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Sunderland v West Ham United


Filed: Friday, 2nd October 2015
By: Preview Percy


Unlike Jeremy Corbyn, not only would Preview Percy press the big red button in the event of a nuclear war, he'd probably do it in peacetime. Croydon, Liverpool and White Hart Lane are first on his hit list. Sunderland isn't on the list. Yet........

Next we visit the naffly-named Stadium of Light where our hosts will be Sunderland. Kick-off is 3pm on Saturday (hurrah). There doesn’t seem to be any engineering works between here and there and even the trains and tubes into town like they will be behaving themselves, with the exception of those running into Liverpool Street from Tottenham territory which, in an attempt to keep the rest of the city free from contamination will be closed. If that’s your route to Kings Cross for the journey north, check before you leave. Oh, and move.

Our hosts will come into the match in less than rude health. Not to put too fine a point on it, they are rock bottom. Two points is their sole reward this season courtesy of a home draw against Sunderland and one on the road at Villa. Other than that it’s been defeats all the way, going down 4-2 at Leicester, 3-1 at home to Norwich, 2-0 at Bournemouth and 3-0 at Man Utd. Hell they even managed to go down 1-0 at home to Spurs.

They are of course used to scrapping about the nether regions of the league in recent times. Last season looked a little bleak up to St Patrick’s Day at which point Dick Advocaat (still sounds like the sort of game those wacky rugby types play) took over from “Father Of A Hammer” Gus Poyet. Advocaat took over on a deal that was to keep him there until the end of the season after which, whether or not they stayed up, he was to ride off into the sunset. His first match was at the Boleyn and ended in a 1-0 defeat. Things got better the following week with a 1-0 defeat of Newcastle and over the course of the next few months they gleaned enough points to escape by the penultimate game of the season, a 0-0 draw with Arsenal.

At the conclusion of the season Advocaat carried out his original plan of retiring from the game. However, and reportedly much to his wife’s disgust, he was persuaded to stay on for another season. That’s a decision that he may well be regretting at the moment, though the way results are going Mrs A may well get her way after all, with Burnley croakmeister Sean Dyche already going into print to deny interest in the role, amid speculation that the Mackems have been setting up a shortlist including Dyche’s name.

Advocaat reversed his decision to sling his hook in June, the timing of which may or may not have had an effect on transfer dealings. In the end they brought in five players on permanent deals. A closer look at the five new boys shows that two of them had already been on loan at the club in a past life.

The biggest fee paid according to the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles was the £10m (including add-ons) lobbed in the general direction of Anfield in exchange for the services of Fabio Borini. Before joining the Merseyside Diving Academy, Borini had spent some time being loaned out to Swansea as part of the Chelsea player hire operation and it was during this period that he first encountered Brendan Rodgers. Despite this the player elected to become David Brent’s first signing at Anfield, having been conned by Mario Balotelli into believing that Liverpool’s supporters were somehow “exciting”. Maybe it’s just whenever we go up there that they are so quiet. Borini failed to stir the Anfield faithful out of their collective slumbers during his time there, though a number of lengthy spells on the treatment table didn’t help much. He spent much of 2013/14 on loan at Wearside and on his return to Scouseland it was reported that the Mackems had had a £14m bid accepted. Borini didn’t want to go but after a season on the fringe of an average Liverpool side he elected to cut his losses and swap coasts.

The other returning old boy also came from Liverpool with £2m going in the other direction. Sebastian Coates – and I expect that I’m still the only one to nickname him “Ralph” – arrived on a season-long loan last season but the centre-half seemed to annoy his compatriot Poyet after a 3-1 defeat by Hull and was banished to whatever the reserve team is called these days. Coates might have returned to Liverpool never to be seen again at the end of the season had Sunderland not dispensed with Poyet’s services. However, he was given a fresh start by Advocaat and he didn’t miss a minute of the five game unbeaten run that kept them up. Such was the reversal of fortune that the centre back, who has 17 caps at full level for Uruguay, signed a four-year deal this summer.

They coughed up £8m for Dutch winger Jermain Lens. Lens arrived from what I insist on spelling as Dynamo Kiev this summer having done the double with the Ukranian outfit last season. Lens had previous with Advocaat, who had been his gaffer at AZ “Where’s The 67 Gone?” Alkmaar and PSV Eindhoven. Lens is one of the increasingly rare bunch who have played international football for two different countries. Although born in Amsterdam, he qualified for Surinam through ancestry and because “he felt more Surinamese”. In 2009 he represented the former Dutch colony in the never to be forgotten PARBO Bier Cup. Oh come on you MUST remember that one. No? Well you’re not alone. It seems that it wasn’t quite the major festival of football that the good people at PARBO Bier had hoped and it also escaped the attention of FIFA, who failed to interrupt their money laundering for long enough to actually give the tournament any kind of official recognition. This came in handy a year later when, after the 2010 World Cup, Lens suddenly felt slightly more Dutch after all, making his debut in the orange in a 1-1 draw against Ukraine, scoring the Dutch goal in the process. He now has over 30 Dutch Caps (come on that joke is becoming traditional now) and the rules now mean that should he come over all Surinamese again that’s tough.

