Filed: Saturday, 26th September 2009
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy takes an "alternative" look at our next opponents...
Next up a visit to Eastlands for a Monday night 8pm kick-off against Man City.
Apparently they’ve spent a few bob this year. They kept that quiet. The club’s Middle-Eastern owners have looked down the back of the sofa and whereas you or I might find a boiled sweet and a couple of 5p pieces, they’ve come up with a year’s output from an oil well or two which has given this week’s opponents a wee bit of buying power. So in came messrs Barry, Tevez, Santa Cruz, Talyor, Toure, Adebeyor and Lescott. Amongst the departed were Darius Vassell, last seen heading for Ankara and Dean Sturridge, last seen heading for wherever it is Chelsea play their reserve matches.
Of course when you do have so much money and everyone knows it the market does tend to get distorted a bit. Now I’m not one of those old codgers who looks at transfer fee millions and tuts muttering stuff about “in my day”. OK yes I am one of those old codgers but, even so, the long drawn-out transfer of Joleon Lescott must have raised eyebrows in even the most modern and trendy of football supporting households. £24m? I suspect that that was simply the Man City price and, without the interest from the City of Manchester Stadium the player’s value must have been about half that to any other club. Still fair play to Everton for holding out for such a large sum for someone who is effectively behind Matty Upson in the England pecking order.
They’ve had a bright start in their quest to breach the ranks of the so-called “big-four” winning five out of six so far, the solitary defeat coming in last week’s Manchester-Salford derby where an injury-time effort from Michael Owen saw them edged out in a 4-3 thriller. And yes thanks I have had the text message telling me that Ryan Giggs has just made it 5. Several times.
Twixt the sticks in that match was Shay Given who, for all the really big money signings made over the past year or so, may well represent the best value for money of all the arrivals costing as he did a reported £5.9m. There were certainly times last week where he appeared to be keeping the red tide at bay single-handed and that City were in a position to even look like pinching a point owed much to a string of saves from the Irish international.
There will be a couple of familiar faces in the squad on Monday night of course. Carlos Tevez is, as we know, quite capable of winning whole matches without any assistance from team-mates and, assuming that he is fit and available for selection, both I and Lord Griffiths, will be astounded if City actually bother to select another ten players. Tevez will probably be given a warm reception from the travelling support unlike his fellow ex-Hammer Craig
Bellamy, whose departure from the Boleyn left a slightly nasty taste in the mouth, even if some of the more outlandish claims as to his behaviour did turn out to be a load of twaddle.
Bellamy is one of those unlikeable characters that you tolerate at your club as he’s a decent player but when he’s at another club it’s another matter. Last week’s slap of a fan was quite funny though. If any other player than Bellamy involved one might have asked whether he’d have slapped the fan if the supporter hadn’t been held by four or five stewards at the time. With Bellamy the answer is almost certainly “yes”.
Another interesting character in the squad is Stephen Ireland. Ireland hasn’t played international football since a much publicised incident when he absented himself from a Republic of Ireland squad. His girlfriend had had a miscarriage and, presumably, had the player asked to go home for that reason, no sane manager with half an ounce of compassion would have refused.
Unfortunately Ireland (the player not the country) didn’t think that this excuse would be sufficient for the then manager Steve Staunton. So he fabricated the death of first one grandmother, then when she turned up alive, another. Once the second grandmother also proved to be far from dead, the player got himself in even deeper trouble by inventing a divorced granddad and a further deceased grandmother. When this further bereavement turned out to be equally fictitious the player came clean.
There have been rumours of a return to the international scene but noises from the Ireland family have been contradictory – the player himself has dismissed the likelihood of further caps (although the phrase “never say never” is always used) whilst his Dad always seems convinced that he’ll be in the squad for the next match. Whatever his international future, in amongst all the star names his is one that (his international aberration apart) rarely grabs the headlines. However, City fans are more than aware of the contribution he makes and he currently holds the Player of the Year award. Incidentally, Ireland started his career in the claret and blue of Cobh Ramblers, a team famous for having produced Roy Keane and a club with which I understand one of the editors of this very website has connections.
So what about us? Well following Saturday’s results we see ourselves in the relegation zone. Ok it’s still early days but the moment we don’t look like scoring unless there is a set piece involved. Fitness levels are worrying too – we seem to fade alarmingly late on in matches and, having conceded in the 87th minute in midweek, there was only ever going to be one winner – and it wasn’t us.
On the bright side, the injury to Upson that curtailed his involvement against Liverpool seems to have healed up and he is listed only as a “slight doubt”. Jiminez and Collison may also be ready and, if so, the changes may well be rung in midfield where Mark Noble seems to be showing all the effects of not having had a close season. Up front, Franco may be available for selection though, lacking match fitness, one would expect him to start from the bench rather than dictating things from the start.
We played well against Liverpool – and a referee not worried about upsetting the constantly moaning Gerrard might have punished their cynical anti-football which would have evened things up a bit. However, this week we’re up against a team whose priority is likely to be attack rather than to kick anything that moves ten yards either side of the halfway line. Five out of six tells its own story and, despite the late defeat last weekend (and PLEASE stop sending me that bloody text) and despite the absence of Adebayor even with my most optimistic hat on I’m struggling to see us get so much as a point here. I’ll plump for a 2-0 defeat though I wouldn’t be surprised if it were heavier.
Enjoy the game!
Last season: 0-3. A gutless performance with Mark Noble sent off for a second yellow card, the ref having made a rod for his own back with the first soft booking.
Danger man: Craig Bellamy. Even if he doesn’t score we might get a girly slap in the face.
Referee: Chris Foy. Last seen at Molineux for our opening day win. An omen?
Look out for: Manchester’s “straight” quarter. Apparently, there is one if you're going for a beer.
We're hanging on for a Man City blow-up here at extrabet after punters waded into them pre-season on markets like 'To finish in the top 4', 'Win the League without the Top 4', FA Cup winners and so forth and if this game is anything to go by the Irons might have a chance. We hung 7/1 about them winning this game to our punters and they nipped our arms off as we went to 13/2 and now are 6/1 and falling. City are now out to 4/9 with the draw a bit more popular at 3/1.
As an aside we've seen some shrewd punters have a go on our 28/1 that Carlton Cole finishes in the Top 3 Premiership scorers this term. Eslewhere if you are into your spread betting West Ham's Season Points are 45-47. Might not sound a lot but it would still leave them in the top half of the table (just). Chelsea Season Points 86-88, Man United 83-85 and City 70-72 pts.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
08:28AM 28th Sep 2009
''3:1 win for us. COYI!''
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