Why David Moyes failed at Real Sociedad

It has come to an end. A sad one, I must say. David Moyes’ spell at Real Sociedad has now become a part of history. His Spanish fairytale didn’t last as long as he might have wanted. But, as everyone knows, relationships don’t always end well. Football romances are no different.

We cannot say that his year-long expedition abroad was precisely successful. Having achieved no titles nor European qualifications, it is plausible to accept he didn’t adapt well to La Liga. Or, maybe, he is a useless manager, as quite a few think in Manchester and, now, San Sebastián. The only true statement we can make is that there are many possible reasons why Moyes didn’t succeed at Real Sociedad. Choosing just one and setting it on stone wouldn’t be fair.

“The season began and they saw the outcome of having a whole summer to work on a promising project: no change”

During his first season, Real Sociedad were dumped out of the Copa del Rey in the round of 16. Also during this period, the team finished 12th in the La Liga table. Not such a high-performing result, clearly. With the Spanish side currently 16th in La Liga, Real Sociedad’s board decided that the 2-0 away defeat at relegation-threatened Las Palmas was the final straw.

Fans had lost hope a long time ago. The season began and they saw the outcome of having a whole summer to work on a promising project: absolutely no change. That must have done it. Real Sociedad have the base to become one of Spain’s most feared teams; all they need now is the right leader. Despite their potential, the similarities between this season’s Real Sociedad and last year’s are rather worrying. As a matter of fact, the txuri urdins are following the same path. Hopeless start, manager fired in November. Not the best of traditions.

“Having one of the best squads in La Liga just isn’t enough”

It is fair to say, however, that Spanish and British football have very little in common. There are 22 players trying to put a ball inside a net. That is it. Not even referees are similar. In Britain they are much more permissive than in Spain, but only because the style of the game makes them. Football is much more physical in the Isles than it is in the Peninsula, where the tactical and strategic side of the sport tends to prevail. Defence is normally more important in La Liga, where crazy scores are uncommon. Clear examples are sides like Barcelona, the Spanish national team that won the World Cup and even not-so-known clubs, such as Celta Vigo and Villarreal, who have managed to fight the top two thanks to their combinative style of playing.

This is perhaps the reason why David Moyes didn’t succeed in Spain. Having one of the best squads in La Liga just isn’t enough. If you want to do well, you have to know the game. You have to own it. You have to teach your players what to do in every scenario. And you cannot be a coward. Stick to your beliefs, even if they mean you will lose 4-0 once in a while. As the saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

David Moyes was once a fantastic coach. He led Everton to England’s football headlines, and I am sure he will be cheered again. Perhaps just not in Spain.

Guille Guridi Alvarez

Image: edube via flickr

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