Just How Much Pressure?
There is little doubt that David Moyes has not had an easy start to life as Manchester United manager, but it is not clear just how much pressure he is under. Would a Champions League group stage exit be forgiven? Would trailing outside the top four of the Premier League this term set alarm bells ringing? Moyes’ predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson has suggested the former Everton boss will be given time to get things right, but there is a sense that he is very much learning on the job at present.
That said, following a disappointing 1-1 draw at home against Southampton at the weekend, Real Sociedad should provide straightforward pickings for Manchester United. The Spaniards arrive having been inconsistent this term and bottom of the group without a point. After dispatching Bayer Leverkusen at Old Trafford, surely the Red Devils should have little problem dealing with a side robbed of their best player over the summer in Aiser Illarramendi. But Moyes is not underestimating the opposition.
“They change their style with one defensive midfielder and sometimes two. They had a good result at Valencia on Saturday and we have to be mindful of what they can do”, he said.
Real Sociedad coach Jagoba Arrasate is well aware of what a win at Old Trafford could do, with his side instantly being back in the qualification reckoning. Losing just doesn’t bear thinking about for the Basques, who would be all but out of the competition. But Arrasate is doing his best not to pile pressure on his players, stressing that they should enjoy the experience of turning out at the Theatre of Dreams.
“Playing here has more positives than negatives, and we won’t be intimidated by the occasion. Of course we’re coming here to a legendary, almost mythic stadium”, he explained. “Of course it’ll be a special night for all of us: the players, the coaching staff and the fans.”
Arrasate, likes Moyes, is new to his job. But the 35-year-old, in some quarters viewed as a shock choice to succeed the impressive Frenchman Philippe Montanier, has less expectation to deal with. Losing Illarramendi was a big blow, but at least Real Sociedad found some form before heading to England, with victory over Valencia at the weekend, 2-1 away from home, helping end a run of eight games without a win.
Manchester United are expected to win this match and it is hard to see Real Sociedad being able to stand up to the onslaught. However, Moyes’ men will need to be at the races more than was the case against Southampton, who they allowed to gain a foothold in the game at the weekend. It might not be pretty, but Manchester United have enough to grab the win. Manchester United 2-0 Real Sociedad.