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Manchester City v West Ham United

Filed: Saturday, 18th April 2015
By: Preview Percy

Who is Derek Castle? Why are there two of him and what has he got to do with this weekend's trip to Manchester City? Yup it's another visit to the strange and warped world of Preview Percy....

Next we go to what I still like to think of as the City Of Manchester Stadium where our hosts will be the current-but-soon-to-become-ex Champions, Manchester City. Kick-off is at 1:30pm on Sunday. Like such a time actually exists.

Assuming that there are trains leaving early enough for you to get up there for such a ludicrous kick off time there are no engineering works on Virgin Trains, though C2C has some stuff going on ‘twixt Pitsea and Laindon so you may need to factor that into your journey to Euston.

The Citizens currently lie in 4th spot (at the time of writing) with 61 points from the 32 played so far. Recent results have seen them slide down slowly from 2nd, where they were maintaining a challenge of sorts to the latest title purchase by the money launderers, to 4th spot where they will have to keep an eye on the scousers if they want to ensure So-Called Champions League qualification.

Their fall from grace seems to owe much to a lack of consistency and serves to reinforce the notion that their title win last year owed as much to Liverpool’s hilarious Devon Loch moments at Chelsea and Palace as it did to their own merits.

I have to say that, for all the qualities of the players on show, they didn’t look like a team during last weekend’s defeat to their rivals from nearby Salford. That’s not to say that the players had the wrong attitude or anything – only they would be able to tell you that – but it was just that they didn’t seem to be gelling in that certain undefinable manner that you see when you have eleven men on the pitch on the same wavelength.

All of which has focused the spotlight on Manuel Pellegrini and his future once the season is over. Speculation was already rife as to his future even before this week’s announcement from Germany that Jurgen Klopp (now there’s a character name from ‘Allo ‘Allo if ever I heard one) that he would be forsaking the wonders of Dortmund for pastures new come the summer. Noises from Manchester have denied that Klopp is on the radar but, well, they would say that wouldn’t they and it wouldn’t be a major surprise if they were looking in that direction.

Actually for a little while we were convinced that Pellegrini had actually gone here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. Watching Sky Sports News earlier this morning we spotted a story on the tickertape thing across the bottom of the screen that said Pellegrini had been dismissed. Unfortunately, we only caught the end of the story and, ever since the incident where Preview Alastair got hold of the satellite PIN number and ran up a four figure bill watching those late night channels at the far end of the on screen guide, access to the remote control is strictly controlled by the staff here. It was only a good half hour later once we’d broken into Matron’s office and retrieved the device that we discovered that the Pellegrini in question was in fact manager of Argentinian outfit Estudiantes, who some of us remember kicking lumps out of Moan Utd in the 1968 World Club Championship. So our record of playing teams who have just sacked their manager is not to be augmented this weekend.

They only brought in the one player in the January window, heading west to Swansea to secure the services of Ivory Coast striker Wifried Bony. Bony has only appeared five times for them having spent much of January on African Cuppa Soup duty. The work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips tells me that as the window opened they were on the back of a run of seven wins and a draw, so one may be forgiven for thinking that the solitary nature of Bony’s arrival might have been an indication of Pellegrini’s (or the owners’) satisfaction with the quality of the squad. However, another reason for the lack of player influx may have been the effects of the cap on transfer spending imposed by UEFA after they fell foul of the “Financial Fair Play” (for which read “pulling up the drawbridge”) regulations. Indeed, Bony’s arrival for anything between £14m and £30m would appear to have broken that cap by some distance, depending on which newspaper you believe about the size of the fee. City, of course, deny any impropriety, claiming that the timing of transfer payments both in and out means that they comply with the rules at least in fact if not in spirit.

Bony is one of no fewer than six players who will be missing from their squad. Amongst these is the possibly more influential than they would care to admit James Milner (knee), and skipper Vincent Kompany whose thigh muscle injury picked up in last weekend’s derby may be serious enough to have called time on his season.

