Filed: Tuesday, 16th April 2013
By: Preview Percy
Next we play host to Manchester United this Wednesday evening. Kick-off is the standard 7.45pm and, with it not being the weekend, there’ll be no engineering works to contend with. Just the usual machinations of rush hour on the tube network.
You’ll have to forgive me if I’m a bit more jaded than usual in writing this preview. It’s just that I seem to have been here before three times this season – and that’s not just the effect of my advancing years for once. That, and the fact that the visitors are rammed down our throats on the tv at every opportunity – I’m sure that their bloody obnoxious manager was reading the weather the other night – means that I’m heartily fed up with them to be honest.
Barring any Devon Loch incidents or perhaps a major change of heart amongst the nation’s referees they will win the Premier League this season being, as they are, 15 points clear of the team from over the border in Manchester, though the Citizens do have a game in hand, for all the good it will do them. Current form is predictably good – they have won 5 and lost 1 of the last 6. The wins came against QPR (2-0 away), Norwich (2-0 home), Reading (1-0 home), Sunderland (1-0 away) and last weekend Stoke (2-0 away). The one defeat was to the aforementioned Manchester City, who turned them over 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Over the years that I’ve been following both Thames Ironworks and West Ham United there are some inviolable truths in life that one must come to (usually regrettably) accept. One of these is that, whenever there is some sort of sequence to be broken the one team that you want to be playing is West Ham United. The classic example of this was Fernando Torres the other year.
The second he signed for Chelsea and started playing and not scoring a number of shrewd Hammer punters were straight off to see that nice Mr Winstone at their local turf accountants to stick a few bob on him breaking his duck against us. Week after week passed until the fateful day came we went to play them at Stamford Bridge. After a wonderfully hot day the heavens erupted and as the game began to peter out the hapless Spaniard found himself in on goal as a defender slipped in the greasy conditions to score and make a lot of Hammers a lot richer.
The reason I ramble so (apart from the obvious) is that, until this weekend, we were looking at a similar position with Robin Van Persie, who had gone over 12 hours without finding the back of the net. To put that into perspective that’s about a quarter of your average junior doctor’s working day. However the temporary duck was broken with a penalty during Sunday’s 2-0 win at Stoke. Hopefully that won’t have opened up the floodgates for the ex-Arsenal man.
As well as Van Persie’s first goal in ages their first was scored by Michael Carrick. Carrick’s barren spell lasted a cool 15 months (a double shift for junior doctors), a stat that came as a surprise given the good season he’s having. Obviously goalscoring is not exactly his main priority in the side but even so I had thought he’d been on the listings in that period.
I have to say that I’m very disappointed in young Rio’s recent antics. The Salford mob are notorious when it comes to players developing mystery injuries on the weekend before international matches – Paul Scholes once went missing with split ends and Ryan “Family Man” Giggs famously managed to go a whole nine years after his international debut before playing another friendly. However, Mr Ferdinand’s decision to withdraw from international duty for the recent World Cup qualifiers after being selected hit a new low even for that particularly bent club.
One could have handled the official reason – that the fixtures clashed with treatment on his back problem - but for the simple fact that he then jetted off to Dubai to earn a few bob to comment on the matches for Desert TV or some such station.
Now I realise that when a professional footballer flies off to foreign climes they are unlikely to be shoehorned into the economy seating the likes of you and I are forced to endure (What? You actually want to sit down on the flight? That’ll be another £50 sir – plus a tenner for the seat-belt). However, I’m pretty sure that a 13-hour round trip in one of those flying machines – maybe more if he had to change at London – is about as good for back pain as trying to lift Neil Ruddock over your head without a safety net. Poor show Mr Ferdinand – you were brought up better than that.
There’s been a bit of speculation as to the future of Wayne Rooney of late. He’s been a bit out of sorts recently and he was omitted from the side to face Real Madrid not so long ago. Given the importance of the match, the selection of Danny Welbeck ahead of the “Spud Faced Nipper” could well be taken as a hint from his obnoxious manager that the player might be on his way out.
There are precedents – both Van Niestelrooy and, going back a bit further, the marketing phenomenon, some say professional footballer, David Beckham were both left out of important matches as a precursor to their departure so this may be Rooney’s last season with the club, with PSG rumoured to be in the market for the scouse chubber. If nothing else that’ll mean that at last Beckham will no longer be the player with the most talentless and irritating missus at his club.
