Andoni Iraola: ‘When 10 players are behind the ball, I don’t feel very comfortable’

Andoni Iraola: ‘When 10 players are behind the ball, I don’t feel very comfortable’

18-May-2024 07:00:05 | The Guardian

Bournemouth’s manager on Marcelo Bielsa’s lessons, his love for cycling and why Unai Emery should beat him to awards

After an unforgiving start, Andoni Iraola has enjoyed an eye-catching first season in the Premier League, leading Bournemouth to their best points tally in the division, with a top‑half finish a distinct possibility heading into the final day. His work, imposing a breathless, aggressive style on a dynamic team, has earned him a nomination for the manager of the season award, as well as a new contract. As he approaches his first anniversary in charge next month, the closest thing to a grumble – as an avid cyclist – is the dearth of hilly terrain in Dorset. “The longest one is 200m,” he says with a smile, raising and then drooping his right hand. “It stops just as you are getting started.”

Raised in the Basque Country, the cycling heartland of Spain, Iraola has long been fascinated by the endurance and precision at the crux of competing on two wheels. During pre-season in Marbella last summer he was glued to the Tour de France over dinner and it was similar in his playing days, the majority spent at his boyhood club Athletic Bilbao, whom he captained to the Europa League final under Marcelo Bielsa in 2011-12. The pressures have changed since then.

Continue reading...

Read More