Jan 25, 2013
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Having read many stories over the past few months whilst on my travels I have finally decided on a story that i feel will be challenging, interesting and one that also has a number of controversial talking points. The policy of Bilbao is a much debated one in itself and I feel that this can be exploited and turned into a really interesting story. Comments and criticism on anything is much appreciated and I hope you all enjoy this story.

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Bilbao Hire Sergio Creatas

During a highly emotional press conference deep beneath the San Mames Athletic Bilbao Club Chairman Josu Urrutia announced that rookie manager Sergio Creatas will take control of the first team with immediate effect. Creatas has no previous managerial experience, and there is no doubt his appointment will be seen as a political stance by a club who many people believe are blinded by their Basque views. Sergio Creatas is himself from the Basque region of Spain and was previously involved at the club at Youth development level before the unceremonious sacking of Marcelo Bielsa earlier on this week. During the press conference Creatas commented on his views for the club and the way in which he intends to take them forward.

'Hello everybody, for those who do not know who I am, my name is Sergio Creatas and I am here to ensure the sustainable future of this historic Basque club. Over the last few years the club has come perilously close to losing some of those ethics that make this club so different yet so great and I believe that despite my obvious lack of managerial experience, the fact I am one of the people will stand the club in good stead going forward. I will continue the work done by previous staff members here in the Basque country and show that while clubs such as Real Madrid and Barcelona can spend up to and beyond 70 million on a single player, we can produce a title winning team from just a small pool of people here in the heart of Spain'

Many have criticised the clubs controversial transfer policy over the past few years, and Marcelo Bielsa was vocal on his desire to broaden the horizons of the club. Now it seems the club have turned to a previously untested and what some people may call 'yes man' to ensure that the club continues on the 'right' track.

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We are keen to have your views on the new appointment at Bilbao, can the Basque policy ever produce a title winning team? Is Creatas the 'Yes Man' that many believe him to be?

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'The Policy'

With new manager Sergio Creatas announcing that he will uphold the tradition of a Basque squad here at Athletic Bilbao, many people were left asking... What is this policy exactly?

Well since 1912 Bilbao have followed a strict yet unwritten rule that only allows them to field players of a Basque heritage. The Basque region spans 4 providences in Spain and 3 in France. Although this rule is not official and there is no reason for it to be upheld the majority of the managers at the club over the last Century have upheld the tradition, and despite the obvious lack of players at their disposal, Bilbao remain one of only 3 teams never to be relegated from the premier division in Spain.

Now over the last few years managers such as Bielsa have bent this rule slightly by integrating non-Basque players into the squad, this was met by disapproval by fans an board members alike. There are certain parties that believe the belief breaks certain laws regarding freedom of movement and equality. The most interesting aspect of the rule is that it has never truly been challenged, only from within has the policy been questioned and now it seems the board feel that by appointing a Basque manager, their rule will be engrained at the deepest roots of the club.

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'The Plan'

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If Bilbao are to pose any threat this season they will have to come to the table with a plan to slow teams such as Madrid and Barca. This week incoming manager Creatas spoke openly about his plans for the season.

'Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my managerial style with you today, this is my chance to show that I am here for a reason and not just because of my Basque heritage. I am a firm believer that its easier to have the ball than it is to chase it for 90 minutes, the first thing I teach my players is that the ball can move faster than any player and for that reason my style of play is based around ball retention. The first formation is a 4-3-3 with 3 central midfielder's and 1 striker with wide players supporting him. This will be employed for the majority of the season in the games that will be tight and there is no clear favourite. The aim will be to control the centre of the park with the central midfielder having the license to join the attacks and make things happen, with his 2 fellow holding midfielder.s dictating the tempo of the game and ticking the ball along. The 3-6-1 formation will be employed in games when it is necessary to defend for large periods of the game against teams who are seen as stronger. The narrow 3 man defence will mean teams will have to go around us rather than through us and the holding midfielder will provide support for the defence. The formation is aimed at being strong down the middle of the park to ensure the core of the team is stable. Finally we will employ a 4-5-1 formation against teams that are seen as weaker than us, the focus will once again be on controlling the midfield and the ball in order to move the ball about quickly and efficiently. Over the course of the season the formations will evolve and develop based on experience and players coming in and out of the team.... I think everybody is going to see that I'm more than just a 'Yes man''.

So Sergio clearly has taken offence to the label given to him early in his managerial career, it should be interesting how he evolves the team to fit the playing style he prefers.

Pre Season 2012

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In a pre season Sergio Creatas' Bilbao team began to gel together and showed glimpses of the style of football that their Basque manager wishes them to play. Pre season got off to a slow start with a loss and a draw during their tour of neighbouring Portugal, the tour ended on a positive as a young Bilbao showed a lowly Canelas 2010 how to play football. Then came a win against Belgium giants Anderlecht before Creatas' team were taught a lesson themselves by a Chelsea side that put them to the sword with three strikes in the opening ten minutes that killed off the Basque resistance. The next two games were straight forward wins against lower oppositions in the form of Gimnastica B and their own C team Baskonia. Creatas comments were all positive about pre season.

