Filed: Wednesday, 28th November 2012
By: Preview Percy
Next up is Manchester (United) away at Old Trafford. Kick-off is 8pm on Wednesday night, though if the weather causes delays on the Exeter by-pass expect the start to be delayed to give the home support to arrive.
Actually, all joking apart, having spent some time on the motorways in some pretty crappy weather last weekend I would say take care out there – and if you’re the type of BMW driver that likes to drive without lights at 90mph two feet behind the car in front, why not experiment with your exhaust pipe and a length of hose as a more considerate way of topping yourself.
Our hosts currently top the table after the weekend’s results which saw them come from behind to beat QPR 3-1 at home and current chief rivals Manchester City drew 0-0 with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. They have 30 points from their 13 matches, two points clear at the top although their neighbours do appear to have a game in hand from somewhere. Current form based on results is good with them having won 5 of their last 6, a spell that includes home wins over Stoke (4-2), Arsenal (2-1) and Saturday’s defeat of QPR, and away wins at Chelsea (the infamous “Clattenburg Match”) and Villa (3-2 after being 2-0 down). The one reverse was the unexpected 1-0 defeat at Norwich the other week. So the bare stats do look a bit daunting.
The most interesting news of the past few days from Salford is the fact that they’ve erected a statue to Alex Ferguson. Having seen a photo of the thing one couldn’t help but notice how flattering the sculptor had been. I mean even when he was that young he didn’t look that young did he?
There are many reasons to dislike our opponents. There’s dodgy transfer deals, and the oh so “friendly” refereeing they receive. This extends to the strange absence of certain officials from Old Trafford in what is supposedly an even distribution of refereeing duties – in our last season at this level we had to endure Mike Dean nearly three times for every time he took charge of a Ferguson side for example.
They are also part of the reason that we are still paying Sheffield United a shedload of money. In the season in question the Salford lot had loaned ‘keeper Tim Howard to Everton with the “understanding” that he wouldn’t play against them. In the match between the two sides the Toffeemen were forced to play a reserve ‘keeper who had a bit of a ‘mare handing Man Utd a vital win. It was pointed out that this – and the Sheffield Hypocrites’ similar agreement over the loan of Steve Kabba both broke the same rules on third party influence in team selection for which we were punished.
This caused the FA a bit of a problem as issuing the punishment that was due would leave them open to a major headache with Chelsea finishing close on Salford’s heels at the end of the season. The solution was to effectively say that the rules only apply if you don’t have red in your shirts. “Oh third party agreements don’t apply if they’re gentlemen’s agreements” came the rather mealy mouthed fudge from HQ. Instead of having a proper look at the contracts involved it was much easier for the FA to turn a blind eye and Sheffield United were allowed to get away with it on the shirt tails of Salford, neither club having to answer the testing question of why apparently written arrangements (at least in the case of Sheffield United) were deliberately not submitted to the Premier League as required.
There should be little doubt that, had the Old Trafford lot not broken the same rule, the Bramall Lane lot wouldn’t have had the proverbial leg to stand on and we’d be £25m richer – ok £25m less poor if you prefer. More importantly Sean Bean would have been spared the thought of taxing his room-temperature IQ over whether it was Warnock or us who was to blame for their failure to hold on to a ten point lead.
On the pitch, it’s odd that over the last 20 years or so they’ve managed to have success despite the lack of a consistent goalkeeper. Even Schmeichel had his moments – though he took the goalkeepers’ union motto of “always blame the nearest defender” to such lengths that you could be forgiven for thinking that he never conceded a goal that was actually his fault. Van Der Sar was probably the best of those who followed Rudolph and, though he too had some less than inspiring episodes in his Salford career, it’s probably fair to say that they haven’t really replaced him to anyone’s total satisfaction just yet.
The different coloured shirt is currently the subject of a custody battle between David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard. De Gea has got the nod in 7 of the 13 league matches this season, the remainder going to Lindegaard for whom superstition doesn’t seem to be an issue – presumably there wasn’t that big a queue for the no.13 shirt when they were handing them out in the close season. Part of the reason for the shuffling between the two has been De Gea’s absence from the ranks thanks to the most un-footballer like “injury” of having had 3 wisdom teeth removed. Even Kieron Dyer hasn’t had that one on his list. Meanwhile, having heard of De Gea’s predicament John Terry asked if it would be possible to have some wisdom teeth put in. From recent weeks it would appear that the Spaniard has gained the first choice ‘keeper role over the Dane, presumably since he’s now able to call for the ball without cold air hitting exposed dental nerves.
