West Ham United v Eintracht Frankfurt

Preview Percy is old enough to remember the last time we played Eintracht Frankfurt. Thankfully the internet wasn’t about then...

Hello, wotcher und guten abend meine damen und herren, Next up we play host to Eintracht Frankfurt in the Thursday Night League Semi Final first leg. Kick off is at 8pm and if you’re not going it’s on BT.

So Eintracht then. They have been a bit busy in the media of late. Club representatives have been quick to get all uppity about the away allocation of tickets at the Olympic, which rather smacks of scrabbling about in desperation to find something to get worked up about.

The fact that their allocation is a) the allocation to which they are entitled under UEFA rules and b) is larger than the allocation for away supporters in the second leg (in absolute if not percentage terms) seems to have slipped the mind of club spokesman Axel Hellmann who really should stick to making mayonnaise. On being told that West Ham would admit only those with tickets from official sources Hellmann’s response was to comment “I don’t want to reveal any secrets but our fans are very creative”, thus encouraging the sort of illegal behaviour that would have our national press up in arms were an English club (other than Liverpool) to be involved.

Club president Peter Fischer was also up in arms saying that West Ham’s stance made him “ashamed of football”. Though not ashamed enough to increase the away allocation at their gaff I’ll bet. His latest offering was to suggest that thousands of Frankfurt fans could stage a party outside Buckingham Palace. Eschewing the obvious joke about visiting relatives I’d like to suggest that they go one further and try to get in. There having been no peaceful women’s vigils to cover lately the Met could do with the truncheon practice.

As far as I can tell there has been no response from our side which, for once, is precisely the correct thing to do. One only hopes that someone can keep the Baroness from commenting on such matters in her “newspaper” column over the weekend. In particular, given our “cheque’s in the post” approach to the transfer fee I really wouldn’t bring up being overcharged for Haller. Instead, one would point the powers that be at the stream of inane stuff that came out of Olympique Lyonnais a couple of weeks ago and urge them to keep their powder dry. It’s always good to be able to add a “this aged well” to a prematurely optimistic opposition tweet. You just need the patience to do so.

On the pitch, Daisy tells me that they qualified for the knockout stages of the competition by strolling through a group containing Olympiakos, Fenerbhace and Antwerp. The mediocrity of the group stage can be gauged by the fact that Eintracht’s three wins and three draws was enough to top the group from Olympiakos.

The first knockout round saw them drawn at Real Betis. They won the first leg in Seville 2-1, their supporters causing a nuisance of themselves in advance of our tie the with Betis’s local rivals Sevilla the following day – another thing that they might want to consider before opening their gobs. In the second leg it looked like that would be enough to see them through until Iglesias’s 90th minute goal made him a “Hero” for the Spaniards (did you see what I did there?) to send the tie into extra time. Sadly, Betis also had a villain in the shape of Rodriguez who, in stoppage time of extra time managed to bundle a hopeful cross past his own ‘keeper to send the Germans through.

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Few gave them a chance in the next round where they came up against Barcelona. Especially when the Catalans came back with a draw from the first leg in Frankfurt. However, an iffy penalty in the first few minutes saw Barcelona implode as the visitors ran into a 3-0 lead.

Barcelona did come back but goals in the first and 11th minutes of stoppage time weren’t enough as hundreds of Hammers hastily checked the small print of their travel arrangements. The foul that led to the penalty for Barcelona’s second was as soft as that which led to the German’s first, and led to a second yellow card for defender Ndicka which means he will miss the first leg of this round. The other suspension absentee will be Kristijan Jakic who unlike Declan Rice, failed to avoid picking up a yellow in the last match to trigger an automatic one match suspension.

At home it’s all been a bit drab and grey for them. They currently sit in 9th place with three to play. That is two places but nine points shy of the seventh spot currently occupied by Koln which is the spot allocated for the play-off round of the Thursday Night Isthmian League. They haven’t won in over a month. Since their last win against VFL Bochum they’ve drawn 0-0 at Fizzy Drinks Leipzig and at home to Greuther Furth. They were then beaten 2-1 at home by Freiburg and 2-0 away at Union Berlin before getting back to drawing ways at the weekend when they drew 2-2 at home with Hoffenheim.

Top scorer is Rafael Borre, a Colombian international who has netted eight times in 40 appearances across all competitions. Although he netted the second against Barcelona he’s not troubled the statisticians much of late, his previous last goal came back on 5 March in a 4-1 win at Hertha.and before that you have to go back to January 22nd when he netted a brace in a losing cause against Dortmund.

