Mallorca beat At. Madrid 1-2 last December. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

0

After a week when on Tuesday the first transgender white sperm whale was discovered – it’s been called “Maybe Dick” ! – Real Mallorca face a daunting task on Saturday afternoon at 16:15 when they play Atletico Madrid in the Son Moix.

The Palma side go into this game against a team who were castigated from pillar to post by the English media after they “parked several buses” in holding Manchester City to just one goal on Tuesday night. Mallorca are determined not to make it eight consecutive La Liga games without a win and three games without a goal. We’ve lost the freshness and vibrancy we had way back in the early throes of the season.

Against Getafe last Saturday we didn’t create many chances and the longer the game went on you could see our players looked frustrated. The season has reached the business end and we now need a GOAL, from anywhere and by anybody! Our drought in front of goal has reached critical level but new coach Javier Aguirre has more or less told the squad he wants to play the 5-3-2 system which would include three central defenders, a blocking midfielder (probably Baba), two midfielders, an out and out striker (Muriqi) and a second attacking option (likely to be Angel). The next big ask is : Will Aguirre begin with our Asian connection because if he does start with the intended 5-3-2, opportunities for Take Kubo and Kang In Lee will be limited even if they are our two most technically gifted players ?

Atletico Madrid come here sandwiched between their Champions League tie against Man. City so they could well pick some players who don’t have a regular start. I know this sounds ridiculous but there couldn’t be a more favourable time to play “Atletee” as “Los Colchoneros” face a unique opportunity to reach the Champions League semi final. If there is a game when they can afford to slightly take the foot off the gas pedal, this is the one. I’m not saying that it will be easy despite us beating them in Madrid 1-2 last December, as they’re on a six-game unbeaten run, but in football anything can happen.

An article on social media this week described the impact our new coach is having on the team after the departure of Luis Garcia Plaza. The squad and backroom staff have been surprised by his obsession with work ethics, and every small detail has been taken into consideration. He arrives at the Son Bibiloni training ground at 9 a.m., two hours before the first training session starts, and leaves in the late afternoon. He’s even been seen locked in his office with his assistant Toni Amor and the physical trainer Pol Lorente. Aguirre and Amor can boast they won the recent Concacaf Champions cup with Mexican side Rayados de Monterrey but this challenge at RCD Mallorca is much harder. After our recent 1-0 defeat away at Getafe, there are now eight games left to claw back the two points that separate us from Cadiz.

Aguirre tells things like they are, and basically doesn’t take any prisoners and the players have shown him the utmost respect in what he’s doing. His training regime is much more rigid than LGP’s. The new coach is more than aware that the first step to avoid relegation is to improve the defence who have now leaked 50 goals. In training he’s insisted how he wants the team to defend set pieces (something that’s been our Achilles heel for many months). His two assistants have been filling him in with information regarding opposing players’ strengths and weaknesses. Aguirre has already found a house on the island as he awaits the arrival of his wife. He also wants ALL the training sessions to take place at Son Bibiloni leaving Son Moix for match days only. Even the press meetings will take place at the training ground complex which is once again open to the media twice a week for 15 minutes. One player summed up the new coach saying “Javier is a person who gives you lots of confidence and who allows you to work with complete peace of mind, but he is also very demanding.”

As I wrote about on Tuesday, the club and their fans were far from happy over what happened last Saturday at Getafe with referee Mateu Lahoz and the VAR decisions of Estrada Fernandez. In a statement released on Wednesday, the judge of the Competition Committee in Madrid with regard to the sanction given to Franco Russo has added fuel to the fire. Carmen Perez said that the images provided from Mallorca do not allow the committee to distinguish whether the ball hit Russo’s elbow or arm. These images are the same ones that Estrada Fernandez saw with his VAR cronies as they decided it was a clear offence, overruling Lahoz. There are still doubts as to which part of Russo’s body the ball impacted as match referee Lahoz, a few metres from the action, decided without flinching that it was NOT A PENALTY!

Mallorca had a meeting in Madrid on Thursday with the president of the Technical Committee of Spanish referees chaired by a certain Luis Medina Cantalejo, if my memory serves me correctly, he was a highly controversial character back in his “whistling” days. The meeting was described as “cordial” ! So that’s the end of that incident, then – another dubious decision brushed under the carpet.

PS Today’s headline was a football chant back in the day that was sung along to “Give Peace a Chance” from the Plastic Ono Band in 1969. Another chant relevant to today’s game featured Luis Suarez (who’s now at At. Madrid) when he played for Liverpool, which contained the line “Your teeth are offside” !

AND FINALLY, an Antipodian joke, nicknames for workmates in Australia : (1) Wicket keeper – puts on gloves and stands back; (2) Blister – appears when the hard work is done; (3) Deckchair – always folds under pressure; (4) Perth – three hours behind everyone else; (5) Wheelbarrow – only works when he’s pushed.