Real Mallorca had some bad news on Thursday when their goal-less Paraguayan-born striker “Torito” Acuña suffered a grade-two leg muscle tear in training and is expected to be out until at least Christmas. With Italian striker Rolando Bianchi one yellow card away from suspension and Mallorca struggling for goals (as the team hangs around the hull of Liga Adelante like La Segunda limpets), Thursday’s training ground injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. Sunday’s visitors to the Son Moix, kick off 5 pm, are the Catalan side Llagostera who lie two points above Mallorca having won 4-1 away at Elche last weekend. For us, there are fitness doubts regarding Brandon Thomas and Thierry Moutinho, and it’s likely we’ll start with the same line up as played in our 1-1 draw at Oviedo. In a three-man midfield, Yuste, Ros and Sissoko will play just behind lone attacker Bianchi.
Putting our league position into perspective, we’re eight points from automatic promotion, six from the play-off positions or two points from salvation. The good news is that we played a lot better last week in our 1-1 draw away at Oviedo and moving Javi Ros in to a more attacking role seems to have worked. Also missing will be our young German goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther who’s been called up for Under-21 International duty. His place will go to the veteran 34-year-old Jesus Cabrero.
With Acuña out injured and Bianchi trying to avoid another booking, Mallorca have a ready replacement. However, because he’s not been registered as a first team league squad member, he won’t be able to play until January. Twenty-four-year-old Inca-born Mateu Ferrer has been in dazzling goal form for our “B” team and is at present the leading goalscorer in most of the Spanish leagues with an incredible 11 goals after just seven games.
Coach Albert “Chapi” Ferrer has asked the fans who are going to the game to get behind the team and to not whistle their frustrations so much. He will remain as Real Mallorca’s coach for the foreseeable future after being given a resounding vote of confidence by owner/president Utz Claassen this past week. Despite a rocky start to the 2015/16 centennial campaign, the German dispelled all doubts about the coach’s future, saying: “We’re not going to change a thing, he has everybody’s full backing even with our lowly league position.” Alarm bells have been ringing after just seven games, but Claassen refuses to accept the team are in crisis.
Down the years and decades of football history, there have been some pearls of wisdom pontificated, some of them positive and others less so. For example, just before half-time is a good time to score a goal, then there’s the one that always gets me - “the goalkeeper made himself big” But the daddy of all football clichés and the most chilling for any coach is when the chairman/president gives him a vote of confidence with its grim connotations of imminent termination. The general assumption is that once the verdict is given the coach is all ready to hear the sombre sound of his P45 hitting the doormat. Deep down the coach knows that he’s a dead man walking and all that remains is the formality of the axe falling and the ceremonial clearing of the desk. Claassen has brought stability to Real Mallorca and doesn’t want to be involved in a new coach coming-in scenario, although stats tell us 20% of all football coaches who were given the vote of confidence are fired within a month.
Once again this past week there have been one or two “fairy” stories in the local media. Claassen roundly dismissed rumours that he had any intention of selling Real Mallorca. He did remind everybody that the club doors are always open to any investor to reinforce the project economically. “I’ve always said that I have a long term project and that has not changed. Besides, I took the presidency of the club in its centennial year as an honour and a responsibility.
"I’ll do everything to make this project strong. If the Sultan of Brunei comes along tomorrow with 100 million euros and proposes two or three directors, and they are good people, they are welcome. However, on the other hand, if anyone came along with 100 million euros with a doubtful origin, we wouldn’t talk to them, even for one minute. But, yes, we are disposed to strengthen the project. Each investor, friend or institution who in good faith wants to support us will be welcome. But I won't leave the club, I’ll remain as long-term shareholder.”
Asked why Mallorca played in white strips last week against Oviedo (who turned out in their normal blue shirts and white shorts) instead of their normal red shirts and black shorts, Claassen said “We’re well aware that red is our traditional colour but nobody has told me the other shirts are ugly. Besides, we have other more important problems to resolve.”
DIARY DATE: Saturday, 7 November, Son Moix, 8:15 pm versus Zaragoza.