Mallorca's new French on-loan signing, Clement Grenier. | R.D.


After a week when Disney have stopped all new releases in Russian cinemas, which means no premiere for their latest animated blockbuster about the former US president’s visit to a Moscow car factory – it’s called The Lada and The Trump ! – Real Mallorca flew up north to Galicia yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s game against mid-table Celta Vigo, kick off in the Balaidos stadium is at 18:30.

Mallorca have played At. Bilbao, Betis, Valencia and Real Sociedad (all four of these teams are economically and sportingly superior to us) since February 20 winning just once against At. Bilbao. In the Betis game everything was going well until Battaglia’s absurd handball penalty. Against Valencia we were a victim of their manager Bordalas’s anti-football tactics and a poor referee and on Wednesday we lost to a Sociedad side who were better than us in all departments.

With Alaves drawing 0-0 with Sevilla on Friday night, we’re now just five points above the relegation bottom three, with 12 games left to play. Ironically, we haven’t kept a clean sheet since we drew 0-0 against Celta Vigo on a windy December 10 night, when in the last 10 minutes our goal led a charmed life.

Luckily Baba has overcome a muscle injury he picked up playing for Ghana in the African Cup of Nations last month, and he’ll probably come back into the selection options for the game. Galarreta’s replacement Antonio Sanchez has been in good form but he hasn’t got Galarreta’s characteristics, leaving Salva Sevilla as the only creator in the squad and on Wednesday night against Sociedad he wasn’t at his best. With that in mind, the club have signed a free agent in French international 31-year-old Clement Grenier.

He’s signed until the end of the season with the option of an extension depending on his performances. He’s evidently very similar in play to Salva Sevilla and should bring to the centre of the pitch the level of creativity that we were sadly lacking on Wednesday night in the rain. He’ll wear the No. 6 shirt vacated by Febas who’s on loan at Malaga. Grenier hasn’t played a game for many months so the priority is to get him up to match fitness in a couple of weeks.

Mallorca will still have a free space available and that at any time can incorporate another player always with the condition that he’s without a playing contract. Grenier has played for Rennes, Lyon and AS Roma, as well as 30 games in the Champions and Europa leagues.

On Wednesday night we started with the Senegal-born forward Amath who’s been missing long term with a big toe infection and somehow he’s looked to have forgotten we’re now playing in La Liga. He gives the impression in the few minutes he’s played that this category is too much for him. His performance in midweek was horrific from start to finish and he contributed nothing for the good of the team.

We’ve suffered seven defeats in our last nine games; that has left many Mallorquinistas (me included) very worried. With a good opportunity lost to open a wider gap with the relegation candidates below us, it would really help the cause to get at least a point tonight. In the crowd will be Billy’s Jolly Boys and Julie (7 in total), in what is their annual cultural visit to all parts of Spain’s footballing map. This weekend sees their 20th year of journeying into enemy territory – let’s hope they have something to celebrate.

It’s not easy being a football referee these days, with players, coaches and thousands of fans giving them a hard time – all the time. Almost at every game they get grief with every decision being disputed, every throw-in argued over, and the most blatant, penalties dismissed as a dive.

However, here in Spain being a referee is a very lucrative job financially, as they get the highest salaries in European football. A recent Spanish FA website report stated that top officials are paid a staggering 6,000 euros for every game they take charge of.

Here’s a Fan’s View look at the stereotypes of referees from the top European leagues :

English referee – Very relaxed and calm, sometimes too calm, with a strong emphasis on communication. Very friendly. Will often have a long-ish conversation with a player or captain, something referees from different cultures try to avoid. Takes a long time to make up his mind when it comes to a booking/sending off. Often too lenient and passive when the game heats up.

German referee – Has a very long whistle tone with little variation. Body language is the German referee’s biggest strength. He (like the Spanish officials) rarely smiles and is a friendly character who communicates with the players. Strict and fair.

Italian referee – A very fit character – the quickest to show cards and often has the card in the air already when the whistle goes. Not afraid to make courageous, often overly courageous, decisions when it comes to red cards and penalties. Not afraid to show a red card for dissent and a low threshold for dismissing players.

Spanish referee – Card happy, extremely card happy. Their fitness also stands out, sometimes a little cowardly when it comes to penalty area decisions. It takes a lot more for a Spanish referee to give a penalty than for an Italian referee. Over the top body language, with flamboyant gesticulations. Does not manage the game too well, instead showing cards where referees in other countries would give a dressing down. That bit is spot on !

AND FINALLY, a Kiwi and an Aussie went fishing one afternoon and decided to have a couple of cold beers. After a while the Aussie said to the Kiwi “If I was to sneak over to your house and make wild, passionate love to your wife while you were at work, and she got pregnant and had a baby, would that make us related ?” The Kiwi, after a great deal of thought, said “Well, I don’t know about related but it sure would make us even !”