Filed: Monday, 23rd April 2012
By: Preview Percy
With the playoffs looking a strong likelihood we stopped and considered the pluses and minuses should the season go into overtime. On the plus side there is, if all goes well, the possibility of a trip to Wembley. On the minus side it means that, should we go all the way, we’ll have to pick up three more offerings from Preview Percy. Here’s his latest set of ramblings. Stats, as ever, from John Northcutt...
And so as the season proper coughs and splutters its way towards its conclusion we schlep up the M1 to pay a visit to Leicester City. Kick-off at whatever they are calling their stadium this week is at 8pm and I understand that signals from the ground will be beamed up to a satellite currently sitting in a geostationary orbit high above the planet whence they will be re-beamed back down to Earth whereupon, assuming you (or your pub) possess a suitably-aligned parabolic dish and set top receiving equipment, and have paid through the nose for the privilege, you will be able to follow events live on your televisual apparatus. What will they think of next?!
Our hosts currently sit in 10th place with 63 points from their 44 matches which has left them nine points away from the playoff zone. The clue to their failure to impact seriously on the promotion race can be gleaned from the lack of consistency shown over their last six, which have seen two each of wins (2-1 away at Ipswich, 4-0 at home to Doncaster), draws (both 0-0 at home to Burnley and to Forest) and defeats (1-0 away at Peterborough and 2-1 away at Millwall).
Like ourselves they were amongst the favourites at the local turf accountants to go up automatically. Indeed there is still an article on the BBC website suggesting that you should look no further. I presume it’s been left there to embarrass the author. Certainly, given the fact that they had brought in eleven players during the close season, the club’s owners, the Asian Football Investment consortium, were less than happy with the start made by then boss Sven Goran Eriksson and sent the bespectacled philanderer on his way. Eriksson must, by now, be at the stage where he’s made more money out of being paid to go away than he has to actually manage.
After a spell with goalkeeping coach Mike Stowell and academy boss John Rudkin in joint caretaker charge – a spell which included the reverse fixture between the clubs back in October – they finally prised former boss Nigel Pearson away from Hull City less than 18 months after he had taken the hint and left in something of a huff having discovered that his successor Paulo Sousa was turning up at matches as a guest of the owners.
Many of the current squad have worked with former boss Eriksson at previous clubs or at international level. Custodian Kaspar Schmeichel started out his career at Man City when the speccy Swede was boss there. Ex-Hammer Paul Konchesky gained his handful of England caps whilst the national side was under Eriksson’s stewardship before seeing his career go downhill by signing for Liverpool whose notoriously stupid supporters took exception to Konchesky’s Mum breaking the Official Secrets Act by calling them scum.
There is another ex-Hammer with a squad number, though his appearances this term have been few in the extreme. John Pa(i)ntsil arrived at the start of the season from Fulham where, much to the amazement of those that had seen him play for us, he’d become something of a regular. However, he was released by the Cottagers at the end of 2010/11 and arrived at Leicester on a free. The fact that he’s only made four starts and two sub appearances for the Foxes this term suggests that neither Eriksson nor Pearson have had an awful lot of time for the player, whose ironic cult status at the Boleyn arose despite his “talent” rather than because of it.
Top scorer is currently David Nugent. The “one sub cap, one goal” striker has 15 league goals from his 40 Championship appearances this season. His total in all competitions is 16, which is two more than his fellow striker Jermaine Beckford, though 6 of Beckford’s have come in the cup.
There has been talk of some sort of bust up recently between Beckford and boss Pearson. If the rumours are correct Beckford apparently incurred the wrath of his manager by failing to get forward for an attack in the defeat to Peterborough.
The other significant name on the goalscorer list is that of Paul Gallagher who has 8 in the league and another couple in the League Cup. Like Nugent, Gallagher has one international cap – though it’s only a Scottish one. Technically, Gallagher served under Sam Allardyce at Blackburn Rovers. However, a closer look at the records for the 2008/09 season shows that by the time Allardyce took over at the Ewood helm in December 2008 Gallagher was already on a season-long loan at Plymouth Argyle. Following his return in the close season he didn’t exactly stick around for too long to see what the new manager’s plans for him were, signing a three year deal with the Foxes on August deadline day 2009.
One player from whom they’d have been hoping for more goals this season is former England striker Darius Vassell. However, Vassell, another of the Eriksson old boys (at Man City and England), had an awkward fall in the match at the Boleyn in October which left him with ruptured knee ligaments that ended his season back in October – about the same time as Arsenal’s.
