The highlights of last weekend´s clash between Real Mallorca and Real Madrid at Son Moix. | Youtube: LaLiga Santander

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After a week when, after he was seen filling in potholes in a road near his Essex mansion, Sir Rod Stewart reissued his 1977 smash hit single – The first RUT is the deepest ! – Real Mallorca play Espanyol tomorrow (Sunday) in their Estadio Cornella (near Barcelona airport), kick off 14:00. The Palma side have to stop their slide down the table as they suffered their fifth defeat in a row, losing 0-3 to champions elect last Monday. It’s been a disastrous 2022 with Mallorca having taken only six points out of thirty but miraculously they’ve managed to stay out of the relegation bottom three, mainly because of the unreliability of our other relegation rivals.

We’ve had another campaign spent punching above our weight before Christmas then hanging on for grim death after it. We’ve now got 10 games left to save our season. In Palma we face At. Madrid (just before they play their Champions League second leg against Manchester City), Alaves, Granada and Rayo Vallecano and on the road Espanyol, Getafe, Elche, Barcelona, Sevilla and Osasuna. If we win three out of our four home matches, we’d be on 35 points, which I think would practically seal our participation in next season’s La Liga. We have the advantage that in this final stretch we face three sides that are (or will be) involved in a survival dogfight. La Liga is reaching a sprint finish and little by little it’s how you get to the finish line that matters. A draw against Espanyol would be excellent and we’ve already beaten them twice in Palma this season in La Liga and the Copa del Rey, although we haven’t won at Espanyol since 2011.

Looking at the other relegation candidates, the team with the toughest run-in are Cadiz. They have to play Villareal (just after our game), Valencia, Betis, Barcelona, At. Bilbao, Sevilla, Elche, Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Alaves.

There’s been tension between Real Mallorca and Espanyol since 1989 and it started again in 2020 when our then coach Vicente Moreno (who’d led us from Segunda B to La Liga in two seasons) decided he wanted to leave (despite him having a contract until 2022) to join Espanyol, with Mallorca getting half a million euros compensation. The move didn’t go down well with local fans. After his move, Moreno incensed fans by saying referees were favouring us more than Espanyol as both sides battled to win the second division. Espanyol went on to win the title, finishing on the same number of points as us but they won on the head to head count.

After losing twice to us this season, Espanyol are looking for revenge. So much so that every one of their socios will be able to purchase another two tickets at reduced prices to fill the ground, turning it into an intimidating cauldron of noise. Mallorca will be without the suspended Pablo Maffeo with Winter signing Uruguayan international Gio Gonzalez ready to take Pablo’s place.

According to social media the club are trying to buy their Japanese star Take Kubo’s rights for next season, either all or part of it, something we did back in the day with Samuel Eto’o when we acquired 50%. Kubo is considered hot property at Real Mallorca and a key player despite his indifferent form this season. He also brings significant economic benefits. For example, Alpha Gel (our shirt sponsors who get a huge canopy displayed on the centre circle) pay 2 million euros for the privilege, the highest amount ever contributed by a sponsor. Kubo (on loan from Madrid) is our highest paid player, his salary exceeding two million euros a season. Everything depends on where we finish come May. If we’re relegated, Kubo will move on. Real Madrid are unlikely to want him back given his non EU status

It’s a belated Happy Birthday to our midfielder “Silver Fox” Salva Sevilla, who turned 38 on Friday. The oldest player in our squad and the sixth overall in La Liga, he is waiting for the club to negotiate about his future. His importance to the cause, his commitment to the team and his endless quality play heavily in his favour. However, his starting position in the team (relegated to a substitute’s role) and the physical demands at his age will be against him signing anything longer than a year’s extension. The Alicante-born Salva, our leading scorer with four goals (all penalties) returns to one of his former clubs Espanyol this weekend. Whatever happens, Salva Sevilla will go down as one of the best midfielders ever to play for Real Mallorca.

PS Much was said in the Madrid sports press regarding our agricultural tackling of Rodrygo, Mendy and Benzema last Monday night. All three of them are doubtful for tonight’s Clasico. It’s true that our defenders Raillo and Maffeo are no shrinking violets when it comes to physical contact. However, a couple of weeks ago our player Galarreta was seriously injured after a tough tackle and there was no media fuss about that career threatening injury.

AND FINALLY, actual comments made on students’ report cards by teachers in New York : (5) I would not allow this student to breed; (4) Your child has delusions of adequacy; (3) Your son is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot; (2) The gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn’t coming; and (1) If this student was any more stupid, he’d have to be watered twice a week.