Of course six players out when you’re that rich just means that there is another class act waiting In the wings for a start. Or, failig that, Frank Lampard (junior) whose own loan transfer from New York City (80% owned by City Football Group – i.e. Man City) raised a few eyebrows when it came to looking at the spirit of the increasingly discredited FFP rules. I suppose he’ll end up in America eventually and, given the relatively new status of NYCFC (2015 is their first season) and the still relatively low profile afforded to proper football across the pond, there will be few out there who will be aware of his disgraceful drunken behaviour towards some of their compatriots in the aftermath of the horrors of 9/11. Luckily for him there was no lasting damage caused to his brand-earning potential so there’ll be no need for him to throw any more grannies out on to the street to make ends meet. For a while anyway.

Despite all the injuries they can still call upon the likes of top scorer Sergio Aguero up front. His brace that bookended last weekend’s 4-2 reverse brought his total up to 25 for the season – his second was his 100th in all competitions for City since his arrival from Atletico Madrid in 2011. As I may have mentioned before, the fact that he stuck four past Spurs earlier this season (including two penalties and a further one missed) makes him nearly as good as David Cross. Yes folks he’s THAT good.

Us? Well after the goal last week we were pretty darn awful really weren’t we? We sat back and got deeper and deeper and we can only be thankful that we weren’t playing anyone any good who might have worked out how to get in behind us well before the 95th minute. As it was we made an average Stoke side look, well slightly less average in a game where we saw more physio than football.

The aftermath of the match has left us short of striking options with Sakho’s hamstring possibly bringing his promising first season in the Premier League to a premature conclusion. Valencia was another worry at the end of the match with another foot problem originally rendering him doubtful for the trip up north. It looks like Carlton Cole will get a start in what is likely to be his the beginning of the end of his career at the Boleyn. You may recall that he had put on a few lbs when he re-signed for us last season, something that delayed his return to first team action. Small wonder then that he fancies a spell in the States when he finally leaves – as certain other signings out there have proved, being a bit of a chubber is no bar to a lucrative contract out there. Other than Sakho and the other two long-termers

Of course Sakho’s absence rather begs the question as to under what circumstances would be required for Nene to be given a start. There have been many rumours of internal conflict over the player’s arrival earlier this season and although us mere mortals obviously don’t see what goes on in training from day to day, one can’t help but feel that the player is somewhat underused. It’s an odd one to be sure.

Prediction? Well back in the old days when you had to actually win the league to get into what is now called the so-called Champions League their current form would have seen them resigned to a spot in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – actually because of the odd “one club per city” rule that used to apply they’d probably have been looking at missing out on Europe altogether. However, with qualification for the so-called Champions League going down to fourth they’ll be casting a nervous eye over their shoulders at the Scousers, so unfortunately they still have something to play for.

It’s the sort of game that we usuall find ourselves going 2-0 down in before realising too late that actually they’re not that good and we can get something out of the game, scoring much too late to do anything about it. So for that reason I’ll be popping down to Winstone’s the Turf Accountant to place the £2.50 that the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered had set aside to buy a tv remote control with a wipe-clean surface for Preview Alastair’s personal use on a 2-1 home win as the season limps towards its conclusion.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the City Of Manchester Stadium: Lost 0-2. A pretty wretched season came to an end in a match that had the one main advantage of ensuring that Liverpool’s small chance of winning the league came to naught.

Danger Man: Sergio Aguero. Anyone who is early as good as David Cross is bound to be a threat.

Referee: Anthony Taylor That’ll be the accident-prone buffoon from Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester. At least HE’ll have a nice easy journey home then.

Daft Fact Of The Week:The Argentinian David Cross (I’m going to get that nickname into common usage if it kills me) actually shares part of a surname with our own ‘keeper Adrian.

Aguero’s full name is Sergio Aguero Del Castillo whilst Adrian’s is Adrian San Miguel Del Castillo. The City man’s name translates into English as “Sergio Water Derek Castle” whilst our ‘keeper’s is “Adrian Lager Derek Castle”, neither of which is particularly exotic really.

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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