Javier Olaizola, Mallorca's coach, needing a win on Friday. | Teresa Ayuga


Real Mallorca face a massive crunch relegation skirmish tomorrow evening (Friday, 20.00) when they play Alcorcon in their tiny 5,000 capacity Santo Domingo stadium. The Madrid side are just outside the bottom four relegation places, two points ahead of us, which makes the result vital for Real Mallorca. Nothing else than three points will do. Missing is Serbian midfielder Sasa Zdjelar, who picked up a head injury playing for the Under-21s on Monday. It looks likely that coach Olaizola will pick his fifteenth different starting XI since he took over in December.

April is a key month with most of our fixtures against teams around us with only a few points difference. The Alcorcon game and next Saturday's against Nastic will go a long way to determine whether we stay up or not: a big ask when we are looking at probably the worst Real Mallorca team for over 30 years. One small grain of comfort is the fact that Alcorcon haven't won a league game since the end of January. They've managed eleven points so far in 2017, we've got twelve.

Stats boffins have come up with the permutation that we need 17 points from our last eleven games, with 48 points looking likely to be the cut-off number that could prove very significant.

Valencia appointed former Real Mallorca president Mateu Alemany as their new chief executive on Monday. He twice presided over Mallorca, initially between 2000 and 2005 to take in the club's 2003 Copa del Rey final triumph. He unsuccessfully ran for the presidency of the Spanish football federation in 2007. The 56-year-old lawyer from Andratx has a weighty in-tray at the Mestalla, most notably to search for a new coach in the Summer. Personally, I'd have liked to see Mateu back in charge here again as our present American-owning syndicate is clearly not working.

Valencia's billionaire owner is another absent proprietor, Peter Lim, one of the world's richest men from Singapore, and he has so far proved to be a disastrous boss. A few months ago he picked up his golden smart phone and called Gary Neville to come and coach Valencia and that was the day the club began to die. Neville's appointment and Lim's absence gave Valencia and its passionate fans a sense of abandonment. Here was one of the grand teams of Spain with historically the fourth biggest budget, changing their management to a business associate of the owner. Neville only stayed a couple of months before quitting, leaving fans to think Peter Lim is either reckless or clueless or perhaps both. Since then the disease has spread, Valencia cling on to 14th place but look likely to stay up - just. They've been lacking direction, bedevilled by miscommunication, mismanagement and bad decision-making.

The comparison with Real Mallorca is uncanny. Critics claim both teams' owners simply don't know enough about football. They don't have enough knowledge, nous and feel for the club. Our owner Robert Sarver owns the American basketball franchise Phoenix Suns. In 2016 he was ranked as the worst owner in the NBA. One fan wrote: “In the mid 2000s, The Suns were poised to become the next NBA dynasty. All the team needed to do was buy a couple more players and they would be unstoppable. Sarver decided to use the chance to improve his wallet. They essentially bought nobody and now Phoenix Suns are a bad team with no future.” The article goes on to say: “Sarver has been very frugal when spending money on the team. His decision to sell numerous young players over the years has stunted development. The Suns are terrible, they've been terrible for some time.” Ring any bells? Phoenix Suns are at present second bottom in the Western Conference Pacific Division and are having their worst season for many years. Is that ironic or what? It's been mentioned that Sarver wants a foothold in Spanish soccer with a view to buying a La Liga side. Real Mallorca could be his stepping stone to bigger things.

Our player recruitment last summer was scatter-gun at best. We flooded the squad with defenders and midfielders with an almost complete dearth in the striking department. The lack of direction and experienced leadership has had a disastrous impact as we try to avoid the quagmire of the Spanish Third Division.