Filed: Friday, 18th November 2011
By: Preview Percy
The international break is over, which means Preview Percy is back. Sorry. John Northcutt will be along later with some sensible stats...
After what seems like a lifetime, but is in fact only a couple of weeks we are on the road for the second consecutive match as we make the slightly easier journey up the M1/M6 to the Ricoh Arena where our hosts will be Coventry City. 3pm on a Saturday two matches running. Excellent.
To those of us who can remember that far back, Coventry have always been the ultimate in mid-table teams. They spent what seemed like a million years in the top flight seemingly destined to spend the whole of their existence in the middle third of the table with only the occasional flirtation with the lower UEFA Cup places or relegation zone to enliven matters. Their 1987 FA Cup win over some team based in N17 remains the high spot in their history, notwithstanding honourable mention for the (in)famous Willie Carr/Ernie Hunt “donkey” kick goal against Everton – I believe if you look hard enough on that You Tube thing you should find it – but I can assume no responsibility for whatever you find when you input the word “donkey”.
They were finally relegated in 2001 after 34 years in the top division. The match that sealed their fate was a 3-2 away defeat to Villa in a match that they had been leading 2-0. Sound familiar?
Since relegation, in the second tier they have largely replicated their top tier form, flirting with both the play-off and relegation places. It is in the latter situation that they find themselves this season, sitting as they are one off the bottom. They have 12 points from their 16 matches so far this season, a record they share with bottom club Doncaster who they sit above by virtue of a slightly better goal difference.
Of their last six they’ve won one (1-0 at home to Forest), drawn two (1-1 at both Leeds and Doncaster) and lost 3 (2-1 at home to Burnley, 3-0 at Millwall and 4-2 at home to Southampton). At home they have a 2-3-3 record the other home win coming against Derby in September (2-0). The draws have come against Watford (0-0), Reading (1-1) and Blackpool (2-2) whilst Leicester (1-0), Burnley (2-1) and Southampton (4-2) have all gone back home with three points.
The Sky Blues are currently managed by Andy Thorn, who won a Cup Winners medal as part of the Wimbledon side that defeated a bleating Liverpool side in 1988. His managerial CV isn’t the lengthiest of documents, consisting as it does of a spell as chief scout at Coventry, followed by a spell as caretaker manager at Coventry followed by his being given the role proper at Coventry the end of last season. Such is the nature of the game at the moment it seems like managers are being dismissed for going in 1-0 down at the interval and given that the odds on his dismissal have been shortening with each defeat despite his having only been in the job for 6 months or so.
Some of the natives are less than happy with the current ownership and there have been protests at the SISU group, who took over back in 2007. There have been reports that the club has employed a “Rapid Response Team” to go in and remove anti-SISU banners, some reports suggesting that the “snatch squad” has used less than subtle tactics during protests.
Even as I write news reaches me that director Leonard Brody has just resigned citing the time taken up by his other business interests as the reason for his departure. However, with his resignation came the news that he had put forward a proposal for City fans to be able to send in a (no doubt premium rate) text message to vote for substitutions during the match, an idea so bonkers one is amazed it didn’t come from a Government Agency. Meanwhile I suspect that Brody is currently dealing with his “other business interests” in a nice, calm, padded room with a door that only opens from the outside and I look forward to reports of opposition blunders being greeted with chants of “he’ll get a text in a minute” from the 6,000+ Hammers that will be making the journey
The first choice glovesmith at present is Joe Murphy. Dubliner Murphy’s early career was spent a short ferry-hop from his home city over at Tranmere where he gained a League Cup runners-up medal in the side that lost 2-1 to Leicester in the 2000 final. In 2002, after 4 years in Birkenhead (which is some punishment by any standards), Murphy went walkabout, firstly to West Brom thence to Sunderland. Neither period was particularly successful for the player, who ended up being farmed out by both clubs to Walsall. He then signed for Scunthorpe in 2006 where he set roots, playing over 200 times for the Iron, including the hilarious 2009 League 1 playoff final in which Millwall were beaten 3-2. Murphy – another Crossbar Challenge winner – left Glanford Park at the end of last season when Scunthorpe were relegated and were unable to afford an improved contract and arrived at Coventry on a free this summer.
