After a week when Harry and Megan rejected the Earl of Dumbarton title for wee Archie over potential bullying risks as it has “dumb” in it (but they were OK with having “sex” in their titles) – it’s times like this you have to feel sorry for the Duke of Scunthorpe! – Real Mallorca make their debut in the 91st season of La Liga against Europa League-bound Real Betis in the Son Moix during the weekend of August 15.
The draw was made on Wednesday (the first time it’s ever been released six weeks before the start of the season!), with a system that a degree in quantum physics would have come in handy to understand, it was carried out by extracting five numbers in order to choose 100,000 possible combinations.
The fixtures, like last season, are asymmetrical.
Game six will see us visit Real Madrid in a reformed Santiago Bernabeu on September 22, and the first “big boys” here in Palma are Barcelona on January 2.
One of the most eagerly awaited games will be our second home fixture, August 29, when Espanyol come to town.
There’s added spice here because their manager Vicente Moreno coached Mallorca to back-to-back promotions recently, and they beat us to become Segunda champions by a better head-to-head scenario.
Our final game on May 22 will be away at Ante Budimir’s Osasuna.
Despite the Spanish health minister confirming last week that fans will be allowed to return to stadiums for the new season, the recent surge of the Delta variant has local health boards concerned, especially here where these young students didn’t seem to care about Covid protocols. The next few weeks will be key in determining what percentage of fans will be allowed to watch the start of the new term.
On Wednesday the club announced the signing of 24-year-old Senegalese international attacker Amath Ndiaye from Getafe on a four-year deal.
He was one of our emblematic players in last season’s promotion push with nine goals.
He was a signing priority for coach Luis Garcia Plaza and most Mallorquinistas are more than happy his loan deal has become permanent.
With another attacking option, Angel, expected to sign imminently, the team is slowly taking shape.
Several positions need filling such as back up goalkeeper and an out-and-out striker, this is where Mallorca have to be careful.
To buy a proven goalscorer is never easy as every team wants one. The problem here is not so much the transfer fee but the player’s wages. Mallorca would want to pay around 700,000 euros.
For that price centre-forwards who play in Spain or in another major European league (unless they’re in the twilight of their careers or are recovering from a serious injury and have little time left on their contract) won’t be within our budget.
Director of football Pablo Ortells has a major challenge, the kind of challenge that our previous director of football, Javi Recio, passed with flying colours bringing in Ante Budimir for next to nothing from the Italian second division. We then sold him on to Osasuna for 8 million, a sizeable profit.
Other cheap attacking options that reached fruition over the years have been Dani Guiza (who scored 27 goals in season 2007/08) and Aritz Aduriz with 23 goals between 2008 – 10.
Having a good striker is helpful but not necessarily important in La Segunda but it’s essential in La Liga Santander.
Last season in La Liga every single side had an out-and-out striker – a specialised No. 9. It’s a crucial position and Ortells has to get it right because it could be the fine line that defines success and failure.
It looks highly likely our next striker will be from outside Spain.
Ortells must have a shopping list of goalscorers who fit the bill – good, can find the net and, most importantly, cheap. It may take some time to find a suitable candidate and it’s going to be difficult and complicated.
After the signing of Amath and Angel, more time can be spent looking for our main attacking option which may well arrive on these island shores with La Liga underway.
One of Real Mallorca’s most charismatic midfielders, Borja Valero, has announced his retirement from active football at the age of 36, after closing his career at Italian Serie A side Fiorentina.
Borja was here in the 2007/08 and the 2009/10 seasons, leaving a huge impression on the Son Moix faithful, playing 79 games and scoring eight goals. Starting in the academy at Real Madrid he also turned out for West Brom, Villareal and Inter Milan.
Perhaps his best goal for us was scored in the 1-1 draw against his parent club Real Madrid in Palma in 2008. His long-range, 72nd minute equaliser sent the 21,000 crowd into raptures.
PS On Thursday Dani Rodriguez modelled our new Nike jersey in a deal where the American sports company will provide playing and training outfits for the next five years. The deal is a major coup for the club.
AND FINALLY, a man and woman were married many years. Whenever there was a confrontation, yelling could be heard deep into the night. The old man would shout “When I die, I will dig my way up out of the grave and comeback and haunt you for the rest of your life!” Neighbours feared him. The old man liked the fact that he was feared. Then one evening he died when he was 98.
After the burial, her neighbours, concerned for her safety, asked “Aren’t you afraid that he may indeed be able to dig his way out of the grave and haunt you for the rest of your life?”
The wife replied “Let him dig. I had him buried upside down...and I know he won’t ask for directions.”