David Moyes faces a crucial week at Real Sociedad amid mounting scrutiny he has received in recent days following a poor start to the campaign. The former Manchester United manager was expected to lead his side to the European spots this season following a record-breaking summer of spending for the club but the Basques are close to the relegation places after having their worst start to the campaign since the 2006-07 campaign.
The Scottish boss took charge of the Spanish side in November 2014 following the sacking of Jagoba Arrasate. He managed to avoid relegation with a comfortable 12th place finish in La Liga but failed to conquer all with his methods.
Iñigo Martinez, one of the pivotal players at the club, admitted late last season that the target to stay in La Liga was reached but Moyes will have much to improve on his second season at Real Sociedad. "The early part of the season was difficult. Then we had a change of coach, Moyes came in with the intention of improving and changing things and it hasn't worked out so well," Martínez said, as quoted by AS.
The former United manager tried to put things right during a busy summer transfer window and even turned down offers to return to the Premier League with the intention to build something special at Real Sociedad. President Jokin Aperribay also backed the Scot by allowing him to bolster the squad with major names, such as former Real Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi and Jonathas – who scored 14 La Liga goals at Elche in the previous campaign.
But a dreadful start to the season, with two points and no wins in three La Liga games, has put Moyes's position in doubt. The results are not good but neither is the image of his side, who have failed to score a goal against two newly promoted sides – Betis and Sporting Gijon – and Deportivo de la Coruña, despite having a promising attacking partnership in Jonathas and former Arsenal striker Carlos Vela. The San Sebastian supporters are not happy but some players have indicated in recent days that the environment in the dressing room is not ideal either.
Important players such as ex-Real Madrid duo Esteban Granero and Sergio Canales look to have fallen out of favour, while earlier in September David Zurutuza voiced frustration over the lack of playing time, while slamming the new style of Real Sociedad under Moyes.
"The team is not performing as expected, we have a great squad but we are missing the joy. I think you have to play with more joy, I conceive football that way. We miss many things, not just the last pass. We need an idea, the team to be more compact. Not everybody is going together," Zurutuza said, as quoted by Noticias de Guipuzcoa. However, he later tried to play down the debate on his Twitter account, saying he did not want to single out anyone.
"If you see the faces of the players after the games, they are a drama because we see that we can give more but we are not performing as we should and we must change. I do not know if it's a tactical question or us but there is something that does not work."
Vela, who has scored 57 goals in 161 appearances at Anoeta, later revealed he could leave the club during the January transfer window, a sign he is not happy either. "I have to admit I thought about leaving la Real [in the summer]. Until January I will continue, happy at la Real – would I leave then? In each transfer window there are options to leave," he said in a press conference.
Moyes has three massive games in seven days. Real Sociedad will host Espanyol (on 19 September) and visit Granada (on 22 September) before a Basque derby against Athletic Bilbao (27 September), which could be decisive in the future of the Scot.