They also brought in Younes Kaboul into the centre of defence. The poor bloke had two separate spells with Spurs, popping down to Pompey inbetween. The return to Spurs happened on the Redknapp watch and took place whilst cash-strapped Pompey still owed £3m to Spurs over the original transfer. It was wryly noted by many observers that the £9m fee paid by Spurs for Pompey for the return of the player, might be considered to have been, well, a bit generous to say the least. Which was odd because it’s not like a transfer involving a member of the Redknapp family to raise eyebrows is it? Kaboul can console himself with the fact that, as bad as things may seem for Sunderland at the moment, at least he’s not at White Hart Lane.

The final permanent deal brought Welsh international right back Adam Matthews in from Celtic. £2m was paid for the former “Football League Apprentice Of The Year” who won the award for his clever idea for a device to enable apprentices polish multiple pairs of first team players’ boots. Or was that another programme? I forget.

They brought in a further three loan bodies during the window. Most interesting of these is French international midfielder Yann M’Vila. M’Vila is on a season with an option loan from Russian League outfit Rubin Kazan, which is just one of a number of clubs he’s fallen out with over the years. Even back in his early years in France the words “possible attitude problem” were being bandied about. Having had a look at his record in recent years I think we can dispense with the word “possible”. He’s currently on the naughty step in Tatarstan having walked out of Rubin’s training camp in Turkey to go back to France a couple of years back. He was loaned out to Inter at the start of 2014/15 on a season with an option deal which lasted only up to January when it was announced that he’d been sent back to Tatarstan after a bust-up with Inter boss Roberto Mancini. He then spent a spell training with Dynamo Moscow, a period which came to an end after an unspecified incident resulted in him trashing his Moscow lodgings.

Disciplinary issues are a recurring theme for M’Vila. Although he has 10 full caps for the French, he hasn’t featured in the squad since 2011/12, receiving an international ban until June 2014 after an unauthorised night out. He hasn’t been selected since. So you might think that the move to Wearside represents something of a chance to get his career on track at the ripe old age of 25. If that’s the case, it wasn’t the most auspicious of starts which saw him get his marching orders in a development squad match v Norwich for head-butting an opponent. He has since appeared for the first XI, scoring a 20 yard free-kick to open the scoring in the match against his namesake team. However, I’d suggest that he is still probably one to file under “nutjob”.

And so to us. Last week was a match full of ifs and buts. We’d started off ok until Noble’s hospital pass left Tomkins stranded. That knocked us for six and, if Jerome had been better than the journeyman he obviously is, a 0-2 deficit might have proved difficult to overcome. There again, as the old saying goes, if my granny had wheels she’d be a skateboard.

The equaliser was a fine goal and served to spur the team on for the remainder of the half. I thought the second half was pretty even and we had a couple of good chances to go ahead and later equalise before we actually did. So all in all a fair result. Pack up, eat the pigeon, go home. Prepare for next week.

We do have a few injury doubts. There can be few who didn’t think “here we go again” when Carroll went down shortly after coming on as a sub. Thankfully he managed to run the knock off but he is still not 100% for the trip north. Of slightly more concern is the hip/back problem that saw Winston Reid pulled out of training the other day. With Ogbonna still not quite right, Reid’s absence would mean a start for Ginge. Good job we didn’t sell him during the window then. Valencia and Song are still improving but still some way away whilst Amalfitano may be on the blower to M’Vila to compare notes.

Prediction? Well the presence of one Defoe, J. amongst the opposition ranks probably means that we’ll concede at some stage – he often nets against us. However, such footage as I have been able to look at of Sunderland suggests that they are currently weaker than the lager they serve in the Swan & Superinjunction to those not able to handle real beer. Defoe has often looked a bit isolated up front and they may elect to pair him with Borini, whose record doesn’t exactly match the transfer fees laid out for him over the years.

Now in the hundred or so years that I have been following this club of ours, we have built up a reputation amongst ourselves as “sequence busters.” Your team hasn’t won for ages? Play West Ham. Striker hasn’t scored for you? Give him a start against West Ham. Now I don’t know how genuinely common such events are with us. It may be that that’s the sort of coincidence that happens to every team once in a while and we just happen to notice it a bit more because we’re looking at our team. However, the way things are at the moment I really can’t see us losing up there.

This match is being touted as “make or break” on Wearside at the moment. However, an early goal will serve to put their heads down so I will stick the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s fund (£2.50 + 5p for the carrier bag) to buy Roy Hodgson a map that has somewhere other than Liverpool on it (Ings? Really? I’m back in the home now Roy if you want to make that call) on a 2-1 win to us which will probably please Mrs Advocaat and create some sort of record for consecutive away wins. Probably. I expect. The work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles has gone for his tea so you’ll have to look it up yourselves.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met Up There: Drew 1-1. Downing equalised a Gomez penalty after a(nother) Johnson dive.

Danger Man: Jermain Defoe. Their top scorer and main threat. And that’s even before you factor in the “law of the ex”.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick Last seen by us in the FA Cup 3rd round replay against Everton, the match of “Adrian’s Gloves”.

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: Not a great crop of celebs this week but purely for ruining Sunday evenings for a generation of kids forced to watch the oh so bland “All Creatures Great And Small” I give you the late James “Hand Up A Cow’s Backside” Herriott.


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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