Filed: Friday, 1st May 2015
By: Preview Percy
What sort of sick mind finds connections between Ashley Barnes and Paolo Di Canio and between Ron Greenwood and Lee Dixon? Preview Percy - inevitably....
Next up after a couple of weekends on the road we return to home turf where we will play host to Burnley.
This 3pm kick-off thing seems to be catching on as well you know. It’s pretty clear on the tubes and trains as well, and even the work between Bow Church & Stratford on the fairground ride that is the DLR won’t be starting until Sunday. That just leaves them with the “wrong kind of snow” as an excuse.
For the second week running we find ourselves playing someone in trouble. Last weekend’s results left the Clarets at the bottom of the table on 26 points with four left to play. That leaves them five points from safety where Leicester, though, with -16 Leicester have a better goal difference than Burnley’s -26. With so few games to play that’s as good as an extra point really.
Their last outing saw them go down 1-0 to the aforementioned Leicester who are in good nick at present, despite the insane ramblings of their manager. Yet it could all have gone so differently had ex-hammer Matty Taylor not missed the penalty that would have seen Burnley take the lead against the Filberts. Taylor looked distraught as he saw the spot kick hit the post after he had been fouled by yet another ex-Hammer in the form of Paul Knochesky.
As it transpired, Taylor was doubly right to be upset, within a minute Leicester had gone up the other end and netted what turned out to have been the winner.
Had Burnley won they would have been in 17th place with more of a fighting chance of survival, with a run-in that includes us, Hull (a), Stoke (h) and Villa (a). As it happened Hull’s unexpected wins away at Palace and at home to the reassuringly untrustworthy Scousers just looks like turning the screw a little bit more.
Goals. There’s the problem. The Leicester match represented a fifth consecutive blank for them which tells its own story. And when goals are that much of a rarity you really don’t want to be missing spot-kicks I’m afraid.
Top man in the scoring charts is Danny Ings who has notched 9 this season, all of which have come in the league. Last season it was Ings’ partnership with Sam Vokes that led their promotion run. Their current predicament might serve to question the wisdom of not significantly strengthening the striking department in close season, especially given Vokes’s absence for some of the season with injury. Vokes has only started five matches this season and is currently absent without a return date in sight with a hip and/or thigh injury.
As ever the finances are the key element and those strikers that did arrive in the summer (Jutkiewicz, Sordell) were relatively cheap and had more than an air of “they’ll do as back-up” about them. Given the cash available to Dyche it was little surprise then when they didn’t go bonkers in the last window. There were two arrivals after the turn of the year. The first, Michael Keane, was hardly a new face – the defender had been on loan from Moan Utd since the start of the season and his arrival on a permanent deal for an undisclosed fee was merely a rubber stamp job.
The other new boy was Norwegian midfielder Fredrik Ulvestad. Ulvestad’s arrival actually took place after the window had shut. According to the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips it gets a bit nippy over in Norway during what we would think of as the football season so they play in summer meaning that their transfer window is different. Or something.
They’ll be boosted a bit by the return of Ashley Barnes who is back after suspension. He’s their second top scorer with five and, bizarrely, the proud owner of an Austrian U20 cap. Apparently his great grandmother was out there at the time she gave birth to one of Barnes’s grandparents. The good people of the Austrian FA don’t seem to have been over impressed as his 17 minute plus stoppage time substitute appearance in a friendly was not followed by subsequent appearances.
Barnes had his own “Paolo moment” a few years back, receiving a red card for tripping up ref Nigel Miller whist playing for Brighton against Bolton. The video footage I saw of the incident was a bit hazy to be honest but there was enough in there to earn the player a seven match ban.
Another team member with an unusual international record is midfielder George Boyd. Regular readers will be aware we love it around here when we come across a mention of the England C team and the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips hasn’t let us down. Whilst with what was then non-league Stevenage Borough, Boyd picked up five caps for what is officially known as the “English National Game XI” a run that came to an end when the player signed for Peterborough, a signing that made him ineligible for the C team. Sadly his international career has gone downhill since his arrival in the big leagues and, the possession of a grandparent born the wrong side of the border has, tragically, seen him gain a number of full caps for Scotland.