In front of Murphy is fellow Irishman the Harlow-born Richard Keogh. Keogh was ever-present in the league in 2010-11 following his move from Carlisle in the summer of 2010 and picked up the players’ player of the year award from his teammates.
The skipper is Belfastman Sammy Clingan. Clingan’s career includes spells at Wolves, Forest, Norwich (where he was signed by a certain G Roeder) before he arrived at Highfield Road (sorry old habits die hard) er, the Ricoh, in the summer of 2009 for an undisclosed fee. As far as I am aware Clingan is the first professional footballer to be named after an alien race in Star Trek. I have, however, been unable to locate evidence of the player having a walnut-shaped head, which in theory, would make headers a bit interesting.
Out on the left is Gary McSheffrey. McSheffrey has recently penned an extension to his contract and is in his second spell with the club where he started his professional career back in 1998. After a few loan spells he left for Birmingham in 2006 but his later years there were plagued by a persistent knee injury that also thwarted a loan spell at Forest. Out of favour at Birmingham, McSheffrey spent the second half of 2009/10 on loan at Leeds and was told that he could leave St Andrews on a free at the end of the season. For some reason Leeds didn’t take up their option to purchase – something that appears to have irked the player - and he rejoined his hometown club in the summer of 2010. Of the 90 or so goals that he has to his name in the last 14 years or so over 60 of them have come while playing for the Sky Blues which probably means something highly significant. His current hobbies involve chauffeuring his brother about following a driving ban for being twice over the limit and in possession of Class A substances but I have no idea who his favourite X-Factor judge is.
Up front against Southampton they started with Southampton-born Lukas Jutkiewicz. Look I only get a bag of Werthers Originals for writing this. Pronunciation is therefore your own problem ok? LJ (as he is now known here) actually started his career at St Marys in the youth side but failed to make the transition to the professional ranks. For that he headed up to Swindon. Five league goals in 38 league starts for the Wiltshire mob was enough to persuade Everton that there might be a future for the player in the higher leagues, though in his three years with the Toffeemen he was limited to just the one senior appearance. Most of his time with Everton was spent on loan with Huddersfield and Plymouth, scoring for neither. He had a slightly more successful time of it up at Motherwell, scoring 12 in 33 up there including a” Van Basten-like “effort in a 6-6 draw with Hibs. He joined Coventry on a permanent deal in the summer of 2010 and has hit 12 in 58 league matches since his move back from the third world. His goal against Boro’ back in August prompted the Teesiders to put in a cheeky bid for the player at the end of the last window, a bid that was rejected out of hand. Internationally he qualifies for Poland, Ireland (doesn’t everyone?) and England though he is uncapped by any of the three countries. My money would be on the Poles – but only because they’re the ones most likely to get his name right on the call-up letter.
One player we are most unlikely to see this weekend is former Hammers academy striker Freddy Eastwood. The forward has been followed by murmurings of an “attitude problem” throughout his career going back even as far as his days working under Tony Carr. This didn’t stop him turning out in Carr’s testimonial last year though. He appears to be well out of favour at Coventry at the moment and the Sky Blues have been trying to offload him on loan, with the player recently turning down a move to Plymouth. He is the only player I can think of with a conviction for fly-tipping, though I expect that’s just because John Terry hasn’t been caught yet. (Legal note: this is a light-hearted comment which is in no way meant to suggest that John Terry is involved in fly-tipping. After all where would the drug dealer and shoplifter’s son find the time what with all the women, gambling and alleged racism going on).
So we move on from an ex-Hammer on to the current crop. It’s been so long since we last took the field I can barely remember who is fit and who isn’t. Reid will be out for a little while yet but the International break has done us a few favours for once. It was thought that Taylor – who has been much-missed in my opinion – might have been available. However the work experience kid who they employ about here to vacuum the cat tells me that David Gold has tweeted to the contrary, whatever that means. I think it's something to do with the wireless. There are however rumours that some chap called Demel might be available for selection with him having come through half a Development Squad friendly the other day with no obvious ill-effects.