On we move to the wild and wacky world of Association Football. And any hopes that satire may be capable of surviving if they ever get round to switching off the machine disappeared as Liverpool fans got up in arms on the subject of diving at Anfield. Everton’s Anthony Gordon was the target of their ire as he adopted the principle of “when in Rome” in going down a tad too easily in the box, picking up a collectors’ item of a yellow for diving at Anfield. As if to underline the advantage that Liverpool have with match officials the hapless Gordon was bundled over in the box for a penalty that would surely have been given against any other club in the country.

Oldham became the first former member of the Premier League to be relegated out of the league after a home defeat to Salford. The game was suspended temporarily as fans, disgruntled with owner Abdullah Lemsagam’s stewardship of the club, invaded the pitch in protest. Once the ground had been cleared the final 11 minutes of the match were played out. However there was time for one final insult. Supporters taking a much-needed pint in the bar found the windows boarded up to prevent anyone seeing the last few minutes. They are likely to do the same next season in the fifth tier – charging extra for tickets behind the boards.

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And so to us. Whenever things get bad just repeat this to yourself: At least you aren’t Chelsea. I guess that we shouldn’t expect much of a club that celebrates the racist John Terry as a hero. However, the displaying of Russian flags and banners glorifying in the efforts of their disgraced owner in purchasing trophies using illegally gotten gains would suggest that if Piers Morgan attended a Chelsea match the scruple level wouldn’t increase one iota. The club’s inability to bring in the tourists showed with large sections of the ground unoccupied – “just like the old days, there’s nobody here” rang out the more inventive of the chants on the afternoon.

On the pitch it took the intervention of Michael “Top Six” Oliver to separate the sides. The ball going out of play in the build up to the attack that led to the penalty was ignored and there was significant doubt as to whether Lukaku would have beaten the advancing Fabianski to the ball. Lukaku’s fall was clearly a response to the fact that he didn’t think he would get to the ball and, given that it was Lukaku involved, there’s an argument to say that it wouldn’t have been a goalscoring opportunity even had we been playing with no 'keeper.

Although the penalty was saved the absence of the otherwise faultless Dawson told in the build up to the goal was telling. All in all a respectable performance by a second XI against a team whose supporters, in an advanced case of muppetry, remained silent until the 89th minute before celebrating the result as if it were a trophy they had actually won rather than bought off the shelf.

Thankfully there were no further injuries – and Dawson will be available for Thursday. Johnson acquitted himself well in a back three and, although noises about Zouma are encouraging, he is unlikely to be fit at least until the second leg meaning another outing in the middle for the youngster.

So prediction then. Well Frankfurt have saved their best for Thursday Night League action so they will be no pushovers. However, we also have a thing about Thursdays. Yes I know we have a shortage in the central defensive area but as mentioned I’m a lot happier now I have seen Johnson get a match under his belt alongside Ballon. So I’m going for a home win. Just to keep us on tenterhooks for another week I’m going for a close one so the £2.50 I was going to spend on a party at Buckingham Palace will instead be going on a 2-1 home win please Mr Winstone.

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met at home: Won 3-1 (European Cup-Winners Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg April 1976)

2-1 down after the first leg it was all set up to become one of the greatest nights I have ever enjoyed at the Boleyn. Scoreless at half time the majestic Brooking levelled the tie on 49 minutes with a rare – but nonetheless well-taken – header. Then, with 67 on the clock, came one of those moments that will stick in the brain until I die.

Breaking out of defence Brooking played a long diagonal ball that set Keith Robson off to bear down on goal. Or at least it would have done had Robson not overrun the ball. I can still hear the sound of around 30,000 people groaning in unison today. Not that it worried Robson who gathered the ball up and placed a missile-like shot into the top left hand corner of the net to turn the groans into a cacophony of celebrations. Ten minutes later Brooking made it three, latching on to a through ball, cutting inside the defender and calmly stroking the ball home inside the far post. An 87th minute goal from the visitors caused a few nerves- one more would have seen us go out under the away goals rule – but we were not to be denied. The Heysel stadium beckoned.

Danger Man: Rafael Bolle

Not in great form but as we saw last week such players can often cause problems in the most unexpected of manners.

Referee: Serdar Gozobuyuk (NL)

Dutch official of Turkish extraction. Managed to get through Liverpool v Benfica without reaching for the cards which was a surprise as he has a habit of giving at least 6 yellows a game.

Percy’s Helpful German Phrase

You may hear this outside the ground on Thursday:

“nein, ich bin kein fussballfan, Ich mochte lediglich Ihre wundervollen koniglichen Familie Tribut zollen”

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