Tim Stannard reflects on Real Sociedad's latest appointment...
Good old David Moyes.
Rather than hang around for Newcastle or Tottenham types to jettison a manager and provide a snug return to the coaching game, the former Manchester United man has packed his knapsack, dug out his inter-rail pass and gone on a truly excellent adventure. The destination for the Scot, San Sebastian, has been a sanctuary for three British managers of the past, most recently Chris Coleman, and it is easy to see the attractions. Real Sociedad lies within one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, nestled on the Basque coast, with France a stone’s throw away (if you happen to be freakishly strong).
Moyes over Mel
Although the news in Spain was brewing from last week that Moyes was going to be taking charge, it looked like money was going to be an issue and prevent a beautiful partnership. Midday through Monday, former West Brom and Betis boss Pepe Mel was being lined up to take over instead.
That would have been the safer choice from La Real. The Spaniard knows the language a little better than Moyes, has decades of experience managing in La Liga and, having been in charge of a madcap Seville outfit, Real Sociedad would have been a doddle.
However, late on Monday night it was big hitter Moyes who was unveiled as the new coach, given the job of rebooting a season for the Basque side that has been more than hopeless to date.
The former Everton boss will be presented by the club on Wednesday and take training the same day, with the benefit of an international break to get the team ready for a trip to Deportivo, a proper six-pointer.
The reasons for La Real’s rather odd performances this season have been hard to pin down. Despite the Champions League campaign last year that was a bit of a damp squib in the end, Real Sociedad still managed to end up in the European places, in seventh.
However, elimination in the qualifying rounds immediately put previous boss Jagoba Arrasate under pressure. The Spaniard’s job certainly wasn’t helped by the summer sales of keeper Claudio Bravo and forward Antoine Griezmann.
Back to Basque
This bad start to the year continued, with La Real picking up just two victories from 11 to leave the club only out of the relegation zone on goal difference. However, those wins will give a huge glimmer of hope to Moyes, who faced the Basque side twice last season in Champions League clashes with Manchester United.
Their victories so far, bizarrely, came against Real Madrid early in the campaign and last Sunday's gutsy win over visiting Atlético Madrid.
La Real is a classy team with players of the quality of Carlos Vela, Iñigo Martínez, Rubén Pardo and Sergio Canales. But they have been massively underperforming this season.
Real Sociedad will hope that the feisty, steady coach who had a fine decade in charge of Everton is the one that arrives in San Sebastian on Wednesday, rather than the rather dejected figure that left Old Trafford.