Everton’s bubble has well and truly burst

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One thing that can’t be levelled at Everton’s owners is the lack of backing for their most recent managers.

Ronald Koeman’s reign may have been ill-fated, but he was given funds in the transfer market to secure his targets.

Ditto Marca Silva.

Richarlison (£35m), Yerry Mina (£27m), Lucas Digne (£18m) and loan fees totalling almost £10m for Kurt Zouma and Andre Gomes, bring the Toffees’ spend to somewhere in the region of £90m. Continue reading

Has Marouane Fellaini won over the doubters?

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When all’s said and done, a 2nd place finish in the 2017/18 Premier League season was the best Manchester United were going to get.

That may disappoint some, but for a team that are still trying to find their identity under Jose Mourinho, it’s progress.

Something Marouane Fellaini has shown year after year at the Red Devils.

Many decry the Belgian as one dimensional, but Mourinho has always backed Fellaini to the hilt. Indeed, the Portuguese has even gone as far as saying on more than one occasion that the team is much weaker without the midfielder in it.

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Injury crisis compounds Sunderland’s problems

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When Sunderland set the club’s lowest ever points total for a Premier League season by amassing just 15 during the 2005/2006 campaign, they lost five and drew one of their opening six games.

Furthermore after those games, then managed by Mick McCarthy, Sunderland had a goal difference of minus seven, as they sat at that foot of the table.

That record perfectly mirrors the dismal start to this season which David Moyes’ side have made, as the 53-year-old awaits a maiden league win as manager.

Sunderland short on belief and confidence

Not only has Sunderland’s results been poor under Moyes, but so too have been the majority of their performances, with the team lacking in both belief and confidence, as testified when they lost their last league game 3-2 at home against Crystal Palace after surrendering a 2-0 lead.

A septet of injuries

Whilst the result in itself represented a major disappointment for Sunderland, that was amplified by the injuries which Lee Cattermole, Adnan Januzaj and Steven Pienaar sustained during the game.

Subsequently the trio, along with Victor Anichebe, Fabio Borini, Sebastian Larsson and Vito Mannone, are set to miss their team’s home clash against West Brom, as an injury crisis has developed at Sunderland to compound their current on-field problems.

Plagued by lapses in concentration

In order to rectify those problems Moyes faces an extremely difficult task, particularly given his team’s current defensive fragility, whereby on average they have conceded two goals per league game this season despite goalkeeper Jordan Pickford performing tremendously.  Ahead of the 22-year-old lapses in concentration, such as that made by Papy Djilobodji which enabled Harry Kane to score the only goal as Sunderland lost 1-0 to Tottenham, have cost Moyes’ team dearly.

A similar scenario faced McCarthy in the 2005/2006 season as the now Ipswich Town manager oversaw a disastrous Premier League campaign, for all but four weeks of which Sunderland were at the bottom of the table.  With five games of the season remaining, the relegation of McCarthy’s team to the Championship was confirmed, as of their 38 league games they lost 29 and won just three.

One of those wins was a 2-0 success against their local rivals Middlesbrough, as Sunderland earned their first league victory of the season at the seventh attempt, with that being a feat which Moyes will endeavour to inspire his players to achieve at home against West Brom.

Defoe vital to Sunderland’s prospects

The last game between the two teams at the Stadium of Light ended goalless in April, as despite having eight efforts on goal, Jermain Defoe was frustrated in his best efforts to score.

Nevertheless the 35-year-old striker has scored four of Sunderland’s five league goals this season, including two clinical finishes against Crystal Palace, to become the joint ninth all-time leading scorer in the history of the Premier League alongside Teddy Sheringham with 147 goals.

Therefore in defiance of his team’s current troubles, Defoe has continued to exercise his wonderful finishing ability, to vividly portray that he will be vital to Sunderland’s prospects of recovering from their disappointing start to the season.

