Filed: Friday, 17th October 2014
By: Preview Percy
Preview Percy's look at this weekend's oponents is a bit earlier than usual as he's going to this one. That'll be HIS mobility scooter you'll be getting stuck behind on the M6 this afternoon then..
Hello wake up there – you're not watching England now you know. We're back on the road for the awkward journey to Burnley. Kick-off at Turf Moor is the traditional 3pm on Saturday. Those of you using the District Line at some god awful time in the morning to get to Euston might want to note that there are no trains between Upminster and Barking though the parallel C2C is ok on Saturday so check beforehand, particularly if your ticket up north limits you to using a particular train. It's a rubbish journey by train as it is, which makes slightly more annoying the fact that a recently rebuilt stretch of line between there and Manchester, which might make things a tiny bit easier, is sitting there unused because nobody thought to find some trains to ru on it.
Despite the streaming colds that are epidemic about this place at the moment, we're running a trip to this one from the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered as long as Matron can find the starting handle to home's vintage minibus. Matron it seems is partial to the occasional tot (for which read "gallon") of the local favourite benedictine which, coincidentally is the fuel that powers the home's vintage minibus. Or is it benzine? They taste about the same to me. Given the state of the minibus we're leaving early, which is why some of the team news might not be up to date. Not that it is usually anyway.
Our hosts, come to us in second from bottom place with four points from the 7 games played so far. They share relegation zone with Newcastle and QPR, forming the sandwich filling between those two on goal difference.
They've yet to break their Premier League win duck since promotion, the points coming from the 2-2 draw at Leicester a couple of weeks back, together with three successive goalless draws at home to Man Utd, away at Palace and at home to Sunderland. The three defeats came at home to Chelsea (1-3) and away at Swansea (0-1) and West Brom (0-4).
All those “nils” in the goals for column are the problem. Or rather they are the visible manifestation of the problem that has dogged the club throughout its history, which is that, relatively speaking, they are a small town club with all the financial implications that that implies. They have always boasted a decent sized support relative to their population – the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips tells me that their average this season is about 21,000 which isn't bad on a population of something like 75,000. However, it's still small beer in Premier League terms. These days tv money is more important to club finances of course but their history over the last 60 or so years is still a reflection of the changes made to the game in that time. From winning the league – that's the top flight and everything – in 1959/60 they went to coming within 90 minutes of relegation to the conference in 1986/87. In that period the likes of Liverpool and Moan Utd successfully lobbied for home clubs to keep 100% of league gate monies rather than sharing it with the visitors as had previously been the case. Coincidence? I don't think so.
All of which means that the perennially croaky-voiced Sean Dyche has had shirt buttons and whatever was down the back of the sofa to work with, his shopping list not being helped by the habit that clubs have of raising prices as soon as they see someone from the Premier League browsing through the merchandise. The biggest fee paid during the summer, for example, was the reported £3m paid to Hull for Scottish winger George Boyd.
They also coughed up £1.5m for Basildon-born ex Grays Athletic winger Michael Kightly. He's not exactly a new player to the Clarets, having spent last season with them on loan.
They may end up paying more to Boro' for striker Lukas Jutkiewicz, whose initial £1.25m fee could rise with add ons by another £1m depending on appearances, league position, Burnley staying up and someone being able to play his surname in a game of Scrabble. As his name suggests, Jutkiewicz qualifies for a number of countries other than his native, er, England. Through parentage he also qualifies for the Republic of Irelnd and, less surprisingly, Poland. All of which may be a moot point given that nobody seems to have come knocking yet.
Another £500,000 went on Bolton striker Marvin Sordell. Sordell started his pro career at Watford which is the club that has probably seen him at his best. Like our own James Tomkins he is one of the select group of British players who can call themselves an “Olympian”.
It wasn't all strikers in during the summer though. Half a million of Her Majesty's pounds were expended on the services of Irish defender and society osteopath Stephen Ward. Ward came in from Wolves though it's been a while since he turned out in the old gold and black. On relegation Wolves found themselves with a number of players on top flight wages and the finances didn't add up (see also “Roger Johnson”). Ward spent last season with Brighton before removing himself from the asset side of the Molineux balance sheet with his move to Turf Moor. Whilst at Wolves he spent some time as a midfield understudy to one M. Jarvis and even served time as an emergency striker, netting the only goal in a 1-0 win up at Anfield. Must have been the ref's day off.
