Real Sociedad have gone from playing in the Spanish Second Division in the 2009-2010 season to touring around Europe. A progressive ascent that, over the years, has allowed them to visit cities like Manchester, Lisboa, Milan or Rome.
A stable program, led by a manager developed in the club who feels the badge more than any of their fans, that reached its climax (which ended up being only the beginning) when they won a national title against their lifelong rival. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it is an accurate depiction of the journey of Real Sociedad.
Ever since they returned to the First Division, the San Sebastian side has followed a set of masterful guidelines that have turned it into the perfect club project and the envy of every team in the country.
But not everything has been a bed of roses, as they have suffered the departures of key players, like Íñigo Martínez, or other tough blows like the severe injuries of their attackers, such as Sadiq, Carlos Fernández or the star of the team: Mikel Oyarzabal.
In spite of all of the hurdles they have come across, they have managed to get back up and running as a result of the importance that has been attributed to Zubieta and making the right moves on the transfer market.
Zubieta has always been one of the best academies in all of Spain, but little by little, its players have made their way onto the senior squad and, currently, it is a prolific source of quality players like Griezmann, Oyarzabal, Íñigo Martínez or Barrenetxea.
In order for them to establish themselves on the first team, it is critical to have a manager that trusts the young players and gives them minutes: Imanol Alguacil.
The Basque manager has also been of extreme importance when in comes to building a conection between the fans and the team, as he has proven to be a supporter himself in many ocassions, which has immensly strengthened a relationship that shows its importance in every game the team plays at Reale Arena.
In addition to all of that, there is one of the most important steps: signing the right players on the transfer market. To put things into perspective, Real Sociedad achieved promotion to the Spanish First Division only a year before Real Club Celta de Vigo, now compare the evolution of both projects.
It mostly has to do with the right signings being made after bringing in lots of money by selling important players (Griezmann or Íñigo Martínez).
Great operations managed by Roberto Olabe and the front office, like the cases of Merino, Kubo, Brais Méndez or Remiro, have allowed them to become a more active player on the transfer market and keep their most important players without needing to make any sales.
The best example of this is the interest Arsenal showed on Zubimendi last summer; the player refused to join the Premier League runner-up as a result of the ambition the Basque project has displayed year by year.
There is only one feat left for them to accomplish at this stage: coming out on top in a knock-out round of a European competition. Since it did not seem like things worked out in the Europa League, the ‘donostiarras’ have accepted the challenge of trying to do in the Champions League knock-out stages after showing Europe the team they are in the group stage.
The program is taking off, let’s hope this is just the beginning.
Translated by Nuño Alonso.
Main image: @RealSociedad.