Filed: Friday, 20th November 2009
By: Preview Percy
Our correspondent has a look at Saturday's visit to East Yorkshire....
Next up we take a trip to Kingston-Upon-Hull for a 3pm Saturday kick-off against Hull City.
The Tigers currently lie one place and one point above us in 17th place. It is, of course, their second season in the top flight having gained promotion a couple of years ago with a stunning Dean Windass goal that gave them a 1-0 Wembley win over Bristol City. The first part of their debut season exceeded all expectations and, at one point, nosebleeds were the order of the day as they reached third in the table. However, that was about as good as it got and one win in their last 22 games saw them in relegation trouble. That they escaped on the final day owed much to Newcastle’s end of season pressing of the button marked “self-destruct” as they avoided an instant return to the Championship by one point.
Their start to the current season has, so far, failed to emulate that of last term. They were a bit unlucky in the season’s opener as they went down to an injury-time fluke from Drogba at Chelsea. However, since then their form has been patchy at best. Their three wins so far have all come at home where Bolton, Stoke and Wigan all left pointless. The 2-1 win over the Potters came courtesy of an injury-time winner from Jan Venegoor of Hesselink when Stoke ‘keeper failed to hold onto a shot from distance from former Hammer Jimmy Bullard. The match marked Bullard’s home debut after an injury lay-off that started almost as soon as the ink had dried on his contract, and few would begrudge Bullard a decent run of games following a few years where his luck with injuries has been on a par with mine with the National Lottery.
Venegoor of Hesselink was one of a number of players to arrive in the window. US international Altidore has come in on loan from Villareal and about £9m was spent on Mouyokolo, Olofinjana, Hunt and McShane who arrived in from Boulogne, Stoke, Reading and Sunderland respectively. Brown also went back to Stoke to bring in Ibrahim Sonko on loan. The incoming transfers were financed by the £12m sale of Michael Turner to Sunderland in the absence of funds to strengthen the squad without sales. A number of other players were released, including the aforementioned Windass, raising suspicions regarding the board’s wishes to reduce the wage bill. Indeed the club’s accountants have expressed doubts as to the club’s ability to continue as a going concern, especially if relegation were to occur, and the club’s finances have made regular appearances in Private Eye’s “Planet Football” column amid tales of late-submitted accounts. We are not, it seems, alone.
One player who will be missing this weekend will be skipper Ian Ashbee who recently signed a contract extension despite having a knee injury that will keep him on the sidelines until next March at the earliest. Their only other injury doubt this weekend appears to be ‘keeper Boaz Myhill. The US-born Welsh cap has had a knee injury and, should he be unavailable for selection Matt Duke will continue between the sticks. In addition to Bullard, we may see another ex-Hammer in the form of Richard Garcia. Garcia was a member of the all-conquering youth side of 1998/99, gaining an FA Youth Cup winners medal in the side that beat Coventry 9-0 on aggregate. Garcia failed to establish himself in our first-team, however, and having made only 16 appearances for the first XI, he ended up at Colchester in 2004. He pitched up by the River Humber in 2007 on a Bosman and has recently returned from a spell on the sidelines following a knee injury, ligament problems being a recurring theme in the region of the Garcia patella.
Garcia lasted 52 minutes of the Stoke match, being replaced by Nick Barmby who is now 35 years old, a fact that makes the writer feel very old himself. Also in the squad is likely to be Kevin “Zinadine” Kilbane, a player who will be seething at the manner of the Republic of Ireland’s “Hand of Frog” World Cup exit. Kilbane is a player who, despite his journeyman status, now has over 100 caps for the Republic. At a number of his clubs he’s been the target of boo-boys, particularly at Sunderland where he ended up giving supporters a two-fingered salute. He was slightly more appreciated at Wigan, where he won a website player of the year award, before joining Hull in January’s window for a rumoured £500,000.
As usual we have injury problems of our own. Junior Stanislas has been suffering from a virus. Tomkins has a groin strain which should mean a continued run at the back for Da Costa. The club has been making encouraging noises concerning the availability of Carlton Cole, though hamstring injuries are always a concern – if it goes again he’ll be out for ages. We have a history of rushing players back too soon and I’d be a bit worried if Cole were to start this one, much as he is needed.
Ilunga’s hamstring also makes him rated as “doubtful”, and, as for Kieron Dyer………..
I felt we were mugged a bit in our last match against Everton. Indeed if Hines football satnav hadn’t been on the blink we’d have got something out of the match. A bit more composure in front of goal required – something that Zola will hopefully have been working on with the lad.
Prediction? Well I have a feeling that, if we can get off to a decent start, this one is winnable – especially if Cole is fit. What the heck I’ll go for a 2-1 win for this one – just as long as Hull can keep eleven men on the pitch!
Enjoy the game!
Last season: Lost 1-0 The now-departed Turner’s header sent Hull into third place. West Ham created much but lacked a cutting edge in the final third. Sound familiar?
Danger Man: Jimmy Bullard. Will be a menace from set plays even if you discount that law about players scoring against former clubs.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg – last sen having a bit of a ‘mare in our home match against Spurs. Let’s hope he has football rathr than the bailiffs on his mind this time round.
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.
01:25PM 20th Nov 2009
''As a life-long Hammers supporter, but resident in Hull for over a decade, this is (almost) my game of the season. After last year's disapointment with the Turner goal I want a win for the Hammers tomorrow.
I have seen Hull a couple of times this year - the win over Bolton and the draw against Portsmouth. Hull were dire in the latter game and so if they play like that again they are there for the taking! Jimmy Bullard being back means they have more in midfield, but I would rate Stephen Hunt as the danger man. He seems to be the one who prromises to create most in the games I have seen.
I will be having to hide amongst the home fans, but want to hope that those of you who are coming up make as much noise in the North Stand as you did last year. Also, a few of those bubbles machines sending up some bubbles into the air is enough to bring on a slight tear !
Come on you Irons!
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