West Ham United v Leeds United: match preview

Preview Percy has spent the last few days with a big grin on his face, particularly when he discovered that Czechia is a country he hasn’t visited yet, and is therefore not one of those countries he is banned from in the interest of maintaining friendly diplomatic relations. While we break the news to him that Senior Citizens’ railcards are not valid in Prague, here’s his look at the visit of Leeds United for last home game of the season...

Next up we pay host to Leeds United. Kick-off on Sunday is a mind-bogglingly early 1:30 pm. I mean one has barely donned one’s nightgown at that time of the day. Coverage is on Sky – who knew they were on air that early? Ingatestone and Grays are the location of this weekend’s engineering works so check before you leave and all that.

So Leeds then. Their struggles have been marked by the fact that, they are currently on their fourth manager of the season. Messrs Marsch, Skubala and Garcia have all come and gone with Sam Allardyce coming in on 3 May with the instruction that he had 25 days to keep them in the top flight. Allardyce, whose fondness of a pound note is legendary in the game, is said to be on a significant seven-figure bonus should he keep them up and, at the time of signing there was the amusing potential for Leeds to lose all their matches under Allardyce’s stewardship but still stay up, leaving Leeds paying out millions for nothing.

Results have put that amusing potential scenario to bed. However, it’s no secret of how high an esteem Allardyce is held – by Allardyce. His early press conferences were characterised by his self-comparisons with the likes of Guardiola, Klopp and Arteta, with the rotund one proclaiming himself to be a better manager than all three. He then went on to place himself above the law of the land, bemoaning the fact that the court system didn’t cut short a case to allow perennial Allardyce sidekick Sammy "Friend Of Clive Thomas" Lee off jury duty to join him at Leeds. I’ll say this for Allardyce. He’s certainly as arrogant as Klopp.

They are currently the wrong side of the dotted line with 31 points from the 36 played, with a home match to come against Spurs next weekend. They are tussling with Forest who are three points ahead with a 6 goal better goal difference, and Everton who are one point clear and one goal better off. Forest are at home to Arsenal Bottlers this weekend and away at Palace, whilst Everton are away at Wolves and at home to Bournemouth.

During the last knockings of the Marsch tenure at the helm, Daisy tells me that they brought in three permanent signings plus a loan deal. First cab off the rank was defender Maximilian Wober. The central defender arrived from Fizzy Drink Salzburg for a reported £11m having started his career in Vienna with Rapid. Spells with Ajax and, briefly, Sevilla ensued before the player returned to his native Austria with Salzburg. He’s been capped 14 times by the Austrians.

Attacking options were augmented by the arrival of Frenchman Georgino Rutter. Rutter came through the youth setup at Rennes but it was across the border in Germany where the bulk of his senior football has taken place, where he notched eleven in 57 league appearances for Hoffenheim. That doesn’t seem a great return to me but it was enough to persuade Leeds to shell out £36m for the player who has yet to open his account in the League since his arrival. The 21 year old has been capped at age levels up to and including Under 21 level but has yet to trouble the French milliners at senior level.

The third arrival was a defender in the form of Portuguese Under 21 international Diogo Montiero. At 19 he has clearly been signed on the basis of future potential and he has yet to turn out for the first XI since his arrival for a £1m fee from Servette.

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The loan signing exploited Marsch’s American connections as they brought in American midfielder Weston McKennie from Juventus. He’s spent his senior career in Europe, leaving the FC Dallas youth system for Schalke. For the last three years he’s been at Juventus having initially arrived from Gelsenkirchen on loan in 2020. He holds the record for the fastest hat-trick for the US netting three in a CONCACAF Nations League match in 13 minutes against Cuba.

Talking of Dallas, Stuart of that name is one of a number of players, including Sinisterra, Adams and Cooper who will miss out through injury. Firpo will miss out through suspension having finally got his second yellow card against Newcastle 15 offences after receiving his first.

And so on to the wild and wacky World of Association Football. And since my mini-rant the other week over the length of time the Independent Disciplinary Commission seems to be taking to deal with cases, they seem to have extracted the proverbial collective digit whence it was hidden and started. Firstly they finally remembered that they had charged Ivan Toney with all those betting charges. An 8-month ban was the result – effectively a six month ban with no time off for the close season.

