Mallorca's leading scorer Amath Ndiaye

Mallorca's leading scorer Amath Ndiaye.

24-04-2021M.A. BORRAS

After a tumultuous week in the world of European football with the rapid rise and demise of the so-called Super League, TV personality and West Ham fan James Corden slammed plans for the league as the worst greed he’d ever seen – one of his mates replied “Having been with him at an all-you-can-eat buffet, I can confirm he’s wrong !” – Real Mallorca, who have only secured two wins in their last seven games played, face second-bottom Catalan team Sabadell on Monday night at 9 pm.

For the first time this season in La Liga SmartBank none of the teams in the top six won last weekend. Mallorca and Sporting Gijon lost, Espanyol and Almeria drew 1-1, whilst Rayo Vallecano and Leganes also failed to pick up any points.

All that means is that Mallorca are seven points (eight if you count the head to head) ahead of Almeria and three behind league leaders Espanyol. Our coach Luis Garcia Plaza said last week that we mathematically need another 14 points before we can safely say we’ve returned to La Liga after going down last season.

Even with the team miles away from playing their best football, that eight point cushion could mean that even if we lose a couple of games we’d still be in an automatic promotion place. Away from the island we’ve taken just one point from the 12 possible over the last few weeks, hardly promotion form but, at home, results have been more favourable – four wins and a draw.

Despite indifferent performances the remaining fixture list invites optimism as we play teams who occupy lower placings in the league, Sabadell in decline on Monday night, then Alcorcon, Tenerife and Zaragoza, while the other three games, Mirandes, Malaga and Ponferradina, are hovering around mid-table obscurity.

On Monday night at the Nova Creu Alta we’ll play a team who appear anchored in the relegation zone with the fewest wins (7) in La Segunda. In addition, the loss of their striker and best player Juan Diego Molina (better known as Stoichkov) on loan from Real Mallorca sees him unable (to play) against us due to a clause in his loan contract.

It’s a huge blow to struggling Sabadell’s chances described by their coach Antonio Hidalgo as “A torpedo in the offensive waterline of my team.” Stoichkov has eight goals and six assists so far this season. Nevertheless Mallorca must exercise extreme caution against a team fighting for their second division lives. Sabadell are dying and are clinging to each game as if it was their last.

The good news for Mallorca is the return of leading goalscorer Amath Ndiaye after missing last week’s game through suspension. His presence and quality in attack were sorely missed and although one man doesn’t make a team, the Senegalese is the most lethal goal-scorer in the side. His contribution to the team makes a big difference as he gives the attack bite. Abdon Prats has done light training this past week and continues to be a doubt for the game.

He’s the perfect foil for Amath creating spaces with his get-stuck-in attitude. After going goal crazy a couple of months ago, Abdon’s hit a barren patch and the team needs him back with his scoring boots on as soon as possible. Also out on Monday are Covid-19 patients Antonio Sanchez and Lago Junior, although he’s back on the training ground. I’m tipping Mallorca to win this game and stay in second place as the final run-in starts to appear on the horizon. Another defeat to a struggling side could lead to serious ramifications later on.

The American consortium that has owned Real Mallorca for five years is headed by 59-year-old American businessman Robert Sarver and is based in Phoenix, Arizona. Last week his other much larger sporting interest, NBA Western Conference League basketball team, Phoenix Suns (like Mallorca) were second in their league after struggling for many years, and are beginning to show their potential.

In that league (like the always doomed-to-fail European Super League) there’s no promotion or relegation as owners of these teams fear losing revenue if they drop down a division. According to the latest Forbes list, the Phoenix Suns are worth 1.28 billion dollars and Sarver’s estimated net worth is 400 million dollars.

AND FINALLY, His Lordship was in the study when the butler approached, coughing discreetly. “May I ask a question, my Lord ?” Told he could, Carson the butler continued “I’m doing The Times crossword and found a word the exact meaning of which I’m not certain. The word is aplomb.” His Lordship said that was a difficult word to explain but it means something like self-assurance or complete composure. “Let me give you an example to make it easier.”

“Do you remember, Carson, a few weeks ago when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were here for the weekend ?” “Yes, I do, sir” replied Carson. “You remember when Wills plucked a rose for Kate in the rose garden, and while he was plucking it a thorn embedded itself in his thumb. There was blood everywhere. The Duchess removed the thorn and bandaged his thumb with her own dainty hankie. That evening at dinner, Wills’ thumb was really painful so Kate had to cut up his venison.” “Yes, my Lord, I remember it well.”

“Do you also remember, Carson, that at breakfast the next day while you were pouring the coffee, Kate enquired of Wills in a loud voice ‘Darling, does your prick still throb ?’ And you, Carson, carried on pouring the coffee without spilling a drop. That is complete composure or aplomb !”

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