As if it were a business organization that sets some objectives in its board of directors for the year that is beginning, Athletic has debated them among its different levels and has made them public.
The rojiblanco club starts the League next Monday in search of European competition.
These are issues that are always on the minds of the actors involved in the daily life of each football club, but that are rarely made public in a solemn way.
The Athletic that Jon Uriarte has chaired for just over a month, has done so.
Everyone accepts that it is not a usual maneuver, but also that it can serve to reinforce the mentality with which the team will begin to compete from next Monday.
“We have agreed on it among all”, points out the maximum president.
"The goal is to take a step forward and for that we must be present in Europe," he says.
For Ernesto Valverde, the coach who is entering his third spell at the club, "it is possible that this will lead to some pressure," he says.
“But everyone, the board and the squad, have talked about entering Europe.
The idea is to stabilize the club”, he sums up.
The announcement, according to the coach who put the team in European competitions for four consecutive seasons, is nothing more than the dissemination of an agreement between all: "It is done now in a more formal way," he says.
"It's nothing we haven't thought about before.
Any player from this club, and some have been to finals and won titles, is ambitious”.
Athletic, with goalkeeper problems due to the injuries of Simón and Agirrezabala
For the coach who has managed the most games for Athletic in its history (306), and the second with the most victories after Javier Clemente, his team starts with an advantage, since it will face a single competition for many months, the same thing that happened in his first campaign after the departure of Marcelo Bielsa.
Then, he got a Champions League place.
"Yes, it is an advantage," says Valverde;
“Facing a third competition conditions a lot.
It leaves you no room for preparation.
Now, we will be able to better prepare the matches for a week”.
The captain, Iker Muniain, who if he plays on Monday will add 500 games with the red and white shirt without having turned 30 yet, also joined the consensus in the search for the European place: "We are going to go for that goal with the maximum sacrifice and work".
Athletic has not made any flashy signings.
He recovered Guruzeta, from Amorebieta, to try to find more edge in front of goal, but the rest are familiar faces.
Despite everything, for Muniain there are no excuses: “We are united to go together hand in hand.
It is an ambitious goal.
We hope that the people are with us, that we all live together when the bad times come”.
And he doesn't think announcing the goal adds pressure: “The world of football is full of pressure.
You have to take it naturally, ”he confesses.
Jon Uriarte, the president, also wants to involve the fans, right from the first game against Mallorca: "Europe is a difficult goal, in a very competitive League in which all the teams have made great signings," he warns, "but It is everyone's goal.
We cannot forget the fans.
We need push more than ever, to show that it is the best on the planet”.
For now, the club has taken the first step with the animation stand for 4,000 standing fans, which will join the old stand with the 2,000 young people who have obtained a special season ticket, among the 5,300 applications received by the club.
the cup matters
In addition to the European objective, the president advanced that the Cup is also one of Athletic's priorities: "We want to do a good job, it is super special for the club and all the fans, but we have also made it clear to the coaching staff and the squad that, Although we continue to be very competitive in the knockout rounds, we have to take a step forward in the League”.
Among the rojiblancos headaches are the siren songs of Barcelona to Iñigo Martínez, the team's most valuable footballer, reluctant, for now, to renew.
Is the club willing to leave him in the stands if he doesn't?
“No”, is the resounding answer of the president.
"Iñigo has a year on his contract and we believe that his contribution this season will be relevant to achieving the goals we have set for ourselves and hopefully we will have an exciting project to be able to count on him for more years".
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