West Ham Utd v Tottenham Hotspur

Preview Percy. is back. And when you read his look at this weekend's visit of Tottenham Hotspur, just remember how angry he would have been had he not had a whole international break to calm down...

Next we play host to Tottenham Hotspur or, to give them their full title "Tottenham, bless 'em". Kick-off is breakfast time - 12:30pm. The man with the shovel on the Southend Victoria line is back and there's stuff going on at Marks Tey as well if that's your line. Check as ever before you leave.

Well all the stuff I was going to write went out of the window didn't it? Last season saw them fluke their way through to the so-called Champions League Final of course. Their support even thought they had a chance of winning the thing, forgetting that Liverpool go into matches one-nil up thanks to the statutory iffy decision they get in every match.

Instead of accepting this for the sort of freak blip that happens from time to time, such as there not being engineering work on the Southend Victoria line or VAR getting a decision right, their supporters (never the brightest at the best of times) seemed to think that this was somehow the normal order of things. This continued to be the case despite all the evidence to the contrary - average performances in the league and Bayern using their so-called Champions league tie as an (unsatisfactory) training session should have brought home the truth but somehow didn't.

Things on the pitch were, it is suggested, a manifestation of disharmony off it. Many odd rumours were flying about regarding the players' personal lives. Whether true or not it seems it was to the outside world clear that all is not sweetness and light between the squad, and some appear to be winding down their contracts with one eye on an exit. Things couldn't go on like that, funny though it was to the rest of the football world, and Levy handed Pochettino his P45. One might almost feel sorry for the manager - but the ?12m payoff - presumably using some of the ?40m of public money that Levy claims didn't go into the making of the toilet bowl, will have helped soften the blow as he heads off somewhere better, which is basically anywhere.


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Enter then Mourinho, whose arrival was welcomed by our media department in its usual crass manner with the sort of tweet that one would have been embarrassed to have posted when one was 12. Not that we had twitter back then. Or electricity. The tweet was removed prompting comments involving the words "stable" and "door". Not that I wish anyone out of a job but it would be hilarious to see the individual responsible fighting a dismissal case in front of an tribunal if only to see them cite the good Baroness's bloody "newspaper" column in a defence of "following official club policy".

So the "annoying one" inherits a squad that have battled their way to 14th place with 14 points from 12 games. That's two places and one point above us. They've been worth a punt on the pools if they still exist them having drawn three of their last five - all 1-1 - at home to Watford and Sheffield United and away at Everton. The other two ended in defeat at Liverpool in the "couldn't they both lose" derby and 3-0 away at Brighton, the match which saw that sickening injury to Lloris.

Their problems seem to lie mostly in defence, which may be understandable when you consider that, having famously having had last year off from the transfer market, none of the First XI players who arrived this summer were what you might call defenders. Daisy, the personal assistant with the beautiful smile, tells me that the three players on whom any significant cash was spent were comprised of a couple of wingers and a central midfielder.

We won't be seeing one of those wingers. Jack Clarke, who cost ?10m from Leeds didn't need to move house, having been instantly loaned back to the Elland Road Club.

The biggest fee of the season thus far was the ?55m sent across the Channel to Lyon in return for midfielder Tanguy Ndombele. The French international spent much of his youth shuttling between clubs where he was repeatedly told "not a bad player but you're a bit on the chubby side son". Amiens took a gamble and got EUR8m from Lyon for the player - adding in a sell-on clause which, given the size of the fee Tottenham paid, wasn't the least shrewd move Amiens will have ever made. He's been missing for a while - a groin strain being cited as the problem, which was later downgraded to just "fatigue".


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?25m was enough to bring in Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham. He's missed much of the season with a thigh problem though he is fit again now. Spurs supporters love a meaningless statistic - anything to deflect from their inherent mediocrity I suppose - so they will be delighted to hear that Sessegnon has made the Guinness Book Of Records for hitting both posts and the crossbar (7.75secs if you're that interested).

And so to our weekly-ish look at the wild and wacky world of Association Football. David Gold had a go at the increasingly bitter Roy Keane who can't quite get over Declan Rice's decision to play for the country of his birth. Keane's "punditry" when commenting on England matches seems to consist purely of slagging off the youngster at every opportunity. Still at least he didn't walk out on his country just before a World Cup eh Roy?

Gold's defence of the youngster suggested that it was unprofessional of Keane to abuse his position to push his own personal agenda, which is fair comment. It does rather prompt the question as to what Mr Gold would do if, hypothetically, one of his senior employees had, say, a newspaper column in which she (or he) regularly launched attacks on players and managers within the game? I guess he'd be faced with a difficult decision to make in the event that such a column reflected badly on the club. Good job it's only a hypothetical situation then.

Elsewhere Spurs fans went into raptures of delight as statistics galore spewed forth from the mouths of football commentary teams on the occasion of England's 1,000th international match. The Spurs fan who Algernon occasionally allows into the Swan & Superinjunction was very quick to point out to anyone unlucky enough to be within earshot that their club has supplied more players to the national side than any other.

Of course, as we pointed out to the dimwit, this simply explains England's relative lack of success. They were also raving over Harry Kane's scoring record for his country as, suddenly, a "calendar year" became a really important thing in football once more. To be fair to him he did manage to score for once without recourse to the penalty spot, and I am reliably informed that some of his goals have come against sides that are even BETTER than Montenegro.


