If Manchester United fans think they’re suffering from a new manager hangover, they’ll find they’ve got nothing on Real Sociedad, their Champions League opponents on Wednesday evening.
La Real were the surprise package of La Liga last season, finishing fourth and qualifying for the Champions League following a play-off victory over Lyon.
It’s their first outing in Europe’s premier tournament in over ten years, but while United’s domestic troubles concern struggling to be among the mix for the title, Sociedad could well be more worried about staying in the division.
While the spectre of Sir Alex Ferguson continues to hang oppressively over David Moyes, Sociedad boss Jagoba Arrasate has his own seemingly-impossible act to follow.
Frenchman Philippe Montanier was the manager who oversaw Sociedad’s unlikely rise up the table last season, but his surprise decision to leave for Rennes in the summer left his assistant Arrasate to pick up the reins.
Like Moyes, he’s found the task a difficult one to tackle so far. Sociedad are in ninth place in La Liga, but just four points from the bottom three having won only twice in nine games. They’re also rock bottom of their Champions League group having lost to both Shakhtar Donestk and Bayer Leverkusen.
While last season they finished as the league’s third top scorers, trailing only Barcelona and Real Madrid, this time round they’ve managed only eight goals, with last season’s 14-goal top scorer Carlos Vela having seemingly lost his knack infront of goal.
The former Arsenal man has managed just two in the league this campaign, but despite not scoring he proved one of the stars of the show in Sociedad’s unexpected 2-1 win at Valencia at the weekend.
The result ended a run of eight without a win, and should provide Arrasate’s team with a much-needed injection of confidence ahead of a daunting trip to Old Trafford.
Nonetheless, David Moyes’ men will also target this game as one in which they can rejuvenate their own stuttering campaign. Thankfully for Moyes, their indifferent domestic form has not been replicated in Europe, with a 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen being followed by a respectable 1-1 draw in Ukraine.
It means that despite their Premier League woes, they’ll fancy a win on Wednesday that will take United one step further to qualification for the second round, and they can be backed to do so at 4/9.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.