Manchester United v West Ham United: match preview

We tried to transfer Preview Percy anywhere on deadline day. However, literally everyone we contacted had some sort of computer problem. So here’s his look at Sunday’s trip to Manchester United...

Next up we head up with half of Surrey to the City of Salford where we will be hosted by what appears to be the doubly inaccurately named Manchester United.


Kick-off on Sunday is at 2pm for the benefit of Sky and, to all the usual engineering works that occur, you can add an ASLEF overtime ban which will add short notice cancellations and alterations into the usual Sunday mix.

Check before you leave and, probably, while you’re travelling too.

So Manchester United then. Mid-table mediocrity is the order of the day, though the whole thing is highly amusing to those bored enough to spend a few bob on popcorn to sit and watch this season’s Harchester.

The story so far. A deal by the owners The Glazers to sell the whole club fell through. Enter Ineos – owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe and current owners of what used to be the (once all-powerful but now somewhat disgraced) Team Sky Cycling team. Ineos paid a King’s ransom for 25% of the business but, crucially, with the brief to control the football side of the business.

At the time of writing the deal has yet to be ratified by the footballing authorities . However, that hasn’t stopped them vetoing a number of transfer deals already according to the grapevine. These deals would have seen them continuing their recent tradition of shelling out top dollar for players not exactly in the first flush of youth.

Other soap opera storylines include the Mason Greenwood arc and the Jadon Sancho plot to which we can now add the Marcus Rashford mystery. Now in a previous preview involving this lot I’m sure I commented to the effect that all was not well with the player. Things haven’t improved since whenever it was I wrote that, and apart from anything else he hasn’t done himself any favours of late.

In Ten Hag has a manager who bears a grudge or two – as Ronaldo and Sancho in particular (and possibly Greenwood) would attest. So whoever told the player it was a good idea to hop over to Belfast for a spot of clubbing then throw a sickie was not exactly giving premium advice.

Maybe he was victim of the strange delusion that affects young professional footballers that their professional contracts come with some form of superpower that renders them invisible to the general public and, in some cases, impervious to alcohol breath testing? Let’s face it, Belfast is not the largest of cities and a Premier League player turning up there is likely to be noticed.

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Rashford’s form has not been great – four goals in 25 appearances across all competitions is not England form, despite Southgate’s notorious tendency towards misplaced loyalty (yes, you Henderson). This is reflected in the team’s season so far, in which they seem to have been unable to get any sort of run going.

Although they did manage a run of three in a row in November, the identity of the defeated clubs was a hell of a clue as to the quality involved, 1-0 wins at Fulham and at home to Luton were followed by a 3-0 win at Everton. Since then its been LWLDLWLDW.

The last win came on Thursday night in what looked like a completely bonkers match over at Wolves where the home side came back from 2-0 and 3-1 down to level 3-3, only for a ultra late goal to send the visitors northwards up the M6 in the opposite direction to their fans with the three points.

Inevitably, given his “matters that were dealt with internally” (which sounds like the sort of examination the King has had recently) Rashford opened the scoring. I have yet to see the highlights so can’t really comment on the goals they conceded but by all accounts Wolves had a number of good chances at 2-0 down before they pulled one back. Make of that what you will.

With our draw (against Bournemouth) on the same evening, the results leave them in seventh place on 35 points, which is a place and a point below us.

The presence of Ineos at the helm, however unofficially that may be, has meant that there have been no arrivals during this window at the time of writing. Which means that Daisy has disappeared down the shops with a big grin onher face. Worryingly I can’t find my credit card.

Let us move on the wild and wacky world of association football then which, this week, focuses on us. Now one may remember Mark Noble’s somewhat naive comments after the current owners took over to the effect that the club is “not run like a circus anymore”.

Quite apart from the aptness of that particular simile being in question – circuses seem to manage the complex logistics of transporting people, equipment, massive tents, trailers and animals up and down the country quite well on the whole – I’m sure that the good people at Olympic Lyonnais and Real Betis would beg to question the underlying sentiment right now.

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Lyon’s statement on the Benrahma non-transfer was particularly scathing, describing as it did the club’s action or inaction as “incomprehensible behaviour”. Stick around guys, you get used to it. Some light was possibly shed on the position by Real Betis who were hopeful that Fornals’ move to Spain would still be ratified - as it eventually was - despite what they described as a “computer problem” preventing the deal being completed.

Meanwhile rumours that the same computer glitch will see Lewis Hamilton arrive from Mercedes next week were described by a FIFA spokesman as “very silly”. Still, it did liven up one of the dullest deadline days ever I suppose.

On to Wednesday evening which was a dispiriting 90+ minutes as you are likely to see. Obviously much was made of the arrival of Phillips but the player looked exactly what one might have expected, someone who hadn’t started a game for nine months dropped into a side with only a few days of training with his new team mates.

His part in the opening goal was unfortunate, though the pass to him by Zouma did him no favours whatsoever.

The thing about the rest of the game was just how slow we looked. Counter-attacking football relies on pace above all else – breaking forward and outnumbering an over-committed opponent. However, frankly I’ve seen more pace in the editor when it’s his round. Which is a shame because the penalty came about as a result of Kudus leaving Kelly for dead.

Sorry to harp on about referees again but quite why the offence wasn’t spotted by someone looking right at it was a bit of a worry, as was the fact that the VAR people opted to show the on-pitch official the worst view of the incident multiple times without once showing the one view that confirmed it all conclusively.

Still getting a point out of a game where finding a claret and blue shirt with a four-yard pass seemed to be on a par, difficulty-wise, with the landing of a Japanese space vehicle the right way up on the moon, is I guess better than nothing.

So prediction then. I’m going for us to grind out another draw this time – they are inconsistent and we are due something better. So the £2.50 I hope to have available once Daisy gets back from the shops with my credit card will be going on a 1-1 scoreline over at Winstone’s the Turf Accountants when it opens.

Enjoy the game!

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When we last met at The Theatre Of Crappy Marketing Slogans: Lost 3-1 – FA Cup March 2023

Benrahma’s 54th minute opener gave us a deserved lead, one which we might have trebled but for De Gea having an uncharacteristically good game. An OG from Aguerd and two stoppage time goals from Garnacho and Fred saw the home side through. File under Better Team Lost

Referee: Andrew Madley

Remember when Cornet had a perfectly good goal ruled out at Chelsea because a referee wouldn’t apply the laws of the game properly? Yup him.

Danger Man: Marcus Rashford

You can see the headlines "Rashford continued to put his recent personal problems behind him …etc etc"

Percy & Daisy’s Poser

Last week we had a good old-fashioned missing words round from the Bournemouth Echo:

Council comments on missing Bournemouth XXX XXXXX

Well done to Mrs Millicent Picture-Frame of Hatfield Peverel who correctly identified the missing words as “Big Wheel”. Apparently the council’s comments were “well it was there by the beach when we last popped by the other day……”

This week we have a gander at the Manchester Evening News. Now usually we stay clear of crime stories but once in a while we happen across one for the “dumb crime of the week” columns. And that’s what we have done here with the following missing words round:

Crying Mum jailed for trying XXXXXXX XXXX XXXXX

Good luck everybody!

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