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West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion


Filed: Wednesday, 31st December 2014
By: Preview Percy


Preview Percy takes a look at the first game of 2015. Contains the not nearly used enough word "poppycock" as well as a "Daft Fact Of The Week" that, unusually for him, is both daft AND a fact.....

Next up it’s a swift return for opponents last seen as long ago as, ooh, 2nd December as West Bromwich Albion become the first visitors to the Boleyn of 2015. Kick off is at 3pm. There are no tube closures scheduled for New Year’s Day but, being a bank holiday, I expect things will be a bit slower than usual so check locally before making your arrangements I say.

Since we last met all that time ago things haven’t exactly gotten much better for them. Sure, in the couple of matches immediately following our 2-1 win up there they picked up four points courtesy of a 0-0 draw with Hull at the Sunshine Stadium and a home win over Villa. However since then it’s been three defeats on the trot, 3-2 at QPR, 3-1 at home to Man City and 2-0 away at Stoke. This has left them in 16th spot with 17 points from their 19 matches. To put that into context that’s only one point clear of the relegation zone where Palace and Burnley sit third and second from bottom respectively with 16 points. Worrying times for them then.

The precarious nature of their position focused the spotlight on manager Alan Irvine and I’ll profess some surprise that as I started to write this he was still in a job. The main thing that seemed to be keeping him in position appeared to have been the forbearance of chairman Jeremy Peace, with whom it is believed that Irvine had a good working relationship. Another reason for any reluctance that Peace might have for issuing the dreaded P45 might have been the sheer number of individuals who have had the job in the last 12 months. If you include Keith Downing’s caretaker spell, Irvine was the fourth incumbent in the hot seat in the last 12 months, after Steve Clarke (sacked December 2013), Downing and Pepe Mel (arrived January 2014, departed May 2014).

Of course I'd barely got to the end of writing the original version of the previous paragraph when in walked the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips delivering the two word message: “Irvine. Gone”. 

For the time being Rob Kelly and the last caretaker manager Keith “No Relation To” Downing will be in charge. There was some speculation that they might have had a word with Tim “We Lost It Three Times” Sherwood who was interviewed for the job the last time it became available. That time the discussions came to a premature end when Sherwood was told that he’d not be allowed to bring in his own people. The other name being bandied about is that of Tony “I train my players to break the laws of the game” Pulis and, despite the fact that he’s said to not be a fan of the “continental” head coach/director of football set-up, the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips now advises me that his appointment is all but a done deal with the formal announcement set to be made some time on New Year's Day.

The first task of the management, caretaker or otherwise, may well be to try to keep hold of striker Saido Berahino. He’s their top scorer with 8 so far this season and talks had commenced with the player regarding a new much improved contract. However, those talks were put on hold in November when it emerged that the player had been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving. The player was bailed to return for questioning early in December but the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips tells me that she couldn’t find any mention of the result of those discussions. One would suspect that the departure of Irvine and the club’s precarious position may well have made the player’s mind up for him, and it would appear that Liverpool may have already been doing their usual illegal poaching stuff behind the scenes. Since we’ll be playing on New Year’s Day it might be a bit early for the player to have actually left the club but I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he discovered one of those nasty niggly knocks that players pick up just before they move.

Nigerian striker Brown Ideye was preferred to Berahino in the starting line-up against Stoke last weekend. He’s not exactly been a roaring success since his arrival from Dynamo Kiev for what was a club record £10m. Prior to the recent managerial upheaval Ideye, along with a number of their other summer signings, was being tipped for an early departure once the window opens. However, that may have to go on hold, especially if Berahino signs for the scousers. The timing of Irvine’s departure makes things a little awkward for the transfer window and Pulis will need to act sharpish if they are to not find themselves having sold their main striker without a proper replacement in sight. After all we know full well what it’s like to have your only real striker unavailable with no replacements on the books.

