Athletic President, Josu Urrutia, spoke to the media on Thursday in an effort to discuss the state of the club. This is something that he does regularly during the season and didn’t come as a surprise. However, going into the press conference there was only one question on everyone’s mind. What is the status of Ernesto Valverde. Naturally, this was the first question that was asked and the President was quick to say that there is now new news on the Athletic manager.
“Valverde has already said himself that there is no news and that we will announce something when there has been a decision. There is no news on the subject. We have shown consistency on the matter of the coaching position and we will continue to do so. I know Ernesto well and he is working hard daily. I know that I have always felt supported by the Athletic fans day by day and I know that Valverde feels the say way. We have not spoke with any other coaches about the job because we trust our process. Barcelona has not called me to ask permission to speak to Valverde and I don’t think that they will. Right now, Ernesto is the best possible coach for Athletic. His experience and results speak for themselves. Maybe one day in the future he won’t be, but right now he is the best option.”
There has been a lot of speculation regarding who could take over if Valverde leaves and Urrutia made it very clear that Bilbao Athletic manager Cuco Ziganda is the perfect choice. However, he also mentioned that Ziganda is great in his current role of developing players for the first team. He also mentioned that there is no current date set for Valverde to make a decision.
“Who should take the reigns if Valverde leaves? There is only one. I have highlighted the importance of what Cuco Ziganda is doing and he has done a great job in his current role. If we look at our coaches they are all different but meet the sam criteria. Marcelo [Bielsa], Valverde, and Cuco Ziganda. They could all be sides to the same coin. I have spoken to Valverde several times but there is no final discussion set. We cannot go much further without starting to plan for next year so we hope to know something by June, but we have also been playing a lot of matches. We are all calm. This time two years ago he had not renewed yet so there is time. Valverde has not made any demands as far as new players but he shouldn’t be planning the summer right now because we have a game on Sunday.”
It is a well known fact that there is a poor relationship between Cuco Ziganda and Sporting Directo Jose Maria Amorrortu. When asked about Amorrortu’s work, Urrutia said that he has done a good job and that he would support Ziganda taking over.
“The Sporting Director is in charge of the first team and Lezama so we must value the good that he has done. In Lezama it takes a while to see the finished project but with players like Kepa, Inaki Williams, Yeray, and Vesga there is a lot to be encouraged about. If Cuco were to take over the first time would Amorrortu support it? Totally.”
For now it is quite clear that Josu Urrutia does not have any idea what Ernesto Valverde will do this summer. Those close to the situation continue to believe that he will leave the club at the end of the season but there is still hope that he will renew with the Basque giants. If not, it looks increasingly more likely that Cuco Ziganda will take over control of the first team.