Manchester Utd v West Ham Utd

Next we go to Salford where we will be hosted by Salford Whingers FC for the FA Cup . Kick off is 8.05pm, the extra five minutes allowing the TV people to shoehorn another bloody car insurance ad in.

The fact that this most tawdry and nasty of clubs should act in a hypocritical manner should not come as any surprise to people. After all you just have to look at the way they moan at referees who bend over backwards to help them. However, they've plumbed new depths with the ticketing for this one.

Chief executive David Gill was quite vocal before the first match moaning that their “customers” were always charged top whack for their tickets in cup matches. So it must have been nice for them to have been charged £29 or whatever it was the other week for the first match. Especially as they didn't have much in the way of travel costs either.

So what happened when they rather fortunately nicked a draw at the Boleyn. Did they charge us the same or cut their prices? Of course not. “£45 sovs that'll be and could you give our “customers” a lift on the way up while you're at it?” Disgraceful but what did you realistically expect from such a bent club? A recent report from the health authorities described their tourist attraction as “rat-infested” which is strange – rats are usually a bit more choosy about their surroundings.

They're still top of the league of course. That was courtesy of their 2-1 win against an average Liverpool side who, nevertheless, caused the home side a number of problems in the second half. As is their wont they are likely to rest a few players who featured in that match. In defence we're likely to see to see a completely different central defensive partnership, for example.

Rio Ferdinand went through 90 minutes against the Scousers and, with them having a tricky trip to Tottenham coming up at the weekend, he's likely to be given the evening off. Similarly Nemanja Vidic is likely to give this one a miss, He picked up a bang to the head on Sunday, causing a spot of mild concussion. Apparently, he knew he was in trouble when Ferguson spoke to him and he started making sense. The likes of Jones and Smalling (why only a few years ago he was in non-league football etc etc) are likely to come into contention.

In midfield we'll probably see another start for Scholes. In the first match we were once more treated to the double standards that referees apply to this club. Scholes committed a number of yellow card offences over the course of the match until he was eventually withdrawn, late little cynical tackles that had no other purpose other than to disrupt the flow of the game and to prevent progress.

As usual a strange leniency was applied, based on the “oh that's Scholes – don't mind him” principle. It took three fouls of this nature before he finally picked up a caution in the first match, and he got away with several more subsequent to the ref waving the card. Others on the pitch weren't quite so lucky. It'd be nice to think that a ref would finally remember the bit in the laws about “persistent foul play” but I wouldn't hold out much hope for justice in Salford on Wednesday.

We have an old nemesis likely to make a reappearance from injury for this one. Wayne Rooney picked up a knee injury during Christmas Day training and has been out ever since. He's been spending the interim period catching up on the latest series of University Challenge and Mastermind recorded on his satellite box. However he quickly declared himself available for selection on mis-hearing Ferguson's announcement that Nani was also fit and available. Rooney has a habit of scoring against us – including a hat-trick on his last visit to the Boleyn, though he had even more referee assistance than usual for that one.

It's probably another partial evening off (at least) for Robin Van Persie. Van Persie sat behind a panel marked “in case of emergency break glass” in the first game and it was his goal that meant a nice little earner at our expense for his club. Rooney's availability is likely to see him rested, the rumour that the Dutch striker has a back strain caused by a season of carrying his team-mates is probably a bit scurrilous and can be discounted, probably.

As mentioned there are rumours of a return for Nani (that's NANI, Wayne). He's been out for over two months with a hamstring problem but is said to be in contention for this match, the likelihood increasing with the news that the knee injury sustained in committing an unpunished foul by Ashley Young is likely to keep the England out for a week or two. So that'll be like for like with one diver possibly replacing another.

Us? Well the debacle that was Sunderland away saw a return to those twin scourges of the bad old days, bad defending and the increasingly long injury list, to which the name of Ginger Pele was added on Saturday. The continued absence of Linda means that we have only Demel, Tomkins and Reid available from the first-choice defensive squad. Joey O'Brien is still a while away from fitness so young Potts is likely to be given a chance to atone for his error on Saturday.

In midfield, Noble was a late absentee on Saturday, a calf problem being quoted as the problem. The work experience kid here at the Avram Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered is a regular on that there twitter thing and he tells me Mr Gold has indicated that Noble has returned to full training. However, I have a feeling that Mr Allardyce may give the lad a bit more recovery time in advance of the QPR match at the weekend.

