La Liga

Published on March 20th, 2018 | by Paco Polit

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Real Sociedad start new season early by throwing coach overboard

🕓 Reading time:3 minutes

Rather than waiting until the season is over, a stagnating Real Sociedad have made the decision to jettison Eusebio Sacristán to face the future 

Eusebio Sacristán is no more as on Sunday Real Sociedad made official a drastic measure that had been boiling within the offices for days: the sacking of the manager and all of his staff. Beheading the coach wasn’t enough for the board, though: Sporting Director Loren Juarros was also fired.

Real Sociedad’s season has been to date extremely inconsistent: quite decent when playing at home (although only six wins this year), but capable of crashing and burning any time they left the security of Anoeta. To date, the ‘Txuriurdin’ side has only picked up three wins on the road. Such unpredictability managed to end both their chances of getting into the European spots (a huge 12 points away, the same distance that bridges them from the relegation places) and the patience of the fans.

Last weekend against Getafe, Eusebio knew the stands were going to be murderously loud if his team didn’t deliver. And it didn’t: Getafe turned the game around and got a 1-2 win that sent the stadium into an uproarious complaint. Criticism was aimed at the coach, but also at the Sports Director. Eusebio was sad about that last part: “listening to the people yelling at Loren hurts me, he’s working his ass for the club”, he stated.

The pain is no more as both of them were unceremoniously sacked hours later after a board meeting. With nine games to go, the president and his counselors believed they will end the season in no-man’s land, and they preferred doing it within a less-irritated atmosphere. Jokin Aperibay summed it up pretty well: after thanking both former employees for their efforts, he admitted that “we’re having a bad season, we’re not meeting our goals and we needed a change”. Brutally honest.

Real Sociedad, although not as restrictive in their signings policy as fellow Basque side Athletic Club, has always taken pride in the way their internal promotion and youth training has provided the first team with both players and coaches. In that sense, the newcomer on the bench fits the bill perfectly: similarly to what Levante did two-weeks-ago with Paco López (albeit in a much less desperate way), the board has trusted the B-team’s manager Imanol Alguacil to be in charge until the end of the season.

Alguacil had that burst of energetic banter which young managers sport when facing their first big shot at the major leagues. In his first press conference he stated that he was “very happy” coaching the B-team, but that now he expects to be able to “climb many spots in the standings” with the first one. “I humbly accept the challenge, I always knew I had to work hard from the ground-up in order to earn such an important chance to prove myself”, he added.

“I have a free-pass to do and undo when I consider it necessary”, he admitted when questioned about the line-ups that fans are going to see until the end of the season. People who know him well have highlighted his demanding character and ambitious attitude: he expects the best from his players and is famous for his yelling during training sessions in the Zubieta training grounds. His teams are very disciplined, exert high-pressure in the oppositon box and make clean-sheets a top priority.

Meanwhile, the club is already scouting the transfer market while looking for a potential coach that can be handed the reins for next season. One of the first names to be tapped has been current Eibar boss, Jose Luis Mendilíbar. It actually makes a lot of sense: Mendilíbar has yet to respond to his team regarding his contract extension (it ends on June 30th), and he’s ready for a more ambitious challenge and he’s stated several times that he’s a fan of Real Sociedad. It looks like the unhappy fans in the stands might get a fan on the bench next season. 

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About the Author

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Paco Polit is a Valencia-based journalist with over ten years experience reporting La Liga, covering both Valencia CF and Levante's news, signings, ups and downs. Madrid and Barcelona are huge, indeed, but the Spanish La Liga is much, much more: regarded as the top football competition in the world, he enjoys explaining why to every reader from abroad.



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