Then there was the travesty of Klopp’s latest brush with the law. Let’s look at what happened. Firstly, he receives a quite correct yellow card for getting in the face of the fourth official. Then he says that ref Tierney said something during the process that was out of order and that Tierney as an agenda against Liverpool. The former accusation turned out to be a lie whilst the latter turned out to be a joke as Tierney handed Liverpool the points once more.

So, given that there was a £30k fine and one of those oh so effective warnings as to his future conduct on Klopp’s record, what do you think the punishment was. A few months ban? Six figure fine? Nope. One match and £75k. Ok and another match suspended. And presumably one of those oh so effective warnings as to his future conduct.

Oh and that’s not all. When asked about the fine Klopp suggested that he wanted to know what the money would be spent on before paying it over to the FA, an approach you might want to consider with your next speeding fine. You may think that the Independent Disciplinary Commission is comprised of a bunch of spineless lickspittles and that Klopp is an arrogant git. And you’d be right in both cases.

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And so to us. Excellent stuff gentlemen which has got me retrieving my passports from their place of hiding and dusting off my Bradshaw’s International Guide (er they still do Pullman Coaches on the Orient Express don’t they?) to sort out transport to what we must now call Czechia.

The performance was measured as the promised onslaught from the home side failed to materialise – on the pitch at least. There were a couple of hairy moments – Aguerd’s somewhat risky challenge and Kehrer’s attempted o.g. leap to mind but we had equally clear chances of our own. Fornals’ splendid effort was the icing on the cake for a night that will live long in the memory.

You’ll have read many column inches on the incidents post-match so I won’t add too many to them save to say that one feels slightly sorry for Alkmaar (the club) who clearly feel totally let down by that section of their support. However, Mr Moyes was right, it’ll be a crying shame if those events were allowed to overshadow what was one of the greatest nights in the club’s history.

And so the logistical trials begin. Our ticket office, which, if we are being polite, has something of a chequered history in dealing with larger events, has had to take a back seat in this process with everything being handled by UEFA, bar the prioritisation process. Good luck with it all I say.

On the selection front, Scamacca apart, Mr Moyes has a full deck with which to play. I know we made, what was it 9 changes against Brentford last week but I would hope he resists the temptation to field too much of a weakened side. Apart from that there is the small matter of the relegation scrap to consider. On the one hand it could be argued that we need to put out a strong side to ensure fairness in the whole process. However, there should also be a baser desire to all this. I’d just like to send them down For all the crimes against football committed by that club and its current manager.

I think that, whilst the odd pair of legs might get a rest, it will be a fairly strong XI that takes to the pitch and what is likely to be a bit of a carnival atmosphere buoyed by the twin boosts of Thursday night’s exploits and the fact that it’s the last home game of the season should inspire what the science boffins always refer to as a positive feedback loop. For that reason I shall be placing the £2.50 that I was going to chip in to help Klopp pay his "fine" on a home win. Please Mr Winstone make it 3-1 to us.

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met at the Olympic: Lost 2-3 (Premier League

Our defence had an off day as Harrison nicked a hat-trick. Bowen ought to have rescued a point at the death but managed to chest over from inches out.

Referee/VAR: Peter Bankes/Michael Salisbury

Last seen not being able to differentiate between a handball and compost heap in the victory over Man Utd. Notice when Howard Webb turned up to Sky Sports with all those audio extracts the one from the Man Utd game was strangely not amongst them. Funny that.

Danger Man: Wilfried Gnonto

Arrived in September and, at 19 is a decent prospect who will end up somewhere much better than Leeds sooner or later. Sooner if they go down.

Percy & Daisy’s Poser-Type Thing

Last Week we brought you bring you a headline from the Dutch News website from which the following helpful parenting hint was taken:

How to teach children about XXXXXXXX (hint: carefully!)

Well done to Mrs Lotetta Edam-Gouda of Thundersley who correctly spotted the missing word as "Genocide". Obviously.

This week there is a mystery to solve from the following headline from the Leeds Live website:

Leeds hit by XXXXXXXX XXXXX as awful XXXXXXX XXXXXX engulfs city

Good luck everyone!

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