After a weekend when ex Spurs player Danny Rose was refreshingly honest about his battle with depression – then later signed for Newcastle United! – Real Mallorca cast serious doubts on their ability to stay with the big boys of Spanish football for another season, when they received a serious setback going down 0-1 in the Son Moix to Valladolid on Saturday. Only one word can describe a home defeat to one of our fellow strugglers – DREADFUL! Our return to the top flight of Spanish football is proving TORTUOUS after the worst home showing for a long time. We just didn’t turn up in a game that really mattered as we wanted to put some daylight between us and the three teams below in the table. Things were so bad that there were murmurings from disappointed fans as they left the stadium regarding coach Vicente Moreno holding on to his job. The coach is doing his best with a group of players who, at the moment, are a long way off the standard required in La Liga. There’s allegedly some friction between the coach, the general manager and director of football as the January transfer window opportunity turned into a disaster, with only two replacements coming in on loan.
Because of a gate being closed under the Sol stand, the ground took an age to fill up, it also caused major traffic congestion after the game. Just under 14,000 finally made it expecting a “home banker” win, similar to the one a couple of weeks ago when we thrashed Valencia 4-1.
Sadly that result seemed light years away as Mallorca started the game “well jittery,” giving the ball away on countless occasions. After 20 minutes the referee started blowing his whistle for just about every coming together, he was terrible and gave us nothing. His inconsistency wasn’t helped with the dreaded VAR, which once again was the undisputed protagonist.
In the 28th minute, Lumor went down the left wing, took the ball to the byline, before setting up Dani Rodriguez for a sweet finish. After minutes of pfaffing around the ball was adjudged to have crossed the byline and the goal was disallowed. Mayhem was then set loose, not helped by the referee who had restarted the game with several of our players off the pitch celebrating the phantom goal! Afterwards TV pictures showed that VAR got it right, but the fans need to know what these VAR decisions are all about. However, that didn’t stop our goalkeeper Manolo Reina losing the plot and despite being at least 130 yards from the incident wouldn’t get out of the referee’s face. Reina was rightly booked and was walking the disciplinary tightrope. That was followed by Moreno’s assistant Dani Penden throwing his dummy out of the pram calling the referee by a “naughty” word and being shown a straight red card. Could it get any worse? Yes, it could and did.
The game by now had developed into a scrapfest and in the 48th minute came more bad news. Our defensive rock Antonio Raillo went down near the corner flag with nobody near him, holding his knee. He was helped off and it didn’t look good. It was revealed afterwards he tore part of a leg muscle which means at least a month on the sidelines, a major blow for Mallorca as Raillo is one of our best players.
He was replaced by veteran Xisco Campos who at 38 is not the fastest defender in La Liga. He was left in the wake of Sergio Guardiola who ran 40 yards unchallenged before passing to Turkish striker Enes Unal who made it 0-1. The Son Moix went silent. Moreno then went for broke, bringing on Kubo and Pozo (average height 5ft 3 in!) down the right. Things improved slightly but our finishing wasn’t the best!
Valladolid hadn’t won since last November when they beat – guess who? Real Mallorca 3-0! Saturday’s defeat showed that when players like Salva Sevilla, Dani Rodriguez, Lago Junior and Budimir don’t play well, then we’re in big trouble.
PS Alarm bells are ringing with regard to Raillo’s injury. It’s now down to the barely seen Serbian international Aleksandar Sedlar to step up and be counted – all hands to the pump!