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West Ham United v Chelsea


Filed: Thursday, 22nd October 2015
By: Preview Percy


They appear to have discovered a star in the depths of space that is surrounded by some sort of hyperstructure that may, or may not have been constructed by an intelligence far in advance of anything the human brain can comprehend. If you're reading this up there, have you got anyone who can write match previews? Until they get back to us, here's Preview Percy....

Next up we play host to the money laundering operation that is Chelsea. Kick-off is 3pm Saturday which, for any Chelsea fans reading this, is the traditional time and day on which matches kick off in England. Tradition? Dictionaries are available both online and from all good bookshops.

Trains throughout the east of this wonderful city of ours appear to be engineering work-free (with the exception of the quarantine works in the Tottenham area). Rain is forecast at the time of writing so don’t say you weren’t warned.

Well it’s all a bit messy over there isn’t it . After picking up the title last season they’ve got off to the sort of start that one might describe as “indifferent”. Or “bloody awful” when you take into account the fact that they are the defending champions. They’re currently sitting in 12th place with 11 points from 9 games, the win against a poor Villa side covering over the cracks to a certain extent. The fact is they have lost four times already, which is hardly the stuff of champions.

There have been rumours-a-plenty of what is euphemistically referred to as dressing-room “unrest” and the so-called “special (needs) one” has been going into conspiracy theory overload. Mourinho went into print recently to describe some of the fines dished out to him and his club as “a disgrace”. Well that’s one thing on which we can agree Jose. Chelsea were fined £40,000 for their players part in the fracas in the Arsenal match following incidents in which their player was found guilty of unpunished violent conduct. Consider that against the £50k we got hit with for an incident in which it was proven that we had been the victims of genuine refereeing injustice up at Liverpool. Yup Mourinho, I make you right there – “disgrace” is definitely the word.

It wouldn’t be so bad if he had any sort of genuine point, but over the years his players have gotten away with so much murder over the years – Andre Marriner was their MOTM at the Boleyn last season - you’d think he’d learn to bite his lip on those rare occasions that the den of mediocrity that is our refereeing gene pool actually get something right and punish the one in twenty blatant dives they manage to spot. Of course Mourinho, like Ferguson before him, is a past master of building up pressure on referees as a combination of reverse psychology and distraction tactic. However, unlike the red-nosed Scottish git, his methods lack subtlety and, for the reverse psychology bit anyway, they appear to be proving counterproductive at the moment.

So – apart from the fact that even our stupid match officials may have rumbled what the rest of us have known for years - why the poor start? Well they didn’t have much of a pre-season to start with. Whilst some of us were slumming it, knocking back cocktails at the Dom Mintoff Retirement Complex and Workhouse in clocking up meaningful competition time in Malta in the Europa League, Chelsea players were probably on a beach somewhere having been given extra time off. Now there will have been genuine reasons for this – some will have been on Copa America duty for example and, to be fair it felt like we were playing Europa League matches six months before we’d even qualified for the bloody thing. However, when it came around to the (Care In The) Community Shield they did look for all the world like a side only a week or so into its pre-season preparation which seems to have consisted of a holiday in the States. This left Arsenal to carry home the not-very-coveted-unless-you-win-the-thing Shield, and the fact that they’d beaten the reigning champions ended up giving them a false sense of security which almost certainly contributed to their 2-0 defeat to us the following weekend. So the shortened pre-season then. A genuine attempt at giving some players rest time of a spot of arrogance? Probably an element of both.

Then there was “medigate” when the team’s doctor was castigated – and eventually (constructively) dismissed for not being able to tell when a Chelsea player is feigning injury and when he was actually injured. Now ok with Chelsea obviously nine times out of ten it will be the former but, given all that Hippocratic oath stuff that doctors tend to take rather seriously, Crippen/Shipman/Fox (possibly not a real doctor) notwithstanding, the medic’s treatment by the club was pretty bad darts all round and it certainly didn’t help any with club harmony.

Of course they splashed the cash over the summer – yacht-boy’s expenditure since taking over has, according to the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles, topped the one BILLION mark. Even if you accept the new-fangled definition of a billion that’s still £1,000,000,000 of Her Majesty’s pounds. To put that into context, if you laid out that amount in five pound notes placed end to end, the line of banknotes would stretch half way around Neil Ruddock. I expect.

This summer something like £64 and a half million went in player acquisitions, though when netted out with funds received from sales the total net spend was “only” something like £29.25m.

The biggest fee shelled out was the £19m (rising to about £24.5m with add-ons and depending on how many Euros to the pound the nearest Post Office to Stamford Bridge is giving) for the Canary Islands-born winger Pedro.

The next biggest fee was the £14m (potentially £22m with add-ons) for Augsburg left-back Abdul Rahman. Rahman, whose “Baba” nickname as seen on the back of his shirt comes from his Dad is a Ghanaian international whose youth career started in his homeland with the improbably-named Dreams FC, which, thankfully, has no connection with the dreadful and not in any way missed Sky football-soap Dream Team. There are rumours that the same youth setup has a team called Nightmare FC who play in Spurs kit. Or at least there will be once I start spreading them.

“Baba” had been used sparingly thus far this season – until his league debut against Villa last weekend the League Cup had been his territory. £14m (never mind £22m) does rather seem a lot but frankly, like the rest of the world I’ve long since given up on trying to make sense of Chelseanomics.

An injury to the no.1 no.1 (if you see what I mean) Thibault Courtois (actually no.13), has led to more game time than might otherwise have been anticipated for the no.2 no.1 Asmir Begovic (actually no.1). Begovic came in for £8m plus a player on loan from Stoke during the summer.

