West Ham United v Manchester City: match preview

It’s an odd world inside the mind of Preview Percy. After all, how often is it he gets to write about a match between two of the continent’s three European champions? So what does he write about? Unpronounceable Welsh place names plane crashes and capital punishment, that’s what. Still since we don’t pay him we have no worries over Financial Fair Play. Unlike Manchester City perhaps...

Next up we entertain Manchester City at the Olympic. Kick-off is at 3pm Saturday and there appears to be nothing significant in the way of engineering works apart from between Southend and Wickford so happy days all round. Unless you live in Southend or Wickford I suppose.

It’s a bit early for a title decider but we will call it that just for a laugh. Manchester City are at present top of the league having won four out of four. The last of these wins came from a 5-1 win over Fulham, a match which contained a goal of major dubiousness. We are not quite talking about Sammy Lee in the bent 1981 League Cup Final but we are in that territory.

The goal was the subject of the new innovation in football, namely, the replaying of the voice recordings of referees’ discussions on a programme a few days later. In some ways the voice recordings of this goal might be viewed as a bit of an eye-opener. However, in these parts we are seeing VAR operating in exactly the same way as we feared -and predicted - it might.

The on-pitch ref allowed Ake’s goal – let’s be charitable and assume his view wasn’t the clearest. What should have happened is the bunker official should have spotted the infringement – which was fairly clear from every angle – and said "hang on a mo, the player is right in front of the 'keeper and moved out of the way. I’d have another look with a view to disallowing the goal."

What we got was the two officials talking over each other and the lad in the bunker not having the minerals to point out to his (presumably more senior) colleague that this needed intervention.

Airlines – bear with me this is relevant, honest - have a thing called "crew resource management". This was brought in years ago following a number of horrific crashes where investigators found that at least part of the blame could be apportioned to a reluctance on the part of junior crew members to challenge the actions of the senior crew in the cockpit.

Now clearly the ramifications of PGMOL’s finest getting things wrong are little more than raised eyebrows here and there as opposed to the deaths of hundreds of poor souls. However, Ake’s goal and other episodes have proven that there is an underlying issue of a similar – if less deadly nature so maybe Mr Webb might want to have a word with an airline or two.

As one might imagine of a club whose self-confessed attitude to Financial Fair Play rules is to throw ever-increasingly expensive lawyers at the problem until the authorities either run out of cash or their lawyers die, Manchester City were active in the transfer market, though since they are in Europe they were unable to take advantage of the differential between English and UEFA regulations with regard to contract lengths as Chelsea did.

They did keep an eye on proceedings on Declan Rice – who will end up there in a couple of years whilst Arsenal fans reminisce about the glory days when they lifted the Charity Shield that time. However interest waned after an initial bid was rejected. Similarly, an interest in Paqueta disappeared in the light of the various investigations into betting patterns that are taking place at present.

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Daisy, waving around the engagement ring with which her silence has been bought, advises me that they brought in five players this summer. First cab off the rank was Mateo Kovacic who arrived from five years of hell with Chelsea for £25m. At 29 he has decent experience behind him and indeed he is pushing 100 caps for his native Croatia at time of writing. He is a doubt for this one as at time of writing an MRI scan was looking likely on a lower back problem.

In case Kovacic was feeling a bit lonely they brought in 24-year-old Croatian Josko Gvardiol from Fizzy Drink Leipzig. The Croatian international defender, whose surname prompts speculation as to whether his teammates are brave enough to call him "Pep" is another experienced international. He is known best as a central defender but also has a lot of experience of playing at left back.

Belgian winger/striker Jeremy Doku was the subject of a bid from our good selves during the last window. Whatever the details of that bid were both Rennes and the player felt able to reject the offers and the player headed off to the grim north for a fee said to be in the region of £55.5m. He has broken into the Belgian national squad over the past few years having gained caps at every level upwards from Under 15 and he now has 16 full caps for the mayonnaise on chips guys.

He’s mainly used as a right winger, so it would appear that he is the player that was competing for Kudus for a place in our squad.

I must admit that I found the £53m pound deal that took Matheus Nunes from Wolves a rather perplexing deal. I don’t recall him standing out in what most observers would concede is a pretty mundane Molineux squad, but clearly the player had enough about him to interest the Citizens.

He’s just had the one appearance this season, taking part in the defeat of Fulham. He started the season in Footballer limbo, having effectively gone on strike when Wolves refused to let him go. Realising that they weren’t going to get anything out of the player they eventually got shot of him as the window started to close.

