Can you imagine the mayors of Valencia and Málaga living in Singapore and Qatar, respectively - and, from there, ignoring the requests of their deputy mayors and municipal governments, and undermining the decisions they make? Well, that's what's happening at the two cities' major football clubs. It's not quite as bad as that: at the end of the day, we're talking about a sport which, as the great coach Arrigo Sacchi once said to me, is merely the most important of all those things in life that aren't so important. But it's still galling and concerning. And neither individual can be removed by a vote of no confidence; they're the owners, after all. Both cities left their clubs in their hands, and are now paying the price.
Peter Lim only seems to be able to work with Jorge Mendes, who is trying to take Rodrigo Moreno to Atlético Madrid, one of his favoured clients. Right now, Mateu Alemany, the man who has built this new, productive Valencia project by making a host of good decisions - starting with Marcelino - doesn't know whether or not Rodrigo is staying or going, or, if he does leave, whether he'll get any of the transfer fee to buy a replacement before the fast-approaching deadline. As for Al Thani, Málaga are getting no change out of him. Joaquín Jofre serves as general manager and José Luis Pérez Caminero as sporting director, but both are castaways in interstellar space, cut off from all contact with the owner's mothership.
At Málaga, it's got to the stage where they had just nine senior players to take to Racing Santander, and had to make up the numbers with youth-teamers. In the process, they exceeded the limit of six academy players in their squad and, though only five played, they are now in danger of being declared 3-0 losers by default, despite winning the game 1-0. The worst thing is that no-one knows what Al Thani and Lim are thinking, because they are so publicly inaccessible. Does Lim want to raise funds to finish off the new ground? Does Al Thani want to sell to the first possible buyer? Are they just two rich men who have tired of their plaything? They aren't seen dead in Valencia or Málaga, so nobody knows what their plan is.