David Moyes’ biggest test at Real Sociedad – getting the best out of Alfreð Finnbogason

After facing the brunt of the Old Trafford fans’ frustration and being hounded by the media in his ill-fated ten-month spell in charge of Manchester United, David Moyes has made a relatively encouraging start to the latest chapter of his managerial journey.

The Scottish coach has looked for refuge by heading to Spain, with Real Sociedad offering the ex-Everton tactician a chance at a fresh start.

Moyes was given an insight into the Basque outfit as his United side faced La Real in last term’s Champions League, but the Anoeta team’s dynamic has changed since those two Group E clashes.

After a seventh-placed finish in La Liga last season, arguably Sociedad’s two most-influential players were snapped up by the division’s frontrunners as Antoine Griezmann and Claudio Bravo were offloaded to Atlético Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

Opposed to the top-half exploits of last season, the going has been decidedly tougher in 2014-15, with Europa League elimination at the hands of Kuban Krasnodar and a poor domestic campaign claiming the job of previous manager Jagoba Arrasate.

The most sizeable expenditure after the €40-odd million recuperated in the summer was on Icelandic striker Alfreð Finnbogason, with the Icelandic forward setting the Spanish side back a club-record €7.5 million.

Only the top five clubs in La Liga scored more than Sociedad’s 62 last term, but goals have been an issue this season; Griezmann’s eye for the back of the net is clearly being missed.

There is an over-reliance on Mexican attacker Carlos Vela to get the goals the side needs, with the former Arsenal man leading the scoring charts for the club with a modest total of six to date.

Finnbogason was expected to form an exciting front two alongside Vela but has found life in Spain difficult to adjust to and goals even harder to come by.

The 25-year-old has failed to net in ten La Liga appearances for his new club and as such is not an automatic starter for Sociedad.

There is no doubt that the Scandinavian marksman has the quality to find the back of the net on a regular basis; his recent track record shows that he has been prolific for a number of seasons.

David MoyesA loan spell in Sweden with Helsingborg in 2012 kick-started a spell of two years of Finnbogason wreaking havoc amongst opposition defences.

Twelve goals in 17 games for the Swedes convinced Dutch side Heerenveen to bring the Icelander to the Eredivisie, where he hit the ground running and scored an impressive 53 goals in 65 outings over two seasons.

Finnbogason was a man in demand after finishing last season as the division’s top goalscorer, but has failed to replicate this clinical approach in front of goal since moving to Spain.

With Sociedad currently sitting in 14th in La Liga, three points above the drop zone, Moyes has work to do to ensure the side’s top-flight safety.

A 4-0 defeat to Villarreal is the Scotsman’s only loss to date, with the new manager seemingly solidifying the side’s defence apart from this game; La Real have kept four clean sheets in Moyes’ first six games in charge.

After making the team more compact and harder to break down, the Glaswegian’s next task will be to rediscover the Anoeta outfit’s killer touch in the final third – getting Finnbogason back on track, scoring goals and confident is a major part of whether it happens or not.

The Iceland international has not been selected in Moyes’ starting XI in La Liga as yet but showed signs of what he is capable of with his first goals for the club in midweek.

A brace again Real Oviedo on Wednesday night sent Sociedad through to the last 16 of the Copa del Rey and Finnbogason will now be knocking on the door for inclusion in the La Liga clash against Levante this weekend.

The Icelander has the task of taking some of the goalscoring burden off Vela’s shoulders and doing so would surely continue Moyes’ positive start to life at Anoeta and ensure Sociedad are not caught up in a relegation-threatened campaign.

I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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