The future of Athletic, between Bielsa, Pochettino and Valverde

  • Controversy Uriarte is considering breaking up with the sports director Carlos Aviña recently presented for sexist and homophobic tweets

Athletic Club, the Spanish team most attached to traditions, will decide on Friday if it evolves, transforms or revolutionizes itself to abandon sporting mediocrity and recover economic solvency. Ricardo Barkala (Bilbao, 1955), Inaki Arechabaleta (Bilbao, 1960) and Jon Uriarte (Bilbao, 1979) are the candidates for the rojiblanco president’s chair. Different profiles with the same objectives but with very different strategies and, above all, banners. Because after a very long electoral campaign, the handful of votes that will determine the winner will depend on the social pull of the future coach. Marcelo Bielsa and probably, Mauricio Pochettino Y Ernest Valverde they will opt for the decision of the 43,425 members convened next Friday at the polls.

Barkala, Arechabaleta and Uriarte will play for the presidency by a narrow margin of votes and with almost no previous references that predict who is the favorite. An ending as rushed or more than the one starring the cook Aitor Elizegi and the economist Alberto Uribe-Etxebarriain December 2018. Elizegi gave the surprise with 85 votes difference, in a victory that put the status quo of a club with 125 years of history. Months of discreet work, hundreds of trips, dozens of meetings and countless sporting, economic and social proposals have been relegated to the final sprint of the campaign after the names of the future coach. Just two days before San Mamés opens its doors on an intense election day, only Iñaki Arechabaleta has uncovered his most precious asset.

Because the return of Marcelo Bielsa to the rojiblanco bench almost a decade after his first stage has placed the manager from Bilbao a few centimeters ahead of his rivals on the starting grid. “Bielsa is a bet for the future,” warned Arechabaleta in a unique presentation by the Rosario coach. The coach who made his debut in the League with Espanyol starred in the 2011-2012 season with the double bittersweet of defeats in the Europa League final against Atlético de Madrid and in the Copa del Rey against Barça.

The plan of the ‘Fool’

The Crazy Bielsa, thin and with hair to one, strengthened Arechabaleta’s chances on Monday with a video that is a soccer masterclass starring a gentleman. The Argentine coach acknowledged that his first contact with the applicant occurred in March and that, then, he confessed his admiration for Athletic de Marcelino Garcia Toral. Bielsa analyzed almost 500 La Liga games, examined the squads of the first team and the three subsidiaries and detailed his own evolution as a coach in three stages to explain why he has said yes to returning to Bilbao if his candidate wins the next Friday. After listening to him and observing the effect of Bielsa’s extensive technical talk on the journalists present, Arechabaleta smiled happily.

Arechabaleta also has at least two surprises up his sleeve to finish off a campaign in which he has normally defended the presence of the Spanish team in San Mamés with the exhibition of a bertsolari (poet who improvises verses in Basque). The expert media manager is willing to draw on a checkbook, even indebting Athletic to incorporate players such as Jon Moncayola (Osasuna), with a clause of 22 million euros, or Hugo Guillamon (Valencia). The incorporation of Antoine Griezmann -another of the names allegedly suggested by Bielsa- is diluted by the exorbitant annual salary of the Frenchman, above 17 million annually.

The signing of Bielsa caused a barrage of support for Arechabaleta on social networks, the fertile ground in which Jon Uriarte stands out, the youngest candidate and with the most revolutionary proposal. A disruptive candidate who has paid for his status as an alternative to Arechabaleta and Barkala, images with similarities that have had to highlight his own profiles both in his public interventions and, especially, in the only two-way debate organized by The mailthe Bilbao newspaper of the Vocento group in which Arechabaleta forged his managerial career that began in EL MUNDO of the Basque Country in the 90s.


The only one-on-one between Arechabaleta and Ricardo Barkala reflected the mutual respect of two Athletic partners who, before starting the electoral contest, agreed on a fair play election to avoid a new tear among the 43,000 rojiblancos members but also among the millions of followers of the club in the Basque Country and in the rest of Spain, where there are almost 260 supporters clubs of the Bilbao entity.

Ricardo Barkala.Arabic Press

The gentlemen’s agreement has minimized the political confrontation that was predicted between the former director of Vocento and the experienced institutional position of the PNV. The match of Andoni Ortuzar He has remained silent throughout the campaign and Barkala has denied any type of political orientation of the candidacy that accompanies him. In contrast, the captain of the merchant navy has sought to open his social profile with images such as the smiling greeting with Jone Goirizelaiaspokesperson for EH Bildu in Bilbao, lawyer for ETA prisoners and member of Athletic, with a strong presence at the club’s assemblies as a delegate.

“Barkala is a talkative guy, a serious guy, trustworthy, with rennet, sensible who is used to weathering storms and who is not going to go crazy when they come badly or when they come well given and who always listens a lot, “he defined himself Ricardo Barkala, the captain of the merchant marine who also aspires to be the 33rd president of Athletic, is in the middle of the campaign.

Objective, Europe

In fact, it was Barkala who took the first step to make his willingness to compete public when Aitor Elizegi decided not to run for a second term and call uncomfortable elections because the good feelings Marcelino’s team had last season did not translate into a place for the European competition, the “indispensable” objective of the three candidates for the presidency.

Barkala leads a slow reform in which the changes in Lezama will be marked by Ramon Plans, former member of the Barcelona technical secretary from 2018 to 2021 and with extensive experience in sports management at clubs such as Getafe, Rayo and Elche and two seasons at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League. “Lezama is the heart of everything and the Basque players I’ve met are proud to have been here,” stressed the Catalan coach, who will replace Rafa Alkorta if Barkala wins the elections. A relay, as in the case of Arechabaleta and Uriarte, which confirms the exhaustion of the Lezama model, the first football academy in Spain inaugurated in 1970, in the face of the push of the modern football recruitment and development centers of teams such as Villarreal , Betis or the big clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Barkala, a candidate who wins at short distances, knows that Athletic needs to make a quality leap in its squad to escape complacency. The captain of the merchant navy has hinted that his option for the bench is Mauricio Pochettino, PSG coach who is negotiating his 20 million severance clause to leave Paris while the team now co-managed by Mbappe try to close the deal Zinedine Zidane. Barkala also has two possible footballer signings to close the campaign and dreams of attracting Bilbao to Jon Julen Guerrerothe Real Madrid youth midfielder and son of Julen Guerrero.

Jon Uriarte.
Jon Uriarte.Arabic Press

Popular pull names to finish convincing a social mass that, next Friday, will exceed the low turnout of 47% of the membership census that went to vote in the winter of 2018. The presence of Jon Uriarte multiplies the appeal of the internal contest , both for its professional profile and for the revolution that anticipates an aggressive proposal that has suffered unexpected setbacks. The last one took place this Tuesday when hours after presenting Carlos Avina (sports director of the Círculo de Brujas) announced the possible rupture of his agreement due to some messages on Twitter from the Mexican coach with homophobic and sexist content.

Uriarte also keeps his coach under lock and key, although the name of Ernesto Valverde can allow him to drag thousands of votes from undecided people who want to bet on a brilliant entrepreneur willing to push Athletic into the 21st century.

According to the criteria of

The Trust Project

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