Filed: Thursday, 22nd September 2011
By: Preview Percy
Sadly, Preview Percy is away once again this week - something to do with an all-expenses-paid weekend of outrageous decadence in Bridlington. On the bright side, the office has lost that lingering 'damp' smell that curiously manifested itself during the old boy's presence - and the tea lady is delighted at the hour's overtime she's getting for writing this week's match preview...
Having teased us with a return to 3pm Saturday football for the Portsmouth encounter a fortnight ago, the Football League are positively tickling our bellies with a second consecutive home game at what is considered by most rational football fans to be the correct and proper time at which domestic league football should be played.
We'll conveniently pass over the abomination that was the intervening 12:30pm start at the Den last weekend, an hour conducive to neither high-quality football or atmosphere. Was anyone surprised it finished nil-nil - both on and off the pitch?
On the travel side, there appears to be no planned disruption to your underground services - which makes a pleasant change. Perhaps those serial football-disrupting scallywags at TfL are under the impression that we're playing host to Manchester United again this weekend. Whatever.
Not that that will make much difference to our visitors Peterborough United, who will no doubt arrive fresh from the Fens - and the third flight of English football from which they were promoted last season - in swanky, new, fresh-for-the-Championship coaches.
Transport possibly provided by local Yellow Page march-stealers Aardvark Coaches of Fengate, who can comfortable seat 53 passengers and provide 'a kneeling facility' (answers to the usual address please) according to their website - whose Aardvark logo bears little resemblance, in truth, to a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to the African continent.
What it actually depicts is some kind of jug-eared, pug-faced, arse-nosed cutesy-horror beast - which brings us neatly on to 'celebrity' Posh fan Adrian Durham, whose controversial, opinionated outbursts on radio station Talksport - many at the expense of West Ham, his on-air nemesis - have led to him being given a genre all of his own. Forget 'Shock Jock' - meet 'Twat Jock'.
Fuelled by his own self-importance, like that other post-'96 dilettante broadcaster Tim Lovejoy, Durham thrives on the sound of his own voice at the expense of his listeners who are regularly cut off in their prime if they dare pose a challenging question, or one that fails to adhere to Durham's blinkered view of the world of football.
He disgracefully bombarded West Ham's 75-year-old Chairman David Gold with disrespectful ‘Tweets’ recently regarding West Ham's pricing for this weekend's fixture - an argument that, as usual, failed to stand up to even basic scrutiny. Mr Gold, for his part, handled the situation perfectly - and left Durham looking very much the boorish half-wit he is.
On to more important matters and individuals who are actually expected to turn up at the Boleyn Ground this weekend. The Posh, as they are known - more on that later - arrive at this fixture tenth in the Championship having taken a respectable ten points from their first seven fixtures. Not bad for a side who were promoted via the League One play-offs last season and sold their star striker in the summer (Craig Mackail-Smith) to Championship rivals Brighton.
The boss is the son of red-nosed, BBC-hating Scot Sir Alec/Alex of Manchester: Darren Ferguson - who is back at London Road for a second spell. The first ended after two years in 2009 when he officially left the club 'by mutual consent', although rumours of his sacking had been circulating for at least 24 hours prior to an announcement.
All of which appeared odd, to outsiders, as Ferguson had achieved two straight promotions since joining the club in 2007 - service that the club itself acknowledged as 'magnificent' in a statement confirming his departure. But success is short-lived in football and being bottom of the Championship by November was the catalyst for his removal.
He suffered the ignominy of the axe again just 13 months later after a miserable spell as manager of Preston before being given the chance to return to London Road in January 2011. He did, Peterborough scored more goals than any other club in the country (106) and they returned to the Championship via the play-offs (beating Huddersfield 3-0 in the final).
This season they have been little short of magnificent at home, winning three (Palace 2-1, Ipswich 7-1 and Burnley 2-1) and losing just one ('Boro 0-2) of their four fixtures. However they have been a different proposition on their travels, having managed to gain a solitary point (Millwall 2-2) from their triumvirate of away games (they also lost 2-1 at Blackpool and 2-0 at Brighton).
