Filed: Saturday, 14th September 2013
By: Preview Percy
The Titanic (again)? Fish fingers? Haggis? Mini Kievs? It must be time for another of Preview Percy's, er, previews. There's also some stuff about the match in there if you look hard enough. Apparently...
Right where were we?
Next up we hit the M3 for a trip to St Mary’s where our hosts will be Southampton. It’s a space telly match which will kick off at 4pm on Sunday. If you’re going by train there doesn’t appear to be any engineering works in the offing so it’ll be the “leaves on the line” excuse then.
Southampton start this match pretty much level with us. An opening day win at West Brom was followed up by a home draw 1-1 with Sunderland and a pre-break 1-0 defeat up at Norwich. This leaves them with 4 points from three matches which, for what it’s worth at this time of the season, leaves them in tenth place, two places behind us by virtue of our plus one goal difference trumping theirs of zero.
They also turned over Barnsley 5-1 at their place in the League Cup.
Here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered we are stifling even more yawns than normal. You see Southampton are one of those clubs that are sort of just there. It’s difficult to get worked up about them one way or another really. To be honest the only reason Pompey have such a bee in their collective bonnets is probably because Bournemouth is just too far to go for a ruck. If Southampton had a beach they probably wouldn’t bother. The city’s history is littered with tales of people trying to leave the place. The Mayflower started off there as did the Titanic, whose skipper’s last words were “at least we got out of Southampton”.
They did become a bit irritating a couple of years ago in the match at our place that ended up 1-1 thanks to playacting and diving of scouse proportions on their part – maybe it’s no coincidence that they seem to have ditched the white stripes from their traditional kit. The only surprise is that they didn’t go for beige.
They finished 14th last term, an unconvincing start leading to the eventual sacking of the odious Nigel Adkins who was ditched in the middle of a relatively decent run.. Adkins’ replacement was former Espanyol boss Mauricio Ponchinetto who, having come in in mid season, made up for lost time during the summer break, Ponchinetto found the club cheque book and broke the club record in bringing in Kenyan Victor Wanyama from Celtic. The £12.5m deal made the midfielder the most expensive player ever transferred out of Scotland, beating the £2.50 and a plate of haggis Liverpool paid for Dalglish all those years ago Wanyama’s main claim to fame up there was in becoming the first Kenyan to score in the so-called Champions League in famous Celtic win over Barcelona last season.
Wanyama’s fellow ex-Bhoy Artur Boruc is currently no.1 between the sticks. Adkins picked him up last year after he’d been released by Fiorentina. Some uncertain performances by Paolo Gazzaniga and Kelvin Davies in the early part of last season saw Boruc come in, making his debut in the rather sweet 4-1 revenge match at our place.
Having broken the club’s transfer record once, Ponchinetto clearly got the taste for spending and went and broke the record again by bringing in Pablo, some say Daniel, Osvaldo. The basic fee weighed in at something like £12.8m but there is also another couple of million in potential add-ons to consider. Argentinian by birth, like many from that country he qualifies for Italy, which also comes in handy when it’s work permit time. Osvaldo came in from Roma where he once had a bit of a contretemps with a team mate who he thought really ought to have passed to him. It’s the sort of argument forwards have with eachother the world over. Osvaldo took it a stage further though, decking his team-mate and getting a three month ban in the process.
Something for Rickie Lambert to look out for then. Having spent most of his career in the nether regions of the league, Lambert could be said to be enjoying something of an Indian summer, scoring with his first touch in international football. However, it should be pointed out that it was only against Scotland. Lambert followed this up with a goal in the recent qualifier against Moldova and had a decent first half against Ukraine the other night, though he became increasingly more isolated as the second half wore on. Given that Lambert arguably owed his position in the England side to the absence of others, he’s taken his chance well – he’d just do well to pass to Osvaldo once in a while.
Having gotten himself an international career, Lambert was not the one to miss out on selection in favour of the incoming Osvaldo. That honour fell to Jay Rodriguez who was banished to the bench. Being of Iberian descent (the clues are there) he probably has a decent grasp of the Spanish language. However it’d be nice to imagine Osvaldo turning up and introducing himself to his new team-mate only to be greeted with some sort of “ey-oop” greeting in the Lancastrian’s native tones.
