Mallorca preparing for Real Madrid.

1

After a week when the UK news programmes have been all about the country’s new prime minister Liz Truss – Truss, according to an online dictionary, means (1) a surgical appliance worn to support a hernia or (2) a framework made in its smallest form from two short planks ! – Real Mallorca head to the Spanish capital where they’ll play Real Madrid in the intimidating Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday at 2pm. Over the (almost) 40 years I’ve been a season ticket holder, I could count the times we’ve actually won or come away with a point in the Bernabeu on one hand and Sunday’s game isn’t one I’m looking forward to. The odds are firmly stacked against us and I just hope the final scoreline is better than the 6-1 drubbing we suffered last season.

As usual our Mexican coach Javier Aguirre will pick an ultra-defensive line-up meaning we won’t be easy to break down but Real Madrid wear out their opponents with their neat, intricate passing.

Some good news for us is that top striker and goal machine Karim Benzema is missing through injury, however even with him absent they have so many other strengths. I’m not at all happy with the defensive set up the coach prefers but if it gets a result at the end of the day then I shouldn’t get too upset.

Fellow long-term socio Charles Nutter reminded me last Saturday that our best-ever manager Hector Cuper, in our best ever two seasons 1998/99 and 1999/00, had 15 x 1-0 wins during these campaigns and we finished third in the league, reached a Copa del Rey final and the last ever European Cup Winners Cup final against Lazio at Villa Park. Every time we went one up we parked the bus. Not pretty to watch but boy did the system pay dividends.

At present we have a serious problem in midfield. Without the panache and passing of Salva Sevilla (now at second division Alaves) we haven’t got a captain in the engine room. I watched some of the Alaves game last Sunday night.

The Basque side have our ex boss Luis Garcia Plaza in charge and Salva’s seeing out his chequered career at the Mendizorroza. Salva’s still able to hold the ball, break and accelerate (even at 38) before putting through slide rule passes.

His presence as chief ammunition provider in our starting XI is sorely missed. Battaglia, Sanchez, Baba and Grenier don’t have anywhere near Salva’s silky skills, with almost-back-to-full-fitness Galarreta looking the most likely to fill Salva’s boots. I think Mallorca made a mistake in not giving Salva another year on his contract and only time will tell if we’ll come to regret his leaving.

With the midfield depleted our main chance providers come from wing backs Maffeo and Costa whose jobs entail hitting high crosses into the opposition penalty area looking for striker Muriqi to get on the end of them. The problem with that is opposing defenders have got wise to that ploy and last Saturday Muriqi was almost marked out of the game.

New Zimbabwean loanee striker Tino Kadewere is a player who brings Mallorca something different in attack. I’ve been told he’s so quick he can run through puddles and not get wet ! Our other newbie is the experienced ex Man. City and Fiorentino midfielder Matija Nastasic who has now been registered and is ready to play.

The furore over the lack of drinks outlets open last Saturday during the Girona game in 34º heat reached a peak earlier in the week when the various leaders of supporters clubs met with our CEO Alfonso Diaz.

He admitted there had been a lack of foresight and communication with the new company that provides food and drink (who were in the process of adapting) to the Son Moix saying that 40 workers from the company were absent from their jobs and he promised the situation would not be repeated. It also turned out that the only “chiringuito” (food and beverage bar) in the training complex Son Bibiloni wasn’t even open on Saturday when Mallorca’s B team faced Hercules in a 12 noon kick off. Diaz said that on our next match day, Almeria at 2pm on Saturday 17th, 11 outlets should be operating.

Questions were also asked about the 2pm kick off times in our next two games but especially Almeria. The CEO said “The club prioritises the health of the fans and players above all else but the bosses of La Liga will continue with 2pm games because these are ‘marketing opportunities.’”

Our game against Madrid was put back to Sunday because of their participation in the Champions League. Mallorca have, and had, applied to La Liga boss Javier Tebas to have our early kick off games changed on several occasions but they were inflexible and it fell on deaf ears. Tebas is known to be a shrewd operator and has been described as an “ogre” towards the smaller clubs in La Liga.

Last Saturday there could easily have been a tragedy in the excessive heat and both La Liga and RCD Mallorca have been held culpable by the supporters club chiefs. Diaz finished by saying he expected the new East stand to be finished in time for the Barcelona game on October 1 at 9pm. There have been supply problems regarding the transference of stand supports coming by road from Galicia then from Valencia by boat.

AND FINALLY, our local supermarket has had a makeover and they’ve created what they call an immersive shopping experience. As you walk into the shop, you pass beautifully stacked fruits and vegetables in a light cloud of mist. Go past the oranges and there’s a gentle sweet smell of freshly squeezed orange juice. Around the potatoes there’s the whiff of newly fried chips. Get to the deli counter and your senses are triggered by the sound and aroma of sizzling bacon. The fish counter is spectacular with the gentle sound of the waves lapping on the shore with sea gulls squawking. Go for some eggs and there’s the sound of free range chickens clucking and pecking. The smell in the coffee aisle is amazing – a strong aroma of the finest freshly ground beans. The shop is really busy. There are queues in the car park, queues in the aisles and the tills are overflowing. They’ve never had it so good. On the downside, sales of toilet paper have slumped alarmingly !!!