Before sealing fourth spot last season, Philippe Montanier had announced that he would not be renewing his contract with the club and returned to France. The club turned to Montanier’s assistant Jagoba Arrasate to lead the club into the Champions League for the first time in 10 years. The former La Real Canterano may have been familiar with the club but he lacked experience and some viewed it as a huge risk.
With the way the season started, many believed that he had indeed bitten off more than he could chew but Arrasate proved his doubters wrong and finished the campaign in fine form.
Another major departure from San Sebastian was Asier Illarramendi. Real Madrid paid the player’s release clause and the Basque club could only watch as one of the jewels of their youth system went to pastures new. They turned to Esteban Granero and signed the Queens Park Rangers man on loan for the season. Unfortunately the former Merengue player picked up a serious injury in September and was out for six months. It was the start of a bad run for the club.
La Real beat Lyon to qualify for the group stages the Champions League in August. Drawn with Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar Donetsk, they finished last in the group, getting just one point and scoring just one goal. It was a poor return but it would end up being a blessing in disguise.
At the start of the season they went eight games without a win but after being eliminated from the Champions League they started to climb the table.
Carlos Vela and Antoine Griezmann were the stars of the show and the club will struggle to hold onto them next season. Vela scored 16 goals, claimed 12 assists and has made noises about wanting a move. Griezmann also scored 16 goals and has been linked with some of Europe’s top clubs. Inigo Martinez meanwhile put in some solid performances and has again been linked with Barcelona.
The club, who finished sixth and have qualified for the Europa League, will struggle to keep players this summer but with Arrasate now a season wiser, fans will be expecting a stronger start to the new campaign.