Filed: Saturday, 1st December 2012
By: Preview Percy
Our next match sees the visit of Chelsea for a match that kicks off at the duvet-bothering time of 12.45pm, the match being covered by the beamy signal into space and back people. TfL have messed up again by forgetting to dig up the District Line and even the local proper trains seem to be behaving themselves this weekend.
The match of course marks a meeting between two clubs with whom the late Dave Sexton was associated. Sexton was a graduate of the Cassetari’s Café School of coaching, having represented the Irons as a player in the mid-50s. The number of players from that era that went on to become managers is amazing and Sexton developed a reputation as something of a thinker about the game, similar in mould to Ron Greenwood for whom he worked during the latter’s tenure as England boss.
Sexton’s biggest managerial successes came with this weekend’s visitors, winning the FA Cup in 1970 against Leeds after a replay (ask your granddad) in a couple of matches so brutal that even to this day the DVDs carry an 18 Certificate. The following season they beat the not-as-mighty-as-they-had-been-in-the-past-and-still-to-become-the-modern-day-goliaths-that-they-are-now Real Madrid - again in a replay - of the Cup-Winners Cup. RIP.
The current Chelsea club are of course a different kettle of fish from that that would have been familiar to Sexton. There does seem to be a common thread of dodginess amongst those who have owned the club over the years, from the Mears family, thorough the odious Ken Bates (under whose stewardship the club were said to have been days away from folding completely) to the current owner about whom I’ll say as little as possible – here at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered the food is bad enough already without the thought of radioactive Polonium 210 being added as a seasoning, which is the preferred mode of dispatch for hitmen from Mr Abrahamovic’s part of the world.
Mr Abrahmovic is, of course notably light on the trigger finger when it comes to his managers. At the time of writing Rafael Benitez is at the helm but since he’s been there for the best part of a week that could easily have changed by the time you read this. Benitez (or insert name of current boss if different) is running a side that sits in third place, having profited from West Brom’s defeat at Swansea in midweek while they were labouring to a 0-0 home draw with Fulham. That left them with 26 points from their 14 matches so far, six points behind Manchester City and 7 behind the Salford lot.
If Abrahamovic had been looking for a quick fix he hasn’t had it yet. The Fulham match was their second goalless draw in as many matches following last weekend’s stalemate with the Citizens at Stamford Bridge and it’s six league matches without a win. It’s fair to say that Benitez isn’t taking the easy route to popularity then, having been booed by a few of the faithful last weekend, though such is the average Chelsea fan these days they probably thought that they were booing Di Matteo for having let himself go a bit.
They’ll be legend (yeah right)-free this weekend as John Terry recovers from a knee problem. The Terry family are the first family to win our Crimewatch Award for their various brushes with the law over the years. The obnoxious dullard of a skipper spent most of this year in defence of charges of a racially aggravated offence in court, the evidence being insufficiently strong enough to be proven “beyond reasonable doubt”, though the “balance of probabilities” burden applicable to the similar charges brought by the FA ensured that a least some semblance of justice was done.
Meanwhile, his employers continue to display that you can buy trophies but not class by continuing to display the ludicrous and totally inaccurate “legend, captain, whatever” banner thing that they have stuck up in the absence of any spontaneity from the supporters themselves. Their flexible principles do not of course extend to those supporters. The idiot who made the monkey gesture found out to his cost that the club's attitude to racists is in direct proportion to their value to the team.
Terry won’t be the only central defender missing. The Christian Dailly wannabee David Luiz picked up his 5th yellow card of the season against Fulham in midweek. Shame really as, though undoubtedly blessed with no little skill he has been prone to the odd lapse in concentration or error in judgement which often results in a spot of over-elaboration on his part. Ah well you can’t have everything I suppose. Gary Cahill, who was on the bench for the Fulham game will probably deputise.
There’s a wealth of talent in midfield of course. You’d have thought that having the likes of Oscar, Hazard and Mata available to pull the strings would make most managers’ eyes light up. Not Benitez though. Mata was left on the bench until well into the second half against Fulham, a strange decision in a match that was apparently crying out for a bit of creativity.
Hazard has gained something of a reputation in his time at Stamford Bridge for being a trifle too eager to throw himself to the floor whenever an opponent appears on the mid to long range radar. During his five minutes in charge Di Matteo adopted the standard approach to the often damning evidence that one of his players was behaving in a less than honest manner on the pitch. In what is now known as the “Suarez Gambit” Di Matteo planted the seeds of doubt in the minds of future referees by musing out loud if it wasn’t just possible that his player wasn’t always getting free-kicks because of his reputation. To which my standard reply is “don’t dive in the first place then”. Of course with Chelsea there’s also some comic fun to be gotten out of the potential for commentators to use the phrase “Oscar for Hazard” after another suspicious tumble.
One thing that will no doubt continue will be the singing of songs concerning the son of one of our former players – despite his absence through injury. When we last played Chelsea a certain newspaper totally ignored the match in its match report to concentrate on the “vile chanting” aimed at Frank Lampard Jr. Apart from the fact that it’s stretching the use of the word “vile” a bit to describe the song “Ten men couldn’t carry…..etc” in such terms, it was rather disingenuous for the writer to forget to mention that amongst the other duties in his job description was the role of “Ghost Writer for F.Lampard Jr”. Funny that.
It seems that, whilst Benitez isn’t due to be about much after the final game of the season, neither will Lampard Jr. “El Gordo” appears to be considering a move to that traditional home of the footballer who is in the process of winding down his career, the MLS. It would be cruel of me to suggest that the reason for this would be that the player wants to go somewhere where he’ll look slim. So I won’t. In the meantime, should his ghost writer decide to take umbrage at one or two of the chants that mention his chum , he might want to consider whether the crowd has a defence of “fair comment” for one or two of the more fruitier adjectives used, given that Lampard Jr is currently trying to evict the 100 year-old great grandmother to his kids from a flat he owns in Barcelona. Somehow those chants don’t seem so bad, do they.
