Xabi Alonso has Real Sociedad's B team top of the league
Hometown hero Xabi Alonso has Real Sociedad’s B team top of the league and playing football with flair… after an apprenticeship with Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich, the self-confident rookie boss already looks destined for the dugout on the big stage
- Xabi Alonso into second year as Real Sociedad B boss and he’s made big impact
- The former midfielder is following in footsteps of his former boss Pep Guardiola
- After three games Real Sociedad B are top of league with maximum nine points
- He is his own man with the team having Xabi’s mark with added flair encouraged
Xabi Alonso never made a secret of the fact that his move to Bayern Munich in 2014 was influenced, not just by a desire to play for another top European club after Liverpool and Real Madrid, but by the opportunity to do a football management Masters under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola.
Three years on from his last game for the German club, Alonso is following in Guardiola’s footsteps, back at his home-town club, quietly molding a youth team in his image in the lower reaches of Spanish football.
Guardiola did it for a year in the fourth tier with Barcelona’s B team. Alonso is trying to get Real Sociedad from the third to the second tier. He is now into his second year in the job and he has made an extraordinary impact.
Xabi Alonso (L) into second year as Real Sociedad B boss and he’s made extraordinary impact
Alonso did a football management Masters under tutelage of Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich
Three years on from his last game for German club, Alonso is following in Guardiola’s footsteps
Last year the team missed out on the play-offs but such was the form of so many of Alonso’s young players that several took a step up to the first team this season. Real Sociedad started this campaign with no fewer than 16 players in the first-team squad who had come through the club’s own youth academy. It was more than any other side in LaLiga.
That created a potential problem for Alonso. With so many stepping up he would be deprived of talent that last season he would have been able to call upon. It does not seem to have bothered the 38-year-old. After three games Real Sociedad B, ‘Sanse’ as they are known, are top of their league with a maximum nine points.
They beat SD Leioa 1-0 at their Zubieta training ground on the opening day with the impressive attacking midfielder Robert Navarro scoring the winning penalty.
CD Laredo were their next victims, and at the weekend they beat Barakaldo 4-1. Xabi, still unmistakable with the same square jaw of stubble and serious expression, watches the progress from the sidelines well aware that the whispers around his progress are increasing in volume with every passing matchday.
The expectation is that he will eventually take the first team job – that has been the natural next step before at Real Sociead.
The current first team coach Imanol Alguacil was coach of Sanse two managers back. Many of the players now under his control were brought through by him.
Spaniard Alonso was a top quality midfielder, who played for Liverpool for five years
He also plied his trade at Real Madrid for five years before making the move to Bayern in 2014
But Imanol has the first team top of LaLiga so there are no guarantees he will step aside any time soon. The possibility that Alonso might make a next step elsewhere and then come back to San Sebastian has not been ruled out.
With not just Guardiola, but Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti among coaches he has played under he has a vast array of experience to draw on.
Not surprisingly though it’s already been pointed out by those who regularly watch the B team that he is also his own man. Sanse play with the same system and tactics as the first team so that players stepping up are not so fazed by the change in level, but the team also has Xabi’s mark with added flair encouraged.
Winning promotion will not be easy. The coronavirus has provoked a structural change in the lower echelons of Spanish football with the already regionalised third tier broken up into sub-groups. The path to promotion is convoluted but at the end of a now very winding road there is still the prospect of play-offs to the second tier at the end of the season.
That would be a huge success for Alonso but perhaps not his first. He is already being given credit for the sudden surge in brilliant defensive midfield players at the club. Ander Guevara is 23 and Martin Zubimendi just 21.
Alonso is his own man and Real Sociedad B team has Xabi’s mark with added flair encouraged
The latter in particular has been sensational at the start of the new season. He is still registered as a Sanse player but once he has played 10 first team games he will no longer be able to play for the B team. He looks destined to follow the path Alonso once trod, into the national team.
Not being able to call upon Zubimendi would be another loss for Alonso, but, at the same time, another little victory for him and his burgeoning career.
This is a good time for Real Sociedad. They made the signing of the summer when they captured David Silva from Manchester City and their early season form suggests a top four finish is well within their reach.
They could even bother those contesting the title. That has not happened since the 2002-03 season when they went into the last game of the campaign still with a chance of winning the league. They ultimately fell short and finished second. Their hugely talented 21-year-old midfielder Xabi Alonso left for Liverpool at the end of the following season.
Now he is back at the club and in charge of its future. And for all that he tries not to make too much noise about it people are talking, just as they did when he emerged as a player 18 years ago.
Alonso began senior career at Real Sociedad B and he is back and in charge of the club’s future
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