Is David Moyes the right man to resurrect Real Sociedad?
In the wake of news that Real Sociedad have parted ways with former coach Jagoba Arrasate, ex-Manchester United boss David Moyes is being strongly linked with a switch to Spain.
Sociedad, who enjoyed a taste of short-lived Champions League football last campaign, have now slipped into La Liga’s relegation zone and crashed out of the Europa League.
A 1-0 defeat to Malaga compounded their woes, leaving the Basques just one point from the bottom, and opened up an intriguing managerial vacancy that may just be Moyes’ ticket to restoring his reputation.
The image of the pragmatic Scot plying his trade in La Liga, famed for it’s silky, attacking and technique-based football, may not immediately compute. However, a change in style for both club and coach could be just what is needed to aid their respective revivals.
At Old Trafford, Moyes was widely criticised for playing to avoid defeat rather than win, a mentality not considered befitting of a manager of one of the world’s biggest clubs. Struggling Sociedad, however, could certainly benefit from the addition of some Scottish steel and organisation, having conceded 13 and taken just six points from 10 games.
The Blue and White brigade undoubtedly have ambitions to win silverware in style, the same as any top tier club, but solidity and realism must be the first priority. With the trap door beckoning, Moyes is certainly capable of bringing some much-needed defensive nous to the Anoeta outfit’s backline.
Diego Simeone has proven without doubt that a hard-working approach and sometimes stifling tactics, with a gameplan favoured over artistic expression, can work in La Liga.
Savvy Simeone does have greater resources at his disposal with Atletico than Sociedad could offer, but even the Vicente Calderon side have seen key players depart after lifting the Spanish title and reaching a Champions League final.
That is just how tough it is to keep hold of prize assets, but Moyes is well-versed in working with a limited budget and crafting a competitive squad from his existing tools. During his time at Everton the purse strings were kept tightly shut, even as the Toffees were plundered for talents such as Wayne Rooney.
In fact, judging from his disappointing transfer windows whilst in charge of the Red Devils, Moyes does his best work when there are less funds at his disposal, luring the likes of Steven Pienaar and Phil Jagielka to Goodison Park for relative bargains.
This frugality will go down well in San Sebastian, after the Basque club sold key players such as academy product Asier Illarramendi and top attacker Antoine Griezmann in recent seasons.
Simeone’s Atletico swooped for the latter this summer, severely hampering Arrasate’s chances. Prolific France forward Griezmann had been key to a seventh place league finish in the previous season, netting 20 times in all competitions as part of a fruitful partnership with Carlos Vela.
With the goals now drying up in his absence, Moyes would have a challenge on his hands to rally the remaining resources, although Sociedad are certainly not without potential stars.
As of yet, no one has stepped up to take Griezmann’s place, but, alongside Vela, the Basques boast former Real Madrid men Sergio Canales and Esteban Granero, as well as top assistant Xabi Prieto in midifeld.
Iceland striker Alfred Finnbogason was brought in over the summer and, although he has disappointed so far, could stand to gain from a second chance to impress. Whilst in defence, Moyes may be able to mould Spain cap and academy product Inigo Martinez, currently Sociedad’s joint top scorer, into a sturdier centre half.
Having spoken recently of being open to a move abroad, Moyes upping sticks for Spain to test his tactics against the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid is surely an intriguing one. Whilst it may appear a mismatch on the surface, both parties could stand to profit from a clash of cultures.