After a week when I was asked “What’s the difference between a kangaroo and a kangaroot?” – (A) One is a marsupial who carries their young in a pouch and the other is a person from Newcastle stuck in a lift! – Real Mallorca take their La Liga salvation fight over to Barcelona where they’ll face bottom side Espanyol in their impressive RCDE Cornella stadium today at 12 midday. “The Budgies” have had a cheap match tickets campaign which means a capacity crowd of 40,000 (including 300 from Mallorca) will be hoping their team can finally win at home. Mallorca, on the other hand, haven’t won away in La Liga for almost ten months. Their record against Espanyol in Barcelona doesn’t instil confidence. In the last 12 visits we’ve won one, drawn twice and lost nine, but we have to be optimistic.
Mallorca have two injury problems for the game, Antonio Raillo went off last Saturday with a knee injury which turned out not to be as bad as first feared; Cucho Hernandez suffered a leg knock in training, near the area operated on last September. Both have been described as doubtful. Fans were sad and angry after we lost 0-1 to Valladolid last Saturday. Friday night’s result meant there’s now a six point gap between us and 16th placed Eibar. Things in reality can still change dramatically with 16 games left (48 points), but the four teams down the wrong end (us, Leganes, Celta Vigo and Espanyol) are in a mini league of four teams. The current form of Celta and Mallorca is up and down, while new coaches at Leganes and Espanyol have steadied their respective ships. Today’s game is difficult to predict but with an “inferno” atmosphere, the home side must start favourites. Whoever loses will be in serious danger of falling away into the relegation abyss.
The Winter transfer window closed at the end of January (why is the so-called window always described as being slammed shut, why can’t it be closed quietly?) and our lack of signings has irked lots of Mallorquinistas. They are asking: why didn’t Mallorca bring in more much-needed replacements? We were on the verge of signing Getafe’s Brazilian winger Kenedy and Senegalese mid-fielder Manadou Loum from Porto. Both deals were in the pipeline but at the express wishes of our owners in Phoenix, Arizona, no business was allowed to happen. The position of owner Robert Sarver and shareholders, Andy Kohlberg and Steve Nash, has never been an issue when it comes to signing players – until now. All this meant was that CEO Maheta Molango and director of football Javi Reco were not responsible for failing to sign loan players. The worst part is that nothing has been said with Molango especially very quiet. Coach Vicente Moreno has always been very respectful with regard to the owners (who pumped in another 11 million euros last week to help us out of administration), but he more or less admitted that there had been a rupture in communications at the club and things were not working as they should. We can’t ask any more from our players or the coach, they’ve given us everything they can in these seasons of back to back promotions. The powers that be should be making the effort to improve the workforce. From the beginning we knew that staying in La Liga wouldn’t be easy and so it’s turning out to be.
The eagerly anticipated home game against Barcelona on either March 14 or 15 will cost between 80 and 290 euros. The good news is that season ticket holders DO NOT HAVE TO PAY ANY EXTRA. Tickets in the covered stand are a whopping 290€ and down below 240€. Sol Alta/Baja costs 140€ and the Luis Sitjar stand behind the North goal is 80€. The South end, which is for non season ticket holders, will cost 140€. Ground capacity is 20,500 and we have 16,000 socios, meaning there’ll only be 4,500 tickets on sale. It’s still unknown when tickets will go on sale at both club offices and online.
There was some potential bad news on Friday when Catalunya Radio announced that our star striker, Ante Budimir, is on Barcelona’s shopping list. Their player Ousmane Dembele is injured (again) and will miss the rest of the season. Barcelona can bring in a replacement if the injured player is to be out for more than five months, but he has to be Spanish based. Five names are on the Catalan giant’s shopping list. Budimir has a 40 million euro buyout clause and his contract is until 2023. Watch this space.
PS Diary Date : Mallorca / Getafe – Sunday, March 1, 18:30.