Rob Hall won’t be around – having returned from Oxford to see just how comfortable Championship benches are he’s gone back up the M40 to start another loan spell. Christian Montano has also gone in and out through the revolving door without pausing to pick up his mail having returned a week early from Swindon having mysteriously managed to upset Paolo DiCanio. Perhaps he didn’t fancy a trip up North or something. Montano has been placed a little closer to home where he will spend a month or so with Dagenham & Redbridge.
The last outing saw us get a rather clinical three points at Hull what with us making the best of the chances we created and our opponents limiting themselves by and large to long-range efforts to give Rob Green tipping over the bar practice. When they did actually create something from close quarters they found Green in similarly miserly mood, his first half one-on one save which allowed Faye to mop up probably being the opponents best chance of the match.
This is one of those matches for which I think we should be looking at a genuine 4-4-2. I realise that Mr Allardyce likes to keep a close rein on things on the road as we did at Hull. However Hull are (or at least were) challenging for a play-off spot having suffered just the one defeat since August. Coventry are not in such a position. The crowd are restless with the owners and one detects an atmosphere of worry about the place if interweb chatter is anything to go by. Which, of course it might not be. Southampton didn’t go there thinking that they should shut up shop and neither should we. An early goal would see heads go down so I’ll plump for a 2-0 win. Anyone off to the bookies should remember my predictions carry all the accuracy of a Government inflation forecast and therefore are probably best used as a guideline as to what should be ignored!
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met: Our last visit to the Ricoh Arena was in 2007 for a League Cup 4th round tie. An own goal from a deflected Boa-Morte shot cancelled out Tabb’s opener for the home side before Carlton Cole’s 93rd minute effort sent us through. Before that in the 2004/05 promotion year we went down 2-1 at their place winning the return 3-0.
Referee: Keith Stroud – ex-premiership ref whose face doesn’t fit at PGMO HQ. Recently the subject of controversy at Peterborough following their 3-2 home defeat to Leeds which saw the Posh chairman demand the return from the FA of an earlier £2,000 fine for criticising officials. Last seen by us handling the dreadful 1-0 home defeat to Ipswich – we managed to lose that one all by ourselves.
Danger Man: Lukas Jutkiewicz – their top scorer with 6 this term. Nobody else has more than 1. Also worth 35 points before bonuses at Scrabble.
Daft fact of the week: Coventry’s badge contains a depiction of an elephant which, despite Warwickshire not being noted as the natural habitat of such pachyderms, forms part of the City coat of arms.
There are numerous theories for this, mostly involving the word “strength”. However, it is a little-known fact that the animal is in fact a reference to Mickey Quinn whose somewhat portly figure was to be found straining into a Coventry shirt back in the 1990’s. These days he earns a living training racehorses, the less successful of which he probably eats. Whole.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
On the 3rd March 1967 the Hammers played at Highfield Road for a match in which the Winston Churchill Trophy was at stake. Two goals from Peter Brabrook and one from Geoff Hurst saw the Hammers draw 3-3.
In the resultant penalty shoot out, West Ham scored nine to Coventry’s seven to win the trophy.
John Moncur (a) 1999-2000
Steve Lomas (a) 2004-2005
They Played For Both
Bobby Gould; Alan Dickie; Elliott Ward; David Cross; Calum Davenport; Jack Ball; Alf Fenwick; Tommy Green; Graham Paddon; Stuart Pearce; Stuart Robson; Danny Shone; Les Sealey; Danny Shea; Matt Smailes; David Speedie; Perry Suckling; Michael Hughes; Craig Bellamy; Zavon Hines; Steve Whitton; Cyril Norrington; Mike Marsh; Jim Loughlin; Laurie Conwell; Freddie Sears.
Our manager Sam Allardyce also played for Coventry during the 1983-84 season.
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.
by micky quinn
11:58PM 18th Nov 2011
''Cheeky bugger ya.''
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