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Hinchas y Jugadores - Eibar with Euan McTear (2nd May, 2017)

Euan McTear is a Scottish football journalist who focuses on LaLiga and who writes about Spanish football for MARCA In English and These Football Times.

You can follow him on Twitter here and buy his book on Eibar here.

How long have you been a fan of Eibar and what made you support them in the first place?

I first started following Eibar as a result of the Scottish links of their fan. I then wrote a book called ‘Eibar The Brave’ about their promotion as LaLiga’s smallest ever team and got to know the club and its supporters better and have followed them closely ever since.

Given the transfer windows and the squad that was assembled at the start of the season, is Eibar where you want it to be?

Eibar have far exceeded expectations in 2016-17. Although they no longer have the very smallest budget of the division, they are still one of the smallest teams in the transfer market. Yet their sporting director Fran Garagarza has an eye for a bargain and signed some excellent players, who have performed better than most expected to help Eibar challenge for a European spot.

Of the signings made this season, which one worked out the best/had the most impact and why?

Former Real Madrid player Pedro León was signed on a free transfer after leaving Getafe last summer and he has been one of the team’s greatest signings. Already he has reached double figures in terms of goals, something he hadn’t done before, and he has also contributed to Eibar’s overall attacking play from his position on the right wing.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of Eibar this season? Any standout players?

Their strength has been taking their chances. Sergi Enrich has had a superb season leading the line up front and has rarely missed when presented with clear sights of goal and the same can be said of Kike García since his return from a lengthy injury. Eibar have been able to overpower their teams in attack by finishing well.

List some things you appreciate and some things you can’t stand about the club management.

The way the club has been able to keep signing quality players on a shoestring budget is impressive and the club is gradually growing bigger and financially stronger with each season they’ve been in the top division. On the other hand, the fans have sometimes been overlooked, as with the building of the stadium’s new East Stand, the design of which has upset some in their main fan group, as did the fact that they were told to remove a banner they’ve brought to matches for years as it was allegedly interfering with the advertising boards. Fortunately, the fans were eventually permitted the keep the banner in place.

What has the mood among the fans been during the campaign? Do you generally agree/disagree with them?

Most Eibar fans still can’t believe they’re in the top division, never mind fighting for Europa League places. So they’ve been content with what’s been going on on the pitch and the fact that relegation was never a concern.

Are there any talented youngsters at the club that you expect to have a big future?

There aren’t many very young players in the Eibar team, but a couple of 25-year-olds look destined for bigger things in the near future. Ander Capa has been excellent at right-back and was even linked with a transfer to Barcelona during the season, while Florian Lejeune has impressed too. He had been brilliant with Girona in the second tier last season and has comfortably made the step up, so can really go far.

If you could make one realistic signing for Eibar this summer who would it be?

Eibar’s transfer business is rarely predictable, as they always sign players who fans had never heard of or who had been long forgotten. But if Eibar could keep the aforementioned Capa and Lejeune at the club then that would be considered a good transfer window.

Finally, predicted finish for Eibar?

Given the strength of Athletic Club and Real Sociedad, the giants of the Basque Country, I think Eibar will struggle to finish above them and will come 8th, meaning they’d sadly just miss out on European qualification.

A huge thanks to Euan for taking the time to do this!

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