Imanol, one step away from making history with Real Sociedad | Soccer | Sports

Imanol Alguacil said goodbye at the press conference prior to the Cup semi-final against Mallorca (9:30 p.m.) with a trademark “Go for them!” Before, he had pointed out that he will ask the bus driver to take them along Avenida de Madrid, the straight line that leads to the Reale Arena and where the fans converge, “because the game starts to be won from the reception, although I don’t know if The Ertzaintza will allow it.” Sometimes, the Real Sociedad coach can’t stand it, and his passion gets the better of him, like when he celebrated the Cup title by behaving like another fan in front of the journalists.

Sincerity can also help. Like on the eve of last Saturday’s game against Villarreal (1-3). When any other coach would have evaded the questions about the clash against Mallorca, with the recurring, “we are focused on the League”, he disengaged himself from the commonplace and acknowledged: “I’m going to be honest, we are all thinking about the semi-final on Tuesday ”. And he expanded without palliatives: “I always say that the next game is the most important, but we are one step away from playing a final with fans in the stands, and that is what we wanted to do three years ago. There is no doubt that surely winning against Villarreal”, – which did not happen – “helps more, but I think that everyone, and I too, and surely the player too, are thinking about that semi-final that can take us to a final.” .

The game by game thrown into the trash with a couple of sentences, although he was only telling the truth, because lying is difficult for the coach of the San Sebastian team. Even in a display of sincerity, he also acknowledged: “There were two moments this season in which I have said that by hiding or not giving clues to the rival, sometimes I am ashamed, but I admit, I have told a couple of little lies.”

That sincerity also brings him problems sometimes, like after the game against PSG in Paris, when he attacked, without naming him, against his player Hamari Traoré, who was off the field, being treated, when Mbappé scored 1-0 on a throw-in. corner, while Kubo was in charge of covering up the absence of his partner. “If a player leaves the team with one less it is because he has to go to the hospital,” he confessed. His vehemence was also portrayed in Son Moix, in the League match against Mallorca, his rival in the cup semi-final, when the television cameras captured him making obvious gestures to Beñat Turrientes to get him to return to the game after suffering a strong blow. in the head for the one who finished the game dizzy.

Despite everything, or perhaps because of all that, Imanol fits like a glove into the idiosyncrasy of Real because he is part of it. It is not a strange element that is shoehorned in, but a piece of machinery that has always been there, at the disposal of the club, and that has been the leader in one of the most brilliant five years in the history of the San Sebastian club, which it reveres. with a monument at the doors of the Reale Arena to Alberto Ormaetxea, the coach who achieved maximum glory in Realist history with two consecutive league titles (1981 and 1982).

The Orio coach does not yet have a statue, but he is one step away from reaching the milestone of another coach adored by the fans, John Benjamin Toshack, the only one who has led Real Sociedad to two Cup finals. Imanol can also do it, He is only one game away, and two away from winning the tournament for the second time.

It is true that his team is not going through its best moment of the season. After a brilliant start to the League, in which the patterns of the previous campaign seemed to be repeated. The fact of competing in a tournament as demanding as the Champions League, weakens the strength of the biggest players and does the same, to a greater extent, with the teams that do not have such a large wardrobe. And if the minutes accumulate in the legs of the footballers, the injuries weigh even more, from which no one is immune, but which have taken a vicious toll on the squad managed by Imanol.

At least he gets Mikel Oyarzabal back for the call. “He hasn’t played for a while, but the captain is eager and he draws strength from wherever,” says the coach, who is left without Barrenetxea, who retired as soon as the match against Villarreal began.

Mallorca traveled to San Sebastián, along with 500 fans, after being seen off at the gates of Son Moix by fans shouting “Yes, we can!” After the goalless draw in Palma, Javier Aguirre, their coach, does not give up. He already experienced a similar situation when he coached Osasuna. “On that occasion we were not favorites either and, for many reasons, there are many similarities with that. The outside environment is very similar. There is a beautiful story behind it and I hope it has a happy ending,” concluded the Mexican coach.

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