Athletic Bilbao – A Season Review

The long season has come to an end and there have been mixed reactions when we look back at the just-ended season. There have been managerial changes, several transfer ins, and outs, missing the playoff spot by the hairline, and many more. Let’s review our performances in the season and lessons learned and discuss how we’ll be moving forward in future.

Bilbao had a forgettable preseason – 1W-1D-3L in 5 games. Despite the poor results, we had a decent start to the new season – 3 wins and losses each in the first six in all competitions. Then the reality kicked in, we just won 4 league games in the next 14 games. But we had a decent run in Cup tournament qualifying for Quarters seeing off AZ Alkmaar, CSKA Moskov, Saint Etienne, and Malaga. During the mid-season, a new opportunity knocked on the door, and Mr. Feargal left the post for Sevilla.

Bilbao was already written off by the time I’ve taken over. When I joined, the club was in 15th position after 20 games. No offense to the previous manager, but the team was in a poor state and morale was down completely. My initial reaction was to stop the leakage – meaning, stop the defeats and play slow ball and get a crucial 1 point each game. We drew the first 6 league games and lost the next 2 and also, knocked out of the cup tournament along the way. Fans were losing patience and the Board was already taking interviews to replace me post-season. But our hard work in the training ground paid off.

The atmosphere slowly started to build up and new signings Kadioglu, Biancone, and Bellegarde, settled well quickly and helped us on our rollercoaster ride. We won 5 games, drew four, and racked up an impressive 19 from possible 33 points. Although seems insignificant, we suddenly moved from bottom crawlers to Top 6 contenders. A win in the final game would have scripted our story differently and it would have been a fairy tale of our own. Nevertheless, we are happy with how the team is shaping up and we’ll continue to fight with everything we have. The team-building process is going well at the moment with deadwood almost cleared off our pitch while the academy continues to grow. We’re hoping that our young guns will continue to develop and one day graduate into our team. Due to a lot of changes in tactics and with two managers of different ideologies, we hadn’t got any specific player(s) as star performers (rather it’s a team effort) and so we’re canceling our end-of-the-season awards for this season.

We’ll soon release the official 22 men’s squad for the upcoming season and even before it’s revealed, the pundits are already writing us down and bookies bet that the over-performing Athletic club will struggle in the upcoming season. We’ll answer them with our performances on the pitch next season.

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