Us? Well it was another pretty grim afternoon last weekend wasn’t it. As it stood, but for Adrian we’d have gone down 1-0 but there again I suppose Kouyate’s late miss could also have tripled the number of points we took away from the match. Post-match though it was a little galling to hear the manager praising the clean sheet as if we’d been leaking millions of goals when, over the second half of the season, it’s been the other end that has really been the problem.
As an aside, in watching the Man City v Villa match in the Swan And Superinjunction on Saturday evening the thought crossed my mind that if we’d approached that match in the same way as Villa did we might actually have picked up a point. Yes Villa ended up with zilch as we did but that was largely down to the officials whose error cost the Villains dearly. I dunno about you but I’d rather have lost our game 3-2 with a bit of fight than gone down in the way we did.
A quick look around at the events of last week elsewhere in the game and I couldn’t help but notice that Millwall and Wigan both appear to have been relegated to what we still call Division Three around here (we used to prefer it when there was Division 3 North and South actually) and, up in scouseland, thug Jon Flanagan has had another injury setback preventing him from making a comeback to putting 20 stitch wounds into the back of opponents legs.
Whilst I applaud the Gods of Football Karma for their efforts this week I would ask them not to overdo it – save something for Sheffield United in the playoffs and while you’re at it some sort of really painful retribution on the b*stards who burgled Ken Brown earlier this week wouldn’t go amiss guys. Oh and if you could infiltrate the computer in the offices of the good people at Atos, Bournemouth away might not be a totally unpleasant way to spend August Bank Holiday…..
Team news is that the injury list length is creeping up again. As well as the usual four of Carroll, Sakho, Tomkins and Demel, Reid and Song were on the sick list last week. Reid was a late withdrawal and his hamstring may mean that he’s another who we won’t see again until next year. Song’s back problem and the need to keep a strong midfield in his absence meant that the manager eschewed his usual policy of sticking Kouyate in at centre half when we are short and gave a league debut to the highly thought of Reece Burke. Burke did well to just about come away with honours even against the wily Zamora. Although our former striker did give the youngster a tough time he stuck to his task well. The noises from the training ground suggest that even though Song is likely to be available this weekend Burke is likely to keep his place which, when you think about it, would be no mean feat with a manager not noted for giving youth a chance.
Prediction? Well this has all the potential to reinstate our traditional role as “sequence busters” – no goals for them in five and a top scorer who hasn’t netted in nine is just asking for trouble isn’t it. I think we’ll get something out of this though we may have to score first to do so.
So, all things being considered, I would have bet the traditional £2.50 on a 1-1 draw only when I went to raid the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home’s collection to buy Jon Flanagan a get well soon card it was inexplicably empty apart from a note that read “you must be joking signed S Downing”. 1-1 it is then.
Enjoy the game!
When last we met at the Boleyn: Lost 1-2 (Championship December 2011). A game we dominated and should have scored loads well before we got the 52nd minute opener through Nolan. Unfortunately headers from McCann and Vokes nicked the points from the visitors. We’d have gone top with a win too as Southampton lost at Doncaster.
Danger Man: Danny Ings. Face it when you’re that overdue a goal we’re the team you want to be playing at the moment.
Referee: Jonathan Moss: These days they limit referees to one FA Cup Final in their career. This means that, in a “talent” pool as shallow as the so-called “Select” group, if you hang around long enough you’ll probably get the big gig eventually, no matter how bad even your colleagues think you are. The appointment of Jonathan Moss to the big game is proof of this. And we have him first. Lucky us.
Daft Fact Of The Week: Burnley was the birthplace of none other than Ron Greenwood, who managed the 1965 Cup Winners Cup winning side, whose players will be honoured at this match. Lee Dixon was also born there but they probably don’t like to talk about that.
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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