De Gea is also this week’s “Crimewatch Corner” award recipient. Although the boss gets an honourable mention for his driving ban-escaping excuse a few years ago (“I was in a hurry because I had diarrhoea”) De Gea (whose name, coincidentally, is pronounced almost like “diarrhoea”) added himself to a long list of footballers nabbed stealing something really daft that they could easily have afforded to buy, to wit a Krispy Kreme doughnut, approximate cost £1.19 m’lud. The good people at Tesco let him off with a ticking off and, possibly, a 3 month ban. I’m sure they were in no way swayed by the fact that the accused is a professional footballer and the same understanding is, no doubt, afforded to all unfortunates who come over all peckish whilst visiting their emporia. It’s not an assumption we advise you to rely on however. Nevertheless De Gea receives this week’s Crimewatch award and is added to the Preview Percy Scotland Yard hall of fame.
In defence the familiar ex-Hammer face of Rio Ferdinand is to be found. Strange to relate that, had both been fit and available, England boss Roy Hodgson would have selected racist donkey John Terry ahead of Ferdinand at international level. As it stands, Ferdinand, who hasn’t had the best of luck in recent years with injury, seems banished to the international wilderness. This won’t upset Ferguson too much – his record of withdrawing players with “injuries” from friendly internationals is appalling so at least with Rio he won’t have to make up imaginary ailments in the future. Meanwhile, next time you see Ryan Shawcross in an England shirt just muse on the fact that, just like you, Rio is probably watching the match from his sofa.
One would assume that the first choice central defensive partnership would comprise Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. However the Serb picked up a knee injury in September and is struggling to make a return this year so that particular pairing would appear to be out. Other options include Johnny Evans, Phil Jones, who returned from a knee injury in the defeat to Galatasaray in the So-Called Champions League, and Chris Smalling. It is apparently illegal to refer to Smalling without mentioning the fact that he was playing non-league football for Maidstone only the other day or something.
The other ex-Hammer in the squad will be Michael Carrick who, thankfully for him, has rescued his career from the nightmare of having been at Tottenham. He’s always been a steady sort - the antithesis of the modern bed-hopping bling-laden stereotypic idiot footballer and, even at the Boleyn when Joe Cole was getting all the headlines he just quietly got on with his job. Certainly any of Ferguson’s infamous security team dispatched to keep an eye on him off the pitch would run a severe risk of dying of boredom whilst camped outside of the midfielder’s house which he shares with his childhood sweetheart wife and kids. Honestly, some footballers just don’t know how to behave. (I did hear a rumour that he had an overdue library book once but nobody will confirm it). Carrick, it should be remembered, stuck about after relegation in 2003. Unlike some.
Ryan Giggs used to have a similar image to that enjoyed by Carrick. Until he took the phrase “Happy Families” to a whole new meaning. What really stood out though were the player’s attempts to keep things quiet with the use of a superinjunction, a process that backfired spectacularly as the much documented “Streisand Effect” came into play. The more he tried to hush things up the more his name was plastered all over the web and his legal team’s failure to cover the Scottish courts saw his thinly disguised (i.e. a really thin “censored” strip across the eyes)photo plastered all over the front pages north of the border, though for most Scots the details were difficult to read through all the stains caused by the fat that the chips were drenched in.
They have something of a deadly finisher in the shape of the in-form Hernandez. He’s got 5 or 6 in the league depending on who you believe. He claimed a hat-trick in the 3-2 comeback against Villa, though one of those was a deflection of a shot that was going well wide. I expect John Terry will claim it. Hernandez also scored the winner against Chelsea in the “battle of Clattenburg” though that goal owed an element of good fortune arising from the assistant referee’s temporary memory lapse with relation to the offside law. I’ve mentioned before that Hernandez is a tireless worker for unfashionable charities and here at the Avram Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered we have particular cause to be grateful for the research that he has funded into the urinary tract problems experienced by the elderly man, a fact that the player publicises by having the Spanish for “Little pea” printed on the back of his shirt. I understand that some of the other guests here also hold Pele in high regard for similar reasons.
