everyone here thinks more about the club than ourselves. The team that I work with and everyone who works in Lezama is a family. Thanks to everyone Athletic is what it is as a club. This club is a family. This is a place where everyone is going in the same direction. We all have to go in the same direction. What can be a weakness seen by others can be a strength. It’s difficult to find a coaching staff that knows the club like this.”
While everyone is singing the praises of Garitano for turning the season around the manager put the spotlight back on the players. He took the time to celebrate the squad that he has at his disposal and share how happy it makes him to see the team doing well and enjoying football.
“The players have had a very high level of performance and thanks to them we are where we are. We have very good players and everyone is committed to Atheltic. It’s a very healthy squad and the players are the ones who have turned the situation around. I’m in this world of football because I like it and seeing the player happy at critical moments makes you happy as well.”
Now that Garitano’s renewal is finalized the club will begin working on the preparations for next season. The Mister and Alkorta will address contracts, potential transfers, and decide what the squad should look like this summer. In the meantime, Garitano still wants to put all of his focus on the eight remaining games this season in hopes of qualifying for Europe.
“Starting today we will sit down to talk about all the cases of the squad and the preseason, but there are still goals to be achieved and that’s what we have to focus on now. We aren’t thinking so much about next year. Right now in my head there’s only Getafe. Now that we have left the bottom we have to take advantage of the opportunity that has been presented to us. There are eight games left and that’s what we have to focus on.”
Gaizka Garitano made his name with Eibar where he brought the club from the Segunda B all the way to the top flight. He didn’t last long in La Liga and also went through disappointing spells with Real Valladolid and Deportivo. “Impatience is measured in bad times, not in good times” he explained about his past failures. “I hope the bad times don’t come. I’m grateful for how the fans have pushed us. That’s what we’re going to need. I’m not a dreamer. I like to live experiences and I’m living it to the fullest right now. I came to train Bilbao Athletic and if I had to continue doing that I would have done so.” There’s no denying that Garitano has been a massive success at Athletic and he hopes that continues for many years to come.