Filed: Friday, 18th September 2015
By: Preview Percy
This week's Preview Percy column contains a snippet of information that may be of interest to anyone planning on taking part in a tv quiz in Argentina or, possibly, India. Which is of no consolation to the rest of us unfortunately.....
Next we venture north to Manchester where City will be our hosts.
Kick-off is a pain in the neck 5:30pm – fine for getting up there but a right sod for getting home. There appear to be no engineering works between London & Manchester but if you’re coming in from Southend trains to Liverpool Street are up the pole as is the District Line to Upminster so leave yourself plenty of time to get to Euston if you’re going that way.
Well I suppose you could say that they’ve had a reasonable start to the season all things considered. Five out of five is the current tally with no goals conceded and Mourinho humiliated. One would expect little less for the petrodollars spent this summer. The work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles tells me that they shelled out £146.9m on players during the recently-closed window whilst receiving fees of £47m. So that’s a net spend of £100m (give or take) on players.
That figure is roughly double what they were allowed to spend in last summer’s window when they got slapped on the wrist by UEFA for breaches of the financial fair play rules. They met whatever targets UEFA set them so they can pretty much spend what they like – though there are still limits to be met for 2016. Presumably they will have been told to keep the spending down to a figure just short of the Greek national debt in future.
£44m of that spend went to Liverpool in exchange for the services of Raheem Sterling. Sterling’s this transfer seemed to take longer than a dozen Labour leadership elections as Liverpool kept upping the fee for a player they were calling greedy. Pot, kettle etc. Watching the England v Switzerland match the other night one was amazed at how many blind alleys Sterling ran down, running into trouble time and time again. It was also noticeable how the player’s head went down after each setback. Clearly something is not quite right with the lad, which is probably a cue for him to have a blinder against us.
£44m? A mere bagatelle next to the £54m or so shelled out for Belgian international Kevin De Bruyne. This is of course De Bruyne’s second spell in English football, assuming that you count a spell as part of Chelsea’s loan stock as a spell in English football. Those two years or so were spent mostly away at his old club Genk and at Werder Bremen. There was obviously something in the German air that agreed with him as he ended up at Wolfsburg for whom the £54m received represents a tidy profit on the £18m that they had to pay the Chelsea Player Warehouse for him.
Oddest transfer of the summer was the move of Fabian Delph from Villa to Eastlands. There had been industrial quantities of speculation over the player moving up to the point where the player issued an unequivocal statement to the effect that he was staying put. He really was. Wild horses wouldn’t get him to move. Honest. Six days later he was a City player explaining that he’d had his fingers crossed at the time of the earlier statement and so it didn’t actually count. He’s not had the greatest of starts up there, picking up a hamstring injury within 17 minutes of his pre-season debut. He returned to action in the England v Switzerland match but 90 seconds in his hamstring announced that, contrary to any announcement that it might have made previously, it wasn’t fit at all and required a good long lie-down after all, much to the amusement of certain parts of Birmingham.
When rummaging through one of the Eastlands wardrobes they found an old jacket they hadn’t worn for a while. With the £28.5m they found in the pocket they went and bought Argentinian defender Nicolas Otamendi from Valencia. The centre back was part of the Argentinian squad that lost out on penalties to Chile in the recent Copa America, gaining the scant consolation of making the “Team Of The Tournament” at the end of the whole shebang. He has got an international goal to his name, scoring the only goal of the game in a friendly win over Venezuela in 2011. The work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles tells me that the match was notable only for having taken place in what I still refer to as Calcutta, a piece of information with zero practical use outside the Argentinian Version of “A Question Of Sport”. Or possibly the Indian one. If there is such a thing.
Otamendi has yet to feature in the league side this season, making his debut in the 2-1 defeat to Juventus in the So-Called Champions League the other night. He replaced Vincent Kompany who had hobbled off with a calf injury. Kompany’s withdrawal was described as “precautionary” and the injury as “not serious” at the time, but the latest news is that the injury is more serious than thought and will keep Kompany out of the team this weekend. Otamendi is thus likely to make his league debut for the Citizens on Saturday.
If the £28.5m spent on Otamendi came out of an old forgotten jacket, the £12m spent on Fulham kid Patrick Roberts presumably came out of one of those little dishes you keep your keys and small change in on the little cabinet by the bed next to the denture glass. Yet to figure for the first team this season, Roberts is presumably being kept in their “one for the future” bin and it is a bit of a surprise that he hasn’t been loaned out somewhere at the time of writing. Or at least it was a surprise until the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles reminded me of the rule that Premier League squads need to contain at least 8 home grown players in their 25 man squads this season. With the likes of Lampard, Sinclair and Milner all having fled the nest they were left with only Joe Hart, reserve ‘keeper and former Pink Floyd keyboard player Richard Wright and, bizarrely, Gael Clichy qualifying for “home grown” status. The arrival of Sterling, Delph and Roberts together with the inclusion of some graduates from the development squad enabled them to dodge that administrative bullet.
