Imanol Alguacil: Real Sociedad ready to ‘dance to the music’ on neutral ground

Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
·2-min read

Real Sociedad head coach Imanol Alguacil believes it would have been “common sense” to play both Europa League fixtures against Manchester United on neutral territory but is ready to “dance to the music” in Turin.

The round of 32 draw threw up an interesting clash between the Premier League high fliers and in-form LaLiga side – a tie in which Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits his team head into with a “little advantage”.

While Old Trafford will host the return fixture next Thursday behind closed doors as planned, the first leg has been shunted from San Sebastian to Juventus’ Allianz Stadium due to Covid-19 regulations.

Sociedad head coach Imanol says the venue switch can be no excuse for his side but suggested the second leg being played on neutral territory would have been fairer after Solskjaer spoke about one-off European games.

“Well, we could say it could be a very little advantage,” he said. “I understand Solskjaer and I probably would have said the same in his place.

“But I don’t want any excuses. It’s just one more challenge to us.

“It is true that common sense would dictate that both games should perhaps be played in a neutral stadium, whatever.

“But we need to face it. We need to dance to the music, so we’ll have no excuses. We’ll come to the game tomorrow with excitement and with ambition.”

Manchester City great David Silva and Manchester United academy graduate Adnan Januzaj are among the familiar faces that Solskjaer’s side will be facing in Italy.

United have been eliminated from European competition by Spanish sides in each of the last three seasons, including last season’s Europa League semi-final loss to Sevilla, but Imanol is not reading much into that statistic.

“It was probably a very different Man United when they were knocked out by these Spanish teams in the past,” Imanol said.

“We are seeing a very different Man United now. Much more powerful, much more competitive, etc. We’ll have to see. It’s a different team altogether.

“As for my players, I honestly didn’t ask them – I just don’t like asking my players about different teams, so I didn’t ask them about Man United.

“I’d rather go through the games with my staff and prepare the way we always do.

“We are aware of the huge potential that Man United have and we’ll see how we’ll deal with that.”