The good news is that Mo Diame is fit and travels with the squad. This is also bad news of course as it means that he is fit enough to play for anyone who wants to activate his (alleged) £3.5m release clause before the end of the month. I realise that when you have a player coming in on a free, as Diame did, the dice are loaded in the player’s favour and if we didn’t agree to the release clause somebody else would have done so, but there ought to be some sort of way of making the release figure a more realistic reflection of the player’s value. Oh, and while you’re at it, if someone could introduce a rule making such clauses null and void if revealed by the player or his agents that’d help as well. Diame should play a part in this match but don’t expect the full 90.

Up front Marouane Chamakh will once more be unavailable as he hadn’t completed his loan move from Arsenal in time for the first match. Them’s the rules and, if anyone from the club is reading this (unlikely I know but you never know) please make sure you don’t do something daft like bringing him on with 3 seconds to go when we’re 1-0 up. I mean who’d be daft enough to do something like that. Er….

Andy Carroll is a couple of weeks away so I hope Carlton’s knees are fully warmed up. Wellington Paulista has barely stepped off the plane. I’m not sure what the weather is like in his part of Brazil this time of year but I’ll bet it’s not as nippy as it is here at the moment.

It seems to be Mr Allardyce’s usual policy to give new arrivals from overseas parts a week or two to get up to speed before considering them for selection. However, with Mo Maiga away on African Cup Of Nations duty and Professor Stephen Hawking seemingly ahead of Freddie Piquionne in the pecking order, it may be that Paulista gets to shiver on the bench for this one. Don’t be too surprised if we are short-handed on the bench either. As it is there’ll probably be a couple of kids there anyway.

Saturday was awful. This was partly down to bloody awful defending sure. However, I got the distinct impression that we’d gone there with a defensive outlook with a view to pinching a point, rather than having any intention of actually trying to win the game. Which is fine if you actually get the point. However, once we’d gone 1-0 down we seemed incapable of being able to change things around. If there had been a plan B we kept it well hidden.

We don’t travel well at the moment – 5 away goals says it all. However, this is a Cup match and just how “typical West Ham” would it be for us to win at Rat Heaven a few days after losing to a decidedly average Sunderland side. There is a precedent – we lost on Wearside only a few days after beating Surrey’s favourite team 4-0 at the Boleyn.

Mr Allardyce has been talking about altering the style of the team’s play to fit the available personnel. Despite this they can always rely on assistance from the officials and, though I reckon we’ll give it a go, I think the 12 men on the pitch will be too strong for our depleted resources, especially if some powder is to be kept dry for Saturday. So the Avram Grant Rest Home Collection to buy our hosts a gift voucher for Rentokil (£2.50) will be placed on a 3-1 win to our hosts with say Cole (J) netting our goal if you want a small side wager.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Rat’s Nest: Lost 0-1. A fluke goal that looped up into the net off James Collins after 33 seconds was as good as it got for the home team. No wonder he’s the League’s top scorer if he gets to claim those.

Danger Man: Wayne Rooney. No doubt will be given any number of dubious free-kicks from which to score by……

Referee: Phil Dowd. We had him for the home match v Arsenal in October. A chap best described as “portly” he’s probably just about recovered by now.

Daft Fact Of The Week: If you look hard enough on YouTube you may come across a video shot where – with their usual crassness – Moan Utd supporters claim to have “taken” the Central pub. That’s right, they, single handed and helped only by the police who escorted them to and from a designated away supporters bar, managed to “take” the bar that was given to them. They were fairly silent as well until their police protection arrived. Well done lads. Try the Boleyn or the Victoria next time.

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 124; West Ham Utd 42, Manchester Utd 57, Draws 25.

First Meeting
25th February 1911: West Ham Utd 2-1 Manchester Utd (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup)

Last Meeting
5th January 2013: West Ham Utd 2-2 Manchester Utd (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup)

Biggest Win(s)
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)

Heaviest Defeat(s)
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.

Early baths
1995/96: Marco Boogers (a)

Bossing It
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.

* Like to share your thoughts on this article? Please visit the KUMB Forum to leave a comment.

* Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the highlighted author/s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official policy or position of

More Opinion