Thanks to Ian in Dublin for the following e-mail: “What’s going on at Real Sociedad? I developed a soft spot for them after visiting San Sebastian in the eighties and couldn’t believe it when my favourite player, John Aldridge, signed for them. I see they are not doing very well at the moment in Spain. It’s hard to get news of them over here as all the focus is on Real Madrid and Barcelona.”
To be honest, Ian, it’s probably not a bad thing that you’re not getting to see very much of Real Sociedad right now. It’s not pretty and listening to the manager, there certainly doesn’t seem to be a great deal of hope that it’s going to get any better.
They surprised lot of people when they finished second in La Liga in 2002-03 but that feat seemed a distant memory throughout last season when they looked in disarray. After having lost their two best players, Mark Gonzalez and Nihat, they have also lost the two reasons that they managed to avoid relegation last season. This season was always going to be a struggle.
However, rooted to the bottom of the table with only a point to their name after having lost four of their opening five games and with a goal difference of minus six already, things are even worse than expected. In spite of the addition of Getafe’s Diego Rivas, brought in to kick people and add some bite to the midfield, the defence is a shambles. It might help if the forwards offered a glimmer of hope but so far, all that Darko Kovacevic has given us is a few laughs. Not that having your front teeth knocked out in the defeat to Deportivo is very funny, but having your new dentures fall out in a press conference has some comedic merit.
To be honest, Jose Maria Bakero does not give the impression that he knows how to stop the slide and his frequent appeals for everyone to have faith in the project are starting to smack of desperation. Faith and optimism are fine in pre-season, but someone needs to tell Bakero that the season has already started, and it’s the worst ever start for the club in its history.
With the international break this week it means that Bakero, for once, isn’t panicking ahead of another vital game and so has taken time out to give quite a lengthy interview to the Spanish press. As you don’t get much Sociedad news in Ireland Ian, here are a few quotes from that interview that might say quite a lot about Sociedad’s current situation. I’ll let you decide.
When asked about his promise that the one thing he could guarantee about his team would be that they would be hard to beat, yet they have currently conceded more than any other team in La Liga, Bakero replied “We’ve let in some stupid goals and you can feel free to criticise us as much as you want for that. Part of the problem with the team is that they are so tactically disciplined that they are following orders to the letter and lacking in initiative. It’s as if the players have taken on the idea that they need to defend better than last season and be as solid as rock so well, that that is all they think about”
Confused? You will be.
Bakero claims that “When the results are bad, then my instructions to them lose their validity. I’m an optimist and I’m convinced that this team is a lot better than what you are seeing”
Of course, it’s the manager’s job to make us see how good the players are, to make the team greater, not less than the sum of its parts. Bakero, however, believes that the problem may be because of when of the finest bits of spin you will ever here.
“Its because of the way I am, my way of talking, ambitious and aggressive, that the message people are getting is a double deception. Maybe I’ve created such a high level of expectation that, when we don’t deliver, it feels even worse than it is”
I told you it was pretty desperate, Ian, but don’t worry because Bakero has some reassuring words for the fans – “I just what to say that everything I’ve said I feel is the truth. That’s it………We’re in a process right now and it’s just a lot harder than we had hoped it was going to be”