With West Ham's home form being in stark contrast to their away form - only four of United's 14 points have been won at the BG - something has to give. Current odds for the game can be found here; with Peterborough having failed to keep a clean sheet this season and West Ham as generous defensively in recent weeks, goals are likely to feature.
Firing on all cylinders for Posh have been Lee Tomlin with four goals whilst Paul Taylor, David Ball and former Hammer Grant McCann - best remembered for an horrendous own goal in a 7-1 drubbing at Blackburn in October 2001 - with three.
Meanwhile, West Ham have Carlton Cole in red-hot form with the striker scoring in four consecutive games prior to the stalemate at Millwall. Captain Kevin Nolan has claimed three whilst the elusive 'Own Goals' lies third in the list with a brace. Seven others have one apiece.
Another player currently at the Cambridgeshire club and familiar to Irons fans is Christian Dailly, who is training there having been bizarrely released by Portsmouth at the beginning of September.
The acceptable face of adultery - who memorably lost two front teeth in front of the Bobby Moore Stand before later scoring with his bollocks - was axed after just two competitive games for Pompey, who he joined in the summer following his release by Charlton in May.
Also on the books at London Road is Daniel Kearns, a former member of Tony Carr's Academy who was released by West Ham at the end of the 2009/10 season. The 20-year-old Irishman returned to Ireland for a brief spell with Dundalk before being snapped up by Posh last month, although he is yet to feature for the first team.
With Joe Lewis playing again having recovered from recent injury - he featured in a 5-0 friendly defeat against Ipswich on Tuesday - reserve goalkeeper Paul Jones, an ever-present this season, could find his place under threat again soon.
Likewise, West Ham also have their own injury concerns to contend with; James Tomkins, who was forced out of the Millwall clash with a thigh problem could be out for a while, meaning Abdoulaye Faye is poised to make his home debut having replaced his young team mate at the Den.
With no further established central defenders currently at his disposal, Sam Allardyce is finding his resources stretched just three weeks after the transfer window closed - an issue of little concern, or so it would seem, for the boss who only last week stated that he was satisfied with his squad whilst insisting that he had no immediate plans to strengthen it.
That aside he will likely go for an unchanged side for the most part, with Green, O'Brien, McCartney and Reid likely to join Faye in defence. In the middle of the park, Noble should hold on to his place although Diop is an option. Kevin Nolan, the club's most inspirational leader since Lucas Neill should sit behind target man Carlton Cole with Lansbury betwixt the two midfielders.
Forming the wings of Allardyce's front three should be Taylor and either Faubert or new boy Bentley. As far as the bench goes, pick any five from Boffin, Demel, Collison, Diop, Faubert or Bentley, Baldock, and Carew. Please note that should Allardyce take note of recent calls for a more attacking 4-4-2 formation at home, disregard everything I've just said.
At this point Percy usually gazes into his crystal (eye)ball and offers you, his stoical band of followers, a prediction for the match.
Although I must insist on swerving the ocular exercise (even though it's potentially do-able as there's a drawer-full of colourful spares in his bedside cabinet; I'm not sure who this 'Ben Wa' fella is but he must be popular in the fashionable wing of the replacement eye industry) in honour of this particular custom I will go for a narrow West Ham win, in much the same fashion at the Portsmouth game.
So 3-2 to the Irons, with David Bentley adopting Roeder-esque tactics circa April 2002, keeping the ball by the opposition corner flag and delighting the home faithful with a series of spectacular step-overs - designed to draw a foul from frustrated opponents - from the 83rd minute onwards.
Finally, back to 'The Posh'. The nickname derives from an incident in 1921 when the manager of Fletton United - former residents of Peterborough's London Road site - was reported to have requested 'posh players for a posh team' in a recruitment drive. The resulting recruits may well have been 'posh' but they still couldn't prevent (the by then re-named) Peterborough and Fletton United from folding in 1932.