The remaining three incomings all arrived with nary a penny paid for them. 'Keeper Matt Gilks arrived from the sinking ship that is Blackpool and is currently understudying regular custodian Tom Heaton. The last we saw of Gilkes was on 19 May 2012 at Wembley Stadium. Also present that day was Matt Taylor. Taylor is another freebie having been let go by us at the end of the season. At least he won't have had to get used to a fresh set of colours following the move, though I am told he has an achilles problem that will keep im out of this one.
West Brom's Steven Reid completed the trio of zero-fee inputs. Reid was released by the Baggies (ooer missus) at the end of last term and it looked like he was going to commence a coaching role at the Hawthorns until his former Millwall mucker Dyche invited him up to Lancs.
So, all in all, a squad that has been bolstered, yes but not spectacularly so. Promotion was gained last season on the back of goals from Danny Ings and Sam Vokes. It might have been interesting to see whether the partnership would have flourished in the top flight. However injury has hit both players. Vokes did his ACL last March and is a month or so short of fitness. Ings has missed the last month with a hamstring problem but is close to a return. Between the two of them they managed 47 goals last term. Whether or not they're up to top flight standard we don't know yet but a club is going to miss a partnership that talismanic.
Sadly, since we last met they've parted company with Marvin Bartley. Not for any football reasons, more for the fact that over the past few years there has been a little cottage industry in making creative additions to what the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips calls his “wikipedia page”. Past prints of said page have included the claims that he once knocked out Lennox Lewis whilst an amateur boxer, that he cost Burnley £17.5m and that he owed his place in the Bournemouth side due to his blackmailing Harry Redknapp. His move to Leyton Orient last January seems to have brought the fantasy edits to an end, though it is also possible that the person responsible has been otherwise occupied over the past year or so in the writing of another fantasy in the form of Redknapp's “auto” biography.
Meanwhile at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered we've had a couple of weeks to reflect on what was one of the easiest wins we've had for ages. Remember when you sit at home grumbling about the winning if uninspiring performances by the current England squad that, had he had his way, Henry Redknapp would have been England manager by now. Losing and uninspiring is precisely what QPR supporters are getting now. The one disappointing thing about our win over QPR was the nagging feeling that, had we really been at the races ourselves, we could have run up a decent bonus for the goal difference.
On the injury front we have a number of players who are on the verge of a return to availability to the squad. Of these, Mark Noble is likeliest to feature, though the “he'll have to fight for his place” messages coming from inside the club may mean a spell on the racing car seats. Ricardo Vaz Te and Guy Demel are also close to fitness. It's a week too soon though for James Collins. Wile-E Kouyate is probably another two weeks shy of a return and the “what do we do with Andy Carroll now he's fit again” question is pencilled in for the end of November.
Prediction? Well this is one that I am sure that the manager has pencilled in as one to win. I suspect that our traditional frailty on the road means that their manager is doing the same. I'm sure this is winnable but I have this horrible nagging thing going on – not Matron for once – at the back of my head that is reminding me that we are good at breaking sequences, especially where they involve a spell of not winning as is the case this time.
Nevertheless, I'm going for us to win on this occasion so the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's fund towards the cost of providing a fact checker for Harry Redknapp's next book (£2.50) is going on us to win 2-1 on this occasion.
Enjoy the game!
When last we met at Turf Moor:Drew 2-2 (Championship March 2012)
Despite dominating the match we somehow found ourselves 2-0 down at the interval. Nolan and Tomkins restored parity in the second half and Baldock spurned a glorious chance to take all three points at the death.
Referee: Kevin Friend
His failure to give Matt Jarvis a penalty at Arsenal last season because the winger tried to stay on his feet seems to be symptomatic of a problem he has telling a penalty from not a penalty – confusion that cost us dearly at Hull last season.
Danger Man: Danny Ings
It's difficult to go for a danger man from a side that has struggled to score all season and he may not feature having had hamstring problems of late. However, on the off-chance Ings is fit I'll plump for him, especially as injury to Matty Taylor will preclude him from making an appearance to activate the law of the ex.
Daft fact of the week:
"Fishermans' Friend" is a brand of strong menthol-based throat lozenge marketed by the Lofthouse company of Fleetwood, Lancs. This isn't a particularly daft fact admittedly but if someone could tell Sean Dyche that they're available in all good supermarkets and pharmacies it might make his post match interviews a bit more watchable.
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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