Arrasate Pays the Price for Bravo and Griezmann sales

After rumours circulated for a couple of weeks the axe finally fell on Jagoba Arrasate, who left his position as Real Sociedad coach on Sunday night following a home defeat to Malaga. It was the Basque club’s sixth La Liga defeat in 10 games and, combined with early elimination from the Europa League, proved too much to take for the La Real high command.

There’s little defending Sociedad’s form. One win all season – against Real Madrid in August – means they are second-bottom of the table and bowing out of Europe with defeat by Krasnodar before the Europa League’s group stage even started was another major black mark against Arrasate.

Sociedad had become a shadow of their former selves – but that’s not surprising, as the heart of the team was ripped out over the summer.

Antoine Griezmann, the club’s joint-top scorer last year and Claudio Bravo, La Liga’s third-highest point-scoring goalkeeper in EuroFantasyLeague, joined Barcelona and Atletico Madrid respectively, costing something in the region of €42m between them.

Precious little of that cash was re-invested in Arrasate’s team but the value of the pair was seen at their new clubs. Bravo set a record for Barca clean sheets in the first eight games of the season and Griezmann’s two goals against Cordoba proved the difference between the champions and the newly-promoted Califas this weekend.

La Real’s stature in Spanish football – not one of the big boys but not one of the minnows either – means they are always going to be vulnerable to losing their stars to Barca, Atletico or Real Madrid. It’s the failure to replace them in kind that has led to Arrasate’s departure.

Bravo kept 12 clean sheets in 37 league games last year but Sociedad have conceded at least once in every domestic game so far. Griezmann’s 16 goals don’t appear to have been accounted for either.

It was proved at the World Cup, when Bravo captained a thrilling Chile side, that the 31-year-old deserves to be considered among the best goalkeepers in the world, while Griezmann is a few years away from being touted as one of the game’s most exciting attackers. Time spent with Diego Simeone will help but it was under Arrasate – and Philippe Montanier before him – that Griezmann first began to realise his potential.

Sociedad have yet to confirm Arrasate’s replacement, with former West Brom boss Pepe Mel, ex-Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel and Argentina’s World Cup runner-up Alejandro Sabella all mooted as next in line. So too has David Moyes, six months removed from Manchester United. If Moyes is looking for an easier task than he had at Old Trafford, Arrasate’s experience shows he won’t get it at Anoeta.

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