After a week when I read “I thought I heard an onion sing a Bee Gees song but it was just a chive talking !” Real Mallorca face second bottom Cadiz in their Nuevo Mirandilla stadium (where they’ve only won once all season) tomorrow (Saturday 28th) at 14:00. We’ve met them eight times in La Liga with Cadiz winning three, plus three draws and we’ve won the other two.
Mallorca welcome back Kang In Lee from suspension and we could have our strongest starting XI in operation. It’s apparently been reported on Instagram that the South Korean international wants to leave and join Premier League side Brighton, however, it’s been denied by club sources and if any offer arrives, it must match the club’s assessment of over 20 million euros. At the time of writing, none has been received.
RCD Mallorca reach match day 19 in La Liga Santander 2022/23 lying in a highly creditable 10th place on 25 points. Everything indicates that when, and if, we reach 40 points, permanency in La Liga is more or less assured for another season. That means we only need five wins from 20 games left to play.
Last Friday’s 1-0 victory against Celta Vigo (thanks to Dani Rodriguez’s first goal this calendar year) was for long periods a hard game to watch and for the second home game running Mallorquinistas’ nerves were well and truly jangled as we couldn’t wait for the referee to blow for full time.
The football Mallorca are playing is hardly the silky smooth, sexy variety but it’s practical and very effective. The system of playing five at the back isn’t conducive to good footballing entertainment but under the coaching of Javier Aguirre it’s reaping rewards.
Since April 11, 2021 Mallorca (in the Son Moix) haven’t known what it is to win by more than a single goal. That day we were in La Segunda coached by Luis Garcia Plaza and we beat Lugo 2-0. It was the last victory we achieved with relative ease. Since then we’ve had 13 wins, two matches in the second division and 11 in La Liga.
Everything indicates that with Aguirre in charge things are not about to change. The formula of the five defenders is non-negotiable. The mandate of our Mexican coach is to keep Real Mallorca in the higher echelon of Spanish football at all costs. At the moment we are the fourth team with the fewest goals conceded (16) only surpassed by Barcelona (6), Villareal (13) and Betis (14). Aguirre has managed to make Mallorca stronger in Son Moix and we still have rivals like Elche, Cadiz and Rayo Vallecano among other to visit Palma.
Everybody will agree that our football level is low but there are other things that have put us in a favourable position at the halfway point. Mallorca have reached this stage with a wily old fox as coach, 64-year-old Javier Aguirre, who’s been around the block many times before. He’s a lover of logic, who doesn’t remonstrate too much when things on the pitch don’t look good. What he has done, which was the mainstay of our successful years under Hector Cuper and Luis Aragones, is to instigate a happy dressing room that has become a family.
We’ve always had good goalkeepers over the years and in Serbian international Predrag Rajkovic we’ve found another. He’s given our penalty area enormous security and stats show he’s the third best goalkeeper in top flight Spanish football at the moment behind Ter Stegen at Barcelona and Oblak at At. Madrid.
Nobody can be safe in January with 25 points, but last Friday’s win saw us equal the longest winning streak at home with a clean sheet since April/May 2011/12 when we had three consecutive 1-0 wins in Palma.
Next Sunday, February 5 at 2pm, we entertain Real Madrid in one of the most anticipated games of the season. Tickets are on sale, prices range between 120€/200€. A big crowd is expected and I recommend if you intend going to GET IN EARLY, there are bound to be logistical problems.
Third division side Atletico Baleares have been struggling near the relegation zone for most of this season. They’ve had several managerial changes without success. Now they’ve pushed the panic button signing a 36-year-old veteran who hasn’t played for six months and turned out for them 20 years ago ! He’s none other than Xisco Jimenez from Santa Ponsa.
He’s had more clubs then Rory McIlroy including Real Mallorca, Deportivo La Coruña. Vecindario, Racing Santander, Cordoba, Osasuna as well as Newcastle United and teams in Uruguay and Thailand.
PS For the past 22 years in the Son Moix I’ve sat next to Charles Nutter, media presenter for English Radio Pollensa. During a lull in last Friday’s Celta game we somehow got onto the subject of naval battle war movies, especially The Battle of the River Plate and Das Boot. Just then the Celta coach decided to make three changes bringing them all on at once. Quick as a flash, Charles said “Look, a flotilla of subs !”
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