Marcelino García Toral, during the match against Eibar in San Mamés. Javier Zorrilla / EFE
Since he arrived in Bilbao, Marcelino García Toral (Villaviciosa, Asturias; 55 years old), has transformed Athletic into an optimistic team. He has already won a Super Cup and is aiming for two Cup titles, an unprecedented achievement, as two finals were never played in the same year. Real Sociedad is the first obstacle and the coach faces it with a smile. Always smiles. He does this when he attends the interview via videoconference. Nothing seems to disturb him.
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Question. What's the most uncomfortable thing to do as a coach?
Answer. I couldn't say. I am positive and always think of the good things. I enjoy my profession, it generates enthusiasm and, if you enjoy it, you are capable of transmitting enthusiasm. I would not say that being a coach has uncomfortable aspects.
Q. Perhaps having as its main mission to decide? The way of playing, the footballers …
R. The most ungrateful thing is to discriminate, and you have to be fair. With the pandemic, perhaps it is easier because you only choose the starting eleven and the other players are also called up. But first you had to select 18 and leave a few out, and then, of those, choose 11. It's part of the job, and you always try to be fair .
Q. Have you ever made a mistake in an election?
R . My conscience is clear . To choose I have reflected looking for arguments to do my best, but surely I have made mistakes.
Q. Have you adapted to Bilbao and the way of being of those around you now?
R. Totally. I started with the advantage of being Asturian, we are very close, and I did not need any type of acclimatization, because the ways of living are very similar, and also the character of the people. My perception is that, whenever I have had relationships with people from here, we have understood each other quickly. In addition, they have received me wonderfully.
P. All the fans of any club believe that theirs is very special, but in Bilbao they emphasize that, in the difference of Athletic.
R. It is that Athletic is a very special for its philosophy, which is deeply rooted. I have not had to go very deep to find out, because outside of here it is already known. When I arrived, I knew what was there and I liked it.
"With the pandemic it is easier to choose for a coach"
Q. If Athletic wins the two finals they face, you will be the winning coach of the last three Cup titles.
R. Yes, I know, but we do not play that, but to compete and win. I don't win; The club wins, the players win and the fans win. It is not a personal ambition. Fate has put me here at this moment and I have the opportunity to offer my work to achieve a goal.
Q. In the last game against Eibar , Athletic looked thick. Was it part of the plan to reach the final at the best time?
A. We have a plan to win every game, and we do not get out of it. It is true that with Eibar it was difficult for us in the first half, although they scored in a punctual error, but in the second we were much better, although we could not transform that dominance into goals
P. You have repeated several times that you train Athletic It is easy because of the predisposition of the players .
R. We have found an incredible squad that has made things much easier for us with their way of being. Our relationship with the players, within the requirements, is very good. On the field, but also in the individual relationship with all of them, which show a commendable attitude. In this regard, they have exceeded my best expectations
P. It will influence the fact that they are all from a similar background
R. Sure. They are almost a family, a homogeneous group. They are friends. They compete to play, but they respect each other very much, and that facilitates the human relationship. We have to try to make that last, because it will contribute to being better.
"Real Sociedad is now more liberated, but we are difficult to win"
P. They will face Real Sociedad , a very hard bone.
R. A good team, with a coach who has given it a recognizable identity. It is not easy to qualify for Europe, not to be in the high places of the classification, and also to have been playing three competitions at the same time. Now they are more liberated. He is a very difficult opponent and the game is going to be very close. The one who makes the least mistakes will win.
P. Athletic has lost many points, precisely, due to specific mistakes .
R. There are always mistakes, but we have been unlucky that the opponent has taken advantage of them. They win us very little, but every time we make a mistake the rival takes advantage of it. We are very difficult to win, we compete well. Only Barcelona beat us, the day I made my debut on the bench, and although the score was tight, they played better. But then only Barça beat us again and then Atlético, and in both games we had options to draw, at least. We always compete
P. What should they do against Real: influence their weaknesses or enhance Athletic's qualities
R. It must be a mixture. We must optimize our performance and also try to take advantage of its mistakes and weaknesses. To win a final, all things have to turn out very well.
Q. Who is the favorite?
A. In a final there are no favorites. They are two teams that play 90 minutes. Regardless of how they arrive, feelings, moods and levels of form come together, which we have to contextualize. If we control that state of mind and perform at the highest level, the more chances we have to win
P. 4-4-2 is non-negotiable, it is assumed
R. We are not going to change because we believe in what we do and we feel identified . We will repeat what we have been doing .
Q. Have you felt the illusion that exists in the club environment?
R. There is a lot of illusion, and there is the same illusion in the squad. We have 90 minutes to show that we can win. We are not going to spare an ounce of effort
Q. Have you had time to know what a bilbainada is? Do you think they will beat Real and 14 days later Barcelona?
R. One by one, please. At the moment, there is only one final on the horizon, that of the Real Sociedad. Stand up to them and try to win. I don't see any further.
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