Up front we may see Fernando Torres, who despite being pretty useless, is held in high regard by quite a few of the Hammers faithful. When he went something like a million matches without scoring at the start of his Chelsea career there was a sad inevitability that he would finally break his duck against us. As the weeks passed fingers were crossed that he wouldn’t somehow be given a meaningless penalty or something before we were due to play them.
I believe that a large number of us did very well at the hands of Mr Winstone and his fellow turf accountants by placing a few bob on Torres to finally open his account against us. It was somehow rather fitting that the goal only came as a result of a defender slipping after a torrential downpour at Stamford Bridge. The goal was probably greeted by louder cheers amongst the visiting support than it was by the home fans. There again at Stamford Bridge they don’t do anything without being prompted by one of the kids they use to wave flags to let the supporters know something has happened.
Us? Well it didn’t look good after 33 seconds the other night but the pleasing thing was that we stuck at it and in the end we were, by general consensus, a tad unlucky not to pick up a point from the trip to Old Trafford. The sight of the home side wasting time at the end told its own story.
There will be changes for this one. Noble will return from suspension whilst Yossi will be ineligible to play against his parent club. Linda’s ankle will require a late shufti and Andy Carroll is also a slight doubt with a knee injury.
There are a few things that make predicting this one a bit odd. On the one hand the confidence boost on our side that came from making the Salford lot work for a living when weighed up against Chelsea’s recent lack of form might give us cause for more optimism than we’ve been used to against this lot in recent years. However they may relish the chance of playing away (no not you Terry). The Benitez “era” (if one can call it that) has been marked by an atmosphere at Stamford Bridge verging between hostility and bored indifference over the last two matches so they may find it a pleasant change to get on the road.
On balance I think this will end up with honours even so I shall be sending the Avram Grant Rest Home’s Save The Lampard Great Granny Fund (£2.50) along to Winstone’s Turf Accountants with the instruction that the whole lot be wagered on a 1-1 draw.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Lost 3-1. The result flattered the visitors. Parker’s late fine volley was scant reward for a match in which we’d had tons of possession but let ourselves down at both ends with some awful defending matched by some equally dreadful finishing. That’s more than you’d have read about the match in a certain newspaper.
Referee: Martin Atkinson. Last seen handling the away match at Swansea. Hopefully he’s recovered from his confusion of last season where he went through a spell of awarding the occasional goal without the ball crossing the line, whilst disallowing the odd one that did.
Danger Man: Fernando Torres. Purely on the grounds that we are a sequence-busting magnet for players who aren’t that good.
Daft Fact Of The Week: There was a report this week that New York City had managed to go through a whole day without a single serious crime being recorded. The Terry family must be doing their Christmas shopping elsewhere this year then.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Head to Head
Pld 95; West Ham Utd 36, Chelsea 41, Draws 18.
20th October 1923: Chelsea 0-0 West Ham Utd (Stamford Bridge, Division One)
23rd April 2011: Chelsea 3-0 West Ham Utd (Stamford Bridge, Premier League)
14th February 1981: West Ham Utd 4-0 Chelsea (Boleyn Ground, Division Two)
29th March 1986: Chelsea 0-4 West Ham Utd (Stamford Bridge, Division One)
9th April 1966: Chelsea 6-2 West Ham Utd (Stamford Bridge, Division One)
20th January 2002: Chelsea 5-1 West Ham Utd (Stamford Bridge, Premiership)
1st March 2008: West Ham Utd 0-4 Chelsea (Boleyn Ground, Premier League)
March 1976: Chelsea 1-0 West Ham Utd (Harry Medhurst Testimonial)
November 1995: West Ham Utd 3-3 Chelsea (Boogers, Williamson, Hutchison - Alvin Martin Testimonial)
1987/88: Leroy Rosenior (h); 1999/00: Javier Margas (a); 1999/00: Igor Stimac (h); 2001/02: Paolo Di Canio (a).
They Played For Both
Clive Allen; Yossi Benayoun; Syd Bishop; Peter Brabrook; Billy Bridgeman; William Brown; Robert Bush; Joe Cole; Jimmy Greaves; George Hilsdon; Glen Johnson; Joe Kirkup; Frank Lampard Jnr; Andy Malcolm; Harry Medhurst; Scott Minto; Scott Parker; Eric Parsons; Joe Payne; Johnny Sissons; David Speedie; Ron Tindall; Alan Dickens; Len Goulden.
Former players Dave Sexton and Geoff Hurst both became Chelsea managers, whilst Avram Grant managed both clubs.
The Classic Match
2nd May 1988: West Ham Utd 4-1 Chelsea
It had been another torrid season spent at the wrong end of the table but when Chelsea visited the Boleyn Ground on 2nd May 1988, John Lyall's side knew that a win would be enough to guarantee Division One survival. Chelsea, in freefall having won just one of their last 25 games went into the game one place below West Ham in 17th: not so much a six-pointer, as a season decider. Hammers fans need not have worried however as goals from Leroy Rosenior (2), Paul Hilton and Tony Cottee earned the Irons a comfortable 4-1 win - whilst two-goal hero Rosenior earned the first red card of his career having being dismissed for strangling Blues defender (and former assistant to Gianfranco Zola) Steve Clarke following an altercation. West Ham therefore retained their Division One status whilst Chelsea went on to draw their final game of the season and lose the ensuing play-off against Middlesbrough; a defeat that saw Chelsea relegated.
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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