What are Osasuna’s expectations heading into the year?
I would say the main goal is to fight off relegation, but as a fan I think we need to just ask the team to enjoy their return to the Primera División. Obviously for the sporting directors the objective is to avoid relegation but everything has happened so fast… It was totally unexpected for us to be promoted in August. The year before last, they saved the life of the club [referring to economic issues within the club] at the last minute in Sabadell, and the year after, getting promoted has been unbelievable. With such a young squad, I think we have to take into account a lot of what we have, where we are and why: Tajonar [Osasuna’s academy]. Now, without Mikel Merino everything is going to be harder, but I think we have a quality to fight in order to avoid relegation.
How would you summarise your team’s tactics?
It’s not a secret that Enrique Martin is not the best tactician in the world. Although, he is the ideal manager for Osasuna. He is a congenital motivator who knows the club like it is his own creation and looks after Tajonar in an incredible way.
We don´t expect the tactical system to change: 5-3-2 with with the help of wing backs to add another dimension when we are attacking. We have a big issue at left-back, however, which is not a new issue but a historical one. Javi Flaño is right footed and has been transplanted into the left-back position. He does a good job but he is not actually the best option. We have made plenty of signings but the problem remains the same. Let’s see if this season with Fuente (and Clerc too, although it is not official yet) it will be different. In midfield we will suffer as we have lost Merino and Manolo, both starters in the promoted team. With Mérida, Causic, Tienza, Torres, De las Cuevas, Otegui, we have plenty of lads to replace them but whether they step up is another thing. And up front, the arrival of Oriol Riera is stunning and a shot of adrenaline for the fans.
Who are your most influential players?
After the departure of Merino, I would bet on Oier (one of Osasuna’s captains and one of the strongest characters in the squad), De las Cuevas, Roberto Torres and Oriol Riera. These last three should make a huge difference in our attack.
How has summer transfer business gone for Osasuna
We were afraid of the economic issues but thanks to the unexpected promotion, the situation has stabilised. We just paid €400,000 for Fran Mérida while the rest of our summer signings were free agents and loans. Mérida and Riera are high quality signings; Jaime Romero has potential; Tienza is trustworthy and the rest of them are uncertainties. The base of Tajonar, as stated, will be the key.
Make one bold prediction for Osasuna for the coming season
Staying in La Liga, I am sure of it!