Bielsa coy on Bilbao future
Marcelo Bielsa refused to comment on his future after Athletic Bilbao's last ever game at San Mames ended awfully with Levante scoring in injury time to win 1-0.
Athletic's final outing at its century-old ground had began with a moving pre-game ceremony involving 100 seconds of applause and players from all the club's youth teams on the pitch.
But it ended in disaster, with a red card for Iker Muniain, whistles for the departing Fernando Llorente and a late breakaway goal by Levante's Juanlu ending any lingering hopes of European football at Bilbao's new San Mames Barria ground next year.
The Chilean coach may not be present when Athletic kick off the new season at their new home, as his contract is up the summer and club president Josu Urrutia would reportedly like to replace him with current Valencia boss Ernesto Valverde.
Asked by reporters after the game to comment on cries of 'Bielsa, stay' from fans who are still behind him, 'El Loco' said he appreciated the backing but gave little else away.
"You always appreciate such support," Bielsa said. "That is all I want to say [about my future]."
Bielsa denied that the emotion of the occasion had put too much pressure on his own players, who despite a very disappointing season remained in the hunt for European qualification mainly due to Malaga's competition ban and Rayo's lack of a UEFA license.
"That this was the last game had an undeniable meaning, but in no way did it put pressure on the team," he said. "If anything should be pointed out it was the excess of elaboration. The negative of the defeat for us is that even a draw would have permitted us to aspire to a UEFA [Europa League] place. We created a lot of attacks, but few goal chances."
Muniain, who was saw red for a second half off the ball hack at Levante defender Hector Rodas, must learn to eliminate such "inconvenient reactions" to provocation from opponents, Bielsa said.
"He must not repeat that," he said. "He is a very passionate player, combative and young. This combination in creative players, who are normally treated badly, can generate some inconvenient reactions."