Iraizoz defends under-fire Valverde

7 October 2014 13:45

Gorka Iraizoz insists Athletic Bilbao’s players need to shoulder the blame for their poor start to the season – not coach Ernesto Valverde.

Athletic enjoyed a fine 2013-14 La Liga campaign, finishing fourth, and began this season well by beating Napoli in a play-off to reach the UEFA Champions League group stages.

However, the Basque club have lost five of their opening seven league matches this term, with last Sunday’s 5-0 hammering at Real Madrid leaving them in the bottom three.

Valverde’s men have also taken just one point from their first two Champions League outings.

Their underwhelming performances have led to criticism of Valverde, but goalkeeper Iraizoz has moved to defend the coach.

“Valverde has done enough in his career. He works with us every day and supports us at all times. It is us who are not winning games,” he said.

“We had qualified for the group stages of the Champions League after everything that happened last season, so to criticise Ernesto now is unfair and it is not deserved.

“We haven’t been winning football matches and that makes some of us question ourselves. It’s clear the pressure we were under before is not the same as right now and it shows itself in different ways.

“Our opponents have easily overcoming us and obviously when that happens you must make changes, or try to correct certain aspects of your game.

“We need to get back to what we were doing before or do something else for the good of the team.”