Newcastle United v West Ham United: match preview

Preview Percy will shortly be embarking on the long, long journey to the North East. Before he started to pack he sent us his usual look at this weekend's opponents. It's more entertaining than an episode of Mrs Brown's Boys, but there again so is toothache...

Next up it's the long trek up to the North East where we will be hosted by Newcastle United, which, in honour of my dear departed best mate, I will refer to as the Preview Alastair Memorial Game.

Kick-off is at 5:30pm with coverage on Sky. Trains are a bit iffy. Conveyance is by way of a combination of direct trains to Newcastle which will endure an hour's detour via Sunderland, and trains terminating at York, which will necessitate the use of a replacement bus. Either way it's a longer journey than usual.

So Newcastle then. As I have mentioned before, the media are full of features as to how wonderful a coach Eddie Howe has been in guiding them to third place and the League Cup Final. And it's true that he has done a decent job. However, the elephant in the room is the fact that during the period between Howe taking over and the opening of the January 2022 transfer window they won one, drew three and lost four.

Of course once the Saudi petrodollars were available to spend, things changed. To put it into perspective, they won 13 games last season, 12 of those wins came after they had spent £90m in January.

There's no denying that Howe has got the best out of players who might have been underperforming but let's acknowledge the fact that he had the potentially bottomless pockets of the owners, who despite being the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, have managed to convince the authorities they aren't actually Saudi Arabia. Well I'm convinced.

This season they are, as mentioned, in third place with 39 points from the 20 played. They've won 10, drawn nine and lost just the once. Things have been a bit mixed in the league since the World Cup break mind, with them having won twice (away at Leicester 3-0 and at home to Fulham 1-0) and drawn three times – at home to Leeds and away at Arsenal and Palace, all three matches being goalless.

Daisy was dismayed that, due to the postponement of the reverse fixture back in September she would have to comment on the signings that took place in BOTH transfer windows. As one might have expected they have spent a few bob.

Daisy tells me that the first £15m spent went on a player already at the club in the form of Matt Targett (or Matt Targett Private Eye as I always think his name should read). Targett high-tailed it out of Villa last January once Digne arrived from Everton so the fee merely made that arrangement permanent.

They got a bit of a bargain by picking around the relegated carcass of Burnley, nabbing an England 'keeper in the form of Nick Pope for a "mere" £10m. He was the first 'keeper to keep six consecutive clean sheets from debut for England.

Interestingly, his long-term other half is Shannon Horlock, daughter of former Hammer Kevin. My one abiding memory of Horlock as a player was traipsing up to the National Hockey Stadium at Milton Keynes to watch us play the team that was still known as Wimbledon in a drab 1-1 draw. Horlock blasted a free kick about a mile over the bar and, it being but a few days since the Rugby World Cup final, the crowd burst into a spontaneous rendition of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot".

Embed from Getty Images

Despite the Scandinavian sounding name, central defender Sven Botman is in fact a born and bred Dutchman – indeed he has Dutch Caps up to and including Under 21 level. The Geordies had to spend £30m or so, depending on exchange rate, to bring Botman aboard from Lille, the player having started out at Ajax.

Whilst Botman's name is Scandinavian when he is not, the reverse is true of Alexander Isak who was a late arrival from Real Sociadad for the princely sum of £63m.The KUMB lawyers – not to mention my security team – would like me to clarify that that's a "princely sum" and in no way a "Crown Princely" sum what with any connection between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Newcastle being entirely coincidental. In the meantime I wonder if anyone has thought to nickname the player "Chris".

Goalkeeping options were enhanced with the arrival of Loris Karius for £4.75m from Liverpool, though his spell at Anfield was not one of the more distinguished tenures of his career with Klippety dropping him after a number of high profile howlers.

The recent window saw them spend £45m on Everton refugee Anthony Gordon. Gordon was the subject of expensive interest from Chelsea who had allegedly been prepared to go to £60m having had a £45m bid rejected in the summer. It all seems a bit much for a player who, as far as I can make out, has yet to make a full England squad.

Clearly Premier League managers see more in the player than I do, which, I guess, is why I'm sitting here churning out match previews rather than managing a Premier League club for a few months before going away to live off the inevitable termination payment following the sack (eh Lampard?).

They also raided us for Harrison Ashby, one of those players whose names sound like one of those villages after which nearby motorway service areas are named. Ashby had clearly decided that he was unlikely to break through as a first XI regular any time soon and, with his contract up at the end of the season the decision to allow him to go was inevitable, a £4m fee plus add-ons including, reportedly, a decent sell-on clause.

I'd be willing to bet that, in the long term, his signing might represent a better deal than the Gordon one.

They will be without the talismanic Bruno Guimares. His red card against Southampton was well-deserved, though if he has seen footage of the three that weren't given against Liverpool the other day you could forgive him for feeling a bit victimised given that his offence was, at worst , equally bad to those perpetrated by the scousers down at Brighton.