And so what of us. Well I’m legally obliged to say that we are still in with a faint chance of automatic promotion thanks to Boro’s refusal to be put out by the usual theatrics of Southampton. However, anyone who seriously thinks that Southampton won’t be able to dive their way to three points one way or another against relegated Coventry is clearly on better happy pills than they are prepared to shell out for here at the Avram Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered.
Of course we have to win this one before Saturday’s matches become an issue. With that in mind team news at time of writing is at something of a premium. The management may have been looking at resting certain players in advance of possible playoff matches had Southampton got anything out of the match at the Riverside. However, the slim chance of second place that still exists means that we’ll need to stick a team out to win this one, rather than putting out a “Cup XI”.
On the injury front both Linda and Joey O’Brien are doubts for the full-back slots having missed recent outings with concussion and a thigh problem respectively. Gary O’Neil is also a possible absentee with a groin problem. The knee problem that kept Carlton Cole out of the Bristol City match in midweek should have healed up for this one though.
Prediction? Well we need the win to give Saturday’s match against Hull any meaning at all. The problem is that every time we get given a lifeline this season we’ve messed up. I have a gut feeling that the same will happen with this one. I hope I’m totally and utterly wrong but I shall be nicking the rest home’s happy pill budget (£2.50) out of the jar in Matron’s office, popping down to the offices of the Honest Ray Winstone Turf Accountants and placing the whole lot on a 2-2 draw.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met: Won 3-2. Two from Baldock and one from Faubert were enough to give us all three points though a late rally from the visitors made it a little uncomfortable at the end.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton. Another one of those who have never taken charge of a Hammers match. Has spent most of the season in the lower two divisions.
Danger man: Jermaine Beckford. Not having the greatest of seasons, possible bust-up with the manager? Wouldn’t it be typical West Ham for someone having a poor time of things to cheer themselves up by bagging a goal?
Daft fact of the week: Thomas Cook organised the world’s first package trip from Leicester in 1841. The trip was run to take people to a temperance rally at Loughborough, which is sort of place that you’d normally need a stiff drink to visit. Followed by another to brace you for the fact that you would be going back to Leicester. Since Cook was a staunch Baptist and temperance campaigner, there is some humorous irony to be gleaned from the fact that this dry day trip set the ball rolling for millions of young people to book trips to the Med and get slaughtered on cheap beer. Funny old world innit.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Head to Head
Pld 120; West Ham Utd 49, Leicester City 42, Draws 29.
15th February 1923: Leicester City 0-6 West Ham Utd (Filbert Street, Division Two)
15th September 1928: Leicester City 5-0 West Ham Utd (Filbert Street, Division One)
8th November 1919: Leicester City 0-0 West Ham Utd (Filbert Street, Division Two)
Last Five Meetings
29th October 2011: West Ham Utd 3-2 Leicester City (Boleyn Ground, Championship)
18th March 2005: West Ham Utd 2-2 Leicester City (Boleyn Ground, Championship)
7th August 2004: Leicester City 0-0 West Ham Utd (Walkers Stadium, Championship)
12th January 2002: West Ham Utd 1-0 Leicester City (Boleyn Ground, Premiership)
22nd December 2001: Leicester City 1-1 West Ham Utd (Filbert Street, Premiership)
21st September 1974: West Ham Utd 6-2 Leicester City (Boleyn Ground, Division One)
In what was West Ham's biggest win of the 1974/75 campaign, Keith Robson enjoyed a league debut to remember. Having signed from Newcastle for £60,000 earlier in the week, Ron Greenwood and John Lyall switched from their favoured 4-4-2 formation in order to accomodate the 20-year-old striker who repaid his bosses' faith by scoring the last of West Ham's six goals - the others coming from Billy Jennings (2), Bobby Gould (2) and Billy Bonds. Leicester had taken the lead from the penalty spot courtesy of a Frank Worthington dive after 10 minutes; the long-haired forward, who rose to his feet to convert the spot kick was to score again in the 90th minute. The win was West Ham's second six-goal haul in three days having beaten Tranmere 6-0 in the League Cup three days earlier; it was to be another nine years before the Irons hit six in a game again, when recording a club record 10-0 win over Bury.
They Played For Both
Sid Bishop; Brian Deane; Paul Konchesky; Albert Carnelly; David Connolly; Tony Cottee; Les Ferdinand; Andy Impey; William Jackson; Peter Kyle; Colin Mackleworth; Fred Milnes; Mike Newell; Chris Powell; Norman Proctor; Jimmy Quinn; Keith Robson; Nobby Solano.
You're off! Red cards received
1994/95: Don Hutchison (h); 2000/01: Igor Stimac (h); 2004/05: Rufus Brevett (a).
Three former Hammers have managed Leicester City: Jimmy Bloomfield (1971-77), Frank O’Farrell (1968-71) and Martin Allen (2007).
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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