Filed: Thursday, 26th November 2009
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy takes a gander at this weekend's opponents.....
Next up we entertain Burnley (pronounced "Berrn-leh")at the Boleyn for a match that will kick-off at 3pm on Saturday, an amazing innovation – what will they think of next.
The visitors are enjoying their first season back in the top flight since Adam was a lad having qualified by virtue of having beaten drug cheats Sheffield United 1-0 in the playoff final. The winner was a memorable curling effort by Wade Elliott. The victory was made all the sweeter by the performance of the atrocious Mike Dean, who denied the hypocrites a couple of penalty shouts and (correctly, for once) dismissed sub Jamie Ward for two handballs and, post-match, Lee Hendrie for foul and abusive language. All in all, a good day for football.
The Clarets have a long and fairly distinguished history. Founder members of the Football League they have a couple of top-flight Championships to their name and even managed to reach the quarter-finals of the European Cup back in the day when it was champions-only. However, it was always compulsory to mention that, because of small gates, Burnley would have to rely on selling the talented young players that they had produced. The change of rules that meant that league gate monies would be kept by home sides, (rather than shared with the away side as had previously been the case) didn’t help Burnley’s cause one bit and their relegation in 1976 saw them disappear from top-flight football until their return this season. It could have been even worse. In 1987 they came within one match of leaving the league, a win over the O’s combined with a defeat for Lincoln City being enough to keep them up by the skin of their teeth.
Burnley are managed by Owen Coyle who, having overseen a fine League Cup run last season as well as the Clarets’ promotion charge, seems to be linked with every half-decent job vacancy going, notably that of his former club Celtic after Gordon Strachan had moved down to Smogland. Indeed, Coyle was said to be the Bhoys’ first choice for the role, before he turned down the chance to return to Glasgow.
Their season so far has been a bit Jekyll and Hyde. They currently lie in 10th position with 17 points from their 13 games. However, that statistic masks a stark contrast between their home and away form. 16 of those 17 points have been earned at Turf Moor whence Man Utd, Everton, Sunderland, Birmingham and Hull have all departed empty-handed. Only Wigan, with a surprising 3-1 win and Villa with a 1-1 draw have got anything out of their visits. On the road, however, it’s been a different story. Their solitary away point this season came at Middle Eastlands in a neutral-pleasing 3-3 draw with Man City. Otherwise it’s been a bit miserable for them on their travels with defeats at Stoke, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and, most painfully, Blackburn where they went down 3-2 despite having taken an early lead.
They brought a few in during the window as one might expect from a promoted club. In defence they laid out £2m for Reading defender Andre Bikey. It seemed a strange signing, given his performance for Reading in the play-off semi final between the two clubs back in May. Having given away a fairly blatant penalty, Bikey went ballistic in the manner of one who has returned to his car only to find it clamped, despite it displaying a valid permit. Yellow card duly earned, Bikey then capped off his match by stamping on Robbie Blake, earning himself a straight red in the process. This was merely a prelude to a strop that eclipsed his earlier tantrum by some degrees of magnitude. Off came the shirt and fists were pumped as the defender left the field more in need of psychotherapy than physiotherapy. Something in all that – possibly Bikey’s muscular physique that came into view as the shirt was jettisoned – impressed Coyle and Blake appears to have let bygones be bygones in the interests of team harmony.
There will be one ex-Hammer in Saturday’s squad. Tyrone Mears arrived at the Boleyn from Preston in the summer of 2006 for a fee of £1m – this fee was set to increase to £1.9m based on appearances and, rather optimistically, England caps. In the end Mears found it difficult to break into the first team – something that was not helped by injuries – and he was shipped out on loan to Derby in January 2007. The deal was made permanent in the following window. Then things got a bit strange. At the start of the 2008/09 season Mears disappeared off to the South of France for a trial with Marseilles. That Marseilles were interested in the first place was strange enough – the Faubert to Real Madrid deal springs to mind. However, the fact that he went there without Derby’s permission made the move bizarre in the extreme. Manager Paul Jewell gave Mears a hefty fine and declared that Mears would never play for the Rams again. When the dust had settled, Mears headed off to Marseilles for a year on loan but, as at West Ham, first team opportunities were severely restricted. Marseilles’ option to buy was not exercised and, having effectively burnt his bridges at Pride Park, the player headed off to Burnley for a reported £500,000. Just to add to the mix, Mears picked up an international cap for Jamaica which, he believed, was the country of his father’s birth. Having played in a 0-0 draw against Nigeria at that well-known international venue The New Den, he then discovered that Dad hailed from Sierra Leone after all, a discovery that has left him in international limbo. Rumours that Sheffield United are looking for someone to sue are of course scurrilous and should be ignored.
