On Thursday new Bilbao Athletic manager Gaizka Garitano spoke to the media for the first time since taking over. He was quick to point out they he is very excited to be back at Athletic, where he was raised, and that he doesn’t see this as a step back in his career. He also got to meet all of the players after his press conference as the team began preseason training.
“I am very happy. Today is they first day and I will meet all the players. In Bilbao Athletic the most important goal is preparing the players for the first team. I’m here to help these players reach the Primera. I grew up here and I’m very happy to be back home. The most exciting offer I had was this one and I really like my job. I don’t see this as a regression in my career. I’m a coach and that is what I will be doing. Of course this is different, but I’ve done it in past years so it isn’t an unknown. Training is the main thing, above all else we have to nurture and prepare for the first team. It’s the last step in these player’s training.”
Garitano went on to say that the logical thing would have been to wait and field as many offers as possible, but that he was quick to accept Athletic’s offer to coach the reserve team. Coming back home was a big selling point for him and he didn’t even have to think about returning.
“Equally the most logical or intelligent decision was to wait, even if I had not had any contact from a first division club. I worked quite impulsively and it was very important for me to come home again and to coach at Athletic. The main reason is that I will love what I’m doing every day. I get to go train young kids who want to learn and I will teach them. It was a clear choice for me. If I had not come to train Bilbao Athletic I would not have coached anywhere else in the Segunda B. The work that I’m going to do is more important than the division that I coach in. Three months ago I was coaching in the Primera so some will not see this move as logical, but I didn’t even have to think about it.”
The manager was asked if he sees this as an audition for the first team like Cuco Ziganda, but he said that he is only thinking of the present. He was also asked about players like Unai Nunez or Inigo Cordoba who will either be a part of the first team or leave on loan. Garitano believes that some players need time away while others are ready for the jump immediately.
“I do not think that I am advertising myself for the first team. The decision that I made is reflected on the present and that is what I looked at. I’m going to come in every morning and urge the kids and train them. It’s a pleasure to wake up every morning to a job that you love. Tomorrow I do not know what will happen. We won’t just train, we want to win every weekend but not at any price. The most important thing is preparing players for the first team. Nunez and Cordoba? You have to study each case. Sometimes a player leaves on loan and has success and sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes they can go straight to the first team. Kepa returned from two loan spells, I had him at Valladolid, and he was a success. Others like Inaki Williams, Inigo Lekue, and Yeray went straight from Bilbao Athletic.”
In closing, Gairtano said that his goal is for his team to play without fear, but most importantly he wants everyone to improve and continue growing. He is also excited for Jesus Areso to join the team after he was signed from Osasuna last week.
“We will be a daring team without fear. I want every player to improve and use a model that helps us compete and win, but the growth of each player is the most important. Areso joining us? He is strong, powerful, and still only 18. He has a very bright future and we are happy to have him here.”
Bilbao Athletic have now begun preseason training and currently have 29 players. It is likely that some will leave on loan in order to play regular minutes, but Garitano will be able to field a strong team. The most important goal will be preparing players for the jump to the first team, but the club also has hopes of competing for promotion back to the Segunda.