' Even though pre season wasn't perfect many positives can be taken from the way in which the team performed. The team slowly began to understand the way in which I had asked them to play and players such as Aduriz really took the chance to show their ability whilst Fernando was out injured. Certain players have now stepped into the spotlight and the Europa games will be a good chance for them to stake a claim for a regular first team spot'.

With the first round of the Europa league fast approaching Bilbao will face off with Belarus side Naftan Novopolotsk, but what do you think if their pre season results?

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Please feel free to leave feedback and comments on my story so far, I hope its of interest to a few of you.

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The 'Yes Man'

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Speculation today intensified as Athletic Bilbao confirmed the arrival of two well known Basque players at the club. Asier Del Horno, 31 and Igor Gabilondo, 33 joined the club having left their previous employers at the end of their contracts. Rumours are circulating around the club at the moment that Mr Creatas was only told at the 11th hour of the signings that would 'Improve the image' of the club. Speculation was increased amidst a controversial press conference held to announce the signings earlier today.

Josu Urritia 'It gives me great pleasure to introduce the two latest Basque heritage players to join the club, Asier Del Horno and Igor Gabilondo. The two players are excited to be with us and we feel that their vast experience and image will no doubt extend the global impression of this traditional football club, I will now hand over to our club manager Mr Creatas'

Sergio Creatas' Thank you Mr Urritia and welcome everybody to this impromptu press conference here today. I would like to start by thanking the board and the chairman for bringing these players to the club and the players for improving our 'image'. Please present any further questions to the players and the chairman'

Creatas then proceeded to leave the press conference to the amazement of the chairman and the two stunned players. The manager made it crystal clear that it wasn't him who signed the players but the 'board and chairman'. The next few weeks here at the San Mames will be interesting no doubt.
Player Watch
Key Players

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Sergio Creatas will be pinning his hopes on some of Bilbao' young stars as he hopes to take the Basque club to not just the pinnacle of Spanish football, but to the summit of World football. These are the 4 key players who can propel this team to those dizzy heights.

Aymeric Laporta, 18, Centre Back - The young French/Basque player joined from Aviron Bayonais in 2007 as a 13 year old, he was the captain of the C term last term playing 33 league games for Baskonia and scoring twice. He will be looking to learn from the elder players in the team and break into a first team role early on during the injury absence of Amoribieta.

Ander Herrera, 23, Centre Midfield - The Spaniard joined from Zaragoza before the 11/12 campaign and impressed in the league and Champions league creating interest from some of Europe's top clubs. Having established himself as a linchpin of the Bilbao midfield he will be hoping his creativity and goals will put him in the Del Bosque shop window in time for the world cup.

Iker Muniain, 19, Left Winger - The young Spanish wing wizard already has 100 La Liga games under his belt and at such a young age has the world, and a host of major Suiters at his feet. Creatas will do well to keep this ball juggling genius past August, but in order to achieve great things with this Basque club he must keep Iker both happy and most importantly... at the club. 20+ goals this season from this guy.

Fernando Llorente, 27, Striker - The departing Spaniard will want to leave the club he has served since a teen on a high and if last seasons European exploits are anything to go by this lad will be lighting up the score sheets this term. Come of age over the last few years and Juventus will be hoping they have plucked this player during his most fruitful years. A big hole for Creatas to fill come the end of the season.

So these are the men that Sergio Creatas will pin his hopes on for the coming season... his first job however may be keeping a hold of them!!

So the seasons about to get under way, signings have been made and the team has taken shape. What do you all think to the story guys? Trying to make it a little more interesting and i think the whole Bilbao concept could make quite a controversial story. Let me know what everybody thinks.
Good luck! Bilbao is the most rewarding long term save you can have in my eyes. It is slightly easier if you are Spain manager too.

The C team has an amazing goalie coach by the way.

Oh and Benat is a must buy in the first season!
To be fair, when I saw the title 'The Basque Way' I thought KLIPPYBO had started a new save. But, this story is awesome. And as KLIPPYBO said, you NEED to sign Benat
Good luck! Bilbao is the most rewarding long term save you can have in my eyes. It is slightly easier if you are Spain manager too.

The C team has an amazing goalie coach by the way.

Oh and Benat is a must buy in the first season!

I will take that into consideration KLIPPYBO about the keeper coach and Benat is a done deal already haha!!
'The Signing'

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Just weeks after being appointed as the 'Yes Man' as Sergio Creatas has been labelled, the Basque manager has taken strides to prove himself as more than just a front man by signing Basque native Benat from fellow Liga BBVA team Betis. The signing will cost the club £17.5 million over the next 24 months with a fee of £7.5 million being paid up front. But the deal was surrounded by controversy from the outset as the Basque club tried to oust the deal in its early stages. The board felt that taking a player from a team that was seen to be weaker than their's would tarnish the image they are striving to display and the deal looked to be dead in the water from the outset. Creatas saw the deal as a chance, not only to bring in one of Spain's most underrated talents, but also to stamp his authority and he therefore took it upon himself to go forward and discuss personal terms with the player whilst still negotiating with the chairman regarding the deal. A few hours ago the following statement was released via Creatas' personal website;

'I, Sergio Creatas am pleased to announce the signing of Spanish and Basque Midfielder Benat on a 4 year deal with the club. Despite much resistance on behalf of the chairman and his board, I personally felt the deal was important for the club going forward and the 17.5 million paid will seem paramount once the player is seen on the pitch'.

