Filed: Friday, 26th April 2013
By: Preview Percy
Next up we have our second match against FA Cup Finalists in as many weeks as we visit the North West where our hosts will be Manchester City.
After a run of supporter-friendly kick-off times we find ourselves having to kick-off on Saturday at 12.45pm. Presumably the tv people thought that the Premier League title race might still be alive when they picked this one for the box. With that that all done and dusted, the Citizens all but guaranteed second spot and ourselves comfortably ensconced in mid table it’ll be of scant consolation to those forced to travel at silly o’clock that Sky will have wasted a live match on something that has little riding on it.
City have 68 points from their 33 games played thus far, some five points clear of Chelsea over whom they have a game in hand. Their last six have seen them win four and lose two. The wins came on the road at Villa (1-0) and at Salford (2-1) and at home to Newcastle (4-0) and Wigan (1-0). The defeats both came away from home at Everton (0-2) and at Gareth Bale last weekend where they were on the end of a 3-1 despite being 1-0 up with 15 left to play.
The race for the league title might have been a bit closer had they been allowed to include points gained by their players in trips to the local courts this season. Nasri, Tevez and Richards all received six month bans for various motoring offences in recent weeks, a tactic that seems to have been adopted by Harry Redknapp this week in an attempt to gain some much-needed points. He’ll be back in court on speeding and associated charges in August, presumably using the “my dog was at the wheel” defence. Less amusingly, indeed tragically for the victims, City youth team player Courtney Meppen-Walter is currently doing 16 months for causing death by dangerous driving. Sometimes one despairs of the modern professional footballer.
There’s a lot of speculation as to the future of the boss Roberto Mancini. Although they still have the Cup to play for it’s probably fair to say that the owners had a little bit more than that in mind at the start of the season. Whilst many will be scratching their heads and asking “what went wrong” this season, maybe the better question to ask would be “what went right” last time. Winning the title with a goal in the 4th minute of stoppage time of the final match reflects a large slice of luck by anyone’s standards and, in the end, they took the title by virtue of being only slightly less worse than their neighbours in Salford over the season. The difference this season is that, whilst they’ve has a similar time in terms of consistency, their chief rivals have maintained an almost monotonous run of form that, whilst not particularly spectacular, has kept them churning out three pointers week after week. Except against us of course.
Whilst the form of players is often something beyond the direct control of a manager, it’s also fair to say that City have somehow looked less of a team than Ferguson’s whiney mob. Playing as a bunch of talented individuals will only get you so far as this season has proved. Team spirit is something for which the manager is usually deemed to be responsible. It remains to be seen if the owners agree – especially after a winless exit from Europe this season.
One of those individuals we’re likely to be up against is the aforementioned Carlos Tevez. Although now apparently rehabilitated in the eyes of both club and fans following his strop the other year that saw him refusing to warm-up from the bench, it would appear that the incident might have been symptomatic of a general attitude problem amongst the squad. The disappearance of Balotelli in the last window as Mancini finally lost patience with the wayward Italian might have improved things somewhat amongst the team but when you’ve had over half the season gone you’ll already be playing catch up.
Unluckiest player of the week has to be David Silva. He pinged a hamstring in the Man Utd match a few weeks ago and so missed the FA Cup Semi Final against Chelsea plus the 1-0 win over Wigan. Having come through all the appropriate treatment he was fit enough to travel down south for the Spurs match. Then, during what was described as a “light training session” he rolled over on his ankle. The usual sources list him as having “no return date”. Similarly, England midfielder James Milner is also on the “gawd knows” list, having coming off during the Spurs match with the hamstring epidemic that has also affected Aguero in the not too distant past.
Aguero, whose late, late effort at QPR gave them the title last May, is one of a number of players in recent weeks to have gotten away with a shocking tackle. Aguero’s two-footed lunge on Chelsea’s Luiz in the semi-final merited a straight red but, hiding behind their standard “the ref gave a free-kick so we can’t do anything” excuse the FA did their usual square root of sod all. As we saw with the McManaman incident recently those involved in the disciplinary processes really need to take a long look at the whole thing.
And so to us. Here at the Avram Grant Rest Home For the Bewildered it’s been a week of upheaval. The Company that owns and runs the place (Soylent Green Street plc) have decided that, rather than spend the clean up fund (£2.50) on getting rid of the toxic waste on which the site is built they’re going to move us up the road to a site next door to the local nuclear waste disposal facility (an old chalk pit full of some suspiciously glowing leaky drums). The owners did, rather admirably, consult us though. Each of us got a note under the door with a note asking us if we a) wanted to move to the new site, or b) take advantage of a free one way ticket and guided tour of Dignitas in Switzerland.
