West Ham United v Brentford

After his midweek European exploits it's back to the bread and butter next for Preview Percy. But before he has his dinner here's his look at Sunday's visit of Brentford

Next up we play host to Premier League new boys Brentford. Kick-off on Sunday is 2pm and, since you have to get up early anyway why not pop along to Marshgate Lane at, say 12:30 which might prove educational. Keep an eye on your trains if you use the C2C lines – the bit between Barking and Grays will be closed so diversions and replacement buses will be the order of the day. Look out for a revised timetable in Upminster services too. As ever, check before you leave.

So Brentford then. We should call this the Dave Evans Derby really after the Bees-supporting late journalist who covered the Irons for the Newham Recorder. Lovely chap who would have been looking forward to this one.

It’s been a while since our paths crossed competitively, though in fact it wasn’t as long ago as I thought when we did the research, This is their first season back in the top flight for 74 years as you are no doubt fed up with hearing. To give you some sort of context, it was a bitch of a winter - the worst of the 20th century in fact with snow that fell in January not thawing out until mid-March, causing fuel shortages which were exacerbated by the miners’ unions overestimating how much coal they were producing. The microwave was invented and, according to the Father Ted Calendar, Galway was liberated from the Indians.

This time around the Bees arrived at the top table by virtue of a 2-0 defeat of Swansea in the Playoff Final, thus sparing us another international trip to add to the Thursday Night League trips we have this season. They have acquitted themselves well so far. The opened up with a 2-0 win over Arsenal This was followed up by a pair of draws 0-0 at home to Palace and 1-1 away at Villa. Their first and to date only defeat so far came at home to Brighton, Trossard’s 90th minute effort doing the damage. After that they won 2-0 at Molineux, despite playing the last half hour with 10 men. Last weekend saw them draw 3-3 with Liverpool leaving them with 9 points from 6 games, in 9th place above Arsenal and Spurs on goal difference and two points and places behind us.

Much has been made of the fact that they do things differently over there. They have fine tuned their modus operandi over the years since owner Matthew Benham took over ownership from the Supporters’ Trust. One of the more unusual things about the club is the lack of an academy structure or development squad. Instead they run a B team (as opposed to a Bees team) as a way of developing players. This is tied in with a recruitment policy renowned for its scientific and forensic methodology. This was pioneered at the Benham-owned Danish club Midtjylland – Winston Reid’s old mob and looks not just at the player himself but also at the league background they come from. With the old Griffin Park not having much in the way of hospitality income, the policy of buying potential, polishing them up and making a decent profit when it comes to sale time is a vital part of the club’s income stream. The likes of Maupay, Watkins and, of course Benhrama are testament to the effectiveness of that policy.

So who did their algorithms prompt them to buy during the window? Well Daisy, the personal assistant with the beautifull smile from whom I no longer have to remain socially distant has, as usual been running her eye over the new arrivals. They utilised their links with Midtjyland – Bees’ director of football Rasmus Ankersen is also the Danes’ chairman – to bring in once-capped Nigerian Frank Oyeka. He started out in Nigeria with FC Ebedei, a club that effectively acts as the Danes’ African Academy. His one cap came last October though at 23 time is probably on his side, particularly with an African Cuppasoup due this winter.

£13.8m was the fee paid to Celtic for Kristoffer Ajer. Another 23 year-old – their computer must have that age programmed in – he arrives after 5 years at Parkhead. Celtic signed the player from Norwegian side FC Start. I did ask Daisy whether there were any other teams named after Jam singles but she told me where to shove my Eton Rifles. And it wasn’t down at the tube station at midnight.

Their equaliser in the draw with the scousers came courtesy of Yoane Wissa. A bit longer in the tooth than their usual signings – he’s 25 – he arrived from Lorient (the French mob not the Leyton lot) for a reported fee of £8.5m. Including League Cup outings he has five in four, though the Cup matches do include wins over Forest Green Rovers and Oldham. He has been capped by that Pointless favourite Democratic Republic Of The Congo and is another who may be running about in warmer climes this winter.

The rulebook got thrown out when the brought in veteran defender Janka who, at 31, must have required their computer to have a manual override button installed. The much-travelled defender is no stranger to the Premier League having been with Huddersfield a few years back during their dalliance with the stratosphere. He’ll be hoping for a longer stay this time around.

In amongst a number of youngsters they also snuck in some goalkeeping cover in the form of Alvaro Fernandez. He has one full cap for Spain and the deal with his parent club, Spanish second tier side Huesca, gives the Bees an option to buy. Oh and he’s 23.

On the injury front Sorenson and DaSilva are both out with long term injuries, whilst there is a doubt about the marvellously-named Ethan Pinnock who is struggling with a hip injury possibly sustained whilst appearing in a Dickensian novel.

