Utz Claassen and Robert Sarver together at Elche.

02-01-2016Joaquin de Haro

Real Mallorca started 2016 as they finished 2015, with a 1-1 draw. This time it was away at Elche’s Martin Valero stadium on Saturday night watched by “waiting in the wings” potential new owner Robert Sarver. I’m afraid it wasn’t a case of ring out the old and ring in the new as Real Mallorca once again failed to capitalise on their territorial advantage relying on an own goal in the 65th minute to share the spoils and spare their blushes in a game where both goalkeepers were outstanding.

Trailing 1-0 in the 25th minute to another soft goal scored by the second division’s leading scorer Sergio Leon who netted his tenth of the season (I can’t remember the last time a Mallorca striker scored 10 goals by January?), the strike provided a redeeming feature to a pretty lacklustre first half for the home side. I’m sure Leon won’t score an easier goal this campaign past a flat-footed defence.

Mallorca started this game minus a proper target man, relying on Fofo to be our main attacker. My heart sinks every time I see his name on the team-sheet and surely now it’s “Taxi for Fofo!” We were without a recognised striker and I’m afraid Señor Fofo isn’t even a recognised football player. He surely will be one of the first Los Bermellones players to exit the Son Moix this month.

Young Brandon Thomas worked his socks off and proved that he is probably the only Mallorca player in the present squad to make a difference to proceedings. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, director of football Miguel Angel Nadal must do some work now to bolster our miserable attacking options (with the well-travelled Angolan striker Manucho now on our radar – he’s had more loan deals than Wonga), augmented by a midfielder who can create chances – no easy task in a limited market. Our abject away performances just go on and on and we haven’t won on the road now for eight months.

The islanders’ goal came midway through the second half when Mallorca forced one of their four corners. Damia Sabater put over a brilliant ball which hit the shoulder of defender Armando and finished in the net. The celebrations from Mallorca players were like we’d won the league.

SUMMING UP: Again it was a case of “if only” for Real Mallorca. We were the better team for most of the game but I suppose a draw was a fair result. The home side’s Mandi rattled the crossbar near the end, we hit the post, then centre-back David Costas missed a gilt-edged chance to win the game with a free header from a free kick, with only the ‘keeper to beat. The young centre-back headed agonisingly past, when it looked easier to score.

I wonder what prospective owner Robert Sarver thought of his new team’s performance on Saturday as he sat in the directors’ box alongside Utz Claassen. The expected club takeover was this afternoon.

Watching the game in the penya (fans) Bar Alos in Palma, when the TV cameras panned over the directors’ box, picking out Sarver, there were murmurings from the natives. There seems to be a profound mistrust lingering about foreign ownership amongst many blinkered Mallorca fans. Spanish owners of clubs have historically been short-sighted, being only interested in wins and losses or making big acquisitions in the player market like Real Madrid.

The Americans would seem to mix passion and business as top-flight football is now huge commercially, as well as being a pillar of the local sporting community. American owners should bring much more professional commercialisation as our off-the-pitch marketing is poor. Already I’m hearing about a new stadium being built (somewhere), and names being mentioned as joining the new Mallorca in an administrative position include Son Vida home-owner Steve McManaman, who’s a personal friend of Steve Nash, who could be the man running Mallorca very soon. Macca is now a pundit on BT Sport.

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