The goodness of Jose, the madness of Segunda and the power of ham

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The biggest and most important news story in Spain this week comes from Marca, who have discovered something that may ultimately cost the Spain side any chance of World Cup glory this summer.

Although the likes of Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas are now looking as fit as fiddles, it appears that customs restrictions in South Africa mean that the footballing party will be travelling without their all important consignment of Jamón Serrano (dry-cured Spanish ham).

“It's one of the most important elements in a footballer’s recovery” claims the paper in news that may cause the eyebrows of the world’s dieticians to rise, along with those of the presumably alarmed fans of La Furia Roja. No word yet on whether horse placenta is allowed.

"I'm sorry Mr Hernandez, you'll need to leave the ham at home..."

The never-ending slog of la Segunda

It would be a big old lie to even begin to suggest that life in the Spanish top flight is a trawl and a haul for newly-promoted sides.

It’s not. In fact it’s a doddle, a cakewalk, a league game against Atlético.

Whilst most folk in England are predicting doom and gloom for Blackpool, next season, the only basic requirement to prevail in la Primera is for a side to be vaguely competent. Or at least be vaguely competent for the final four months of the season as Xerez found out.

After all, this is a division where Mallorca, a side on the verge of bankruptcy, came fifth, no-fans Getafe finished sixth and where Deportivo managed to comfortably secure a mid-table berth despite going the entire season without bothering with the effort of fielding strikers.

So this is perhaps the real reason why the Spanish League have tried to handicap the three teams promoted to la Primera by making their season finish five weeks after their soon-to-be counterparts, giving them considerably less time over the summer to rest and recover or sign players.

The season in La Segunda runs until the 20th June - half way through the World Cup - and still has four games to go. Currently leading the league - although LLL has no idea how considering every time it looks for their score, they’ve lost - is Real Sociedad.

And as it turns out LLL is quite right to assume they are a bit rubbish of late, as La Real have only won once in their last five matches.

The Basque side are currently tied on points at the top with Levante, which is quite staggering in itself as the east coast side should have been put out of its misery some time ago by being permanently on the brink of bankruptcy.

But as there is no penalty whatsoever in the Spanish league for failing to pay players or staff or by falling into administration, Levante are limping - but in a fairly speedy manner - to a return to the top flight.

“Hunger, faith and humility” are the keys to Levante’s success, claims their manager, Luis García.

The wonderfully titled Hercules have the third promotion spot but have barmy Betis nestled just behind them.

And nothing appears to have changed too much with Spain’s most peculiar side, despite their exile in the badlands of la Liga. Club president, Darth de Lopera, has been hit with yet more corruption charges, the club are on their second manager of the season in the form of Víctor Fernandez and have experienced another year of fans either walking out of the ground early or onto the training pitches to insult he players for being mercenaries and thieves.

What’s more, Betis have been badly hit by the late finish to the league with the loss of Achille Emaná to the Cameroon World Cup squad.

Jose the great

However, all goings on in la Segunda are currently being eclipsed by the arrival, or rather non-arrival, of José Mourinho to Spanish football, with Inter Milan selfishly playing hard ball with Florentino Pérez over the manager’s compensation clause.

Marca were expecting José to be in the Spanish capital around about now so have had to resort to barefaced lies to excuse the delay in his arrival.

Rather than blame the fact that the Portuguese coach is still technically the boss of Inter Milan, Friday’s editorial claims that “Mourinho will not be presented today (Friday) because he promised his eldest daughter that he would attend her end of course celebrations.”

That kind Mr Mourinho even donates his time to journalists...

This sensational spin also presents the paper with another opportunity to continue their increasingly creepy love of everything Mourinho is or does by praising him for going to his child’s graduation as it demonstrates to any doubters that he is “a good person, with family values” and does not play defensive football.

“Small gestures, not of a great manager but a great person” sighs Marca, a paper who may well have an unfortunate trouser-based accident should they ever catch Mourinho giving money to a busker or handing over his bank details to those clipboard-clutching charity collectors on the local high street.

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