On the injury front they’ll be without Gael Clichy (ankle) and Pablo Zabaleta (knee). The talismanic figure of Sergio Aguero may also be a slight doubt. He was subbed with a knock to the knee in the Palace match last weekend and didn’t start against Juventus. However, the knock had eased sufficiently for him to come on as sub for the last five minutes when they were chasing an equaliser against Juve so he will probably be available for this one. Unfortunately, given how bloody good the little sod is.
Joining Aguero in the “joy to watch” stakes is playmaker David Silva. Silva missed the Palace match with an ankle knock sustained whilst on international duty with Spain the other week but was fit enough to return to play the full 90 in the So Called Champions League in midweek. In the corresponding fixture last season Silva came off worse in a collision with Kouyate which everyone involved agreed was an accident. Well everyone except the massed brains trust of the Sky pundit group. Niall Quinn was adamant there was intent, Glenn Hoddle said that his faith healer had spoken with someone in the spirit world who had confirmed that there was intent and Jamie Carragher, well he just opened his gob and confirmed that you’d be hard pushed to find anyone quite as thick as he is outside an EDL rally or a convention of Spurs fans.
As for us, well it was good to get a home win at last, even if it did come against a Newcastle team auditioning for lead roles in “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue”. Moses gave us a fine debut desite tiring rapidly towards the end. That was only to have been expected after so long gathering dust in the Chelsea Warehouse of late.
Payet was outstanding and well-deserving of the MOTM plaudits bestowed upon him from left, right and centre. However, there were also fine performances from more established members of the squad – the contribution of the likes of Reid, whilst not as eye-catching as some, should not go unremarked.
Also a word about Darren Randolph. Now I saw a few matches in pre-season/Thursday Night League and I’ll admit that the prospect of Adrian becoming unavailable was one that concerned me nearly as much as the prospect of the brewery turning the Swan and Superinjunction into a “gastropub”. However, over the three games in which he deputised for our victim of refereeing stupidity, Randolph acquitted himself rather well. Even the Bournemouth match – in which he was horribly let down by those in front of him – saw him perform heroics which, arguably, kept the score down to something vaguely resembling respectability. Ok so Liverpool and Newcastle resembled competition winners rather than fully fledged Premier League teams but even so there was the odd occasion when he needed to keep awake. So if he does step down in favour of Adrian he will do so having earned a doff of the Percy cap.
So let’s have a look at the injury list shall we? Obiang is a slight doubt having picked up a knock on Monday night but the prognosis suggests that he should be able to play a part. Ogbonna’s Hamstring is a grade one apparently, suggesting that GCSE exams have gotten so easy these days that even unsupervised parts of the body can pick up a decent pass. Three weeks is the expected time out for the lad meaning that Tomkins and Reid will partner up in the centre of defence.
Alex Song is looking at Halloween before he returns, unless, like me, he suffers a recurrence of an injury whilst kicking lumps out of any spotty teenager stupid enough to try “Trick Or Treating”. Zarate may well be fit but it’s difficult to see him working his way into the team as it stands at the moment. Maybe a spot on the bench for him
Valencia is some way off of course but it’s an area or where we have depth in numbers, especially now that Carroll is back in contention. Amalfitano isn’t injured but, with him having tried the boss’s patience once too often, I’m probably ahead of him in the selection pecking order.
So a prediction then. Well they have had a start haven’t they? Having said that, the win over Palace was a bit laboured, the winner coming from 18 year-old Nigerian striker Iheanacho who came on in the last minute of normal time. That win was their eleventh consecutive league win spread over last season and the current one. Refreshingly, however, Mr Bilic is treating this one as one to try and get something out of in exactly the same way as any other game, rather than writing the match off as a “bonus match”.
Eleven on the trot is the sort of sequence that we often break – though admittedly it’s usually when our opponents have lost, rather than won, eleven. So far for our away matches I’ve plumped for the results one might have expected on the road. I actually think we can get a draw out of this one, maybe more but I’m loath to jinx the whole shebang by actually predicting such a result officially.
Here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered we had collected £2.50 to buy Jamie Carragher a new brain cell (the one he has is getting lonely) but instead I’ll be popping down to Winstone The Turf Accountant and placing it on a plucky if slightly unlucky (to us) 2-1 home win.
Enjoy the game!
When Last We Met At Eastlands: Lost 2-0 April 2015 A Ginge OG and one for Aguero were enough to seal all three points for a Man City side who could have gone home after the second goal, such was our lack of attacking intent.
Danger Man:How long have you got? Aguero is probably the pick of the crop if fit but they have several players who can all run a game.
Referee:Robert Madley. He’s only taken charge of us on one previous occasion, that being a 2-0 win up at Burnley in the League Cup two years ago. He awarded us two penalties in that one so here’s hoping….
Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The week: It has to be Nancy Dell’Ollio – yes the Gallagher brothers are slightly irritating but they at least have Champagne Supernova on their CVs. Dell’Ollio on the other hand is just one of those people who is well known for being famous without ever having done anything to justify it.
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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