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West Ham United v Norwich City


Filed: Friday, 25th September 2015
By: Preview Percy


It was once pointed out to Alan Partridge, Norwich's favourite fictional broadcaster, that a anagram of his name was "Anal Dirge Prat". Talking of which, here is Preview Percy

So it’s back home once more on Saturday where we will host Norwich City. After all the recent mucking about it’s back to 3pm for us. The tubes and trains in the local vicinity all seem to be engineering work free though there may be stuff going on out in the wilds of Essex between Southend Victoria and Wickford if that’s your preferred route in. Look at the appropriate website before you leave I’d say.

The Canaries will travel down the M11 in 11th place with 8 points from the six games played so far. That’s made up of a brace each of wins, draws and defeats. The victories came away against Sunderland and Bournemouth at home (both 3-1). The two draws were both 1-1, home to Stoke and away to Liverpool whilst the defeats were at home on the opening day to Palace (1-3) and a 3-0 reverse on the road at Southampton. Not much in the way of a pattern there then.

They are also through to the 4th round of the League Cup courtesy of a 2-1 win at Rotherham and the other night’s 3-0 defeat of West Brom, a score that in part reflected the shedloads of changes that the Baggies boss Pulis made for the tie.

They are managed by former Hamilton Academical boss Alex Neil. Neil took over in January 2015 following the departure of Neil Adam. At that point their promotion campaign was somewhat moribund, despite a highly amusing 6-1 thrashing of Millwall which brightened up Christmas no end here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered I can tell you. However, the new boss galvanised a decent second half to the season which saw them challenging with Bournemouth, Watford and Boro’ for top slot. In the final shakeout four points covered the top three and the Canaries missed out on an automatic return, finishing in third place three points behind Watford.

Promotion was eventually achieved via the playoffs, something made slightly sweeter by virtue of the defeat of Ipswich in the semis. Boro’ were dispatched 2-0 in the final, a victory that prompted a no-doubt somewhat refreshed Delia Smith to demand a knighthood for Neil. Which seemed a bit much really, given that Norwich seem to get promoted on a regular basis.

After last week’s tales of transfer budgets the size of the former Soviet Union’s defence budget, the figures brought to me by the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles this week are somewhat more modest. During this window they brought in four players on permanent deals shelling out a total of £10m in total. To put that into some sort of perspective Man City spent more than that on a player simply to boost the number of home grown players in the squad.

The biggest fee paid by the Canaries was the reported £7m paid to Hull for Irish international left back cum winger Robbie Brady. Brady started his career at Old Trafford gaining one League Cup sub appearance whilst there before moving to Hull. After Hull were relegated he decided to eschew Mo Diame’s ambition to play for a top 6 club (be fair now, Diame didn’t actually specify the league) and arrived in Norfolk in the close season, presumably to save himself the embarrassment of having to play for a team called Hull Tigers.

The remaining £3m paid out went on West Brom midfielder (and one-time Irons’ target) Graham Dorrans. The sweaty has in fact been at Carrow Road since last January having fallen out of favour with Tony Pulis at the Hawthorns (a good reference to have on anyone’s CV I’d say). The playoff final whistle had scarcely finished – Delia’s hangover was still in its formative stages – when they announced that the deal had been made permanent, at which point supporters of Livingstone were heard to utter a collective “D-oh!” It seems that when Dorrans moved south of the border to West Brom there had been a clause promising “The Amber Machine” 20% of his next transfer fee – worth £600,000, enough to buy the town of Livingston with enough left over to keep the rest of Scotland in deep fried Mars bars for the next 40 years. Or at least it would have been had the owner not accepted £50,000 as a buy-out of that clause, leaving them with only enough to buy the town of Livingston.

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll have worked out that the other two permanent deals must have been free transfers. They shopped at the Hawthorns again for midfielder Youssuf Mulumbu. Mulumbu promptly went on to break a toe (it’s a toe not a poncy “metatarsal” ok?) and has yet to feature this season.

The other “permanent free” to come in was back-up ‘keeper Jake Kean who arrived after being released by Blackburn.

Of course these days we also have to look at loans and the most prominent of these has been a certain Jarvis (M) late of this parish. He’s featured regularly since his move and has even been on the scoresheet a couple of times since being declared surplus to requirements at the Boleyn. Of course the fact that he’s hit a spot of form just before they play us is (thankfully) irrelevant since his loan status renders him ineligible for selection.

One of the headline grabbers this season has been over a transfer that didn’t take place. Lewis Grabben was looking out for a move to Bournemouth, a place of which he had happy memories. However, three bids from the Cherries failed to match the Norwich valuation of the player, who got somewhat cheesed off with the situation and walked out of the team hotel prior to the League Cup tie at Rotherham.

Norwich promptly suspended the player until the end of the window and no transfer was forthcoming. There seems to have been a slight thaw in relations to the extent that he came on a sub for Cameron Jerome against the scousers.

