Rapid Vienna v West Ham United

Preview Percy goes all musical this week as he looks at our trip to Vienna. If you stretch the definition of "music" a bit...

Guten Abend meine herren und damen. Yes that bout of German heralds our return to Thursday Night League action as we visit Austria for our away tie against Rapid Vienna. Kick-off on Thursday is at 5:45pm UK time and with UEFA’s banning sales of tickets to our supporters being trumped by Austria’s Covid lockdown, you’ll be needing to go for BT and KUMBTV's Eyes up Mother Brown.

So Rapid then. They currently lie in fourth place in our Thursday Night League Group. A place in the last 16 is beyond them but, like Genk, they still have a chance to get into the preliminary knock-out round by finishing second. Dinamo Zagreb are the only team left that could pip us to the last 16 spot. Remember that third place gives you a place in the Thursday Night Isthmian League with the dregs but that won’t apply to us.

At home they have improved from second bottom where they sat when last we met, to the extent that, with eight games of the regular season to play, when I started writing this they sat in seventh place in the 12-team league. Of course Austria is one of those leagues with a “format”. This means that when all have played home and away, the top six reconvene and play for the title whilst the bottom six play to stay up. Or something.

My previous look at our hosts included some speculation as to the future of manager Dietmar Kuhbauer. Despite an improvement in form that saw them win two and draw two following a run of three defeats on the trot, the final straw for the powers that be came after a 4-1 drubbing away at WAC.

Coaching duties are currently being shared on an interim basis by assistant manager Thomas Hickersberger and former second XI coach Stefan Hofmann. Their first match came this weekend where they laboured to a 1-0 home win over Altach, who played the last half hour with 10 men after a VAR review of a challenge by Noah Bischof on Rapid ‘keeper Paul Gartlern produced a red. This lifted them up to fifth in the pre-split table since I started writing.

Having gone through their squad only a few weeks ago we have given Daisy some time off so she can pack some essential supplies for a forthcoming international trip that we will be undertaking. She will also be responsible for the paperwork which, at the moment is running the “Jurgen Klopp book of excuses” a close second in terms of lengthiness. Top tip: when applying to enter the USA the answer to the question asking you whether you intend to commit an act of genocide is most definitely NOT “I don’t think we’ll have time”.

Rapid do have a number of injury issues and they might find themselves with a bit of a goalkeeping crisis on their hands. Richard Strebinger started out as first choice this season, He started in the reverse fixture at the Olympic. However, he has since picked up a shoulder injury that has kept him out for 13 games in all competitions. The aforementioned Gartler has deputised. However, the number three choice Bernhard Unger has also picked up an as yet unspecified injury which may leave them a bit short between the sticks.

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Other possible absentees – again hard information is not that easy to obtain – include former Stoke defender Kevin Wimmer and Dejan Petrovic. The former’s status is unclear, him being listed only as having an “injury” whilst the latter’s cruciate will definitely keep him out.

And so a quick look at the wild and wacky world of Association Football. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer finally got the least surprising sacking since, well, Nuno Esperito Santo I suppose. Solksjaer’s supporters used to sing a little ditty containing the lyric “Ole’s at the wheel”. One was reminded of that chap from E17 who, despite being “at the wheel” managed to run himself over. My only concern is that they might employ a replacement who has a clue what they are doing before we can get a deal for Lingard over the line.

Talking of such musical matters, Daisy has sent me some social media stuff that suggests that someone called “Adele” (a chanteuse whose recordings are regular entrants to the hit parade J am given to believe) is a Tottenham supporter. Daisy played me a selection of her songs and I have to say that, based as they are on how miserable her life seems to be she certainly seems to be following the right side.

And so to us. Well that’s one to file under “bad day at the office”. An odd player here or there having an off day can usually be dealt with but when you have several in that boat the task borders on the impossible and so it turned out against a Wolves side who thoroughly deserved their win. Thankfully, as mentioned, we appear to be taking things sensibly so much as we won’t get carried away when we have a good run we won’t go all hand-wringing when we get the occasional reverse. We will learn a lot from how we deal with things in the next league match.

At the time of writing we only have Ogbonna on the injury list – His knee now seems likely to keep him out for the season which is a bit of a downer from which Adele would probably manage a whole double album if she supported us. That’s an area we probably ought to be looking at strengthening when the window opens.

Team selection is a bit of a poser. I know we have rung the changes for the continental stuff but the slight glitch against Genk the other week has left a small chance of us dropping into the last 32 rather than the last 16 place we would get by finishing top of the group. My inclination would be to stick out a strongish side – a win would seal top spot and we could then rest players for the final group game against Dinamo Zagreb. My initial boundless optimism has been tempered slightly by the lack of non-flatness shown at the weekend but, if we put a strong side out we should have too much for the Austrians. So I will be placing the £2.50 that I was going to chip in towards Man Utd’s

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met in Vienna

We haven’t. Simple as that.

Referee: TBA

Sergey Ivanov (RUS). Relatively young official (37) who has been on the FIFA list for seven years already. Has been used sparingly by UEFA this season with just the two Thursday Night League group games to his name. Nothing startling in the number of reds and yellows dispensed so far this season.

Danger Man: Taxiarchis Fountas

Not the top scorer at the time of writing – both Grull and Kara both have one more each across all competitions. However, the Greek lad can be a good provider on his day.

Percy’s Poser

Last week we nicked the following from the the Wolverhampton Express & Star:

Customers hit each other with XXXXX XXXXX during scrambe for food at Wolverhampton Asda

The missing words are, of course, pizza boxes. Well done to Mrs Roberta Plant-Extract of Prittlewell for getting that one.

This week it’s time for another round of “What’s That Helpful European Phrase” Here we go German:

Bitte kann ich einen Shellsuit, etwas Schuppenshampoo und eine Adele-CD haben. Ja, ich unterstütze Spurs.
Good kuck!

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