Athletic Bilbao: Here's to Open Discussion!


May 24, 2015
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The football world is always embroiled in debates. While not overtly so, these discussions (which often turn into heated arguments) are usually political in some way. The idea of boycotting the 2022 World Cup due to slave labor is a huge topic, while the validity of Manchester City’s UAE-backed funding is another (funnily enough, nothing has been made of banning countries like the United States and Saudi Arabia from international competition, despite the thousands of innocent people their militaries and civilian police forces have murdered). However saturated your news feed is with football, you’ve probably taken part in at least one of these debates.

Sometimes, it feels like there’s nowhere to turn in the world of football. Clubs take money from killers. We support and partially fund said clubs. FIFA, UEFA, and other organizations fail to protect the physical and mental safety of players whilst taking money from killers (Qatar) in return for special priveledges. We buy their video games and watch their competitions. The world of football is rife with controversy, meddling, and...amoral behavior.

By choosing Athletic Bilbao to manage in Football Manager is a two-pronged decision. One, I feel that Athletic Club has the structural integrity (from the research I’ve done) to be a club exempt from any major moral failings. The club is socio-owned, which means the board president is democratically elected. Democracy is not always the most effective political system to achieve liberation for vulnerable citizens, but in this case, I believe it to be an adequate system to run a club in an ethical way.

Secondly, raising Athletic Club to the heights of Barcelona and Real Madrid will be a huge challenge to shoulder. We are only allowed to sign players of Basque nationality, which severely limits our potential player pool. Although Athletic Bilbao has had much success in recent years, winning La Liga and advancing far into the Champions League has always been a difficult task--near impossible with the conglomeration of talent and funding within the top of the footballing pyramid.

Finally, I want to make this a participatory save. Feel free to add your thoughts to any aspect of my club management -- tactics, squad management, what have you. Let's make this a (long-term) save to remember! we go.

At the end of each update, I will be offering a prompt. Feel free to reply and let’s get some discussion going in between my updates, in addition to your suggestions!

This time: Will you be protesting the 2022 World Cup because of Qatari’s exploiting of workers?
Will keep an eye on this save since you are managing my go-to FM team. If you stick with it it is really rewarding.
Update #2


Season Prep

Going into preseason, I knew that my squad would be slightly depleted from the usual Bilbao standard. Inaki Williams and Iker Muniain will provide creativity and goals out wide, but stars Kepa Arrizabalaga and Aymeric Laporte have moved on to Premier League clubs. Aritz Aduriz up top is phenomenal but I don't expect him to be playing at a high level in the long-term.

Supplying our outstanding front line with pressing cover and attacking support is a talented and deep midfield. Raul Garcia, Benat, and Ander Iturraspe are some standout talents, while Dani Garcia and Unai Lopez are also very adept for this level. Defensively, our two goalkeepers will battle out for a first team spot while Inigo Martinez leads the backline.

Tactically, most matches should see us take up a somewhat balanced approach. We will try to control our opponents through pressing and launching quick attacks, not allowing them to take a breath. But we must be realistic; we are not an elite La Liga side, so perhaps the extreme pressing will be reserved for the few matches we are heavy favorites. Otherwise, our goals will be to have the ball at the feet of Williams and Muniain as much as possible (and hopefully on Aduriz's head before nestling in the net).



Our preseason had some highs and lows. The one loss was against the one "larger" club we faced, Leverkusen, but we managed some great results against some not-so-great teams. Unfortunately, all three of our star attackers fell down with injuries during these games, meaning we will face Valencia on opening day without any of them. That's obviously a huge blow, but don't get too down yet. We performed well with rotated squads and different tactics, which is a great sign going into the 18/19 season!

Matchweek 1: Valencia (A)


With our aforementioned injury crisis, the eleven put out against Valencia is not what I envision it to be in the long-term. However, I believe Raul Garcia's creative prowess combined with our defensive organization will see us control a portion of the match flow.

Match Result Spoiler Alert


Wow! What a result, if we're being completely honest. And if we're being fully honest, I was dead wrong about who would be our main midfield creator. Benat completed over 100 successful passes and scored a goal just after halftime. The Basque (obviously) midfielder can definitely be our star player in midfield, especially with our attack drawing so much defensive attention away from him. But Benat performed this well without Muniain, Williams, or Aduriz, which really says a lot.


That's it for update number two. As always, give me your thoughts on how I'm controlling Athletic Bilbao. Additionally, I'll leave you with this question to ponder:

Is the way we talk about footballers problematic? By that, I mean, are we using problematic terms when discussing transfers and player value?