They’re a bit short on numbers up front, which may be the reason for their reluctance to let Grabban go. They still have the improbably-named Ricky Van Wolfswinkel on the books. Technically. He arrived for a reported £8m in 2013 but netted just the once as they were relegated. They sent him off to join Sarah Cracknell and the boys at Saint Etienne last season returning during the summer. He has actually made an appearance and scored this season – netting in the League Cup against Rotherham. This wasn’t enough to get him to a return to the first XI on a Saturday and he was given a ticket to Spain where he’s now not scoring for Real Betis.

Another absentee from the striking resource will be Gary Hooper, ankle ligaments damaged in training keeping him out of the side for another few weeks. Prior to the injury he had been touted for a loan to Sheffield Wednesday, a move which, presumably like his ankle, is on ice.

It was a rum old week elsewhere in football. Chelsea’s Costa receiving exactly the same initial punishment for his antics as Mark Noble got for being fouled. Costa eventually got his comeuppance though the failure of the authorities to punish fireproof referee Dean means that we will be the ones to suffer this week. I rather get the impression that if Dean were himself to head the winner in a tight match in the manner of the teacher on the excellent Cradle To Grave the other night the authorities would turn a blind eye. Let’s face it he’s committed just about every other crime against honesty and refereeing in his career so it’s probably the last thing on his bucket list.

It was an odd week all round for football. I actually heard Tony Pulis criticise one of his own players for diving. Yup THE Tony Pulis who has spent much of his career coaching his players to ignore the laws of the game. Reports that Brendan Rodgers might do the same thing were dismissed though when they worked out that the pre-match press conference would have to last all day – all month if previous offences were to be taken into account.

Us? Well Leicester deserved their win the other night. I couldn’t help but wonder though what might have happened had the referee awarded that penalty. Or the other one. Or the third one. Or that one. One mistake you go hmmmm. Two you raise an eyebrow. Three you question the referee’s competence but four? Four clear penalties and you have to question both the guy’s competence and sanity. Especially when you throw in the caution for Noble that was such an insult to the intelligence that even the Sky commentators on the stream the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles sorted out for us didn’t sit on their usual fence. The fact that yellow card appeals aren’t allowed, even against decisions as stupid as that one was is another example of the authorities protecting their own backsides.

Still it’s only the League Cup and, nice as it is while you’re in it, it’s not worth shedding major torrents of tears over. So let’s concentrate on the league then. It’s quite funny watching other team’s supporters taking our usual self-deprecating humour seriously. I mean you’d have to be really stupid on the scale of Spurs or Liverpool to take the “we’re gonna win the league” chants on face value – long years of supporting this club have taught most of us to enjoy stuff while it lasts. Still there’s little chance of the current manager making wholesale changes to the system the second a result goes the wrong way as has been known in the past.

Injury news is that we will be without the usual four suspects of Song, Valencia, Ogbonna & O’Brien which leaves competition for places all over the shop. Having said that I would expect that, as long as there are no lasting ill-effects from last Tuesday, we would start with a starting XI not too dissimilar to that which started against Newcastle – obviously with Tomkins starting in place of the aforementioned injured Ogbonna. I would say that that is pretty much our best XI on current form and should the manager agree with me this will mean the likes of Carroll, Antonio and Jelavic will have to bide their time on the racing car seats for a bit.

My thoughts on the opposition is that they are a bit short on striking power up front. Defender Russell Martin is their top scorer with three (including a nice finish against the scousers) and after him you’re looking at the ineligible Jarvis on 2. Martin is obviously going to be a handful at corners so the trick will be to not give any away in the first place. Jerome and Grabben with all due respect would probably fit most people’s definition of “journeymen” so they are reliant on the likes of Martin chipping in.

With all that in mind my optimism hasn’t been dented by the events of Tuesday night. I shall therefore be placing the £2.50 that the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewilered had earmarked for gas masks to go with the home’s new ultra low emission VW minibus on a home win. I’ll say 2-1 on this occasion.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Won 2-0 (February 2014). A late (and rare) Ginge goal and an even later Diame deflected effort gave us a slightly flattering all three points in the “four in a row” run that kept us up that season.

Danger Man: Russell Martin. Unusually I’ve gone for a defender this week. However, he has displayed a sharpness in the box at set pieces that we’ll do well to heed.

Referee: Mike Dean Garth Crooks: “Sometimes he wants to be the star too much for my liking”. Really Garth? Only sometimes??? This is what you get when you let a corrupt bunch cover their own backsides every week. This man is more of a threat to there being a genuine result than any of the 22 players on the pitch.

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: Yes Delia. Yes Stephen Fry I am aware of them. However, for true irritation look no further than bloody awful band “The Darkness”. That bloody Christmas single in particular gets right up one’s nose. Who on earth bought the bloody thing? Bloody Stephen Fry and Delia Bloody Smith I expect.


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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