Let's move on to the Wild And Wacky World Of Association Football shall we. And the people of South Africa are up in arms over a proposed deal for the country's tourist authority to sponsor Tottenham.

Embed from Getty Images

The citizens of that beautiful country are, understandably cheesed off that the SA government are ready to spend £42.5m on the deal. Some are complaining that the country's own sports teams would benefit from such largesse. Others are questioning the merit of spending such money in a country where poverty is such an issue. But most seem fed up with spending all that money to be associated with Tottenham.

Elsewhere, and this weekend marks 'Green Football Weekend' where the spotlight will be on the game's efforts to reduce its carbon footprint. We should therefore congratulate both the FA and Manchester United for their efforts in dissuading supporters from travelling to away matches. Scheduling a whole round of the Cup for midweek was bad enough but then for the Salford mob to decide to charge £46 for tickets rather than the standard £30 was just adding insult to injury.

Any day now the creation of a football regulator is going to be announced. It is to be hoped that the contempt for supporters from incidents such as this will be high on the agenda. In particular the needs of travelling supporters should be prioritised when compiling fixture lists. Not those of Sky and BT who seem to have no problem with trying to make teams travel 600 miles on Christmas Eve.

Ideally no match should take place at a time that would make it impossible for travelling supporters to get the last train home (though I would concede that this would be difficult to enforce at Old Trafford midweek games given the distance the home support travels). I won't hold my breath.

Lets move on to us. And it was a much more comfortable than anticipated trip to Pride Park on Monday night. Good to see Bowen's return to goalscoring form continue – something that is particularly important given our lack of striker resources at the moment. Yes yes, it was a League One side but how many times have we gone to such places and come a cropper? Let's face it, the cameras were there for one reason only, so for once it was good to send the TV execs away disappointed.

Still an number of injuries to contend with, of course. Scamacca and Zouma are definitely out, whilst there's the slightest glimmer of hope for Ings. Then we have Cornet. He is out of course but he has returned to training and is "60-70%" fit requiring a bit more pitch-work. So maybe not long now.

Prediction? Well a few weeks ago I'd have written this one off completely. However there is a degree of confidence about the place at the moment which was seemingly completely absent from the club a while back. With Bowen playing with a smile on his face, we now have a little more about us than we did back then.

Although they will be cock-a-hoop at getting through to Wembley the other night, the ultimate result did kind of mask the fact that Southampton had a number of decent chances to make thing more interesting and they have been drawing a lot of late. So I won't go all gung-ho bit, I will be placing the £2.50 that I was going to send to the obviously really strapped for cash Man Utd will instead be wagered on Mr Winstone's Turf Accountancy 'Application' on a 1-1 draw.

Enjoy the game!

Embed from Getty Images

When last we met at St James' Park: Won 4-2 (Premier League August 2021)

A run of five opening day defeats finally came to an end in a match that was entertaining, albeit in a manner that would have had defensive purists up in arms. Wilson opened the scoring for them as usual, though this time he did at least use his head rather than his hand. Cresswell equalised after a VAR check ascertained that there had been no offside. Murphy gave the home side a half time lead.

The second half saw Benrahma score a goal to equalise that was identical to that scored by Murphy. Antonio then headed against the bar, the ball falling to Fornals who had his legs taken from underneath him. Antonio's spot-kick wasn't the greatest but Souceck was on hand to bury the rebound from Woodman's save. Antonio redeemed himself by starting and finishing a fine counter attacking move that involved Benrahma. Defensive purists? Stuff 'em

Referee: Peter Bankes VAR Neil Swarbrick

Bankes had a complete and utter 'mare when we last encountered him at Southampton back in October. Indeed his block on Bowen saw him credited with an assist for their goal. This was compounded by his waving play on when Souceck succumbed to a judo/rugby move that saw him thrown to the floor in the box. VAR apparently looked at it and saw mothing wrong.

Guess who got fined as a result of Bankes incompetence? Clue: it wasn't Bankes. Meanwhile Swarbrick was the VAR idiot who failed to ensure that any of the three red card offences committed by Liverpool players against Brighton received due punishment. Looks good doesn't it?

Danger Man: Callum Wilson

Up to Tuesday's League Cup Semi-Final Wilson had gone 8 in a row without scoring. And he always scores against us. Sometimes legally.

Percy & Daisy's Poser-Type Thing

Last time we had a missing-words type of thing from the Derby Telegraph:

Hero builder XXXXX XXX XXXXX XX XXft XXXX for three days.

Well done to Mrs Ada Badger-Culler of Rochford for spotting the missing words as “Saves Cat Stuck Up 50ft Tree”. Everybody go “aahhhhh”. Maybe not you Zouma.

Another missing words this week from the Newcastle Chronicle which gives some hints for the one you love on 14 February:

Valentine's day menu at MetroCentre's Doppio Malto restaurant is XXXX-XXXXXXXX

Good luck everyone!

* 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