They also have Robin Van Persie up front. Van Persie’s departure from Arsenal to the Salford mob was not without acrimony behind the scenes at the Emirates if rumours are to be believed, with the various members of the board split as to whether or not the move was a good idea. Certainly getting £25m or thereabouts for a player capable of leaving for free in 12 months made good business sense, especially given the player’s determination to leave. As he put it “ I always listen to the little boy inside of me in these situations – when you have to make the harder decisions in life. What does he want?”. In the current climate he might want to consider a slightly different choice of words – perhaps something safe involving seagulls, trawlers and sardines maybe – for his next public pronouncement. He’s got 8 goals from his 13 league appearances this season.
I’d almost forgotten about the “spud-faced nipper” ( © I Hislop) Wayne Rooney until an old episode of Have I Got News For You turned up the other night. Rooney was rightly mocked for spending the price of an average house up north on a hair transplant a while back. The technical term for the hair problem that this expense was designed to cover is “widow’s peak” prompting amusing references to the player’s penchant for the slightly more mature prostitute in years gone by. Rooney scored a hat-trick against us in the match at the Boleyn in our relegation season, though he can credit ref Lee Mason with the assists – a catalogue of scandalous decisions not for the first time handing them the points.
Our turn now. Well a defeat at Tottenham shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise I suppose. It was, after all, their Cup Final and they always raise their game against us. The various chants that were being bandied about were massively disappointing though. I realise that it was only a minority of idiots that were involved, but I’m now having to deal with the ignorant tarring us all with the same brush thanks to these morons and, let’s face it, there are enough journos with an agenda willing to bad mouth us (whilst turning a blind-eye elsewhere) without these subhumans giving them the excuse.
In amongst all the furore it should be noted that on the pitch we had an off-day on which our opponents were able to capitalize. We’ve had three of these this season (Swansea, Wigan and now Spurs) and the good omen is that we’ve been able to recover from the setbacks to put in a decent performance afterwards, something we’ll need to do for this one. At least Andy Carroll will have rid himself of that particular monkey on his back.
Injury news is that Yossi Benayoun has a knee problem that is likely to make him unavailable for selection – he’ll miss the Chelsea game as well thanks to the loan rules on playing against your parent club that were introduced to avoid the sort of abuse previously mentioned. The rest of the squad will be there with the exception of the three obvious long-termers (Diarra, RVT and Collison).
Also missing will be Mark Noble who becomes the first of our players to be suspended this season for the totting up of cautions. Pick up five before the end of December and you get a day off these days, which will mean that Messrs. Reid and Collins will be on the tightrope for a few weeks. I guess that, if one or both were to pick up a 5th booking it would be helpful if they could arrange not to do so in the same match, thereby staggering the suspensions slightly.
Prediction? Well it’s difficult to see us getting much up there. It’s a place at which you very much need the rub of the green with the match officials but given who we’ve drawn for this one we’ll be lucky if Ferguson allows him to give so much as a throw-in in our favour. We need an improved performance from the weekend and that will be the main thing – any sort of result will be a bonus. I reckon that factoring in the statutory offside goal, the scorching free-kick awarded for a dive and the penalty awarded for another dive, outside the box, we’ll be looking at brave but ultimately fruitless trip.
I shall therefore be raiding the Avram Grant rest Home Fund to send Peter Herbert Away To Talk Rubbish About Some Other Sport He Knows Nothing About (£2.50) to send to the Ray Winstone Turf Accountancy and Tea Rooms with the instruction that the errand boy places it all on a 3-1 home win. Heaven help him should he misappropriate the funds on a sticky bun.
Enjoy the game!
When last we met (at Old Trafford): August 2010; lost 0-3. So there we are holding our own. Home side needs a helping hand so step forward Mark Clattenburg to award them a penalty. Rooney broke a 5 month drought with the spot-kick and that was about it for us.
