Filed: Friday, 7th May 2010
By: Preview Percy
In his (thankfully) final effort of the season Preview Percy has a pop at African football administrators, the manager of the year selection process, Piers Morgan and, of course, Lord Griffiths. He also mentions Man City. A bit. Applications for the post of match preview writer should be sent to the editor....
So there we are. All done bar the shouting and just a final shake up to establish who gets the top place before we have to start all over again in a month or two. But enough of the General Election.
We now turn our minds to Sunday's end-of-season visit of Manchester City, which (as with every other Premier League match) kicks-off at 4pm. The possibility that there might be something on this match disappeared with City's home defeat to Tottenham on Wednesday. Now I would never want a Hammers side at any level to lose a match. I just can't do it. However, I have to say that, had a defeat kept Spurs out of the top 4 I wouldn't have been that upset. The decision to award Redknapp the manager of the year award for a season where, despite the undoubted talent in his squad, his position owed as much to Liverpool's nightmare season as it did to any of his own efforts was a bit strange. I expect Benitez probably got a few votes on that basis for getting the scousers into the Europa League (Pompey's problems being responsible for qualification going down to 7th). At least Hodgson achieved something on a limited budget on his own efforts.
It is the Europa league in which City will be strutting their stuff next term. Which, although nice, isn't quite what the club's owners quite had in mind when they started pumping money straight from the oil well into Eastlands. The owners got cheesed off with Mark Hughes back in December, handing him a pre-Christmas present of a P45. In came Mancini with his scarf. Champions league football looked on the cards until that lousy match against Spurs saw them blow it.
They will be missing a decent 'keeper in Shay Given, who sustained a dislocated shoulder (pause to wince) in the 0-0 draw at the library. The loan of Joe Hart to Birmingham and injuries elsewhere in the squad meant that Mancini had to get permission to bring in Sunderland 'keeper Marton Fulop on an emergency loan for the last few matches. I presume that Fulop will start on Sunday, though a start for Faroe Islander Gunnar Nielsen is an outside bet for a first start given the total lack of importance of the match. Nielsen was on the bench when Given (wince again) sustained his injury.
There are ex-Hammers of note amongst the visiting squad. Craig Bellamy's departure in January 2009 was controversial. Stories suggesting that the Welsh striker had refused to play for the club turned out to be false. So false in fact that what we used to call Fleet Street were forced to print apologies. Of course the newspaper industry in this country being what it is, whilst the original “Bellamy On Strike” headlines were printed in two-feet tall bold shouty-out fonts, the apologies, such as they were, were printed in the form of a microdot contained within a full stop. Some papers made doubly sure that the retraction wouldn't be read by anyone by including the full-stop at the end of a paragraph written by Piers Morgan.
Bellamy has recently made nice noises about his time at the Boleyn, stating that our result is the first that he and Tevez look for post-match. They won't have to look far this weekend. Which brings us to Tevez. Now he's obviously lost all his skill and inventiveness from the days when he was legally adjudged by the ignorant Lord Griffiths to have been capable of winning matches all on his own. Of course he'll always be revered around here for his part (Griffiths please note the use of the word “part” or have your carer explain it to you) in the “Great Escape” season. He invariably seems to score against us but always keeps the badge kissing stuff down to a minimum when he does. Tevez is, of course, assured of a decent reception. However, Bellamy may see a change in attitude as more supporters realise that not all they have read about him was entirely true.
One player whose experiences in recent months put most football hassles into perspective is Emmanuel Adebayor. Adebayor was on the bus that was attacked by terrorists en route to the African Cup Of Nations. The attack killed three people. Only slightly less disgraceful than the attack itself was the reaction of the inherently corrupt Confederation of African Football. Right from their initial statement to the effect that the Togo team “should have travelled by air” through to their breathtakingly rotten decision to ban Togo from future tournaments for withdrawal from the Angola tournament the CAF really covered themselves in glory. Thankfully, in a rare attack of sanity from the equally bent Sepp Blatter, Blatter's puppet Issa Hayatou has graciously decided to wave his magic wand to allow Togo back into formal competition. Presumably the words “don't do it again” will complete the letter. Admittedly none of this has much to do with Saturday's match but it does make my blood boil nevertheless and I figured I was entitled to one last pointless rant at the end of the season.
Having had a calming cup of Horlicks, I return to normal service by pointing out that the visitors will be missing Gareth Barry, whose ankle injury may also make him a doubt for the early stages of some tournament that's taking place in June. South Africa I believe but don't quote me. Another absentee will be Stephen Ireland. Ireland has been expressing doubts about his future at Eastlands which is a bit of a shame really. Presumably, there is no place in amongst the multi-zillion pound signings for someone who has come up through the ranks. Ireland has had personal issues in the past (see previews passim) but seems to have settled down a bit, though the car that he bought his other half does go to show that footballer + too much money = zero taste.
So what of us. Well I expect that, like me, you all can't wait for the season to end. It's been a rotten 9 months – from start to finish. Just for a change we'll have a number of players out injured. Collison's knee is now going to keep him out until the new year. Hines is another long term absentee. Also missing again will be Ilunga (knee), Behrami (knee), Tomkins (ankle/foot) and Dyer (Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis). Tomkins, however, did have a run out in the Tony Carr testimonial so he may be on the bench.
And so to the final prediction of the season. We are on a hat-trick for home wins I suppose. I was, however, going to go for 6-6 but Motherwell and Hibs beat me to it . I'm afraid I can only see the season grinding to a halt with a dull depressing defeat – I'll go for 3-1 to them as both Bellamy and Tevez get themselves on the scoresheet.
Enjoy the game – and have a great summer!
Last season - won 1-0 Collison's goal after a Savio shot (remember him?) was half-saved by Given was enough for all three points.
Referee - Howard Webb Somehow he is considered to be our best official, which, based on his “performances” this season, means that it's likely that it won't just be English players who may be embarrassing in South Africa.
Danger Man/Men – Tevez & Bellamy You just KNOW they're going to score don't you.
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.
05:14AM 8th May 2010
''Miss you already Percy.''
01:55AM 8th May 2010
''Nice read Percy and have a great summer yourself.
I have a lot of time for Hammers fans and the main reason for that is they know their football, that was a pretty honest and fair read which makes a change as most articles nowadays seem anti-City.
Good luck for next season m8.''
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