In 1934 Peterborough United were formed and from their first game at London Road they were greeted with shouts of 'Up the Posh!' by fans who had presumably followed United's predecessors prior to their demise. West Ham fans have previously sung their own take on 'Up the Posh', most notably to David Beckham upon Goldenballs' return from the 1998 World Cup Finals.
NB. Percy should be back next week: something for which I'm sure we're all grateful...
Danger man: George Boyd. The midfielder is considered to be one of the best in the business at Championship level by manager Darren Ferguson and was linked with a transfer window deadline day move to the Premier League that eventually failed to materialise. He's wieghed in with two goals this season and is considered by many Posh fans to be the reason Craig Mickail-Smith scored so many goals for the club prior to his move to Brighton.
Referee: Tony Bates. The 50-year-old Speedway fanatic from Staffordshire is a new name to West Ham despite having officiated in the Football League since 1996. A joiner by trade, he is best known for being a linesman at the Germany v Czech Republic Euro '96 clash and, more recently, for sustaining an injury during a Coventry v Nottingham Forest fixture in February 2011 that allowed his assistant Amy Fearn to replace him, making Ms Fearn the first woman to referee in the Championship.
Referee's Assistants: Andrew Laver, Mark Scholes (linesman); Warren Atkin (fourth official).
Last outings: West Ham Utd: 0-0 Millwall (a); Peterborough Utd: 2-1 Burnley (h).
Current form: West Ham Utd: XWWLX; Peterborough Utd: WLLLW.
Daft fact of the week: Victoria Beckham once tried to take legal action over Peterborough United's use of the word 'Posh' as a nickname used on merchandising. The action failed when the club threatened to change its official nickname to 'Talentless, Thin, Publicity Whore' instead.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
West Ham and Peterborough have only previously met twice in a competitive fixture. Both encounters took place in the 1992-93 season with the Hammers winning both matches; 3-1 away and 2-1 at home.
There have however been eight friendly games between the clubs, all played at London Road, as follows:
August 1967: Peterborough Utd 2-4 West Ham Utd (Hurst, Peters, Sissons 2)
August 1973: Peterborough Utd 1-2 West Ham Utd (Brooking, Robson)
August 1995: Peterborough Utd 1-1 West Ham Utd (Cottee)
July 2001:Peterborough Utd 0-2 West Ham Utd (Kanoute, Defoe)
July 2004: Peterborough Utd 1-1 West Ham Utd (Dailly)
July 2008: Peterborough Utd 0-2 West Ham Utd (Bellamy 2)
July 2010: Peterborough Utd 1-2 West Ham Utd (Cole, Edgar)
They Played for Both
Bobby Barnes: West Ham Utd - Pld 43 Gls 5; Peterborough Utd - Pld 15, 5.
Mick Beesley: West Ham Utd - Pld 2 Gls 1; Peterborough Utd - Pld 23 Gls 3.
Ian Crawford: West Ham Utd - Pld 24 Gls 5; Peterborough Utd - Pld 172 Gls 6.
Mattie Etherington: West Ham Utd - Pld 165 Gls 16; Peterborough Utd - Pld 51 Gls 6.
Grant McCann: West Ham Utd - Pld 4 Gls 0; Peterborough Utd - Pld 38 Gls 9.
Everald la Ronde: West Ham Utd - Pld 7 Gls 0; Peterborough Utd - Pld 8 Gls 0.
Dave Swindlehurst: West Ham Utd - Pld 61 Gls 16; Peterborough Utd - Pld 4 Gls 1.
Adam Newton: West Ham Utd - Pld 3 Gls 0; Peterborough Utd - Pld 249 Gls 9.
Between 1952 and 1960, the West Ham skipper played in 248 league games scoring 11 goals. He was the Peterborough manager between 1972 and 1977 and also had a second spell as manager between 1986 and 1988.
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.
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