Referee: Mike Jones. In amongst all the debate concerning refereeing standards and how difficult the job is, there is one elephant in the room that nobody seems willing to mention. That is that there are certain referees whose behaviour on the pitch is unacceptable. Any organisation related to the improvement of standards amongst officials in this country would have held an enquiry into the performance of Jones during the 2-1 FA Cup Quarter Final defeat at Stoke a couple of seasons ago where he went out of his way to hand the game to the home side having been persuaded by Pulis that he’d got a key decision wrong. Maybe the equally perverse decision to allow Winston Reid’s winner against Millwall last season after Faubert had clattered the ‘keeper was some sort of repayment for that. Either way this is not a referee to be trusted – and we’ve got him at a ground where you need a ref to be honest and strong in the face of constant instruction from the home manager. Face it, it doesn’t bode well does it.
Danger Man: Hernandez. In a decent vein of form – though of course Rooney always scores against us too – even if he does need help from the officials from time to time.
Daft Fact of the week: Not so much daft as completely pointless this week. Hernandez was named by FIFA as the fastest player in the 2010 World Cup. Apparently he clocked the FIFA speed gun at 32.5 kilometres per hour prompting the questions: 1) Why on earth were FIFA messing about measuring player speeds instead of making sure the officials could see footballs bouncing three feet over the line and 2) If it WAS so vital that player speeds be monitored, why didn’t they use good old fashioned mph. I mean 32.5 kph sounds good until you realise that, at 20mph or so, it’s only roughly double the speed of the train that will crawl its way back to London from Manchester after the game.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Head to Head
Pld 122; West Ham Utd 42, Manchester Utd 56, Draws 24.
25th February 1911: West Ham Utd 2-1 Manchester Utd (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup)
2ns April 2011: West Ham Utd 2-4 Manchester Utd (Boleyn Ground, Premier League)
30th November 2010: West Ham Utd 4-0 Manchester Utd (Boleyn Ground, Carling Cup)
11th October 1930: West Ham Utd 5-1 Manchester Utd (Boleyn Ground, Division One)
26th January 2003: Manchester Utd 6-0 West Ham Utd (Old Trafford, FA Cup)
1st April 2000: Manchester Utd 7-1 West Ham Utd (Old Trafford, Premiership)
It's a classic
April 1992: West Ham Utd 1-0 Manchester Utd (Brown)
Already doomed to relegation with three games still to play, the pressure was off Billy Bonds' team as they prepared to face title-chasers Manchester United at the Boleyn in April 1992. The Red Devils went into the game knowing that only a win would be enough to keep them in the title race having lost at home to Nottingham Forest earlier in the week. However Kenny Brown, for one, was to have other ideas. With 66 minutes on the clock and the game still goalless Stuart Slater set off down the left. His cross was inadvertently diverted into the path of the full back who slammed home the game's only goal in front of his father, former Hammers great Ken, watching in the stands. The goal gave West Ham three pointless points as they finished bottom of the table; Manchester United had to suffer in silence as the title went to rivals Leeds United.
November 1972: West Ham Utd 5-2 Manchester Utd (Tyler 2, Robson 2, Brooking - Ronnie Boyce's Testimonial)
August 1981 (Aberdeen): West Ham Utd 1-0 Manchester Utd (Cross)
They Played For Both
Michael Carrick; Roy Carroll; Noel Cantwell; Luke Chadwick; Rio Ferdinand; Billy Grassam; Paul Ince; Ralph Milne; Stuart Pearson; Teddy Sheringham; Jonathan Spector; Carlos Tevez; Ted MacDougall; Les Sealey.
1995/96: Marco Boogers (a)
Former players Frank O’Farrell and Dave Sexton both became Man Utd managers, while United player Lou Macari was installed as the Hammers manager following the departure of John Lyall in 1989.
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.
02:42PM 28th Nov 2012
''Are any of you true West Ham fans able to voice your concerns to the club or local constabulary regarding the cretin Hammers fan on the Games Gone Crazy site? He purports to be a West Ham fan but spends his spare time inciting Leeds supporters and making racist remarks or sick comments about the late Gary Speed. Clearly any genuine fan is sickened by events on sunday and would I'm sure be sickened with the blogs of Hammersfan (Scott Tracy).''
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