Manchester City v West Ham United: match preview

It’s time for the final Preview Percy piece of the season as we make the trip up to Man City. That cheering you can hear is probably coming from those of us who have to edit this stuff into something that the lawyers will approve every week...

And so for the final time this season we gird our loins for Sunday’s trip to the North West where we will be hosted by Manchester City. Kick-off is at 4pm as is the same everywhere else in the Premier League. Although the routes to Manchester appear to be clear on the trains front, there’s buses in operation east of Shenfield so you’ll probably want to factor that in on your way to Euston.

So Manchester City then. Unless you’ve been living under a stone for the last week or so you’ll have gathered that they are currently in pole position to take their fourth title in as many years. That they have been teasing Arsenal in the process has made it all the more amusing.

There will be those, not least Arsenal supporters who will start whining about the 115 charges of financial impropriety hanging over them. Now without making any judgement call on the City situation it’s a bit rich of the Islington mob to be crying “foul” given that without all the dubious shenanigans that got them into the top flight in the first place, they might well have been facing annual trips to Rotherham rather than tugging on the coat tails of the Citizens.

Those 115 charges are, of course, not going away, though as we know from the infamous “Football Leaks” revelations a few years ago, their legal team’s strategy on those is to litigate the hell out of things on the premise that they can afford the best lawyers in the world - literally - and, more importantly, they can afford them indefinitely. This means that, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the case, anyone taking them on in court needs to have resources equivalent to those of an oil-rich Middle East state or face financial ruin.

Given the monies involved it is, perhaps, surprising that the crimes of which they are accused aren’t that sophisticated. For example, it is claimed that Roberto Mancini’s salary back in the day, was augmented by a £2m “consultancy” contract with the Al Jazira Sports and Cultural Club, a club “coincidentally” owned by City’s owners.

This sort of thing went on for nearly 100 years in rugby where players would have an “employment” with a local business that just happened to be owned by a senior figure within the club to get around rules relating to amateurism or, in the case of Rugby League, salary caps. Only the amounts have changed. So, to summarise, in terms of pure football, they probably deserve to win the league. And, in terms of sporting integrity, they probably don’t.

Their last match was 90 minutes plus of pure hilarity for anyone outside the Man City/Arsenal/Tottenham triangle. Tottenham supporters get confused easily at the best of times – you still see them pointing in awe at traffic lights. So to see them wrestle with the moral and logical minefield of them wanting to qualify for the so-called Champions league whilst simultaneously not wanting Arsenal to win the league was akin to watching a small dog chasing its own tail.

Son’s 85th minute miss when the score was 1-0 to the visitors to the toilet bowl will of course be pounced on by the sort of person who can see conspiracy theories in the number of different colour smarties in a packet (apparently if they are short on green ones it’s something to do with a forthcoming alien invasion or something). However, and I may be wrong here, but my impression gained from an unscientific look at MotD is that Son has missed a lot of one-on-ones this season.

Of course the conspiracy theorist would then say “that’s because he has been building up to the City game so that nobody would notice one more miss” at which point I believe I would have a legal right – nay responsibility – to bombard the conspiracy theorist with as many tubes of Smarties as I felt like.

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The difficulty that the home fans were having – which was on a par with the problems they have tying their own shoelaces – manifested itself in a surreal atmosphere which only resolved itself in stoppage time when City’s second prompted a chorus or two of “Are you watching Arsenal?” from the home support. Not that Postecoglu was having much truck with such nonsense and he was seen getting into an altercation with a home fan who had concluded his moral musings with the notion that he didn’t care what happened as long as Spurs lost.

Annoyingly for Daisy they did buy a player this winter, with £12.5m going on River Plate midfielder Claudio Echeverri. Even more annoying for Daisy was the fact that she had to do some research only to discover that the player was immediately loaned back to River Plate until January 2025, by which time she will have forgotten everything she had to look up about the player in the first place.

On the injury front, ‘keeper Ederson will miss out. He was on the receiving end of a nasty challenge from Romero. He required a fair bit of treatment and, when he was substituted a few minutes later he seemed mightily fed up with being removed from the action, throwing quite a strop when he got to the technical area. Wrongly, as it turned out, that swelling around the eye being the visible evidence of what was later discovered to be a fractured eye socket. Ouch.

The other name on the worry front is that of Kevin De Bruyne. He took a knock to the achilles which caused discomfort at the point of impact but doesn’t seem likely to preclude him from appearing at some stage on Sunday.

