'This team has evolved since we last met...'

Wednesday 07 September 2022 10:43

Roberto Ramajo, a lifelong fan who covers Real Sociedad for radio network Cadena Ser and newspaper Diario AS, insists La Real will be harder to beat compared to the 2020/21 season.

How would you describe the mood among Real Sociedad fans at the moment? What are their hopes and fears for the season ahead?
“The mood of the Real Sociedad fans is one of great excitement. The club are now facing their third consecutive year playing European football, which is a great achievement for a club this size. The fans are delighted with the squad that has been put together, and they are confident that Real Sociedad can have another great season. The hope is to win another title, the dream is to finally reach a European final, and the fear is not to qualify for European competition after the investment that has been made.”

Early team news: United v Real Sociedad


Get the latest from both camps ahead of our Europa League opener on Thursday.

Forward Alexander Isak recently left for Newcastle United. How significant is his departure?
“Very important, because he was the main goal threat and one of our stars, even though he was less prolific last season. His departure left the team short in attack and dealt a blow for the fans. Having said that, there are very good feelings about new recruit Umar Sadiq, who has a very similar playing style.”
Which La Real players should we watch out for?
“Everyone, as there are very few weak links within the current squad! But if I was forced to highlight a few key players, I’d say Mikel Merino, the goalkeeper Remiro, central defender Le Normand, midfielders Zubimendi and Brais Mendez, Japanese creative player Kubo and recently signed Umar Sadiq... and David Silva, of course, who you know very well in the Premier League.”
What is the fans’ opinion of Silva? He is obviously very respected in Manchester, even though he represented the wrong club...
“He is a great footballer. It is a luxury for La Real to be able to count on a player with his characteristics, who has been a world champion and who has won so much. He is a much-loved player in San Sebastian, because of his enormous class and because he is helping a lot in Zubieta [Real Sociedad’s Academy] to help develop younger players.”
How has the team evolved since we last met, in February last year? How is manager Imanol Alguacil regarded after four years in charge?
“The feeling we have is that the team is more prepared to face the demanding duels that a team like United will offer. Tactically, the team is capable of playing with different styles and more flexible in terms of systems. The team has also evolved physically and are better prepared to fight against teams that pose such physical battles. Imanol Alguacil has already earned a place in La Real’s history after the Copa del Rey win [over Athletic Club in 2020] and the fans have a lot of respect and affection for him. They understand that he represents the values of the club better than anyone else. He is on a par with the best coaches in La Real’s history, such as [Alberto] Ormaetxea [winner of consecutive league titles] and John Toshack [one cup].”

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Predict the result of tonight’s match, and the final group-table standings.
“I think Real Sociedad will not lose at Old Trafford. The two times we have played there, we have played very decent games. I even see us finally scoring a goal there! I think it will end in a 1-1 draw, and I’ll even take a chance on the scorer: I’m betting on a goal from defender Aritz Elustondo. And I have the feeling that Real and Manchester United will play each other for first place on the last matchday at Anoeta. I am confident we will finish first and United second.”

To read the full version of this interview, you can order the Real Sociedad issue of United Review here.