On we go to the Wild And Wacky World Of Association Football ™. And there was one in the eye for the so-called Super League clubs as Transnistran/some say Moldovan side Sheriff FC beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabau in the So-Called Champions League. With Spurs having to bring all their big guns on in the Thursday Night Isthmian League to beat a side with a stadium that holds less than 4,000 it may be that we are getting to the stage where should we expel the so-called Super teams from all top level competitions on the grounds that they are not good enough to be there. We could fine them – properly this time – for wasting our time and energy all this time. It’s a thought.

Us? Well the win in the Thursday night league was, ultimately, a comfortable affair, though we did labour at one stage. Fine goal from young Declan who started and finished a move that was most pleasing on the eye. We looked good in spells but never made that dominance count in a first half that could have seen us 3-0 up without really breaking sweat. An early goal after the interval would probably have seen them cave in. They were a team who had no plan – and stuck to it. The non-penalty didn’t look right from the start but thanks to VAR we didn’t have to fret too much about that. Benhrama’s goal was a nice finish with him rolling the ball into the wide-open gap left by the keeper at the far post. Arguably the side put out was a weaker one than the XI who started out in Croatia, and perhaps that side might have reaped greater reward for its efforts. However 2-0, job done and, with Zagreb tonking Genk it’s a perfect start to group H.

A word about the crowd issues. They had seemed harmless enough, waving their arms around in the manner of middle-aged women at a Take That concert convinced, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that they are watching some real musicians rather than a bunch of tone-deaf talentless chancers who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. However the goal turned them into a bunch of idiots who seemed surprised to discover that if they chucked objects across the divide said objects might come back with interest. What was more of a worry was the fact that a whole bunch of them wearing colours found themselves in Block 206 of the upper tier. They sat down and were quiet for the most part. However, there was a spell when they stood up en masse and tried to get one of those synchronised clapping things that the risible Palace “Ultras” are no doubt working on instead of doing their Geography homework as we speak. The vociferous – but peaceful – response they got convinced them that maybe this wasn’t the greatest idea they had had on the night and, in accordance with instruction, they sat down and shut up. The stewards did the square root on damn all about it. However, of more concern is the fact that they weren’t the first bunch of away fans to be sold tickets in that area. It seems to be a regular occurrence and one day the visiting support won’t be quite as lucky as to escape with a bunch of verbals ringing in their ears.

On to this weekend. Fredericks has been joined in the infirmary by Coufal who has a slight groin strain but may be fit enough to start. Other than that it will be back to the league side with Ogbonna and Zouma looking at returns to the defence. Nothing against Dawson and Diop, it’s just that Brentford are likely to pose more of a challenge than Rapid Vienna. Most of the league side got short runouts on Thursday. Cresswell playing all 90 isn’t usually a concern, ditto Rice. Johnson is young enough not to worry should Coufal not make it and Benhrama would probably throw the biggest strop going if anyone tried to keep him out of this one.

So prediction then. Well they are a decent side, well-coached by Thomas Frank and from what I have seen of them they are good at adapting their play to circumstances so Sunday will provide a test. They do have what appears to be a good team ethic which will carry them so far. On the other hand we also have as good a team spirit – if not better which then leaves you looking at the sides player for player. On that basis I am going to go for a home win – possibly a thriller. So the £2.50 I was going to tip the Eastern European Paper Boys’ XI who are probably Spurs’ next opponents in the Thursday Night Isthmian League will instead go on a home win. 3-2 to us please Mr Winstone

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at The Boleyn/The Olympic Won 3-0 (Division 1 April 1993)

Peter Butler, Kevin Keen, Trevor Morley and Martin Allen were on target as we moved on to be promoted in 2nd place behind Newcastle. Brentford went in the opposite direction with relegation being sealed on the last day of the season.

Referee: Peter Bankes

In his third season on the select group. Seems to have avoided controversy so far.

Danger Man: Ivan Toney

The living embodiment of their transfer policy. After a largely undistinguished spell knocking around the lower leagues he started to put a few away at Peterborough, scoring 40 goals in 76 league appearances. Although the £5m fee paid will include a possible further £5m in add-ons, having improved the player since his arrival he will no doubt fetch a much larger fee when the books come to be balanced. Middle names of Benjamin and Elijah suggest he appeared in the same Dickens novel as Ethan Pinnock. Or possibly one of Thomas Hardy’s more miserable efforts.

Percy’s Poser

In midweek we played: “What’s That Useful European Phrase” well done to the suspiciously- Dolores Uber-Alles of “Brightlingsea and not Berlin honest” for working out that

Ich würde gerne zu Ihrer Party kommen, da ich keine Artischocken geliefert habe

Translates as: “I would love to come to your party but I have yet to receive a delivery of artichokes“

This week we return to missing words with this story from the Facebook page of The Hounslow Chronicle from earlier this year:

Grandmother, 78, vows to defend allotment from Duke – armed with XXXXX XXXXXXX

Best of luck!

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