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Thursday May 19 2016
2015-16 Season Review: Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Las Palmas, Valencia

Two British failures and two newly-promoted sides with respectable seasons make up the mid-table quartet, Daryl Hammond writes.

In every sense, this season was a defining one for David Moyes and his Real Sociedad side. He failed to make a sizeable impact during his first season with La Real, but with a full preseason, a summer transfer window and time to implement his philosophy, there would be little excuse for the Scotsman not to improve on the previous campaign.

One win in seven preseason friendlies perhaps forewarned the fate of Moyes’ team. The same disastrous form carried over to the League, where they picked up on win in their opening eight games.

A 2-0 home reverse to newcomers Las Palmas proved the final nail in the coffin for Moyes’ troublesome spell in Spain. For the most part the damage had been done to the Basque club’s season, as they were turfed out of the Copa del Rey by Las Palmas a month later.

There were some positives to be taken from the season, though, namely the continued emergence of young goalkeeper Gernimo Rulli, who put together a string of man-of-the-match performances against Las Palmas, Sevilla and Barcelona.

Moyes’ successor Eusebio Sacristan can be pleased with the impact he had on the side, delivering a top 10 finish, but few would see this season as one to shout about.

While the established Sociedad failed to inspire, the sides who had jumped up from the lower Leagues were outdoing themselves.

Just two seasons ago, Real Betis were playing Europa League, but until last year were plying their trade in the Segunda division, so in what has been a tumultuous past few season, a solid mid-table finish is perhaps what is needed at the moment.

Ruben Castro seemed to roll back the years, being the consistent and prolific striker Betis have relied on for years and banged in 19 goals in 38 appearances.

Despite finishing above them, their achievement was perhaps outdone by the achievements of Las Palmas. Having gained promotion via the play-offs, little to nothing was expected from the Canary Islands side, who eventually finished 11th.

While the exploits of Quique Setien’s team can be lauded now, Setien having replaced Paco Herrera in October, for a while, it looked as though the League would swallow them whole as rough early season form saw them flirt with relegation over the winter.

But as the winter drew to a close, something clicked. In a tremendous run of form, they picked up six wins in seven matches, besting the likes of Villarreal and Valencia while only losing to Real Madrid in a tight affair.

A major factor in this season’s success has been the performances of Jonathan Viera. The prodigal son, he returned after spells with Valencia and Shakhtar Donetsk, and proved the club’s most prolific and creative player.

If there was a recurring theme in this season’s Primera it would be the plight of British coaches abroad. Whilst Moyes’ tenure had borne indifferent results and inconsistent football, there was a sense of consistent failure about Gary Neville’s first foray into management.

The season had begun with such promise. Having clinched a much-coveted Champions League spot playing entertaining football with a youthful side, it seemed onwards and upwards for Valencia.

One or two poor results saw Nuno Espirito Santo call time on his Valencia career, with Neville his unlikely successor. Pundits cited his inexperience as a possible stumbling block, and they were right to be fearful.

It took 10 matches until Neville was finally able to boast a League win as his side were booted out of Europe twice and slid down the table. The England assistant was eventually sacked at the end of March.

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