Real Mallorca players and staff in the Son Moix after their return from Tenerife. | CATI CLADERA - CC MLP - EFE - EF

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Real Mallorca celebrated their promotion to the Spanish first division last Tuesday in the privacy of their team hotel in Tenerife. Tomorrow at 18:15 they play their last home game of the season and their penultimate game in La Liga SmartBank 2020/21 in what has been a remarkable history making campaign.

Tomorrow’s opponents are Zaragoza, whose league position (10th) sees them safe in La Segunda for another season. The game was initially scheduled for Monday 24th at 21.00 but with nothing now at stake for either club, as they both have completed their respective objectives (promotion and permanency), the game was brought forward 24 hours.

The match will serve as a celebration with once again 4,086 lucky fans being allowed in. It’s very possible coach Luis Garcia Plaza will pick his strongest starting XI, giving fans a chance to show their appreciation after being locked out of Spanish football grounds for 14 months.

Various supporters clubs (peñas) have organised a special reception for the team tonight, as they arrive in the official team coaches at 16:30. Fans have been asked to line up (socially distanced, of course) along the road leading to the Son Moix between the La Vileta roundabout and up as far as the main entrance gates of the ground on both sides of the street to congratulate the players on their success this season. All those attending are asked to wear the compulsory face masks, red shirts, scarves and flags to colour the Cami dels Reis in a blaze of red.

Once the Ponferradina game is played next Sunday at 21.00, players and staff will go on a well-earned holiday and won’t be back in pre-season training until early July. Meanwhile the director of football, Pablo Ortells, gets down to bringing together a team that can do us proud in La Liga Santander. Beyond the players’ renewals, loanees returning and departing, it’s imperative he strengthens areas like right back, right wing and, above all, a proven goalscoring striker.

Two players likely to stay are Amath and Mollejo. Mallorca has a verbal agreement with the former’s club Getafe and it includes a non-mandatory purchase clause on the Senegalese striker of 4-5 million euros and if the offer comes to fruition Amath will come in on a permanent basis. Mollejo, on loan from Atletico Madrid, has a clause in his contract to extend his stay here for another season if Mallorca gained promotion.

Returning players like Alegria, Stoichkov, Sene, Valcarce and Zlatanovic will be sold or more likely loaned out again which leaves Ortells and Real Mallorca with a problem over the future of striker Ante Budimir. He was loaned out to Osasuna last Summer and has scored 11 goals this season. He made clear last week his intention of wanting to stay in the Basque country where Osasuna has a purchase option of eight million euros.

He went on strike, forcing Mallorca to move him on but the way he handled the situation upset many Mallorquinistas who never want to see him in a Mallorca shirt ever again. Budimir arrived here from Italian side Crotone in January 2019 and we more or less resurrected his stalling career. When we were relegated, the problems started. His loan move to Osasuna was completed just as the transfer window closed which meant we were unable to bring in a quality replacement.

Our transfer policy in the last promotion doomed the team from the start and this situation should not be allowed to happen again. Fortunately this time around we have more time to plan the squad. Whatever the outcome, in the absence of knowing if we’ll still be allowed five substitutions next season, which allows for larger squads, and which directly influences the salary limit. Our budget is expected again to be low, by La Liga standards, to cover a market that is in decline with fewer important improvements available after a year of heavy losses at global level.

And Finally

The head of the Cotswold hedgehogs went to see the boss of the local rabbits for some help. The rabbit boss said “Hi, Spikey, how can I help you?” Spikey replied “It’s like this, at night we’re losing far too many of us to those devilish machines with bright eyes that move like thunder along the smooth black walkways. I was wondering, your species seem to be very good at dodging them. You never seem to get squashed. Can you show us your secret?”

“Ah, the answer is simple,” answered the chief rabbit. “Bring along your inner circle and we’ll demonstrate how to avoid being road kill.” So they all walked the short distance to the nearby A19.

“Now,” started the rabbit, “this is what you do, if you see those bright lights heading towards you, just make sure you sit down right in between the two of them and you should be okay.” The chief rabbit gave them a practical demonstration then ran back over the road unscathed.

Spikey was keen to demonstrate the new technique so, as soon as the next set of lights appeared, he ran into the road, squatted down between the lights and waited.
There was a nasty squelching noise and the hedgehogs turned to look at the rabbit, who sighed, “Blimey, you don’t see many of those Reliant Robins around these days, do you?”