Dani García “It’s A Very Important Year For All Of Us”
Athletic fans were frustrated with the team’s start to the season. Following last year’s disappointing finish, the Lions fell 2-0 to Granada to kick off the new campaign. Once again Athletic put in a poor performance and the negativity surrounding the team has grown. Meanwhile, several players have voiced their opinions that the constant criticism isn’t making things any better.
“You have to be positive and stay with the good,” Dani García told Radio Popular. “This has just begun and it helps us to become stronger. Scoring goals comes in streaks. I believe a lot in my teammates and I’m sure that when they are more in tune they will help us. It’s hard for us to score goals, but we don’t have to make those defensive mistakes.”
García went on to say that he’s experienced the negativity since his first day at the club, but ensures that the support is terrific when things are going well. Most importantly, the midfielder asks for patience to start the season.
“I’ve noticed it since I arrived, but I see excessive optimism as soon as things start to go well. I would ask for a little patience. A result like the other day and how the previous season ended doesn’t help much, but we were close to Europe and reached the Cup final. I’d ask the fans to support us because we will give everything for this shirt as always. A little patience would be good.”
Normally, García is one of the players who receives the most criticism. “Every time we lose I read that I’m terrible and that that I don’t know how to play football, but I don’t pay much attention to it,” he said. “Everyone has their opinions of what they like and what they don’t like us.”
Manager Gaizka Garitano is always at the center of complaints. Many fans are unhappy with the Mister’s tactics, though García defends that Garitano should be trusted for what he’s accomplished.
“I don’t think Garitano should be questioned because after getting us out of a very difficult situation he almost got us into Europe. Then he goes and puts us into the Cup final. It’s true that he’s the one who makes decisions but he’s earned the right not to be questioned. The culprits are the ones who go out to play each game, not Garitano.”
Qualifying for Europe in four straight years showed fans that Athletic can compete at the highest level. However, García explained that other teams have gotten much stronger in recent seasons which is much more difficult for Athletic.
“It’s not to say that fans were spoiled, but being out of Europe three years in a row is complicated. Fans want more and it’s normal that they demand more of us, but we haven’t reinforced for years and other teams are building stronger teams. It’s not an excuse though because we have a good team and we will fight.”
Despite the negativity, García emphasized that there is an exciting season ahead. The Lions will have the chance to win two titles and hopes to have the support of fans.
“It’s a very important year for all of us, the most important of our career with the Cup final and the Super Cup. We have to take advantage of it. Even though we started badly it’s very exciting. You have to believe in this team and think positively.”
Not having fans in the stands has created another problem as well. “The fans are missed,” he said. “The sooner the situation improves, not only in football but in life in general, it will be great for everyone. I hope this nightmare passes soon and everything can be like before.”
Looking back at the summer, García shared that the preseason was far from normal. Players didn’t have enough time to get ready, but Athletic will benefit from the current break.
“Everything has been very strange. We haven’t been together for very long. There was no time to recharge the batteries and get your body ready, but these two weeks will be good for us to crack the whip and get the league on a better track.”
Next weekend the Lions will travel to Ipurua for the first Basque Derby of the season. As the former Eibar captain, García knows the Armeros well and highlighted the importance of not making mistakes to come away with a good result.
“Eibar face an important year with changes in the squad, but Mendilibar’s idea is always the same. I saw their game the other day and they surprised me. Talking to them before the game they told me that they didn’t feel as good as they showed. We know that they will wait for us to make a mistake near the goal and will try to take advantage. You have to be smart at Ipurua. We have to go with our plan of being strong defensively, not like we were against Granada.”
García is entering his third season with Athletic and has been an important addition. “I hope to continue growing like every year,” he added. “Physically I lack a bit of spark after such an atypical preseason, but I hope it’s my year. The team expects a lot from me and I hope to be up to the task.” To compete for Europe Dani García and others will have to be at their very best.