Jorge Valdano believes close friend Marcelo Bielsa “returned the greatness” to Athletic Bilbao in his two years in charge at the club.
In an interview with Deia, the former Real Madrid director of football also maintained that the Basques blundered in sacking the Argentine at the end of last season.
“For me Bielsa returned the greatness to Bilbao. Younger generations are fed on ties like the Manchester United one and now this generation does not have to hear them. “They have already experienced a marvellous occasion when Marcelo’s team overcame United and he is someone who closely identified with the city and the club.
“I daresay he was very happy there, but I think it was an error to dismiss him. I have a suspicion Athletic lost a historic opportunity because, given time, a personality as strong as Bielsa would have brought the youngsters through,” insisted Valdano, who was also asked about the current Bilbao squad.
“[Boss] Valverde knows the club inside out and has a lot of experience. I’m sure he’ll do a good job.
“He has a squad with a good base and a setting at San Mames that invites you to play football, so all the ingredients are there for Athletic to have a successful season,” he explained.