After a week when I watched an interesting documentary about the historical figure Karl Marx – what I didn’t know was that he had a sister called Onya who invented the starting pistol ! – Real Mallorca, who celebrated their 105th birthday on Friday and are riding high at the top of La Liga SmartBank, play Murcia region side and second division newcomers Cartagena (who lie in 17th place) Sunday at 18:15 in the Son Moix.
10-man Espanyol threw away another two home points when they drew 1-1 with Real Oviedo on Friday night. They are three points behind us and if we win on Sunday then there’s a six-point gap opened up.
We’ve reached match day 28 of the season with 14 games left to play and Mallorca lead the table on 57 points. Over the past few years : Levante in 2016/17, after being on 58 points with 28 games played, won La Segunda with 84 points; Elche also did it in 2012/13 with 58 points after 28 games and Deportivo in 2011/12 won La Segunda with 91 points in total after being on 54 points after 28 games.
Our present coach Luis Garcia Plaza, who himself took Levante into La Liga back in 2010, said at the weekly video press conference on Friday that there’s still – in his words – “A lot of cloth to cut and our only objective is training and getting prepared for our next match. The dynamics can change from one day to another and even if automatic promotion isn’t achieved we’re still 16 points ahead of seventh-placed Ponferradina who are at the moment in the last play-off place.”
There won’t be many changes for the game on Sunday from the team that picked up a valuable hard-fought three points at Logroñes last Sunday. Tonight’s game sees the best defence – Mallorca, conceding just 13, against the worst defence, Cartagena, who’ve let in 37. They’ve brought in a few replacements in the January transfer window and have managed to get out of the relegation bottom three and surprisingly beat promotion contender Leganes 1-0 last week.
In their ranks they have one of those evergreen footballers who seems to mellow with age. Thirty-nine year old Ruben Castro, a one-man scoring machine who’s probably best known for his eight years he spent at Real Betis netting 136 goals in 280 appearances. LGP described Ruben Castro as the type of striker “who can score goals even from the sofa – he’s a genius.” Scoring 13 goals this season, he’s a real threat to our defence tonight.
La Liga updated the salary limits for La Liga SmartBank clubs after the closure of the recent Winter transfer window. These limits are calculated by factors which include non-player contracts, current savings, any existing debt repayments and sources of external financing. Mallorca occupy fourth place with just over 18 million euros, far away from Espanyol which is the leader in the salary limit league with a massive 45 million euros.
In second position is Almeria on 27 million and third is Leganes on just over 26 million. The general reduction from all clubs is motivated by the current Covid-19 situation. Salary caps have been drastically reduced due to the absence of fans and the suppression of ticketing revenue.
Earlier in the year our CEO Alfonso Diaz explained the negative impact of Covid had seen us lose around 4 million euros due to the television adjustments, public influx and other expenses, e.g. charter flights, medical procedures (Covid testing) and hotel accommodation.
I am fortunate enough, and old enough, to remember Ian St John (or as some commentators called him “Sin Gin”) when he played for Motherwell back in the late ’50s against my local team Raith Rovers. Ian sadly passed away last week and will always be committed to memory as a Liverpool legend when he signed for them in 1961, giving them ten years’ impeccable service in which he helped to turn Liverpool into one of Europe’s top footballing sides. Remembering those days, I’ll always think back to this story about the legendary Ian St John :
A guy from Liverpool was touring the USA on holiday and stopped in a remote bar in the hills of Nevada. He was chatting to the bartender when he spied an old Native American man sitting in the corner. He had tribal gear on, long white plaits and a wrinkled face. “Who’s he ?” asked the Liverpudlian.
“That’s the Memory Man,” replied the bartender. “He knows everything, he remembers everything. He can remember every face he has ever seen. He can remember any fact he hears or reads. Go and try him out.” So the Scouser goes over, and thinking he doesn’t know about English football, he asked “Who won the 1965 FA Cup Final ?” “Liverpool,” replied Memory Man.
“Who did they beat ?” “Leeds,” was the instant reply. “And the score ?” “2-1.” “Who scored the winning goal ?” “Ian St John,” said the old man, without a hint of hesitation. The guy was knocked out by this and told everyone back home about the Memory Man when he got back. A few years later he went back to the USA and tried to find the impressive Memory Man.
Eventually he found the bar and sitting in the same seat was the old Native American, only this time he was older and even more wrinkled. The Liverpudlian approached him with the greeting “How.” The Memory Man looked up and said “Diving header in the six yard box.”
PS Oh dear, England’s cricket and rugby union teams have taken a battering over the past few weeks, for whatever reason. Why do the English sporting media “big their boys up” before the events with their hysterical triumphalism ? As the saying goes, pride comes before a fall.