David Moyes’ new club Real Sociedad is often considered one of the most attractive coaching jobs in La Liga, but the former Manchester United and Everton manager faces a difficult challenge in turning around the fortunes of a side which — like himself — has endured a difficult few years.
Moyes was officially confirmed as the San Sebastian-based outfit’s new boss late on Monday night, and will take his first training session this morning before being presented to the media.
The press room at Anoeta is likely to be filled with both local journalists excited about such a high-profile appointment, and also more sceptical British reporters as Moyes returns to the game seven months after his spectacular sacking at Old Trafford.
The 51-year-old now has another big job on his hands.
Predecessor Jagoba Arrasate was fired 10 days ago after a 1-0 home defeat to Malaga, the latest poor result in a season which has already brought a Europa League exit to Russian side Krasnodar, and just one win in their first 10 La Liga games.
With Moyes presumably watching on TV on Sunday evening, the team raised themselves to beat champions Atletico Madrid 2-1 at home. That performance, including excellent goals from ex-Arsenal attacker Carlos Vela and towering centre-forward Imanol Agirretxe, suggested the players had not been giving everything for Arrasate through recent weeks.
That their only other win this season came in August’s 4-2 victory over Real Madrid also shows the players can turn it on when they want to.
Moyes has already been to the club’s Anoeta ground, where his United team drew 0-0 draw in the Champions League group stages last November. That Sociedad were taking place in that competition shows the potential at the club. However, key members of the side which finished fourth in La Liga in 2012/13 are long gone.
Real Madrid signed midfielder Asier Illarramendi in 2013, and manager Philippe Montanier left for Ligue 1 outfit Rennes.
Last summer, Barcelona snapped up goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and Atletico Madrid bought attacker Antoine Griezmann.
Combined incoming fees of around €80m suggest Moyes might get some money to spend in the January transfer window. However, directors at a club which was in administration less than a decade ago are unlikely to sanction a spending spree.
That said, there is still plenty of quality in the squad.
Besides Vela, other talents include Spain centre-back Inigo Martinez, former Real Madrid midfield starlet Sergio Canales, and playmaker Ruben Pardo. Perhaps aware of this potential, it was Moyes himself who first made contact with Real Sociedad, according to local paper Diario Vasco.
Club president Jokin Aperribay then met with the Scot in London early last week, with reports suggesting that it was his work with youth players and a tight budget at Everton which was attracted the Basque side.
After financial issues were sorted out last weekend, Moyes agreed to become the club’s fourth British manager, following Harry Lowe, John Toshack and most recently Chris Coleman, who lasted less than seven months during the 2007/08 campaign.
Coleman yesterday gave Moyes a ringing endorsement.
“It’ll suit him because of the way the people are: very hard-working. hugely passionate about the club, very similar to Everton.”
Moyes will be hoping to leave a more positive legacy as he looks to rebuild his reputation after United. That looks possible, but won’t be easy.
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