The other blue-eyed boy at the moment is defender Luke Shaw. Shaw attracted a lot of attention during the last two windows, something that led Southampton to tie him up into a long contract as soon as he turned 18 in July. Which probably means that he’ll be off at the end of the season for a massive fee.
As For us? Well looking amongst the forums of this site you’d be forgiven for believing that there had been a rule change and that any team called West Ham United that isn’t top after four games is automatically relegated. True it’s not been the greatest couple of weeks but the dour mood seems to have been exacerbated by the feeling of helplessness caused by the international break.
Yes, the Stoke match was awful. Too many off days all at the same time. Yet, if a crumb of comfort were needed, one could point to the fact that the defence was resolute to the point that JJ had little to do for most of the game - it needed a dubious free kick and another blatant foul in the wall from Stoke to cause the defeat. We’re not going to win every game and the time to get all doom laden is if we
start to play like that every week, not after one poor match.
Of course the shenanigans off the pitch aren’t exactly over-inspiring. It’s typical West Ham for a key player to pick up another injury just as an earlier one clears up. Somewhere on here you’ll have seen Mr Allardyce’s denial that Andy Carroll is “injury-prone”. I’m not sure what dictionary the manager is using but I’d say that the latest setback means that the player is close to satisfying the criteria applicable to that definition. Clearly the decision to spend money on Downing was something of a gamble, since doing so reduced the funds available and therefore range of strikers available to us. Exactly how much of a punt that was only the club will know. Whatever the details held at the time on Carroll’s injury, the gamble relied on him being able to return sooner rather than later so this latest setback is a right royal pain in the proverbial.
Since Maiga has failed to inspire and Carlton’s not in shape enough to earn a contract apparently, we’ve been forced to go shopping in the bargain bucket clearance sale department, which tends to be populated with professional football’s equivalent of the wheezy kid that always got picked last at school. So in comes Mladin Petric from that legendary club FC Unattached. Petric had a storming start to his spell with Fulham, scoring twice and making another in a 5-0 win over Norwich. However, in the remainder of the two seasons he was with the Cottagers he made only another 22 appearances and scored only three more goals before being released at the end of the season. You’ll pardon me for not being too whelmed then.
Mr Allardyce’s usual strategy is to let new signings take time to bed in – witness the current state of play with Roland. However, given the lack of oomph displayed by Maiga thus far it’s not a luxury that we can probably afford and since the Sunday kick-off gives us an extra day for preparation there may be a start for the Croatian.
It’s been an interesting week for Ginge as well. Chris “mind the bend” Coleman accused the player of turning down the chance of a game for Wales, a claim denied by Collins who pointed out that, not having actually been asked by anyone to play he had no idea that his services would be required. Memo to Coleman: telephone and telepathy are two rather different things. Still at least he didn’t pick up any knocks
Team news is that, apart from Carroll, Downing is also a doubt with a leg injury, whilst Joe Cole’s hamstring will keep him out for a bit. This may mean a start for young Morrisson. As mentioned, Petric will need to be up and running and those who failed to perform against Stoke won’t want to have a repeat of the rocket that I hope Mr Allardyce delivered after that game.
Prediction? Well they’ve been a bit goal shy and so have we. Lambert’s enjoying life at the moment but he’s had a tough time midweek. Hopefully the trip to Barcelona will have shaken some of the cobwebs out but I reckon this one has draw written all over it. So the AGORHFTB fund to top up Chris Coleman’s pay as you go mobile (£2.50) is going on a 1-1 draw this time.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met At St Mary’s: Drew 1-1 April 2013 Ramirez put them 1-0 up on the hour. Andy Carroll’s free-kick levelled it.That was about all there was to say.
Referee: Andre Marriner – last seen handling our 3-1 home win over West Brom when he took part in one of the funnier sendings-off you’re likely to see as Mulumbu took an early bath for throwing the ball at Gary O’Neil.
Danger Man: Dani Osvaldo – Lambert’s picking up the headlines at the moment but Norwich had their ‘keeper to thank for keeping the new boy off the score-sheet the other week.
Daft Fact Of The Week: Southampton was chosen as the first city in the country ever to have fish fingers. Even today the trial is still the most interesting thing ever to happen down there and Clarence Birdseye’s birthday is celebrated every 9 December with funfairs and street parties. A later attempt to introduce the mini Kiev never really caught on.
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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