Julen Guerrero “Athletic Have To Set Important Goals”
The departures of Markel Susaeta, Ander Iturraspe, and Mikel Rico will bring about a new era at Athletic. This summer six players from Bilbao Athletic have been called up to train with the first team and all of them will be hoping to earn their place at San Mamés. Club legend Julen Guerrero recently spoke with Javier Beltrán of AS about the situation and believes that it was time for changes.
“The departures of Iturraspe, Susaeta, and Mikel Rico are steps that had to be taken. It’s the law of life at Athletic, as it happened when I made my debut. I remember debuting in 1992 when several of us came up from below. By coming up we took places in the team. Athletic can decide and dare to promote six kids out of necessity and conviction.”
Now is the time for younger players to step up and Guerrero thinks a few may be ready. “They had a good season with Bilbao Athletic”, he said in reference to the six who will train with the first team. “It’s a difficult step and moving up changes everything. These are steps that must be taken and we will see who has the most opportunities.”
Every team faces periods of transitions and that could be what Athletic are facing this summer. It will be up to the manager to decide whether or not the young players are ready to compete and for that to happen they must be given the opportunity.
“I think we should be aware that there will be seasons in which you may not be able to finish as high as you hope. There are also times of transitions. There are a few kids who will spend the preseason with the first team and who can say that they won’t convince. They have to take the time to assimilate to the Primera and they may have room in the team.”
Reflecting on last season, Guerrero admitted that it was a difficult year. The Lions were able to turn things around but failed to qualify for Europe. The club legend made it clear that goals must be set each campaign and that it’s unrealistic to expect the team not to face competition for the top seven.
“Last season was a shame. It should serve as a warning to Athletic. It’s true that the team made a great effort to get out of a complicated situation, but there were many months of suffering. When you leave that situation you also feel relief. I think the important thing is to start next season well. Athletic have to set important goals. Fighting for a place in Europe is difficult. There are more and more teams who are healthy, financially strong, and have good squads. We saw it last season, every team can compete.”
In closing, Guerrero is excited about the future of Athletic. Joseba Etxeberria and Patxi Salinas will manage Bilbao Athletic and Basconia next season which means they will be in charge of preparing the next generation of players.
“Joseba and Patxi are two former players that I know well. They are returning home. Bilbao Athletic and Basconia are very important teams within the club and they have an important job. It’s a nice challenge and, at the same time, a lot of responsibility. They have the next Lions in their hands.” The new era of Athletic is about to begin.