After a week when a father on Merseyside took his 12-year-old son to get a tattoo, he was told the boy was too young to make an informed decision about something so permanent – so the father took him to get gender reassignment surgery instead ! – Real Mallorca make the short trip to Barcelona where they play 13th placed Espanyol in their impressive Estadi Cornella El Prat tomorrow (Saturday) at 14:00. Mallorca will be out to break the hoodoo against Espanyol (we’ve only won one game there in 15 visits).
It should be interesting to see if Mallorca’s coach Javier Aguirre picks the same team who demolished Villareal 4-2 last Saturday as we have to improve our poor form on the road. We lie in 8th place, closer to a European spot than the relegation zone, and our objective is still crystal clear – TO STAY IN LA LIGA. However, the dream of us competing in the European Conference League would be a huge added bonus.
It’s been 30 years since Real Mallorca were where they are today in La Liga after 22 games. Looking back into the Fan’s View archives, there have been only two squads that have bettered our present position in February. In 2000/01 with the late Luis Aragones (whose picture hangs proudly in the Mallorcafé) as manager we stunned the Spanish footballing world by finishing in third place, and gained entry into the Champions League.
Our time in that competition didn’t last long as we were drawn alongside Panathinaikos, Arsenal and German side Schalke. After finishing third in our group, we played in the Europa League. Then in 2009/10 under Gregorio Manzano we qualified for the Europa League but we were thrown out for financial hanky panky before we even kicked a ball.
Many years have gone by since those heady days but with things going well (especially at home in “Fortress” Son Moix), Mallorquinistas are starting to dream of another European participation.
The question now being asked is just how many points are needed to get into a European place? Search engines stipulate that 59 or 60 points MIGHT see us participate but that’s a huge ask. That would mean we need another 29 points from 16 games to make that dream come true. Coach Aguirre has been very insistent that there’s still a long way to go until June and nothing must be taken for granted.
Last Saturday’s win against 10-man Villareal was fantastic entertainment. The opportunity to go for our fifth home win on the trot, and our opponents’ being a man down, meant our attackers’ shackles were at last unlocked. One player who’s very much relishing the attacking format is “El Tigre” alias Dani Rodriguez. What a game he had last Saturday. His two headed goals showed he’s had a resurgence in form after an indifferent early campaign.
There’s nothing better for us Mallorquinistas than seeing Dani “on the charge” as he lives up to his reputation as the best box-to-box player ever to pull on a Mallorca jersey. He arrived in 2018 from Albacete. Born in the Galician town of Betanceiro, he started his love for football as a ball boy in Deportivo’s ground El Riazor. After a series of indifferent performances Dani’s smiling again – the Tiger’s roaring.
One of the clear protagonists last Saturday was the surprise start for 27-year-old Zimbabwean Timotenda Kadewere. This guy is 6ft tall with really skinny legs but is greased lightning. He’s spent most of the season on the bench after a long cruciate lay off but on Saturday he orchestrated most of the danger in the Villareal 18-yard box.
He also scored his first goal in La Liga and became the first from his country to play in top flight Spanish football. He began his European adventure firstly in Sweden, then moved to France to play for Le Havre then Lyon. We have him on loan until June with an option to buy.
Another player with a huge smile was “El Pirata” Vedat Muriqi. He hadn’t scored since November but amended that by netting our fourth on Saturday. When the goals dried up, Muriqi became an all-round player in midfield and defence and the fans absolutely love him.
He said last week “I’m a striker and I have that anxiety to always score goals. When I don’t score it’s not easy. I’m lucky in that the coach and my team mates can see I’m helping out the team in other ways. At the end of the day it’s all about three points.”
AND FINALLY, A True Story. I see Bolton Wanderers officially announced earlier this week a new five-year stadium-naming-rights deal with local-based building product manufacturer Toughsheet. From July 1, the ground will be renamed “Toughsheet Community Stadium.” A spokesperson for “The Trotters” told fans “If you don’t like the new name – Toughsheet !”
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