It is frustratingly ironic that the most consistent aspect of Mallorca’s performances so far this season was absent at the weekend: that sense of spirit that has been lauded all season, that hard-working ethic that has seen the team scrape results where they didn’t necessarily expect them, but where they were certainly deserved based on the effort of the performance alone. But against Getafe, this consistency was undermined. Instead it was the old, unreliable Mallorca that turned up. You could call them unpredictable but when their industrious attitude disappears they’re far from it. In fact, they become extremely simple to predict: the result won’t be positive.
All of this isn’t to take away from a Getafe performance worthy of praise. You could sit there all day and say that Mallorca never really turned up – and you would be right – but at the same time, Getafe put on an excellent display, which was just what they needed following their European exit midweek. Unfortunately for Mallorca, Getafe had something to prove, and they were the ones with all the ambitious, positive energy; it was almost as though they had sapped Mallorca’s spirit and determination directly from them.
It was a match Los Bermellones approached with genuine expectancy. Getafe had been struggling and the anticipation from all was that Mallorca, with all of their drive and their recent exploits away from the safety of the island, would come away with at least a point, if not a victory. However, approaching with such an expectation may well have been Mallorca’s undoing, as they seemed to slip into complacency, taking Getafe for granted. It wasn’t until the start of the second half that Mallorca managed to spark into life, but by then, already two goals down, it was far too late. Pedro Rios’ brilliant strike couldn’t have been predicted, but the team should have done a better job closing him down before he was able to get within sight of goal. By the time he managed his second goal of the game the team had started switching off, trying to get forward with a little too much eagerness.
Indeed, Los Bermellones took a step in the wrong direction as far as away performances are concerned. They seemed to have forgotten everything they’ve learned from defeating Sevilla and Valencia on the travels: above all, the first aim is to stop the opposition, and hitting on the counter attack comes later, after frustrating the home side and settling into the pace of the game. The last thing you want to do is to underestimate a team, even a struggling one, in front of their own fans. Simply put, Mallorca didn’t pay Getafe enough respect and ended up paying for it.
Perhaps the talk of complacency is harsh, and many would point the finger instead at Mallorca’s travel schedule, disrupted by the Spanish air traffic controllers’ strike, which meant they had to make the trip on the day of the game. But in the same weekend Barcelona had to do the same thing, heading to Pamplona by train, and they managed a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Osasuna. Sure, the comparison to Barcelona is fanciful, but theirs was a similar situation where fatigued players still had to manage a good performance. The result is that there are no excuses, and when the team sets foot on the pitch, everything in the background should be forgotten. This may be an idealistic view, but it cannot be ignored.
Speaking after the game manager Michael Laudrup described the result as something that will bring the team ‘back to reality’ after all the talk of being in the European spots, certainly something that is easy to get carried away with. He makes an excellent point, and what Mallorca must do is take the defeat in their stride and learn from it. They are still in an incredibly good position, after all, and by analysing where they went wrong against Getafe – both in their performance and their approach – they should be able to get back on track.
On a final note, I must acknowledge a few pieces of news emanating from the island during the course of the week. Firstly, the team’s decision to put Gonzalo Castro on the transfer list, which is a disheartening blow considering the team’s brilliant start to the season. He has been a key performer since the start of the campaign, and the news may even have added to the disruptions that caused the poor performance against Getafe. It is understandable that the club cannot afford to give him a new contract and want to receive as much compensation as possible for him instead of allowing him to leave for free when his contract expires, but what is hard to make sense of is their ludicrously low asking price. Castro is definitely worth more than the £3 million figure that has been mentioned.
Secondly, though, and much more positively, came the news that the club’s vice president, Llorenç Serra Ferrer, plans to overhaul the club’s youth system, intending to imitate – who doesn’t these days? – Barcelona’s. Central to this plan is that Mallorca will take advantage of all the clubs within the Balearic Islands, having first-choice on all potential players that come through. This is excellent news for the future of the club, and came at just the right time to offset the reports about Castro.
But back to the season. The team have the perfect opportunity to stop the slide against the lowly Racing Santander when they visit the Iberostar Estadi in the next round of fixtures, though the pressure to win now rises after the poor performance against Getafe. Still, it’s a game that Los Bermellones should expect to win, as should the fans. But if Mallorca take nothing else from this weekend it should be this: to appreciate just how dangerous expectations can be.
- Phil M.