Real Mallorca, buoyed by only their second away win of the season at Huesca, have another “must-win” game tomorrow at 5pm in the Son Moix against midtable Mirandes from Burgos. They’ve scored 43 goals in La Segunda so far this season.
Since a vital three points were gained on Wednesday night the local media have been talking about the difference in our play between last Sunday’s 3-0 disaster at Llagostera and the midweek winning turnaround. Most pundits seem to be in agreement that it was the three “engine room” players - Yuste, Sissoko and Damia - who made the difference and the 4-3-3 system looks, away from home at least, to be our best formation. Whether coach Vazquez will stick with Wednesday’s style or use the usual home formation of 4-4-2 tomorrow is open to conjecture. On the subject of the coach, there’s still no news of an assistant and it’s asking a lot in modern football for just one person to carry the weight of the club’s fortunes/misfortunes.
Hector Yuste is hardly a charismatic player, lacking any kind of pace and his work ethic in midfield is rarely appreciated. His job is to mainly to break up attacks and on Wednesday he was helped a lot by Abdoul Sissoko. The Malian player is another work horse and has scored three goals so far this season. Damia Sabater has come through Mallorca’s youth system and is definitely one for the future, he just needs a bit more consistency.
Up front we have at last got a No. 9 who causes problems for opposition defenders: Alfredo Ortuño, who’s on loan from Las Palmas. He played 90 minutes on Wednesday. Earlier this month the coach said Ortuño wasn’t training hard enough and didn’t have the right attitude. However, despite his good performance in mid-week, there’s no guarantee he’ll make the initial starting XI tomorrow.
A win would distance us from the bottom four; our only problem could be playing three games in a week as our fitness levels leave a lot to be desired. Ideally, we have to claw back five points which separate us (33 points) and 15th placed Numancia (38 points). Counting tomorrow’s game, there are seven home fixtures and six away.
During the defeat at Llagostera last Sunday, several of the guys watching the televised game in my local bar were, quite rightly, venting their feelings of anger and frustration. Most of the verbal abuse was aimed at the coach, the new owners and the German president. The one name that never ever came up was that of our director of football, Miguel Angel Nadal. If anyone’s to blame for Real Mallorca’s woes at the moment it’s him. He signed 15 players last summer and only a couple of them have been good enough to play regularly in the first team. He also brought in his friend and ex-Barcelona team-mate Chapi Ferrer as coach and he failed miserably. In my opinion there have been poor transfer dealings. Other teams in La Segunda with a shoestring budget and much smaller squads are doing much better than us. President (then owner) Utz Claassen relied too much on Nadal’s experience but the sporting director did bring in some players whose careers were heading into the sunset.
Since the new owners took over, Nadal’s all but disappeared and is certainly keeping his head down. Is it because he’s Majorcan that he appears to be exempt from criticism as nobody I know in the peñas or in the press who are pointing the finger in his direction?
Ex-Real Mallorca captain Pep Luis Marti hung up his boots last season at the age of 40. The Palma-born midfielder passed his coaching qualifications in the summer and not long after was given the task of putting life back into one of his former clubs, Tenerife. When a group of us watched Mallorca play them in December in the Canary islands, it was Pep’s second game as coach and we were two points ahead of them. Now, in a dramatic turnaround, his team are seven points ahead of us and last Sunday beat league leaders Leganes 1-0 in Madrid. If that’s not irony, I don’t know what is!