After a weekend when I watched a movie about this biblical king who was struggling with a cocaine addiction – you can catch “King Solomon’s Lines” on Netflix – Real Mallorca carried on from last season with their abysmal away form going down 2-0 to Alaves in the Mendizorroza stadium on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Vitoria.
The result means we remain penultimate in La Primera. Both sides started this match lying in the bottom four of La Liga so it wasn’t going to be a game for the purists. Indeed, it was Mallorca who took the game to Alaves in the opening minutes and a shot from Budimir came back off the post in the ninth minute. Incredibly that’s the SIXTH time we’ve hit the woodwork in seven games.
Fantasy football this wasn’t, as it became a “scrap-fest” with both teams looking more like Second division outfits than Primera. The longer the game went on, the more likely a 0-0 draw was on the agenda, which would have suited Mallorca. The second half wasn’t a lot different from the first and it was clear to see why both teams were struggling for goals.
Then in the 75th minute came the game changer. Lago Junior, who had an absolute “mare” of a game (I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him so off form), tangled with ex Mallorca player Tomas Pina in our penalty area. It was a foolish intervention by Lago (the second penalty against us he’s been involved in this season – he’s an attacker, not a defender!) as referee Del Cerro Grande went for the VAR decision. The guys in La Roza Madrid obviously couldn’t make their minds up so it was up to Señor Del Cerro Grande to make the decision. After a couple of minutes’ deliberation and several angles of the incident on TV (why can’t the fans in the ground see the same images?), he gave the penalty.
Mallorca players and staff were incandescent with rage after the referee announced his decision. I have to say the challenge by Lago on Pena was silly, to put it mildly, but the contact looked minimal, if at all. Ex Arsenal flop Lucas Perez stepped up to send Manolo Reina the wrong way, 1-0.
That’s the FIFTH penalty we’ve conceded so far this season. VAR, the joy-killer, isn’t doing Mallorca many favours at the moment. After that controversial goal, Mallorca went to pieces and it was no surprise when Alaves sealed the deal in the 85th minute. We were all over the place when Scottish-born substitute Oliver Burke (on loan from West Brom) found himself in acres of space down the right, and his pinpoint cross saw an unmarked Joselu tap in the second, 2-0.
Where to start? This was an abject performance (the Spanish have a word for it, “flojo”) on the road from Real Mallorca. The euphoria of our Deportivo play-off win in June at the moment seems light years away. To lose to a team who didn’t have one shot on target the whole game is not good and Mallorca didn’t have their first corner until the 86th minute.
Both Lago Junior and Salva Sevilla had nightmare games and if they both are off form, then we’re in trouble. Kubo was his usual twisting and darting self but he got an elbow on the throat towards the end then went AWOL for the last 15 minutes.
The next home game against Espanyol (on Sunday at 12 noon) takes on a “six-pointer” tag, even this early in the season.
There is so much quality in this league and we’re struggling at the moment. With only one win from seven games scepticism is beginning to rear its ugly head. There’s no doubt Mallorca have been very unlucky in several of these early games but that’s no excuse, we must do better even with our limited resources.
After the game our coach Vicente Moreno said his players were gutted after the VAR decision and went on “This was a hard result to take but for sure with VAR or without VAR that was no penalty.”
PS Mallorca signed on loan from Watford a few weeks ago a 19-year-old Colombian striker called Cucho Hernandez. He is at the moment recuperating from a hamstring operation and is not expected to play again until the New Year. On Wednesday he was seen on video telling “Hornets” fans that he’s well on the way to a full recovery. The video was taken in Watford’s training ground. Surely he’s our player for the season and should he not be recuperating here in Palma? He hasn’t been seen on the island at all, all very strange.