The last signing was a familiar name. Jamal Baptiste was highly thought of in our academy set-up. Unfortunately, the player had serious health issues which kept him out of contention for lengthy spells at a time and the decision was made to release the player. Man City elected to take a punt and signed him up on a free, shipping him out to Belgian outfit and City Football Group associated company Lommel, where he will ply his trade in what is the Belgian equivalent of the Championship.

One player who will be missing is Kevin De Bruyne which, from one point of view is a good thing or if, like me, you could watch him play all day, a bad thing. There are further doubts over John Stones and Jack Grealish, but both are likely to travel south.

And now to the wild and wacky world of Association Football. And you don’t get wackier than the news that Welsh outfit Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (no I don’t attempt to pronounce it on the video version, in case you were wondering) have new sponsors in the shape of La Ligua. Yes that one. The one with Barcelona Real Madrid and all that lot.

In amongst all the press coverage one vital question about the deal remains unanswered: Why? Elsewhere in the village where, at the station, a day return from one end of the platform to the other at costs a tenner, a man is recovering in hospital having been beaten up by his own supporters following an ill-advised attempt to get a chant of "Give Us an L…." going.

In international news England drew with Ukraine and beat Scotland without really trying, despite picking the likes of Philips and Maguire whose Premier League game time this season in similar to mine. Plus Henderson who was never good enough for England even before he elected to go to Saudi, incurring the wrath of all those nasty minority groups whose human rights mean slightly less than the petrodollars he is probably lining his socks with as shinpads.

The negative comments to the effect that money was his main motivation apparently "really hurt" the player, who clearly expects us to believe that he is there to assist footballing development out there. Still drawing a salary though I bet.

Down in the National Leagues Buxton were livid at the referee for abandoning their match against Scunthorpe when they were 1-0 up, the problem being that the heavens had opened leading to the game being called off in the 96th minute due to torrential rain. This of course brought to mind the case of Denis Law who once scored six in an FA Cup tie for Man City only for the game to be rained off with 20 minutes left. Hilariously, City lost the replayed match 3-1.

Enough ancient reminiscence tomfoolery. On to us. The win over Luton was comfortable enough – though there was mild irritation that we let one in at the end of the game. The home support were up in arms that a penalty should have been given against Tomas Souceck. They were wrong, the flick from the defender saving the player from sanction. Had the ball hit him straight from the corner they’d have had a point. It didn’t and they didn’t.

On the injury front there is a minor worry over Coufal, but he should be ok and there doesn’t appear to have been any injuries over the international break to speak of.

So to the prediction then. Well I am probably more optimistic over than this one than I have probably have a right to be. I think a win might be a step too far but something in my bones suggests that this one will finish up honours even. So the £2.50 that I was going to spend on a Llanfairpwyllgyngyllgogerychwyndroberyllllantisiliogogogoch season ticket will instead be placed on a wager for the match to finish in a 2-2 draw if that’s ok Mr Winstone

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met at the Olympic: Lost 0-2 (Premier League August 2022)

A brace from Haaland – the second from a peach of a through ball from De Bruyne – were enough to give the visitors all three points on the opening day of last season in a match where we created little. We played with just the one central defender due to injuries and the refusal of Diop to make himself available in advance of his move to Fulham

Referee/VAR Andrew Madley/Darren Bond

Madley once got sent home from a FIFA training camp in Majorca for falling woefully short of the required fitness levels This didn’t cause nearly as much of a scandal as it ought to have done.

Danger Man: Erling Haaland

Six goals already? Of course it’s him.

Percy & Daisy’s Poser-Type Thing

Last time the missing words from the Luton Herald and Post issued the following invitation:

Discover Luton’s XXXX XXXXXXXX and XXXXXXX during September Open Days

Well done to Mrs Doreen Wliberforce-Rollmop of Maldon who knew that, incredibly, the missing words were rich, heritage and culture. Yes, Luton.

This week the Manchester Evening News has a feature headed up "Pub Landlord who Killed over 400" On closer inspection it seems that the slightly macabre article is not the tale of a few slightly off barrels of Boddingtons, but is the story of Albert Pierrepoint, who combined a career as mine host at Oldham’s "The Struggler" with a sideline as the UK’s foremost hangman.

So our question is: According to the article, what was Pierrepoint’s record for the number of executions completed before lunch?

Good luck everyone!

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