Bilbao and Bielsa on collision course

Athletic Bilbao and Marcelo Bielsa are on collision course after comments made by the Argentine Coach on Thursday.

The 56-year-old had called a Press conference lasting more than an hour, during which he explained he had become involved in a heated exchange of words and a physical confrontation with the site manager at the club’s Lezama training ground earlier in the week.

El Correo reports that Bielsa, accompanied by director of football Jose Maria Amorrortu, visited the facility to see how modification work had progressed over the summer and was unhappy at what he saw, calling it ´fraud, theft and deception`.

According to Bielsa, the work should have been completed on July 2 and he accused the company of acting in its own interests rather than Athletic’s, claiming that a squad worth Є300m could not work under those conditions.

However, the club says it does not condone Bielsa`s words and issued a statement on its official website.

“With regard to the comments made by Marcelo Bielsa on July 5 relating to work taking place at Lezama, the Athletic board wishes to express the following:

“Athletic does not share the personal and subjective opinion expressed by Marcelo Bielsa in the Press conference regarding the construction work, or the extent to which the contract has been honoured and the professionalism of the people involved.

“Athletic wishes to show that the contract work has been fulfilled correctly thus far, so would like to publicly apologise for any damage comments by a club employee could have caused to the construction company and its workers.”

An emergency board meeting lasting three hours took place on Friday night – with Bielsa and his assistant Diego Reyes in attendance – after which President Josu Urrutia was tight-lipped and refused to make any declarations to waiting media.

Reports in Bielsa’s native Argentina have suggested he is prepared to throw in the towel at Athletic, despite saying this week that ´I always keep my promises`, and it was claimed he was on the verge of booking an airline ticket to return home as soon as possible.

Bielsa took charge at San Mames last summer, steering Los Leones to the final of both the Europa League and Copa del Rey, and the present war of words comes exactly one year since Urrutia won the club’s presidential election, an important part of which was the appointment of Bielsa to the bench,

An often controversial character in the past, rumours have surfaced during the close season that Bielsa could leave the Basques after he was linked with several top posts.

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