After a weekend when Stuart Pearce on Radio Five Live announced during an interview that “I could see the carrot at the end of the tunnel!” – Real Mallorca lost to a Real Sociedad side containing nine “ex academy” players (average age 24) 3-0 on Sunday night in what was another away game to forget. Their terrible record on the road has now reached the stage where we’ve taken just a single point from 30 available. For the first 45 minutes Mallorca looked capable of keeping the slick passing Sociedad side at bay but all that was to change after half time. We had the best chance in the 9th minutes when a “rasper” from 30 yards from Lumor saw Sociedad ‘keeper Remiro save with his right hand, with Budimir missing the rebound, heading over the bar. That was about all both sides could muster as they headed towards the second half.
Before a minute had been played after the break, Sociedad went ahead as they found another gear, playing some sparkling football. A defence splitting cross from Portu found the young Swedish striker Alex Isak and he quickly despatched the ball past Reina, 1-0. By now Mallorca were giving the ball away far too much and against a quality team like Sociedad that’s never a good idea. In the 57th minute after Sociedad brought on their first substitute Barrenetxea, “the game changer,” and with his first touch Sociedad doubled their lead. His shot from the edge of the area cannoned off Fran Gamez and past a stranded Manolo Reina who had no chance, 2-0. The rot had now set in.
Mallorca were now abandoned to their fate and it was to their credit that they managed to keep the score down to three. Sociedad’s third goal came 10 minutes from time when an Odegaard shot was parried by Reina and Portu converted the spillage, 3-0.
SUMMING UP : We were predictable, flat and succumbed when the opposition increased their tempo. Once again I’m trying to get my head around the fact that ten of Sunday’s team gubbed Valencia (who beat Barcelona 2-0 on Saturday) 4-1, then a week later the same ten turn in another abject performance on the road. Admittedly Sociedad were better opposition than Valencia but it’s as if we just capitulate every time we get off a plane. Research has found a home team more likely to win with their home crowd behind them. Crowd effect has a significant and sizeable affect on the home team’s likelihood of winning. In our case that seems to be true. Personally, I prefer to use the analogy of the three-wheeled van with a puncture in the front wheel. These symptoms are all easy to recognise as sufferers seem to lack direction and don’t have any ability to go forward with any purpose. This can result in nine months since the last win on the road ! Will we EVER win an away league game again?
Mallorca were outplayed by one of the best young sides in La Liga who I reckon will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming seasons. The first half was played at lightning pace with Mallorca just about hanging on but the signs looked ominous. The Palma side looked dishevelled and were outclassed in the second half with Sociedad’s slick passing causing our crumbling defence all sorts of problems. Salva Sevilla travelled to San Sebastian but missed the game because of a virus.
The upside from yet another away defeat is that we’re still out of the relegation bottom three with Valladolid (who lost 0-1 to Real Madrid), our opponents in Son Moix next Saturday at 18:30. They’re four points ahead of us so a home win is vital.
The transfer window shuts on Friday and we still wait to see who, if any, our director of football, Javi Recio, will bring in to help the cause.
One of the goals of the weekend was scored by a 19 year old Villareal striker making his debut called Fernando Niño, who was born in Majorca. The name rang a few bells in my head as his father was a legend at Real Mallorca who played centre half for us between 1998 – 2005 making 200 appearances. He was an undisputed starter for a long time, playing in our Copa del Rey winning team in 2003. Fernando Senior was also on the bench when we lost 2-1 to Lazio in the last ever European Cup Winners Cup final at Villa Park in 1999.