Iker Muniain “As Long As I Am Able To Help The Team I Don’t Care About A Specific Position”
Athletic will play their second Basque Derby of the season on Sunday as they welcome Alavés to San Mamés. Through the opening four games the Lions have secured eight points and will look to keep pace at the top of the table with another important win at home. Captain Iker Muniain addressed the media following Friday’s training session and highlighted the Alavés defense as something that will make the game difficult.
“We look forward to every Derby because these are always special games. Alavés is a solid team, very strong defensively and they close down passing lanes well. They attack directly and that pays off. They don’t concede many goals. We have had a great start to the season. We’ve won everything at home and we’ve drawn away against difficult opponents. We want to continue with this dynamic on Sunday.”
Muniain has been playing on the right wing as part of Gaizka Garitano’s intense, pressuring system and many have questioned if that’s the best place for the 26-year-old. When asked about it, Muniain quickly pointed out that he really doesn’t care where he plays as long as he is able to help the team.
“Where I want to be is on the field, wherever the coach says and where he thinks I can contribute the most to the team. As long as I am able to help the team I don’t care about a specific position. Wherever I play I will try to help and do things well to win games. I try to do the best for the team. Many times things go well and sometimes they go badly. This is a team sport so the pieces have to fit for everything to go well. You always have to make yourself available to the team and show the ability to play. I feel comfortable, I’m contributing and doing what the Mister asks me. I’m proud to help the team.”
The atmosphere at San Mamés has been incredible this season even though the Grada de Animación has yet to be introduce. Muniain admitted that he doesn’t know what will happen with the Grada but that he is always in favor of a supportive atmosphere. The most important thing is unity between the fans and players.
“There’s been a lot of talk about it, but I don’t know what will happen. What everyone wants is for the team to do well. It’s nice that there is a good atmosphere at San Mamés. I’m in favor of creating an even bigger environment. When the team isn’t doing well the mood drops. We are coming from a season that wasn’t good and we didn’t start well. That affects people, although it’s true that the fans supported us during bad times. When things are going well it’s better for everyone.”
Athletic have been one of the strongest teams in La Liga since Garitano took over as manager last season. “We trust our style”, said Muniain who praised the team’s defensive strength. “I would sign up right now to win every match 1-0. You have to value what we are doing.” A win on Sunday could see Athletic move to the top of the table depending on other results around the league.