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The geopolitical changes that have taken place in Eastern Europe over the past 30 years or so have meant that there are now dozens of extra countries that were once part of Yugoslavia or the USSR clogging up the qualification process these days. A small price to pay for freedom obviously - I mean given the option between seeing your country qualify for Europe or spending the rest of your life being monitored by the secret police, the European Championships' version of the next sticker album isn't going to be uppermost in your thoughts. However, it does mean that we find ourselves in the unusual position of being totally uninspired by a 7-0 win.

And so to us then. Bloody cold up at Burnley wasn't it. You'd have thought that the players might have wanted to keep warm by running around a bit or something wouldn't you? Nah, If you thought that the defeat the previous week was bad, well this was worse. Much worse. I said this last time and I repeat this now. I do not want to be seen to be subjecting Roberto to personal abuse. However, the fact remains that his performance was simply not good enough.

Take the first goal. Now yes I appreciate that only an imbecile would have awarded the corner that led to their first goal but as everyone knows, but nobody mentions, imbecility is a pre-requisite for employment at PGMOL. The fact is that the shot that led to the corner came as a result of the 'keeper's inexplicable decision to punch a ball that it would have been so much easier to catch. The second goal came from throwing the ball to a player who wasn't ready to receive it, Balbuena obligingly cocking things up completely. And as for the third - well I suppose that if anyone had been looking properly at VAR something might have been given for the light dig in the ribs from Barnes. However, that wasn't nearly enough to cause Roberto to punch the ball into his own net like he did.

Of course subsequent to the third blunder Roberto had a worldie, making a number of saves that were straight out of the top drawer. However, if you give an opponent a 3-0 start there are no points to be gained from keeping the score down from six or seven. It's clear that Roberto's lack of confidence is reciprocated by the rest of the team - understandably so in the circumstances.

The whole thing reminds me of a few years ago when we had Darren Randolph in goal and we persisted with him for what, in retrospect, was probably 3 or 4 games too many. Of course back then we had a known quantity in Adrian waiting in the wings. David Martin is less known to most of us, and we don't see what goes on in training each week. MP refused to be drawn in his press conference as to who would start this weekend, though his comments that we all need to get behind Roberto did hint that he might keep his place. Meanwhile, we keep glancing anxiously towards the front door of whichever rehab centre Fabianski is lurking in at the moment.


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The good news is that Antonio, who had made a major contribution to the promising start we made this season, is available for selection again which will at least put some oomph (if not subtlety) into things going forward. Noble, who managed to be fouled, sprain his ankle and still not get the free-kick, benefited from the week off. Winston Reid managed 45 minutes for the Kiwis during the break with no ill-effects and may be a further defensive option.

So prediction then. Well I am going to buck the trend with this one. You see, under normal circumstances they would be low of mood and short on optimism. They haven't won away since January and, given our reputation as the ultimate sequence busters, we would be nailed on for another defeat. However, the change in manager, whilst not perhaps universally welcomed by their support, will make them a bit cocky and we are always at our best against them when they think they have an easy three-pointer on their plate. Remember we were beating them long before it became fashionable. The return of Antonio will add something, though the really big boost will come when Fab gets back of course.

Against this has to be considered the fact that we have been rotten of late with some poor performances not helped by some poor selection decisions - Zabaleta v Newcastle anyone? - and some dodgy substitutions of late. So tempted though I am to fly in the face of the current pessimistic mood and go for the win, I think that Mourinho's dead cat bounce effect coupled with the fact that they always try to raise their game against better clubs will probably mean that things will end up with honours even. Mr Winstone, if you are reading this please accept the ?2.50 that I was going to spend on my contribution towards sending a copy of the Madrid A-Z to Pochettino (he has presumably left a few copies behind at the training ground) as consideration for a wager on a 1-1 draw.

Enjoy the game!




When Last We Met At The Olympic: Lost 1-3 (League Cup October 2018)

Stuart Atwell was on form for the visitors as every time Antonio beat a player he was hauled back by the shirt. Son Heung Min 2 and Llorente were on target for the visitors whilst Perez netted for us in a match neither side would have been too fussed about losing. Neither side went on to win the cup.


Referee: Michael Oliver

Whilst everyone is looking the other way at VAR, poor quality officials continue to plumb the depths. He continues to ignore blatant penalties (Haller v Palace for example) whilst spotting obscure ones. To him VAR is something that happens to other people. I would describe him as "substandard" but such is the state of refereeing I fear that he is simply par for the course.


Danger Man: Son Heun Min

Can thank the incompetence of those responsible for disciplinary affairs for his presence this week. Rightly awarded a red card for what was far from the first spiteful tackle of his career, the card was rescinded for no readily apparent reason.


Percy's Poser

Last time out we left you with the following headline from Burnley's local paper:

"Three men arrested in Pendle over bogus XXXXXXXXXX claims"

Congratulations to Mrs Hortensia McGnu of Marks Tey who correctly identified the missing word as "fishmonger". What else. Enjoy your cruise Hortensia!

Normally we'd go to the local paper in Tottenham for an amusing story but a quick look shows it's all drug deals and stabbings there. So we go to the Brighton & Hove Online website which takes the medal for most desperate local angle on a news story ever with the following:

"Former Brighton trialist enters XXXXXXXXX XXXXXX"

Good luck everybody!

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