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What Went Wrong For David Moyes at Real Sociedad?

November 21, 2015

- Grant Whittington

When David Moyes took charge of Real Sociedad in November 2014, he was embarking on a journey to rebuild a reputation that had been tarnished during his time as Manchester United manager. This reputation, which had been so carefully and impressively cultivated during Moyes’ time at Everton, disintegrated after nine desperately disappointing months at Old Trafford and the Scotsman accepted the challenge to revitalise the Basque club’s fortunes.

What went wrong for Moyes in Spain?

Despite an initially promising start and positive intentions, however, Moyes ultimately failed and was dismissed the day before he celebrated a year in charge of the club. This was the culmination of a horrendous start to the season, which saw Sociedad struggle for goals and slip to the fringes of the La Liga relegation zone. A 4-0 thrashing against Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao hardly helped his cause, while the clubs’ rigidity and lack of creative flair also undermined Moyes’ efforts.

There were other issues too, as Moyes struggled to adapt to the culture in Spain and the challenges posed by language, climate and fan expectations. The latter problem was nothing new, of course, as Moyes had also failed to acclimatise to the relentless hunger for success that followed him during his time at Old Trafford. This type of expectation is prevalent throughout the passionate and diverse fan bases that exist in Spain, and Moyes’ lack of progress or forward planning counted heavily against his perception.

The rise and fall of Moyes: What next for the Scotsman?

By the end of his time in Sociedad, Moyes cut the same confused and frustrated figure that haunted the Old Trafford touchline in 2014. This represented a dramatic fall from his first few months in charge of the Basque club, when Moyes masterminded a 1-0 home win against FC Barcelona and led Sociedad from relegation trouble to a respectable mid-table finish.                                                  

Ultimately, Moyes’ decline proves that while he is a capable manager, he is best-suited when operated within his comfort zone. We should therefore expect him to return to British football for his next role, presumably at an ambitious mid-table club that is hoping to cement its place among the top-seven Premier League clubs. This is where Moyes is at his best, in a scenario where there is limited expectation and time to build for the future.

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