Now, because the editors are too polite to raise the matter themselves, a word for their pain in the ar*se of a manager: If you’re not going to bother to comply with your obligations and send someone along to the post-match press conference could you get one of your yes men to get word to the press room to say so? It’s not that anyone is particularly interested in what you have to say as such but just that the editors of this website have lives to live and would rather get home the same day that they left rather than hang about on the off chance that you might actually admit that you get more than your fair share of dodgy refereeing decisions.
Our turn now. It was another good away performance last weekend from us. Two in a row no less. Here at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered we got the unpaid work experience “intern” (he turned Reading down on the grounds of wanting to retain his dignity) to rig up some sort of computer feed into the TV so we were able to watch the match live.
The notable thing was how the commentators continued to ramble on about “the long ball game” without actually bothering to look at what was going on in front of them. This was compounded by the ever-ignorant home support shouting “hoof” every time the ball was moved more than two feet. The commentary reached its low point when the chap noted that Southampton had enjoyed far more possession – just as the graphic came up showing the complete opposite.
The fact that their goal came from a long hopeful punt from the ‘keeper also seemed to elude their attention, as did the ever useless Mike Dean’s failure to send off Schneiderlin for a second cautionable offence. In all the talk about technology in football it’s a sobering thought that Mike Dean could easily be replaced by an obsolete tv remote control one found down the back of the sofa. Without the batteries.
The point came at a cost. Tomkins’ awkward landing has left him with a damaged calf that makes him a major doubt. Some sources quote a “late fitness test” for the Olympian but that may be a bit optimistic. With Winston Reid apparently being another week away at least it will probably mean a start for Pogatetz heaven help us. Personally I’d prefer to see young Potts given a run out – Pogatetz worries me and always gives the impression that he is a penalty waiting to happen. And that’s even without considering the generous refereeing that these particular opponents take for granted. Potts did ok against them in the home cup match in January for what it’s worth.
In midfield Joe Cole’s been to the States to have his hamstring checked out – that’s proper use of a plane ticket Rio - whilst there’s a slight chance of seeing Mark Noble back again. One player who we wouldn’t have been seeing anyway is Dylan Tombides. Having recovered from testicular cancer a while back it now transpires that he’s been back in hospital for another op, this time on his liver. According to his twitter feed (thanks again to the unpaid intern) he should be out of hospital later this week – our best wishes go out to him.
Prediction? Well we’ve not had the best of luck against this lot this season. A 91st-minute equaliser in the Cup match at the Boleyn and a couple of 1-0 defeats up there have been the results thus far this season. The last visit got the boss into a bit of trouble for pointing out the obvious advantage that they have with taking the field with twelve men every week. As usual when it comes to refereeing matters the authorities chose to shoot the messenger and some of that promotion bonus went in the direction of FA HQ at Wembley.
Old habits die hard for referees and should we be winning with only a few minutes to go Mr Probert will, no doubt, be happy to oblige them as usual. With that in mind I’ll plump for three points in a row then and put the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered Fund We Were Going To Pay The Intern With Until We Found Out We Could Get One For Free (£2.50) on a 2-2 draw.
Enjoy The Game!
When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Drew 2-2 (FA Cup 3rd Round January 2013). A James Collins header from a Joe Cole cross cancelled out Cleverley’s opener. An identical James Collins header from an identical Joe Cole cross gave us the lead before Van Persie’s injury time equaliser – from a long ball mind – took the tie to a replay. Vidic was finally cautioned for his umpteenth yellow card offence on the 83rd minute – some 70 minutes after he ought to have been given his marching orders. Ferguson didn’t turn up to the press conference. Again.
Referee: Lee Probert. Handled last season’s match at home to Southampton. Poorly.
Danger Man:Wayne Rooney. Not having the greatest of spells but often turns it on against us.
Daft Fact Of The Week:Although Eamonn Holmes is famously one of those celebrity know-nothing Man Utd supporters he recently purchased a season ticket at the Boleyn. You see there was this advert advertising a free pie...
When last we met (at Old Trafford): August 2010; lost 0-3. So there we are holding our own. Home side needs a helping hand so step forward Mark Clattenburg to award them a penalty. Rooney broke a 5 month drought with the spot-kick and that was about it for us.
