By Iain Rogers
New Real Sociedad coach David Moyes faces a tough challenge to get the Basque club back on La Liga track but it is also a chance for the Scot to restore his reputation after a failed stint at Manchester United.
Sociedad announced late on Monday Moyes, who has been without a club since he left United in April after less than a season in charge, had agreed to take over from the sacked Jagoba Arrasate on a contract until June 2016.
He inherits a Sociedad side languishing in 15th place in La Liga after 11 matches and Sunday’s 2-1 win at home to champions Atletico Madrid, their first outing since Arrasate’s exit, was only their second victory of the campaign.
Based in the seaside city of San Sebastian, Sociedad finished fourth in 2012-13 and qualified for the Champions League group stage, where they finished bottom of their pool.
Last term they were seventh and secured a place in Europa League qualifying but were eliminated by Russian side FK Krasnodar.
Sociedad, whose glory period came in the early 1980s, are typical of the group of second-rank Spanish top-flight sides attempting to compete with wealthy Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Like many of their peers, they struggle to prevent their top players being lured away and the latest to depart wereFrance forward Antoine Griezmann to Atletico Madrid and Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to Barca.
However, Sociedad retain a squad that is a mixture of experience and youthful promise and it would be little surprise if they secure a European berth again this term.
Forward Carlos Vela is their standout performer and the Mexico international netted the equaliser in Sunday’s game against Atletico.
The likes of captain Xabi Prieto, Markel Bergara and Esteban Granero are solid performers in midfield, while Sergio Canales and Ruben Pardo, also midfielders and in their early 20s, provide a creative spark.
Up front is where Sociedad struggle, with only 12 La Liga goals scored this season, and the lack of a reliable goal scorer may prompt Moyes to dip into the January transfer window.
The 51-year-old made his name during a successful spell at Everton before it was tarnished at United but if he can get Sociedad back into Europe it could be a springboard to bigger and better things.