The last few years for Real Mallorca have been turbulent to say the least – until Joaquin Caparros replaced Michael Laudrup, or so it seemed.
The experienced Caparros steadied the ship brilliantly last season. The club was rife with boardroom infighting, financial woes and disgruntled fans, but the appointment of the former Athletic Bilbao boss seemed to have the desired effect.
Even the beginning of this term showed promise of an extended period of success. Unbeaten in the first five games of the season, including an impressive 2-0 win over Valencia, there was an air of optimism around the team that hadn't been witnessed since the 2009/10 season.
However, just one win in the last 18 has seen Los Bermellones plummet down the table, finding themselves in 19th place. This dreadful run of form has ultimately cost Caparros his job, as the club made the move to replace him on Monday.
In his place comes ex-Atletico Madrid manager Gregorio Manzano, the catalyst of the aforementioned 2009/10 season, where Mallorca came within seconds of an unlikely Champions League place.
Leading 2-0 at home against Espanyol on the final day of the season, it looked as though they were set to clinch fourth place in La Liga and head for a European adventure. Meanwhile, Sevilla had to beat Almeria to steal the final qualification place, and with just 30 seconds of the season to go, youngster Rodri bagged the goal that broke Mallorca hearts.
The players sat in the middle of pitch, watching the story unfold on a small TV. Their dreams fell apart, and so did the core of the team. Denied entry to the Europa League amidst financial difficulties, Mallorca lost key parts of the club, including Borja Valero and even manager Manzano, who, ironically, left for Sevilla.
This tenure marks Manzano's third stint in charge of the Islanders, but the objective is the complete antithesis to the last time he was on the bench.
Mallorca currently sit four points adrift of safety, as European glory couldn't be further from their thoughts. The 56-year-old has little time to waste – with 15 games left of the season, they need points, and they need them fast.
Unfortunately, they didn't get the three points they wanted this weekend. In fact, they came very close to losing again. Brazilian defender Geromel's 92 minute header rescued a point against fellow strugglers Osasuna, but with Valencia up next, and a trip to Real Madrid also on the horizon, Mallorca need to be taking points from perceivably “winnable” games – especially at home.
The situation is looking bleak for Mallorca, but they have turned to a familiar face in a bid to rekindle previous success. Whether Manzano will manage to save them remains to be seen, as he looks to put poor spells at Sevilla and Atletico behind him.
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