He’s lived in a few places in his life having legged it out of Bosnia with his family when the civil war that followed the disintegration of what we used to call Yugoslavia made things rather unpleasant in that part of the world. They ended up in Germany then Edmonton, Canada before Begovic got a trial at Pompey. Pompey were impressed enough to sign the player before he had a chance to attend a subsequent trial that had been arranged for him at Spurs, presumably pointing out that Edmonton N9 had more in common with Bosnia than it did with its Alberta namesake. His arrival at Fratton Park at the age of 18 means that he actually qualifies as a “home grown” player when they are counting these things up, even though his lack of an EU passport while at Portsmouth meant his early years there were covered by a student visa meaning he couldn’t play in any matches that people paid to watch.

Ironically, considering the fact that they have a squad and a half’s worth of players out on loan, one of the bigger names to arrive, Falcao, came in on the borrow. Falcao had a largely uninspiring season at Old Trafford last term, something that may have put off even a club with as deep pockets as Chelsea from considering an immediate permanent deal. The deal with Monaco includes an option to purchase but he’s not pulled up any trees with the Pensioners having scored just the once this season. Current reports suggest that his agent is trying to negotiate a curtailment of the season-long loan in order to find the player gainful employment somewhere on the continent more suited to his game.

Falcao might have hoped for more involvement given the recent suspension to Diego Costa. Costa’s antics in the Arsenal match which were the subject of retrospective punishment from the authorities and gave him a three match lay-off for violent conduct. I’d wager a few bob with Winstones The Turf Accountants that that suspension might not be the last the player sees this season, given his confusion over the terms “channelled aggression” and “mindless thuggery”. He’s one of those players of whom it is often claimed that if you took that side of his game away he wouldn’t be half the player. That’s an argument that holds as much water as an ocean-going colander made of plutonium-enhanced lead strapped to a 20 tonne concrete block tied to Neil Ruddock. That sort of argument always strikes me as a lazy excuse for a player not to work on an aspect of his game that is letting him down and I reckon if the player erred on the “channelled aggression” of the equation Chelsea would end up with a much more potent threat. If nothing else they’d get more games out of him.

Enough of them. What of us? Good win last week I thought even if we did leave it late. The performance of Lanzini overall fair made the mouth water and it was good to see innovative substitutions from Mr Bilic made in what was eventually a successful attempt to grab all three points.

Elsewhere in the world of football, Man City are being hauled up before UEFA because their fans booed the pretentious so-called Champions League “anthem”, a piece of music that should be rolled up and shoved up the firmament of whoever had the bright idea that what an overblown competition already up its own backside really needed was its own bloody anthem. Assuming that UEFA find something to charge Man City with and fine them, it will be interesting to see whether the resulting fine is larger or smaller than the €15,000 slap on the wrist given to Dinamo Kiev last March for racial abuse. Meanwhile EVERY supporter attending a so called Champions League match in the future should make sure they boo every time the damn thing is played.

Back to this weekend’s events and injury news is that Reid is still out whilst Song needs a few more weeks yet. We will also be without Victor Moses who is one of the millions of players over the world who are on loan from Chelsea, thus rendering him ineligible. Enner Valencia was given a runout for the Development Squad in midweek, picking up a goal in the process so he may be in the frame to replace Moses.

Prediction? Hmm. Well they aren’t always going to be as bad as they have been so far this season– though frankly they’d really have had something to worry about had they not beaten Villa last week. So the main question is when are they going to start to improve? Our reputation as sequence-busters would usually suggest that they’d start getting better at the Boleyn, and our home form thus far this season hasn’t really suggested that the trend would be bucked. On the other hand, a number of sources have suggested that there is still much disharmony in the ranks. They will also have had a tough round trip to Kiev in midweek which won’t help in their preparation. Throw into the fact that this season the more (supposedly) exalted the opposition has been the better we’ve performed and you know what? I think that I’ll think that I’ll put the 1p fines collected here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered from everyone who mentioned Back To The Bloody Future this week (£2.50) down to Winstones and stick it on a 2-2 draw.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Lost 0-1 (March 2015). An offside goal and a string of disgraceful refereeing decisions in favour of the visitors strangely eluded the attention of the special needs one, whose team had Andre Marriner to thank for all three points.

Danger Man: Diego Costa –dangerous from a medical point of view as well as a playing one. Our centre halves will need to be at their most disciplined to avoid retaliation against some of the stuff that they are likely to face.

Referee: Jonathon Moss Regarded even by his fellow officials as a bit lucky to be in a job. We need a strong ref for this one. We haven’t got one.

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: Well we’ll ignore the ignoramus who turns up to their home games with the 1905 London’s First & Finest banner (They aren’t even the oldest club with an SW postcode and I make it at least 8 professional clubs in the capital are older. Finest? I’ve wiped finer stuff off the soles of my shoes). No this week it has to be David Mellor. In some ways he’s the archetypal Chelsea supporter in that until they started winning stuff – something that “coincidentally” started to occur just after the dodgy Russian took over- he used to support someone else. In Mellor’s case it was Fulham for whose programme he used to chip in the odd note bemoaning how difficult it was to get down to Craven Cottage what with being an MP and all. In the interest of balance, it should be said that the story about him having sex in a Chelsea shirt was a load of made-up hokum. As the woman pointed out – it must have been unbearable enough without adding the horror of a Chelsea shirt into the equation.


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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