Real Mallorca coach Vicente Moreno. | MDB


Real Mallorca players and staff are enjoying a festive break before getting back to work on Boxing Day evening to prepare for our next league game. That's at home to Girona's B team, CF Peralada, in the Son Moix at on 7 January. The Palma side have had a spectacular first half to the 2017/18 season in Group III of Segunda B. Vicente Moreno's boys are unbeaten and seven points ahead of Villarreal B. The team have shown great solidity, especially in defence where they've conceded just eight goals, the best in the four groups of 20 teams and the best out of 80 in Segunda B.

The negatives have undoubtedly been the long-term cruciate ligament injuries to Ferran Giner and Lago Junior. Both these players are wingers and I'm expecting at least two replacements in the January market. There's no question the team have begun to look jaded over the past few weeks as four consecutive draws have seen a 13-point leading gap reduced to seven. Since Segunda B was divided into four regional groups in 1987, only four teams have been unbeaten during the first half of the season: Salamanca 1987/88, Castellon 2002/03, UCAM Murcia 2014/15 and Real Mallorca 2017/18. Only one of the other three, Salamanca, made it through play-offs into the Second Division.

Mini-alarm bells have began ringing from various media outlets with regard to our recent dip in form. Complacency is certainly on the list but we're now coming up against teams who “park the bus” in defence and Mallorca have struggled to break these packed rearguards down. The last time we had four draws in a row was in February 2008 in La Liga. We broke that hoodoo by putting seven past Recreativo Huelva in the fifth game.

The time has now come for our director of football, Javier Recio, to earn his wages and bring in some good replacements. He's been criticised for buying fringe players like Salinas, Niguez, Fran Grima, Miguel Nunez and Rufo in the summer, who haven't been up to the required standards, even in Segunda B! The situation in the league is that it's governed by the Spanish Football Federation not the “Liga”. We're only allowed a maximum of 16 professionals from a squad of 22. There isn't a salary cap as such, so Mallorca shouldn't have problems splashing the cash. It's the 16 professional players only that cause the grief. Lose two of them through long-term injury and we're a bit thin on the ground.

One name that stands out on the wanted list is striker Alfredo Ortuño, who played here on loan in 2016 scoring four goals in 19 games. The 26-year-old Murcia-born player is a free agent after cutting ties with his parent club Las Palmas in September. Ortuño had his best spell at Cadiz in 2016 where he scored 17 goals in 42 appearances. General manager Maheta Molango is keen to bring Ortuño to Palma but the fact that we're in Segunda B appears to be a major stumbling block. The most likely replacements look to be two players from Segunda side Albacete, Josan and Jose Fran. Also on the agenda is a Ghanaian striker Owusu from La Liga side Leganes.

Two weeks ago Mallorca lost their head groundsman/gardener who left for the big Yuan Renminbi in China. Benito Mateo was a genius when it came to turf control and fans were worried that his grass roots legacy would continue. Well it will do as the club have appointed a company called Royal Verd to work on the impeccable Son Moix playing surface and the Son Bibiloni training ground. Royal Verd look after the Nou Camp in Barcelona, the New Wanda Metropolitan at At. Madrid, the New San Mames in Bilbao and the Mestalla in Valencia. The fact that these experts have been chosen once again goes to show our American owners mean business. But promotion in May is vital to the cause.