Real Mallorca’s man of the match Manolo Reina (L) makes a one-handed stop. | MIQUEL A. BORRAS


Real Mallorca missed the chance to go top of La LIga SmartBank on Sunday when they could only draw 0-0 against the best team we’ve played in Palma this season, fourth-placed Sporting Gijon. With Espanyol losing to Girona 1-2 on Friday night, Mallorca had a golden opportunity to put down a marker and show their league position is no flash in the pan.
Unfortunately things didn’t go according to coach Luis Garcia Plaza’s plan, as the visitors dominated the first half. As early as the 10th minute our goalkeeper Manolo Reina sprang into action in a move instigated by Sporting’s Aitor Garcia, a good footballer, fast with a lovely first touch. He was a thorn in Mallorca’s side all game, especially to right back Joan Sastre.

Our goalkeeper/captain Manolo Reina has become a very good shot stopper and was called into action on several occasions, pulling off at least three certain goal-scoring chances. He was once again, without doubt, our man of the match. Nor should central defenders Raillo and Valjent be left out of the plaudits as they snuffed out the triple threat of Djuka, Manu Garcia and the omnipresent Aitor Garcia who was electric. Valjent is lightning fast and covered for our absent full backs, who had gone AWOL on attack and couldn’t get back quickly enough.

Mallorca gave the ball away far too often and I don’t recall Sporting doing that once. One player missing on Sunday was Ghanaian midfielder Baba, he should have played some part in this game as his ball-winning prowess was sorely missed. Salva Sevilla was a marked man as Sporting had done their homework on the Silver Fox. He was shadowed by two players all the time he was on the pitch and found it difficult to shake off their attentions.
With Salva Sevilla being restrained and giving the ball away on numerous occasions, we lacked a leader. The diminutive Senegalese Amath was the lone striker but he had precious little opportunities. Our forays forward became all too predictable with wingers Mboula and Antonio Sanchez more concerned about defending than attacking and we hardly saw either in a forward role.

Twenty minutes from the end Febas and Murilo came on for Salva Sevilla and Mboula respectively, with neither of these subs contributing anything. Then came a farcical situation, with only a minute of playing time left the coach brought on Trajkovski (Tchaikovsky). Could he compose anything? The answer: No. His introduction was a time-wasting ploy but the second he came on he had a muscle problem and limped off without even touching the ball – a clear message to coaching staff that to bring on a player without warming up is folly, 0-0.

I’m old school, but I was amazed at the number of Mallorca bench players (on the bench behind the bench!) who were looking at their mobile phones during the game. Surely they should be giving 100% of their attention to their team-mates on the pitch. Definitely a distinct lack of discipline from the coaching staff, in my opinion.

In the end Sunday’s game was a war of attrition between one of the best attacks in La Liga SmartBank against the best defence – it ended like a game of chess – stalemate. Mallorca continue to keep clean sheets at the back but there’s so much room for improvement in attack not only in efforts conceived but build ups created. We were on the ropes for long periods of this game and we were lucky the visitors’ attackers were firing blanks and Manolo Reina performed heroics between the sticks. Son Moix at the moment is not the fortress it once was as we have taken 12 of a possible 18 points away from home – the best in La Segunda.

This was a high voltage match played between two of the best teams in the division. Mallorca remain well on course for an automatic promotion place and as one regular said to me in the Mallorcafé after the game it’s a “puntito” – a small point. Mallorca have but a few snatched hours to recover before they play Cartagena Wednesday night at 21:30.

Instead of goal of the month there should be a prize for the football player who, after minimal contact, writhes around on the ground with the most agonised facial expression, especially the ones who peer through the cracks between their fingers to see if the referee is looking at them!

A couple were Christmas shopping and the local mall was packed. As the wife walked around she discovered her husband was missing. She was angry as they had a lot to do so she messaged him to see where he was. He rang back and in a quiet voice said “Do you remember the jewellers we went into five years ago where you fell in love with that diamond necklace that we couldn’t afford and I told you I would buy it for you one day?” The wife by now was crying with emotion and replied “Yes, how could I forget? Of course I remember that shop.” He continued “Well, I’m in the pub next door!”