After a week where I read “If you’ve any rubbish to get rid of, tonight is the perfect time, throw it into your neighbour’s garden – and blame it on storm Eunice!” – Real Mallorca, after their first back to back home wins for two years, face a daunting away game against third-placed Real Betis tomorrow at 18:30.
The Seville side, coached by the Chilean-born maestro Manuel Pellegrini, had a great 2-3 win in the Europa league against Zenit St Petersburg in Russia on Thursday. They have been La Liga’s revelation team this season and are also competing in the Copa del Rey semi finals.
In just two games, RCD Mallorca’s scenario in La Liga has changed radically. From flirting with relegation places, they have pulled six points ahead of third-bottom Alaves.
In a competition as even as La Liga, winning two wins in a row shoots a club up the standings.
Our relative comfort allows us to face Betis at the Benito Villamarin stadium with a certain calm, knowing that even if we lose it won’t have such dire consequences.
With 14 games left to play (15 in our case), we need 14 points to ensure continuity in the first division.
To achieve 40 we need to achieve the maximum number of points in Son Moix.
With back to back wins and six points out of six, we’re in a far more comfortable place than Alaves, Cadiz and Levante who, despite their shock 0-1 win at At. Madrid during the week, are still odds on to go down.
Brian Olivan will miss tonight’s game through suspension so the introduction of a like for like replacement in Jaume Costa should be our only change.
Real Mallorca fans have a new idol in Kosovan/Albanian 27-year-old striker Vedat Muriqi.
He’s only played three games for us (two in Son Moix) but he looks like he’s been at Mallorca all his life.
His recipe for winning over the fans in such a short space of time is as simple as it is effective, running as if the world was ending, jumping higher than the rest and a total commitment to the cause even in the 100th minute.
He’s scored one goal and three assists, being involved in the five goals we’ve scored since his arrival.
First he despatched Cadiz from the penalty spot and then sent Bilbao home to think again. His impossible jump gave Angel the chance to score Mallorca’s second goal and then he teamed up with Take Kubo to force the Bilbao ’keeper into an own goal (when Kubo’s effort bounced in off his back).
Between one thing and another, he has won almost 20 heading duels, had six shots on goal and has committed only five fouls which is surprising because he does put himself about a bit.
There’s no question Muriqi has changed the face of Real Mallorca and has transformed the mood of the fans who have gone from worrying about going down, to a feeling of “si se puede” (yes we can stay up). Not since Samuel Eto’o arrival here in 2000 have Mallorca fans taken a new signing to their hearts so quickly.
Balearic referees go on strike
Every weekend in the Balearic islands, hundreds of referees venture out to officiate the game they love.
They greet the coaches and the players who at the beginning seem lovely, but one small “mistake” by the referee leads to a torrent of abuse.
A constant exposure to vile comments regarding the referee’s parenthood, eyesight, age and sexual orientation has reached a point in the Balearics where referees have had enough and are going on strike this weekend in protest.
There will be no football played on the islands in the Tercera and Preferente leagues as the “arbitros” take an unprecedented stand against violence and verbal abuse, which is affecting the referees’ mental health.
At a meeting on Thursday, the president of the Balearic football federation, Miquel Bestard, listened to the referees’ concerns showing his support and expressed his desire to put an end to the situation.
The federation has been fighting a losing battle in their efforts to stamp out matchday troubles in the 700 Balearic games that are played every weekend. Bestard is to hold an urgent meeting with the island’s mayors in order to stop the sale of alcohol in the municipal grounds.
Most of the Balearic referees are young men and women who feel they have no stance against fully grown “responsible” adults who are screaming at them from the sidelines.
Abuse from the crowd can never be cut out but some kids as young as 10 years old have been reported hurling horrible insults at referees which they would never ever say in front of their parents, except on a football pitch.
Back in my day, Sunday football had a real motley crew of referees ranging from the 85-year-old ref who never left the centre circle, to the ref with the bottle-top glasses, or the one in our league who was euphemistically described as having a “presence.”
He had “love” tattooed on one hand and “hate” on the other. Not too many players disputed his decisions !
AND FINALLY, two men are playing golf when one realises that he’s left his jacket at the last tee.
He goes back to get it, stops halfway and turns back.
“What’s up?” asks his friend.
“Well, you see those two women at the last tee, one’s my missus and she’s playing with my mistress. It’s unbelievable !”
His friend laughs and says “No worries, I’ll go and get it for you.” He also stops halfway, comes back, looks at his mate and says “Small world, eh ?”
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