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Mendilibar gets Athletic chance

Athletic Club Bilbao have appointed José Luis Mendilibar as their new head coach to replace Ernesto Valverde.

Successful time
The 44-year-old arrives after guiding SD Eibar to a fourth-placed finish in the Segunda División in the 2004/05 campaign. Previously, he had been in charge of Athletic's prestigious youth department at the club's Lezama training headquarters. Valverde stood down despite a successful one-year spell at San Mamés.

Eibar farewell
Upon leaving Eibar, Mendilibar, who will bring physiotherapist Toni Ruiz with him, said: "I have enjoyed a great year here. At first it was unimaginable that things could turn out as well as they did. There is a new excitement about the club and the team have made themselves noticed."

Intertoto challenge
Mendilibar will work with the Athletic players for the first time on Sunday as they prepare to enter the UEFA Intertoto Cup second round, after finishing ninth in the Primera División. He said: "Being in the Intertoto gives us the chance to qualify for the UEFA Cup and for that reason, the players should make a concerted effort."