Iñigo Martinez “Talking About A Crisis At This Point Is Unnecessary”
Over the past two years Iñigo Martinez has established himself as one of the premier center-backs in La Liga. The former Real Sociedad captain has formed a sensational pairing with Yeray which has seen Athletic become a dominant defensive side, but results haven’t been great as of late. The Lions have gone four straight games without a win and Martinez knows that turning things around has become the top priority.
“We don’t like this dynamic”, the defender said on Fuera de Juego Wednesday night. “There are always good and not so good matches, but it’s been difficult for us away from home. Talking about a crisis at this point is unnecessary. Things are not going as we would like, that’s quite clear. So we must work even more and not lose confidence. We must be united.”
Winning is the only thing that will right the ship for the Basques. Martinez went on to admit that the team has struggled to score goals and must do a better job of extending their lead when scoring first to ensure victories.
“What we have to do is win as soon as possible to get out of this pothole we are in to get back to that feeling of being a strong and solid team. Every time we start winning we take a step backwards. We would be better off if we have more of the ball and go for the second goal, although it’s hard for us to score goals. We go out to win and do the same thing we do at home, press high and set the pace of the game. Doing a little more on our part could change things and that’s what we want to do.”
After Athletic’s impressive start to the season Martinez remarked that the team can be much better than the recent results. The defender doesn’t understand the criticism directed at Gaizka Garitano during the winless streak and made it clear that the team has full confidence in the Mister.
“We all know that Athletic can play better and that’s what we are working on. The team is with the coach and the coach is with us. It’s not fair to criticize the coach for the style of play after the way we spent the first part of last season. He came and we had a terrific turnaround. Starting to criticize him now makes no sense.”
In the end, it doesn’t matter what style of football a team plays. Winning games and adding points is the only priority and Martinez is certain that the team will start scoring more goals.
“You can have a good game or bad game, what counts are the points. What matters is who gets the points and who doesn’t. We aren’t scoring many goals, but we have plenty of players who can score them. The goals will come. I have no doubt that our strikers will score many goals this season.”
With the future of Unai Núñez quickly becoming the biggest topic in Bilbao, Martinez was asked about his teammate’s lack of minutes this season. It’s never easy to go without player but Martinez is sure that chances will come for Núñez in the matches ahead.
“It’s a situation nobody likes to be in. We try to be happy and keep proving ourselves. We are teammates and, above all, people. There are good vibes between us. He must continue working hard. The coach hasn’t given him many chances because he’s counting on Yeray and myself, but I have no doubt that Unai will have opportunities to play. Every time he has played he has been wonderful.”
There’s no denying the sensational defensive performances from Athletic over the past year. “The strongest thing about us is our defense”, Martinez said confidently. “We are working hard in that direction. It’s not only the work of the four at the back, but the entire team. We are a committed and unified team.” The Zurigorri will have to put in a full team effort on Saturday if they are going to topple Atlético Madrid and bring points back home to Bilbao.