After the draw against Moan Utd the other week Andy Carroll was the subject of a spectacularly poorly written article from a chap called Patrick Collins in the Mail On Sunday. Not a paper I’d buy personally but they dump a few dozen free copies on us here at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered every week and count them amongst the circulation figures (hence the toxic waste). Mr Collins, it seems, is not enamoured of Carroll and spouted the usual ill-informed twaddle about our “long ball” game. Carroll it seems is a “stone age” player and the game has apparently “progressed” with what Mr Collins referred to as “Johnny Foreigner” playing it a lot better than we do these days. Of course the whole thing was a logical disaster on the part of Mr Collins. Carroll was up against Vidic the other night who, despite being one of those “Johnny Foreigner” types is more than handy with his elbows and studs.
Then of course last weekend we had Suarez, a player for whom a number of Collins’ colleagues – possibly even Collins himself – will be voting for as Footballer Of The Year. Maybe he’ll have lost a few votes from the Football Writers Association after his snack last weekend but the fact remains that he has been a racist diving cheat all his career and he was still being lauded by the likes of Collins and his ilk. There is a facility on the Mail’s website to leave comment and I did try to point out the many inconsistencies in Collins’ article in the same manner as I have done here. However, disagreeing with Mr Collins apparently contravenes the Mail’s house rules and my comment was rejected. Who’d have thought that the Mail would have had so much in common with Pravda?!
Following the Moan Utd match we defeated Wigan in a match that reminded me very much of the opening day of the season when we sat and watched Villa tap it about for ages before taking it off them and scoring. For all the possession stats, Jaaskalainen really had only a few saves to make – two of which were, admittedly, superb. This contrasted with Wigan’s previous match at the Etihad where they had a stream of decent chances only to be foiled by ‘keeper Hart or, failing that, goal-line clearances. The aforementioned Carroll picked up a ludicrous yellow card for a nothing challenge that owed everything to Ferguson’s daft comments after the Moan Utd match. Being cautioned by reputation is something of which Mr Collins would no doubt heartily approve.
Due to the move to the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered I’ve had to go to print early this week, surrounded as I am by boxes and someone hovering over me to unplug the computer as soon as I finish so team news might be even more out of date than it usually is. At the time of writing, with the return to action of Joe Cole and the recovery of James Tomkins we’ll have pretty much a full squad to choose from with Linda being the only long term absentee – next season being the earliest we’ll see of him. For our opponents, I was half watching a match on the box the other night that suggested that England ‘keeper Joe Hart might miss out with what looked like a really nasty case of dandruff. He responded to treatment on the pitch though so should be available.
So a prediction then. Well on paper, the embarrassment of riches in their squad should make this an easy home win. However, as we’ve seen in the title race, a strong team will always be able to give a team of individuals a run for their money. If the boss noted how close Wigan came to getting a result up there, and, more importantly, how close we came to getting a win at Anfield when we went forward, we should be more than capable of getting a point now that we’ve established that an away match needn’t necessarily equal an automatic defeat. So I’ll be placing the contents of the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered’s fund (£2.50) to send Patrick Collins on a course so that he can learn to write about something he has the foggiest about (there MUST be something out there somewhere) on a 1-1 draw.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met Up There: Lost 1-2 (May 2011). De Jong and Zabaleta put the home side 2-0 up after 15 minutes and it looked like we were on for a hiding. However, they took their foot off the pedal. Ba pulled one back and a little more luck might have seen us nick a point.
Referee:Howard Webb – increasingly inconsistent official who we last saw in the home defeat to Gareth Bale.
Danger Man:Carlos Tevez. Apart from the “scoring against his old club” thing, he’s their top scorer.
Daft Fact Of The Week: The name “Manchester” comes from the Latin “Mamucium” which, and for once I’m not making this up, is supposedly a Latinised form of the Celtic for “breast-shaped hill”, which could explain why Terry Christian (admittedly a Salford supporter) is such an irritating tit.
Stat man John: Northcutt's corner
Head to Head
Pld 93; West Ham Utd 35, Man City 42, Draws 16.
26th April 1924: West Ham Utd 1-2 Man City (Boleyn Ground, Division One)
3rd November 2012: West Ham Utd 0-0 Man City (Boleyn Ground, Premier League)
18th May 1963: West Ham Utd 6-1 Man City (Boleyn Ground, Division One)
8th September 1962: Man City 1-6 West Ham Utd (Maine Road, Division One)
17th August 1974: Man City 4-0 West Ham Utd (Maine Road, Division One)
6th December 1969: West Ham Utd 0-4 Man City (Boleyn Ground, Division One)
24th March 1962: West Ham Utd 0-4 Man City (Boleyn Ground, Division One)
They Played For Both
Craig Bellamy; Tal Ben Haim; Ian Bishop; Wayne Bridge; James Cumming; Justin Fashanu; Marc Vivien Foe; Michael Hughes; Kevin Horlock; David James; Steve Lomas; Tyrone Mears; Trevor Morley; John Payne; Trevor Sinclair; Carlos Tevez; Paulo Wanchope; Mark Ward; Phil Woosnam.
1961/62 Bobby Moore (a); 1991/92 Colin Foster (h); 2008/09 Mark Noble (a).
Former West Ham United players John Bond, Malcolm Allison and Stuart Pearce have all been managers of Manchester City.
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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