Antonio Raillo (L) and Joan Sastre, part of Real Mallorca's record-breaking defence

Antonio Raillo (L) and Joan Sastre, part of Real Mallorca's record-breaking defence.

21-11-2020R.D.

After a week when it was “leaked” that Prince Charles and Camilla were caught hogging the middle lane of the M25, one irate motorist tweeted “I had no option but to undertake them to get through – I passed the Duchy on the left hand side!” – Real Mallorca, who lie in an automatic promotion second place in La Liga SmartBank, play the team who lie in third place, two points behind them, Sporting Gijon, on Sunday afternoon – kick off is 4 o’clock in Son Moix. With Espanyol losing 1-2 to Girona on Friday night, Mallorca can go top with a win – no pressure there then!

The Palma side face the daunting prospect of playing five games in 14 days (Sporting, Cartagena, Logroñes, Almeria and Castellon), and can put some daylight between them and Sporting (5 points) if they beat the Asturians this afternoon. It’s what’s called in football terminology a six pointer. A win come 6pm would put us in a commanding position as we enter another crazy period in this pandemic league. It’s often said that a team’s position at Christmas can go a long way to deciding where they finish up at the end of May.

Once again it’s expected coach Luis Garcia Plaza will rotate his starting XI against a team who are several top players short for various reasons. After relegation from La Liga four months ago (it seems much longer than that) plus the departure of Vicente Moreno to Espanyol, Mallorca fans were worried of losing that competitive edge that Moreno had installed into the team. Us fans were worried we might be stuck in La Segunda for longer than we would have liked.

However, with the arrival of Luis Garcia Plaza (LGP who some fans said looked to be an underwhelming appointment), he’s banished all thoughts of negativity, turning Mallorca into a team with one of the best defences in European football. LGP as a coach has made history with Real Mallorca becoming the only team in Spain’s top two divisions with the fewest goals conceded after the first 12 games. Two of the defence celebrate milestones on Suday, Antonio Raillo reaches 150 games and Joan Sastre 100.

The rapid adaptation of new signings Cufre, Olivan, De Galaretta (what a good player he is), Antonio Sanchez, Amath and Mboula has meant the coach can rotate his team selection, plus the cause is helped by there being five substitutes. Rotation, which not a lot of teams in this league can do, is a huge game changer and will surely make all the difference come the end of the season. The rotation system also means every player feels important and can bring something extra to the table.

LGP has changed the fans’ way of thinking. Many thought it would be a transitional season, consolidate this season and have a promotion push next season.

On Monday night local TV station Canal 4, had our CEO Alfonso Diaz on, who was upbeat about our competitive start. He did say however that “It’s always important to start well because the season is long and bad spells will surely come.” He went on “In all areas of the club there is positivity but we must be cautious.” He believes that the reason for fans in La Liga and La Segunda not being allowed back into stadiums is that professional football in Spain has enough income to hang on whereas lesser, part-time teams in the lower leagues need fans to bring in revenue.

The owners are over the moon about everything at the moment but Diaz concluded by saying “The Covid-19 situation has made everything complicated.” The good news is that despite a huge lack of incoming revenue Mallorca now lie fourth (after Espanyol, Almeria and Leganes) in the salary limit in La Segunda. Espanyol have a staggering 45,342 million euro budget hence the reason they’re the favourites to win the league.

Owner Robert Sarver has now invested 45 million euros in Real Mallorca and our outstanding debt to the tax man has gone down from 27 million to 10.5 million euros. There’s also some money available should we need to dabble in the January transfer window.

Mallorca have been drawn away at Segunda B minnows Guijuelo from Salamanca in the first round proper of the Copa del Rey ties to be played December 16. There are some weird and wonderful sounding names in the 64 team draw, none more so than a side from Guadalajara called MARCHAMALO – will they get a toasting?!

AND FINALLY

Some extracts from Tees Valley area lockdown protocols : Redcar – Burgling homes in your local area is still permitted providing you sanitise before and after the offence. Track and trace technology must also be used. Middlesbrough – You can visit your dealer when collecting your children from school. The dealer should wear a mask and make sure all bags are sanitised. Please use a child buggy for transporting large quantities of recreational pharmaceuticals. Billingham – Sex with your sister is still permitted but you must be home by 10pm and use approved lubricants. Stockton – Now declared a no go zone (in 1984), if you must travel to this area please follow all diversions, traffic cones and signals, remain in your car, do not abandon your car, masks are not required as nothing is open and hasn’t been for years. Hartlepool – Vigilante groups of no more than six allowed outdoors and socially distancing between the hours of 10pm – 2 a.m. only. You must wear suitable PPE for any physical contact. All knives should be sterilised prior to use.

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