Januzaj’s injury a major blow

Another player who could potentially help Sunderland achieve that is the mercurially talented Januzaj, although the 21-year-old Belgian internationalist is forecast to be out of action for six weeks due to damaging ligaments in his ankle against Crystal Palace.

Given his ability to create the type of goal-scoring opportunities upon which Defoe thrives, Januzaj’s absence constitutes another problem with which Moyes must contend, as the former Everton, Preston North End and Manchester United manager aspires to lead Sunderland off the foot of the table.

Moyes faces extremely difficult task

Despite having yet to win a league game this season, Sunderland have enjoyed success in the League Cup, with them progressing to the fourth round by virtue of beating lower league opposition in the form of Shrewsbury and Queens Park Rangers.

Therefore Moyes’ team have proved themselves capable of winning games, although that is a habit which they are yet to develop in the Premier League but require to do so soon, so as to avoid suffering a similar fate to that experienced by McCarthy’s team of 2005/2006.

Whilst the former Republic of Ireland manager did not have his problems to seek that season, neither does Moyes at present.

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Moyes realistic on Sunderland prospects in the transfer market

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New Sunderland manager David Moyes is fully appreciative of the need to exercise realism in his search for new players, according to the BBC.

Moyes aims to strengthen Sunderland squad

Since his appointment on 23 July, Moyes has identified it as being necessary to strengthen his squad, which at the moment consists of just 16 senior members, with Sunderland still to make their first signing of the summer.

That is despite the club being linked with moves for a number of quality players, including Manchester United’s Belgian duo of Adnan Januzaj and Marouane Felliani, both of whom are well known to Moyes.

Whilst Manchester United manager, Moyes gave Januzaj his debut, ironically, against Sunderland in 2013, with the 21-year-old scoring twice as the Red Devils won 2-1.

In terms of Moyes’ relationship with Felliani, that began when the 53-year-old Scot signed the Belgian internationalist during his time managing Everton. That was from Standard Liege for a then club record fee of £15m in September 2008.

Subsequently after spending five years with Everton, Felliani became Moyes’ first signing in his role as Manchester United manager, with the 29-year-old transferring to Old Trafford for £27.5m.

As such Moyes is understood as being interested in signing Felliani for a third time but admits that is unlikely to happen, since he believes Sunderland are not currently in a sufficiently strong position to draw such players to the Stadium of Light.

“I’d love to have a player of Felliani’s level. Realistically however, that is not going to happen,” revealed Moyes, who signed a four-year-contract with Sunderland.

Realism prevails over potential transfer targets

Therefore he is being extremely pragmatic relative to the players he can realistically expect to bring to Sunderland. Nevertheless Moyes is likely to receive significant financial support from the club’s chairman Ellis Short in order to strengthen his squad, which he is actively endeavouring to do.

“We’ve got bids in for players just now. We’re trying to strengthen the squad and I’m hopeful some of them will come off. In this market at the moment, you just never know,” said Moyes. His predecessor Sam Allardyce criticised Sunderland’s player recruitment policy, with Moyes indicating that as being an area in which he can definitely help the club improve.

“It does take a bit of time but we’ll make it work. We’ll get signings in. I am confident because if you look at the transfers we had at Everton, I think we had the best transfer record of any club in the Premier League. I hope to somehow replicate that during my time at Sunderland,” the Daily Mail quoted Moyes as saying.

Progressing towards a first signing

Ultimately however his primary ambition is to secure a first signing as Sunderland manager, which he is currently working towards, with The Sunderland Echo reporting that, in addition to Felliani and Januzaj, Moyes is also pursuing Rubin Kazan midfielder Yann M’Vila and Tottenham full back DeAndre Yedlin who both spent last season on loan with the Black Cats.

Furthermore Moyes is believed as not only wishing to sign a full back of Yedlin’s quality, but also a new centre-half and striker.

As yet the identities of potential targets for those latter two positions remain are still to be revealed but what is clear, is that Moyes faces a race against time to strengthen his squad before Sunderland’s first game of the 2016-2017 season, which is against Manchester City on 13 August.