Referee: Mike Jones. In amongst all the debate concerning refereeing standards and how difficult the job is, there is one elephant in the room that nobody seems willing to mention. That is that there are certain referees whose behaviour on the pitch is unacceptable. Any organisation related to the improvement of standards amongst officials in this country would have held an enquiry into the performance of Jones during the 2-1 FA Cup Quarter Final defeat at Stoke a couple of seasons ago where he went out of his way to hand the game to the home side having been persuaded by Pulis that he’d got a key decision wrong. Maybe the equally perverse decision to allow Winston Reid’s winner against Millwall last season after Faubert had clattered the ‘keeper was some sort of repayment for that. Either way this is not a referee to be trusted – and we’ve got him at a ground where you need a ref to be honest and strong in the face of constant instruction from the home manager. Face it, it doesn’t bode well does it.
Danger Man: Hernandez. In a decent vein of form – though of course Rooney always scores against us too – even if he does need help from the officials from time to time.
Daft Fact of the week: Not so much daft as completely pointless this week. Hernandez was named by FIFA as the fastest player in the 2010 World Cup. Apparently he clocked the FIFA speed gun at 32.5 kilometres per hour prompting the questions: 1) Why on earth were FIFA messing about measuring player speeds instead of making sure the officials could see footballs bouncing three feet over the line and 2) If it WAS so vital that player speeds be monitored, why didn’t they use good old fashioned mph. I mean 32.5 kph sounds good until you realise that, at 20mph or so, it’s only roughly double the speed of the train that will crawl its way back to London from Manchester after the game.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Head to Head
Pld 122; West Ham Utd 42, Manchester Utd 57, Draws 24.
25th February 1911: West Ham Utd 2-1 Manchester Utd (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup)
16th January 2013: Manchester Utd 1-0 (Old Trafford, FA Cup Replay)
30th November 2010: West Ham Utd 4-0 Manchester Utd (Boleyn Ground, Carling Cup)
11th October 1930: West Ham Utd 5-1 Manchester Utd (Boleyn Ground, Division One)
26th January 2003: Manchester Utd 6-0 West Ham Utd (Old Trafford, FA Cup)
1st April 2000: Manchester Utd 7-1 West Ham Utd (Old Trafford, Premiership)
It's a classic
April 1992: West Ham Utd 1-0 Manchester Utd (Brown)
Already doomed to relegation with three games still to play, the pressure was off Billy Bonds' team as they prepared to face title-chasers Manchester United at the Boleyn in April 1992. The Red Devils went into the game knowing that only a win would be enough to keep them in the title race having lost at home to Nottingham Forest earlier in the week. However Kenny Brown, for one, was to have other ideas. With 66 minutes on the clock and the game still goalless Stuart Slater set off down the left. His cross was inadvertently diverted into the path of the full back who slammed home the game's only goal in front of his father, former Hammers great Ken, watching in the stands. The goal gave West Ham three pointless points as they finished bottom of the table; Manchester United had to suffer in silence as the title went to rivals Leeds United.
November 1972: West Ham Utd 5-2 Manchester Utd (Tyler 2, Robson 2, Brooking - Ronnie Boyce's Testimonial)
August 1981 (Aberdeen): West Ham Utd 1-0 Manchester Utd (Cross)
They Played For Both
David Bellion; Michael Carrick; Roy Carroll; Noel Cantwell; Luke Chadwick; Rio Ferdinand; Billy Grassam; Paul Ince; Ralph Milne; Ravel Morrison; Stuart Pearson; Teddy Sheringham; Jonathan Spector; Carlos Tevez; Ted MacDougall; Les Sealey.
1995/96: Marco Boogers (a)
Former players Frank O’Farrell and Dave Sexton both became Man Utd managers, while United player Lou Macari was installed as the Hammers manager following the departure of John Lyall in 1989.
Former players Jack Tresadern and Harry Redknapp have both been managers at Tottenham.
They Played For Both
Paul Allen; Clive Allen; Les Bennett; Michael Carrick; Jermain Defoe; Ilie Dumitrescu; Matty Etherington; Dave Dunmore; Les Ferdinand; George Foreman; Jimmy Greaves; Fred Griffiths; Chris Hughton; Bill Joyce; Bill Kaine; Freddi Kanoute; Robbie Keane; Kenny McKay; Fred Massey; Fred Milnes; John Moncur; Jimmy Neighbour; Scott Parker; Tony Parks; Martin Peters; Mark Robson; Sergei Rebrov; Neil Ruddock; Teddy Sheringham; John Smith; Mitchell Thomas; Bobby Zamora.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
05:30AM 17th Apr 2013
''After the success of Gary Breen, Eamonn Holmes is going to be playing for us. I've left a great opportunity for a flood of 'marquee signing' jokes.''
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