After a week when Mary and Joseph arrived at the inn and he asked “Can Mary and I make a conference call here?” only to be told “No, sorry, there is no Zoom at the inn!” – Real Mallorca play the last game of 20.20 on Saturday at 18:15 in Son Moix against Madrid side Fuenlabrada. They lie in 15th position and beat local side At. Baleares 0-1 in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday. They have stayed on the island and have been using our Son Bibiloni training ground.
The islanders arrived back in Palma late Wednesday night after they won their first Copa del Rey match against Salamanca outfit Guijuelo 0-1.
The game was played in the rain on a plastic pitch with Mallorca coming under pressure near the end after they’d scored the game’s only goal. That came from substitute Abdon Prats who made it five goals from five games with a 73rd minute strike with his first touch. The Arta-born No. 9, whose presence in attack is now crucial, a few months ago was a bustling enigma who couldn’t hit a cow’s ar** with a banjo. Now every time he touches the ball in the opposition penalty area alarm bells ring. Local journalists are calling him “un fenomeno” as the change in the “Artanenc’s” fortunes is remarkable. He’d only been on the pitch a couple of minutes on Wednesday when his left foot shot from distance saw the home goalkeeper fail to stop the effort that went in off his right arm. Abdon could and should have scored another two on the night.
Our No. 2 goalkeeper, Manacor-born Miquel Parera made two blinding saves near the end as Guijuelo nearly caused an upset in a frenetic last 10 minutes. Mallorca now go through to the next round and the draw will be made in Madrid next week.
It’s been a year of highs and lows. As expected we were relegated in July and went down with Espanyol and Leganes. Out of 38 games played, we won just nine, drew six and lost 23, winning only once away from Palma.
Our then coach Vicente Moreno decided before the season ended he was leaving and it was reported (correctly) that he was the No. 1 choice to take over Espanyol. In his place came a guy called Luis Garcia Plaza who had experience bringing up Levante in 2011. He also had a stint at Getafe before disappearing to coach in Saudi Arabia and China. His appointment raised a few underwhelmed eyebrows but since his arrival he’s completely transformed Real Mallorca, working an absolute miracle. As the team reach the 14-day Christmas break, we sit proudly on top of La Segunda SmartBank – played 18, won 12, drawn 5, lost just one – our opening game, scored 24, conceded only 4 goals and kept 14 clean sheets – impressive or what?
Something else LGP has done is improve our away form. We only won once on the road last season, so far this term we’re unbeaten away. He’s also bolstered our defence who let in 65 goals last season, the worst in La Liga. The coach has been helped considerably by the astute signings by our sporting director, Pablo Ortells and his team of scouts. Young CEO Alfonso Diaz is doing a sterling job steering the ship by running the business end of the club, filling the shoes of president Andy Kohlberg who’s based in America. Our owners, based in Phoenix, Arizona, have once again shown their long-term commitment to the club by pumping more money in which has seen us all but clear outstanding debts. They were accumulated from the previous regime’s mismanagement and petty personal vendettas in the boardroom. We go into 2021 (the season starts again in early January) with excitement at fever pitch as, if our present trajectory continues, it could be promotion back to the promised land.
One sporting downside with all these various Covid restrictions is that not only can we not get into the Son Moix to see our favourites play, we now can’t watch the gave live on TV in our favourite bar. One bar owner in El Toro told a friend of mine that with the new restrictions his busiest time – when football’s on the TV – has been taken away.
AND FINALLY, a five year old girl went to visit her grandmother for Christmas. She played with some of her presents as Grandma did some housework. At one point the little girl looked up and asked “Granny, how come you don’t have a boyfriend?” Grandma replied “My telly is my boyfriend, I can sit in my bedroom and watch it all day long. The TV evangelists keep me company and make me feel so, so good, the comedies make me laugh, and the old movies make me remember the good days I’ve had in my long life, that’s why the TV’s my boyfriend.” Grandma turned on her really old TV set and the picture was horrible, she started fiddling with the knobs trying to get a decent picture. Eventually she started hitting the back of the set in frustration in the hope of fixing the problem. The door bell rang so the little girl rushed to see who it was. When she opened the door, there on the step was Grandma’s vicar. He asked “Hello young lady, is your Grandma home?” The little girl replied “Yeah, she’s in the bedroom banging her boyfriend!”