Up front they have been fielding, albeit usually as sub, a revitalised David Nugent who is currently on loan from Portsmouth with whom he seemed to develop an allergy to goals. Having received public criticism from the now ex-Pompey boss Paul Hart, he scored twice on his Burnley debut in the 3-1 victory over Sunderland. Nugent is one of those players immortalised in a quiz question, being one of three “one-cap wonder” England internationals to have one goal from one single sub appearance. (The other two if you’re that bothered are Francis Jeffers and Paul “Sarge” Goddard). The normal starting duo up front are the aforementioned Blake, who seems to make a habit of scoring the spectacular – viz his volley in the 1-0 defeat of Man Utd, and Steven Fletcher, a £3m arrival from Hibs in the close season.
So what of us? Those of you who watched the marvellous “Time Of their Lives” programme featuring John Bond, Ronnie Boyce and Ken Brown earlier this week will have heard them say that they couldn’t remember Ron Greenwood ever having worked on the defensive side of things in training. Having seen the way we’ve been defending – especially at set pieces – one could almost be forgiven for thinking that we’d returned to such days. Of course the shocking display of ref Clattenburg was also a major contributory factor to our failure once more to keep hold of a lead. It is to be hoped that messrs. Zola and Clarke have been concentrating on the back four during the week.
On the injury front it was a major relief to see Carlton Cole emerge from the Hull match with no further damage to his hamstring and both Diamanti and Tomkins may have recovered from knocks – expect them to appear on the racing car seats if that’s the case. Somebody called Kieron Dyer – the name rings a vague bell – scored a couple in the stiffs’ 5-2 midweek victory over Stoke and it is possible that football’s equivalent of Lord Lucan might also make the squad for this one – but it’s not a bet I’d stick I’d too much money on.
Prediction? Well, as mentioned, Burnley’s away form leaves a lot to be desired. Having said that, our aforementioned defensive frailties have seen us draw and lose matches from which we ought to have got more. A clean sheet would be nice but I can’t see it somehow. However, the optimistic part of me has taken heart from our move out of the drop zone and I’m therefore going to plump for a 3-1 victory that could push us up to the dizzy heights of somewhere like 16th if other results are favourable. Possibly.
Enjoy the game!
Last season: n/a
Danger Man: Robbie Blake. Capable of creating the spectacular out of nothing.
Referee: Chris Foy. this is the third time we’ve had him this season. His last appearance was the 2-2 draw with Arsenal where his dismissal of Soctt Parker was harsh in the extreme.
Burnley weird fact: The Burnley Miners Club is reportedly the world’s largest single consumer of the French herbal liqueur Benedictine. The East Lancs Regiment apparently developed a taste for it whilst stationed in Normandy during the First World War, starting a tradition that continues to this day. I’ll stick to real ale if it’s all the same to you.
It's been 11 weeks now since West Ham came out of any match having failed to score, and indeed at home they’ve found the net in every match this season so its little wonder extrabet.com are running scared of Zola’s boys. We have the Hammers odds-on at 10/13 as the square up to Burnley this weekend with the draw an 11/4 chance and the Clarets also 11/4.
After events last weekend the greatest legal minds on the planet could possibly construct a case to argue that a 5-0 drubbing from Spurs (as Burnley suffered back in September) isn’t a bad result. Bookmakers however haul the stats over the proverbial coals a little more however and extrabet.com have West Ham as 0.6-0.8 goal favourites on their spread supremacy line with total match goals pitched high for a Premier League match at 2.9-3.1.
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.
11:53AM 26th Nov 2009
''Very amusing, great read. "Rumours that Sheffield United are looking for someone to sue are of course scurrilous and should be ignored." nearly make me laugh Diet Coke out of my nose. Top stuff!''
10:42AM 26th Nov 2009
''You can't beat a bit of Bene and Hot from the miners.
The away games we (Burnley) have played so far this season have been against good oposition (apart from Wolves, but let's not mention that). I really like the way that Owen hasn't changed the way we play whilst on the road, going at teams in the enterataining style that is his trademark. This has worked at home but took a while to be effective away, but the result at Eastlands against the richest club in the world makes me think our first away win is just round the corner.
I'll be there on Saturday singing my heart out with the rest of the lads. Here's hoping for a good game. ''
comments powered by Disqus