Can David Moyes turn struggling Real Sociedad around this season?

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Manager David Moyes isn’t enjoying the best start to the season with Real Sociedad. It’s the Scot’s first full campaign in charge, but the Basque club are languishing in the lower reaches of the table early on, and have Atletico Madrid up next in the division. Real have struggled for goals, which in turn has seen them struggling for points, and Moyes could well be considering his future if things fail to improve. The decision could be made for him if Sociedad can’t haul themselves from the lower reaches in the coming weeks, and another sacking would a terrible way to end his time in Spain.

The former Everton and Manchester United boss enjoyed a strong debut campaign with the Basque outfit, more than ensuring of their survival in the Spanish La Liga, but he’s failed to build on such success in 2015/16. Sociedad have arguable been too focused on defending which has taken away from their attacking threat. Moyes’ side have failed to score in four of their seven games already, and have kept the same among of clean sheets. Currently 16th in the La Liga table, the Txuriurdins have picked up only one win this season, and only two players have managed to get on the scoresheet in the squad so far.

In his first campaign at the Anoeta Stadium, Moyes managed to get goals from the likes of Carlos Vela which proved crucial in their pursuit for survival. The Mexican has failed to score this season so far. Real Sociedad weren’t ever prolific in front of goal, and instead relied upon their defensive qualities, but when the same problems are arising that led to Moyes being appointed in the first place, supporters will start to lose patience in the Scot. Despite having such a wealth of creativity in the side, industry and defensive contribution has been the main objective in games.

Sociedad have just six points from a possible 21 this season, and have only picked up three La Liga victories in their last 17 games. It’s a record that Moyes needs to turn around as soon as possible before the club hierarchy replicate their treatment of his predecessor Jagoba Arrasate. Moyes is being linked with a host of jobs in the Premier League, and rumours are further fuelled by Sociedad’s failure in La Liga. Various reports are linking the 52-year-old with a move Aston Villa, but he still has a job to do in Spain.

Can Moyes turn things around at the Anoeta Stadium?

Why Real Sociedad could enjoy a successful second season under David Moyes

Spanish La Liga side Real Sociedad recently brought back midfielder Asier Illarramendi from Real Madrid this summer, with the deep-lying player having struggled for game time at the Santiago Bernabeu. He will join a side strengthened from arrivals such as Jonathas (£5M from Elche), Bruma (loan from Galatasaray), and David Concha (£700K from Racing), as well as a solid existing squad of talent.

And with manager David Moyes having a full pre-season to work with the players, Sociedad are sure to enjoy a more success in the following campaign to the Scot’s debut term at the club. Real drew their opening La Liga fixture away to Deportivo, and could take time to get into their groove before consistency shows, but they are engrained in a philosophy on industry that will hold them in good stead.

With a modest budget, Moyes has kept the new faces to a minimum, with team ethic and familiarity being what drives Sociedad on each season. They finished the previous campaign in a very respectable 12th place, which was a tremendous achievement given the amount of players they’d lost the previous summer, and where they were in the table when Moyes took over.

The former Everton man has said this season that he would consider spending many more years with Sociedad if things went well, and is looking forward to getting a full campaign under his belt. “I might stay for five years, more, but I want to give myself a chance to do a full season,” he said. Sociedad should be much more settled than 2014/15 now Moyes has had a long time to work his philosophy into the squad, which means supporters should see more clean sheets and a low conceded tally.

Real ended the previous season with hit and miss form, winning two, drawing two and losing two of their final six games. They have already picked up a clean sheet away from home in their opener, and will be hoping for many more. Performances on the road will be one area Moyes will want to improve upon, as it could be the difference between a strong top-half finish.

Their next game this season is against Sporting Gijon, who managed to take a point in their opener against Real Madrid. Home advantage will play a big factor, with David Moyes men losing just five of 19 games in their own backyard.

Can Real Sociedad pick up from where they left off?