Rodrigo Battaglia, part of RCD Mallorca's solid midfield. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter


During a week when I overheard in a British bar in Calvia (Lady Customer) “Is the tuna fish in your tuna salad line caught or net caught ?” (Bar Owner) “When I get the tuna, madam, it’s in a ring-pull tin!” – Real Mallorca start their 22/23 La Liga campaign against Athletic Club Bilbao in their magnificent San Mames stadium on Monday night at 17:30 (a Spanish fiesta day).

Us Mallorquinistas have to wait until next Saturday (20th) to see our first home game of the season when we play Real Betis in the Son Moix, kick off 19:30. It’s also a day when we’ll see for the first time our completed new Sol Alta/Baja stand which has looked mighty impressive the times I’ve had a sneaky peek through the fence at the South End. Also fans in the Baja area are now 7.5 metres away from the pitch instead of over 30.

I’m almost ready for my 40th season watching RCD Mallorca (supporting the underdogs) and I still get a buzz (despite my advancing years) to see the team begin another term that’s sure to be a rollercoaster ride of joy and dismay in equal measures.

It’s going to be a funny old season with the World Cup in Qatar taking centre stage between November 20/21 and December 18. There have been many theories bandied about with regard to what effect a winter world cup will have on La Liga teams. We might expect smaller clubs with fewer players being called up to benefit from a lengthy break. These clubs (us included) have permission to play friendlies while the World Cup is on so long as matches aren’t scheduled to conflict with games played in Qatar.

With the transfer market window open until the end of August, Mallorca still have some shopping to do. Director of football Pablo Ortells needs to bring in a left back, a winger and a forward. The costly (for us) signing of Muriqi has not fully satisfied the needs of Mallorca especially in the final third of the pitch.

Our Mexican coach Javier Aguirre has adopted in pre-season a very specific style (5-3-2 or 5-4-1) that starts at the back with a wall of three central defenders and two attacking full backs (instead of traditional wingers who hug the touchlines, so much so they have chalk marks on their boots !). Then there’s a defensive midfielder, along with two ammunition providers and two others up front. During pre-season Aguirre played (in addition to Muriqi, Angel and Abdon) Lago Junior or Kang In Lee as a striker but we really need someone who’s used to playing in the hole just behind our main attacker Muriqi.

With American international striker Matthew Hoppe swapping Paradise Island for the Costa del Tees of Middlesbrough, a non EU place has been made available and we can expect at least two or maybe three new faces over the next week or so.

It’s nigh on impossible for smaller clubs like us to compete with the largesse and excess of the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona. However, for the first time in decades we start our season debt free with the club’s finances on an even keel. We had been in the hands of the administrator since 2010 but, thanks to our “best ever” owners from America, closed the financial year in June without having to sell any of our best players to balance the books.

There are many La Liga sides with just a few hours before the new season starts who haven’t been able to register any of their signings. This is most definitely the case with Barcelona who keep pulling financial levers to keep them alive. They also seem to find millions of euros stuffed down the back of club president Laporta’s settee!!

So how will we do this season? At the start of the last campaign fourth bottom seemed to be perfectly acceptable. We finished fifth bottom so – mission accomplished. Anything better than that come next June would be a huge bonus.

Rival teams who will probably be in our bottom half section could be Elche, Rayo Vallecano (with Diego Costa about to come on board and disrupt the dressing room with his shenanigans), Girona, Cadiz, Valladolid and Almeria.

Football aficionados have always argued in football it is essential to have a good goalkeeper and a top striker. In Rajkovic and Roman we have two good goalkeepers. We also have two reliable fullbacks (although Jaime Costa isn’t getting any younger and has a habit of talking his way into the referee’s notebook), two strong central defenders, with newcomer Copete looking promising in pre-season. We also have a solid if unspectacular midfield and in Muriqi an intimidating battering ram presence up front. Aguirre has a team to stand up to the pressures of La Primera but he urgently needs reinforcements for the bench. The coach has made this Mallorca consistent and strong in defence. In six games we’ve conceded once to a debatable penalty. Now the serious stuff begins. Visca Mallorca!

AND FINALLY, new season changes!! To wear coloured boots you must have scored at least eight goals in the previous season. The only player allowed to wear gold boots is the leading scorer for last season. No wearing gloves with short sleeves unless you’re a goalkeeper. Squad numbers should match a player’s position, i.e. (1) for goalkeeper (9) for striker and (11) for left winger. Any player caught kissing the club badge must be allowed to leave in the next transfer window. Anybody who points at the name on their shirt after scoring should be immediately substituted and this one especially for RCD Mallorca - no more playing out from the back at goal kicks. Lump it up to Muriqi!!