After a week when a sign outside a Surrey pub said “Beer shortage soon – panic buy here !” – Real Mallorca’s large injury tally was given a huge boost during the past week as four of the six players on the list have recovered from their various ailments and are available for team selection tomorrow. Valencia side Levante (17th on four points) are the visitors to the Son Moix with a 16:15 start. After tomorrow’s game, we won’t play at home again until Sevilla on Wednesday, October 27.
Despite Mallorca losing their last two games, they lie in 12th place on eight points and desperately need to get back to winning ways, especially with the two-week international break on the horizon. Our next game after that is an away fixture at Real Sociedad on October 16 at 9 pm. Our good start has meant we have opened up a gap over Granada, Alaves and Getafe who are the worst three teams at the moment. Because these three sides give the feeling that they are not going to react immediately, it’s essential that we add three points to open up even more space.
We’ve had a long injury list in key positions, especially centre back where we lost our top defender Antonio Raillo to an ankle ligament injury a month ago that’s taking a long time to heal. Franco Russo then took his place before he too was ruled out with a groin strain. Then Sedlar, our fourth choice centre back, hurt his knee a month ago and hasn’t been seen again in training. It’s unknown how long he’ll be out for. Right back Pablo Maffeo had a muscle problem against Villareal but he’s available again for selection. Take Kubo is another knee injury worry and he’s expected to be out for a month with conventional treatment so as not to go under the surgeons knife ! Fer Niño was helped off last Sunday with a right calf injury but he’s made a miraculous recovery and will lead the line.
There’s been lots of talk about coach Luis Garcia Plaza’s decision to drop Manolo Reina last Sunday and give new Slovakian ’keeper Dominik Greif a start. The Central European, signed from Slovan Bratislava in the Summer, was seen to be very nervous and insecure when making decisions. Conceding three goals on his debut was difficult for Greif, especially as Mallorca paid close to three million euros for his services. He missed pre-season through injury and will take time to settle, the language barrier is a major problem.
Chants from the Luis Sitjar stand in favour of Manolo Reina during the course of the game (understandable by the great appreciation the fans feel for Reina) didn’t help Greif’s confidence either. Also his refusal to go to the bench with the rest of the team during the first hydration break was a reflection of what was going through his mind. Despite making two top saves at no time did he give a feeling of security between the sticks and that lack of confidence rubbed off on the rest of our defence. Greif is a young man with a great future and last Sunday was his first game outside the Slovak league. Logic could dictate Greif starts today since putting him back on the bench would be a direct hit on his confidence. LGP has a hot potato to handle – Reina or Greif ?
During a year and seven months, RCD Mallorca have played 30 home games with some kind of restrictions in place. 580 days later Son Moix and most of the other La Liga grounds (with the exception of the Basque country and Catalunya who stay at 60%) will once again enjoy football with 100% occupation as of October 1. The situation will be evaluated again in the last week of this month.
The last time us fans were allowed into the Son Moix without limitations was on March 1, 2020 in a first division match against Getafe, 0-1. With everything back to normal, Mallorca are hoping (a big hope !!) to get all their 14,500 season ticket holders in tomorrow, and have promoted a campaign through social media to try and reach that figure. There will also be match tickets on sale at the ticket windows, prices from 35 to 55 euros. As usual, masks must be worn at all times inside the ground otherwise the mask police will be after you !!
Last Sunday’s game had a 2 pm start in 70% humidity and temperatures hovering around 32-33ºC. Two fans had to be treated for heat stroke. Mallorca officials contacted the League bosses in Madrid asking them to schedule our games later when it’s cooler. However, the truth is having Kubo and Kang-In Lee in the squad, league bosses won’t budge. The audience harvested on the Asian continent (where it’s 9 pm peak viewing locally) prevails ahead of the needs of the fans. At the Villareal game La Liga’s solution was to give away a cap to combat the sun.
Our new sponsors, Taica Corp, whose Alpha Gel brand is the one the team wear on the front of their shirts, contribute the highest amount ever paid by a sponsor in the club’s history, two million euros a year. They are a Japanese company with a global presence.
PS It was reported on Thursday night that Daniel Sturridge is ending his trial period at Real Mallorca and has signed for Australian outfit Perth Glory.
AND FINALLY, seen on “Dad Jokes” : My wife just gave birth today and after thanking the doctor I pulled him aside and sheepishly asked “How soon do you think we’ll be able to have sex ?” He winked at me and replied “I’m off duty in 10 minutes – meet me in the car park !!”