With Creatas clearly stating that the board were not behind him on this transfer questions will once again be raised as to why they employed the manager, however this stance taken by the Basque native will go a long way to show the fans and club alike that he is here to do more than just to say yes.
August 2012

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The month of august saw Sergio Creatas enjoy a 100% start to his managerial career at Bilbao taking a maximum six wins from as many games. They began their league campaign at home to Betis before going away to Osasuna whilst they progressed to the group stage of the Europa League at the expense of Belarus side Naftan and Moldovian outfit Sheriff. The month outlined just how much they are set to miss departing club legend Fernando Llorente as he notched up an impressive 7 goals in 5 games before being rested for the second leg against Sheriff. Incoming Spaniard and Basque native Benat began the season well for his new employers appearing in 5 games over the month and proving to the board exactly why Creatas had such faith in him. The Basque side scored an impressive 18 times over the course of the month and only let two in at the other end making Sergio Creatas' first month at the helm a very successful one.

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The first job for Bilbao in the month of August was to dispatch little known Belarus outfit Naftan, a job which they carried out over the two legs in a professional manner taking a 3-0 away lead back home where they finished the job with an easy 4-0 win thanks in the main to a hat-trick from in form front man Llorente. The negative from the ties were the injuries picked up by Muniain and Susaeta who wouldn't play again until the very end of the month. Next up was a game against the team he recently left for Benat who played a staring role in the 2-1 victory over his previous employers setting up the late winner for Llorente who showed exactly what the goal and the club meant to him with an emotional celebratory embrace with Creatas. The tie against Sheriff was seen initially as a potential banana skin for the Basque club, but a comfortable 4-0 away win with a brace from 18 year old sensation Laporte meant that the second leg would see many of the first team take a back seat and a few new faces would get their chance, during which the second string XI put in an impressive 3-1 victory . Fernando Llorente led the charge away to Osasuna, a second early in the second half from Toquero meant that Bilbao would take all 6 points from what would have been seen as a tricky month for them in the Liga BBVA.

A great start to life for Sergio Creatas, what will happen in the month of September!!

Story looks awesome. As a non familiar to the ins and outs of Spanish football what are the Basque regions and how will you know if the players are born there for example the regens or say 10 years down the line?
Very interesting exploration though.
Story looks awesome. As a non familiar to the ins and outs of Spanish football what are the Basque regions and how will you know if the players are born there for example the regens or say 10 years down the line?
Very interesting exploration though.

The Basque region is the Northern end of Spain and a little bit of Southern France. When you search for players you can set the nationality filter to Basque, and also on their info screen their nationality is Basque so i will only be able to sign players who fit this criteria. This save is gonna rely on immense regens so fingers crossed!!
The Basque region is the Northern end of Spain and a little bit of Southern France. When you search for players you can set the nationality filter to Basque, and also on their info screen their nationality is Basque so i will only be able to sign players who fit this criteria. This save is gonna rely on immense regens so fingers crossed!!

You can also sign Spanish players who arent Basque if they are 16 years old or younger (they immediately turn Basque). If you cant afford to buy them then a loan might work.
The Basque region is the Northern end of Spain and a little bit of Southern France. When you search for players you can set the nationality filter to Basque, and also on their info screen their nationality is Basque so i will only be able to sign players who fit this criteria. This save is gonna rely on immense regens so fingers crossed!!

Ok thanks now i understand what you are looking for. Should be good especially if you can make a title winning basque team and then the spanish team made of basque players. Fingers are crossed
Deadline Day

As the transfer window shuts here on deadline day, everybody is keen to see whether Athletic Bilbao head coach Sergio Creatas will add to the signing of Benat this summer. The manager has found it difficult to attract the calibre of player needed to improve the team whilst keeping to the clubs policy of Basque players only.

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The main dealings done by the club were the much publicised, and highly controversial acquisitions of Asier Del Horno and Igor Gabilondo. The transfer saga dominated the headlines as the club tried to force through their ideas without the consent of the team manager. The biggest signing however was Creatas' purchase of Basque native Benat, who joined for a fee of £17.5 million to add depth to the Bilbao midfield. Tarsi and Cantero were also brought in as future prospects for the club for a combined fee of 975K. Leaving the club, albeit not on a permanent basis were 4 promising young players including promising goalkeeper Arizzabalaga who left for Cartagena.

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The biggest Worldwide Coup of the summer saw Bayern Munich duo Muller and Alaba join Manchester City for a combined fee of £54.5 million with Munich using the funds to bring in Napoli play maker Marek Hamsik. Interestingly Bilbao were the biggest spenders in the Liga BBVA with a small spend of just £18 million which shows just how quite the transfer window in Spain was this summer.

Transfer window closed so now we can concentrate on the football. Any opinions and criticism of this story would be great regarding layout and detail level. Thanks guys.