If Manchester United thought their start to the season had been bad, it could be worse, they could be Real Sociedad.
United meet the San Sebastian club in the Champions League next week and both teams will be hopeful of an uplifting victory.
United are struggling in their title defence, Sociedad are struggling to survive in La Liga. They are certainly experiencing a hangover from the giddy heights of fourth spot last term - and currently lag in 15th position, after just one win from their opening seven fixtures.
The club has not won a game in their last eight outings, and the humble manner in which they ousted Lyon from the Champions League qualifying is now long forgotten at Anoeta.
But they have been without a pivotal figure in their side for the last few weeks - do players get more important than your captain and central midfield pendulum?
Xabi Prieto suffered a small tear to his thigh in the 4-1 defeat at Barcelona toward the end of last month, which was rumoured to have side-lined him from anything between four to six weeks at the time.
And it appears, thankfully for Sociedad fans, to be the former.
Prieto has been in full training for the club this week, re-entering the fray during Thursday’s session.
He could feature against Valencia at the weekend, but is not expected to start, as Sociedad want him firing on all cylinders for the European tie at Old Trafford.
Prieto has a similar importance to the Sociedad side as Michael Carrick does for United. Simply put, you might not notice him when he is there, but you definitely will when he is gone. The fact is the club drew with Sevilla at home before losing to Bayer Leverkusen and Rayo Vallecano since he picked up this thigh complaint.
But he is all set to make his full comeback against United, doing no favours to David Moyes’ chances - although United should, and will, remain confident of earning the points at home against the struggling Basque outfit.
But it might have just become a tad more difficult.
image: © benbore