And so on to the Wild And Wacky World Of Association Football. Everton have been the focus of recent news. Having made sure of staying up they shrewdly elected to withdraw their ongoing appeal against the second of their points deductions this season, thus avoiding the possibility of the Commission declaring that the punishment hadn’t been good enough and upping the points deduction to a relegation-inducing level.

Not that not going down has solved all the Toffees’ problems. For quite a while there was a bit of a race going on in the North West of the country as to whether Everton’s takeover by 777 Partners would take place before the Co-Op Arena opened. Whilst the latter finally opened last week after months of false starts, the Everton takeover looks about as far away as a decision on any of the 115 charges faced by Man City.

If you haven’t been following the whole soap opera, 777 were originally given until sometime last week to come up with the funds required to make the deal happen. Everton’s current owners have now extended the deadline until the end of the month. All of that has been played against a background of fraud charges, where 777 have been accused of using assets as collateral in deals which had actually already been used as collateral in other deals, a practice much-beloved of the late Robert Maxwell.

All in all, if I were a betting man willing to risk £2.50 down at Winstone’s the Turf Accountants, I would probably put it on a wager to suggest that, whoever Everton’s next owners are it won’t be 777. I wouldn’t expect much of a win though.

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Elsewhere Wolves have tabled a motion to the Premier League suggesting that VAR be scrapped. I think it will be retained, for what it’s worth.

The problem is not VAR itself - it’s the fact that you have people on the pitch who haven’t got a clue and the same people are sat in the Stockley Park bunker. If they don’t know what they are doing once, showing them the same thing seven times will just mean that they repeat the same error seven times. There should be a vote on whether or not the current system is working. Address the cause not the symptoms.

And so to us. Another game of two halves. Terrible in the first half against a Luton side who, the goal apart, created little, especially after Ross Barkley hobbled off. The second half was a different kettle of fish. Three good finishes of the sort that has often been a rarity since the turn of the year. Tomas Soucek’s volley was probably the pick of the three from a technical viewpoint but young George Earthy’s goal took the gold star. Especially given the way his last outing ended. Big grins all round.

It was nice to see Mr Moyes get a good send off – the least he deserved given what he has delivered over the past few years. As mentioned last week whatever your view of this season’s low points, a "so long and thanks" message was entirely in order.

I would say one thing though. When I am invited to parties – as, of course, I often am - people often come up to me and ask, “Why is it Percy we never see you strutting your stuff on the dancefloor?” Henceforth I will no longer give a verbal reply and will, instead, refer the interrogator to the video of Mr Moyes dancing a merry jig to the sound of the Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” as evidence of why one shouldn’t make a fool of oneself to music.

On the injury front, Konstantonos Mavropanos and Nayef Aguerd are likely absentees whilst Kalvin Phillips, even if he weren’t injured, wouldn’t be available. If he’s on the team bus on the way up there’ll be a spare seat available on the way home.

So the the prediction. Well, unlike your average Tottenham fan I have no problem with wanting us to win whatever the consequences. If you have any qualms about that, you can rationalise it by simply wanting Everton to win. Job done.

Of course wanting us to win and expecting us to win are two different things and, realistically, with them at home and the Premier League trophy up for grabs one would expect them to go for it with a vengeance. So the £2.50 that I won’t be betting on the identity of Everton’s new owners will instead be placed on a home win. 4-1 to them unfortunately.

Enjoy the game – and the summer!

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When Last We Met At The City Of Manchester (much nicer name) Stadium: Lost 3-0 (Premier League May 2023)

We lasted until half time. Ake opened the scoring. Haaland broke the Premier League season record with the second whilst Foden added a late 3rd with a heavily-deflected volley. That sent them top and Arsenal’s hope of nicking the league was all but gone. So it wasn’t all bad news.

Referee John Brooks


Danger Man: Phil Foden

Footballer of the Year. Or Haaland, or De Bruyne or...

Percy & Daisy’s Poser.

Last week’s poser came from the Luton Today website::

It’s the XXXXXX XXXXX – police deliver takeaway after driver nicked

Well done to Mrs Dymphna Grimsdyke-Clingfilm of Layer de la Haye who correctly identified the missing words as, the rather groan-worthy “Frying Squad”. I saw what they did there – and and rather wishing they hadn’t.

No poser this week as I’ll be having a lie down. However, for those of you who like to play along on the red button the answers to this week’s midweek posers were:

1) The Dalai Lama – all the others had made more than 20 appearances for Rochdale;
2) Score 1 point for each of a) either of the Krankies, b) Sydney Opera House and c) The London Symphony Orchestra
3) No.

See you In August! (we’ll see – Ed)

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