Gaizka Garitano “There Needs To Be More Patience”
Throughout Athletic’s five game winless streak, manager Gaizka Garitano was full of confidence. The Mister saw positive things in the performances despite the results and was pleased to finally get an important win on Wednesday as the Lions topped Espanyol 3-0 at San Mamés. After the game, Garitano explained to reporters that he hasn’t been worried about the team and is already looking ahead to the next match.
“In football you need to win because if you don’t, the performance and the sensations don’t matter. If you don’t win you always se the worst, but I think we were good in the games against Valladolid and Atlético. Considering the shortcomings and difficulties we’ve faced, I think the team is fine. Scoring three goals is hard to do and it’s something we needed. We were very effective and our first two goals gave us more confidence. We are happy to break that little bad streak that almost every team usually goes through. Now it’s time to rest and think about Sunday’s game.”
It was clear throughout the match that Garitano had made some adjustments to the lineup. Raúl García played as the striker with Iñaki Williams on the wing and Iker Muniain in midfield. “It’s not the first time we have played with these changes, but this time we did it from the beginning”, Garitano answered when asked about it. “We were looking for speed on the wings, so Unai and Muniain were playing inside with Raúl García up top. We adapted well to the system, which is very important.”
Athletic’s good performance will have fans more calm and confident moving forward, but Iñigo Córdoba was once again subject to criticism. Garitano was quick to defend the winger while sharing that Córdoba offers the team some things that no one else does.
“We have two players for the wing position, such as Córdoba and Ibai. Córdoba played a great game. He’s 22 years old and you have to be patient and let him become a football player. He gives us many thing that are intangible such as pressure, overlapping, and stretching the defense. He’s ours and came from Bilbao Athletic. There needs to be more patience and applause for him.”
Garitano also called for more patience with Unai Simón who has played well this season, but has also made a handful of mistakes. “If we are starting a 21 year old goalkeeper he can’t have the same experience as someone like Oblak”, said the manager. “We must have the same patience with him as with Córdoba. We need some more patience because we have young players.”
The win over Espanyol will certainly help to build the team’s confidence in games ahead, but things won’t get any easier from here. Unai López was forced to leave the pitch early in the second half and is not expected to play in Sunday’s match against Villarreal. “Unai had a little overload in his adductor muscle”, Garitano explained. “It doesn’t seem like anything serious but I don’t think he can travel with us on Sunday. I trust the whole team.”
With Unai López injured, along with Beñat, there won’t be many options to choose from when it comes to the midfield. It’s very likely that Oihan Sancet will be called back up to the first team and could make his first start of the season this weekend. Regardless of who is available, Athletic will be expected to put in another strong performance and build on Wednesday’s victory.