Marco Asensio on the ball for RCD Mallorca in 2014. | P. BOTA

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During a weekend when a mate of mine has started calling his wife “Watford” – because she kicks off every 10 minutes ! – Real Mallorca are being dragged further towards the relegation bottom three, losing 4-3 against Celta Vigo last Sunday and now have to play the mighty Real Madrid tomorrow (Monday) night at 9 pm.

They’ve only lost two La Liga games all season, having scored 56 goals, 20 of them from probably the best striker in the world at present, Karim Benzema (so no pressure there then !), although he may well be rested for the game. One Real Madrid player sure to get a warm welcome is 26-year-old Marco Asensio, born on the island (his family live in El Toro) he played for Magalluf side Playas de Calvia before joining Real Mallorca’s youth academy in 2013. He played for the senior side in 2014 before moving to Real Madrid two years later and is now an iconic Mallorcan sporting hero.

The last time we played them in Palma was on October 19, 2019, when a seventh-minute Lago Junior goal saw us win 1-0. Six players from that unexpected win will be in the squad for the game : Valjent, Raillo, Dani Rodriguez, Baba, Salva Sevilla and Take Kubo (whose parent club is Real Madrid). We’ve played them once this season, last September, going down in Madrid like lambs to the slaughter 6-1 !

After their epic comeback against PSG on Wednesday night, Real Madrid will start as clear favourites and I just hope we don’t get “gubbed” (that’s the Scottish vernacular for losing heavily !). Against Celta last Sunday, we suffered our fourth successive defeat against a team who finished the game with 10 men. That 4-3 result meant we’ve lost almost 50% of our La Liga games. The joy of wins against Cadiz and At. Madrid seems light years away.

What went relatively unnoticed last Sunday was that our coach Luis Garcia Plaza introduced a new system which went down like a lead balloon. For the first time he played three players in central defence, which had more holes than a string vest. That system allowed Gio and left back Jaume Costa (our best crosser of the ball) to play further up the pitch, but on a defensive level it was a failure, allowing Celta to score three easy goals. Later in the game the coach reverted to the 4-4-2 system with the defence performing much better. Too many of our players looked jaded last Sunday, none more so than Dani Rodriguez. He’s one of the best box-to-box players ever to pull on an RCD Mallorca shirt, but the last couple of games he’s been playing out of position and looks like he needs a break, as he’s carried the team for long periods this season.

Garcia Plaza, facing a cacophony of criticism, somehow has to find a way out of our present predicament. Mallorca look to be playing without a preconceived plan and LGP hasn’t been helped by the sports management team putting together an unbalanced squad where our top scorer (with four goals) is one of the oldest players in La Liga and a mid-fielder ! Another criticism is that the initial Muriqi effect looks to have stalled, the reason being he’s a lone striker spending more time looking for the ball than receiving it. Against Real Madrid we need to play Angel alongside Muriqi. Keeping a clean sheet is one of the prime objectives for a team aspiring to avoid relegation. In the last 10 games we’ve conceded 22 goals.

Stats after the game indicated we only committed eight fouls to Celta’s 17 and we showed a real lack of intensity. The image of Mallorca players WALKING to take throw ins/corner kicks was inexcusable, especially when we were behind three times.

There’s been a huge shout out on social media to have our coach replaced. Teams around us in the nether regions of La Liga – Elche, Getafe, Granada, Cadiz, Alaves and Levante – have all changed managers since Christmas. Bottom club Levante are on their third coach.

Our American owners are conservative and don’t appear to be pushing the panic button just yet as we slowly fall down the table. Asked about his position, LGP gave the media short shrift, verging on the surly, as he struggles to get his team out of their present position. What we MUST NOT DO on Monday night is allow Real Madrid to attack us from the start, otherwise they’ll tear us to shreds. Let’s get stuck into them for as long as possible – they don’t like it up ’em !

The fear that our adventure in La Liga will be over again in one season is again floating in the air. Bad feelings transmitted by the team bring back painful memories of Vicente Moreno’s campaign on the Son Moix bench a couple of years ago.

The matches against the great classic sides of La Liga like Real Madrid have always been seen as a great time to make money for the more modest clubs, and we’re no exception. Prices range between 140 and 250 euros with the North End Luis Sitjar stand sold out weeks ago. The game will be the first for a long time in which 100% capacity will be allowed so we could see 20,500. I suggest if you’re going to the game to get in early, there are bound to be queues. I mean, you wouldn’t want to miss Mallorca taking an early two-goal lead !!!

AND FINALLY, a man in full Chelsea colours is standing on top of Spurs’ main stand threatening to throw himself off. The police negotiator tells him “Come on mate, it’s not that bad, don’t do it !” “You don’t get it !” says the Chelsea fan, “The Government is ruining our club and Roman is leaving.” “OK, mate, I do understand your pain,” replies the negotiator, “but I don’t understand one thing – why are you here at Spurs ? Why aren’t you jumping off the stand at Stamford Bridge ?” The fan looks at the policeman saying “Have you seen the size of the queue at Chelsea ?!”