Another option might have been the former Everton striker Victor Anichebe. He’s a big lad who spent the first 20 minutes of the reverse fixture suckering Tomkins into a physical battle which Tomkins was losing by some margin. However, once Tomkins had worked out that laying off by a foot or two would give him more control of the situation, Anichebe’s influence waned. Anichebe has been struggling with a groin problem (haven’t we all) and is rated as “very doubtful” for this match.

And so to us. Well I thought we played well against everything pathetic excuse of a referee Neil Swarbrick threw at us last weekend. To those of you who are still in denial that standards of officiating are plummeting through the floor I’d suggest a quick look at the Boxing Day edition of Match of The Day. Fast forward through the idiot Lineker’s gurning imbecilities, obviously (though maybe save them for when some of the stuff that the press are sitting on becomes public). You’ll note that every single game contained at least one major refereeing error. Those who like to defend the indefensible often claim that standards are the same as they have ever been and that it’s just a matter of increased scrutiny of matches that highlights decisions. Poppycock I say. If, as most do, one credits Sky with improving the technological side of football coverage – the increased number of cameras and so on - it should be noted that we’ve had all this stuff for over 20 years now and anyone who thinks that standards haven’t dropped in that time clearly isn’t actually watching enough games.

Rant over (until the next idiot decides he’s bigger than the laws of the game and can decide results of matches based on a whim). We have a fully fit squad for this one though there will be a couple of absentees for other reasons. Tomkins picked up his 5th yellow of the season and so sits the match out through suspension. Ginge to come in to deputise. Zarate has been shifted out on loan to QPR, his parting comments to the effect that he was being shafted because he wasn’t an Allardyce signing probably scuppering his chances of playing for the club for the foreseeable future. Allardyce’s riposte that the player wasn’t good enough to oust those ahead of him in the pecking order is probably right, though one suspects that Allardyce wasn’t too upset about that fact. It’s a bit of a shame really but, whilst there was undoubted talent there, Zarate’s decision-making on the ball often left a bit to be desired.

We’ll be able to welcome back Carl Jenkinson after his loan-induced absence last Saturday. Much as one likes Joey O it’s fair to say that Jenkinson was missed big time last week.

Prediction? Well I see this one as a return to some sort of normality. We’re playing a club in a poor state at the moment, whose top goalscorer may be on his way and whose summer signings were by and large unsuccessful so the mood is not great there. I'm not sure Pulis's appointment will brighten things any. '''We should be angry after our last result and West Brom, with all due respect, are just the sort of side at the moment that we should be relishing the prospect of taking our frustrations out on. So the I’ll be taking £2.50 out of the Ghana’s Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s Fight The PGMOL fund and placing it on a home win. 3-1 I reckon.

Enjoy the game, and, from all at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered (Matron, The Work Experience Girl With An Inappropriate Number Of Rings Through Her Lips, Preview Alastair and from Cuthbert, the Landlord  of the Swan & Superinjunction), Happy New Year. (But not from me obviously – I am completely indifferent to how you get on over the next 12 months).

When Last We Met At The Boleyn:Drew 3-3 (December 2013) An eventful one this. 1-0 up (Cole J) 2-1 down by half time with a back four comprised of four full-backs. 3-2 up through Maiga and Nolan before Berahino equalised. Did I mention that this was the match in which Anelka did his infamous “Quinelle” gesture? I didn’t? Oh.This was the match in which Anelka did his infamous “Quinelle” gesture.

Referee: Jonathan Moss– frankly standards are so poor these days I wouldn’t trust any of them to sit the right way up on a toilet seat.

Danger Man: Saido Berahino – West Brom have described reports linking the player with a move to Anfield as “complete fabrication” which probably just means that Liverpool have been doing their ususal thing and gone behind the West Brom backs to deal with the player.

Daft Fact Of The Week:The list of the first names of the West Brom managers employed between July 1975 and October 1978 reads thusly: Johnny, Ronnie, John, Ron, Ronnie, Ron, Johnny, Nobby, Ron, Ron. This would appear to be the only example of a football club making employment decisions based on the lyrics of a song by The Crystals.


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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