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Manchester United v West Ham United


Filed: Friday, 11th March 2016
By: Preview Percy


A headline on the BBC News website suggests that branches of McDonalds in Manchester are to start hiring bouncers, possibly in response to the news that Preview Percy will be up there this weekend. They needn't have bothered though - the only other time he went into one of their places he walked out in disgust in protest at the time it was taking for a waiter to come to his table to take his order for tea and scones....

Next up we venture north where we will be in Salford to be entertained by Manchester United in an FA Cup quarter-final tie. It’s Sunday and it’s 4pm so the tv companies can try and sell you some stuff during the half-time break.

Travel news is that the main line up to Manchester is fine, well as fine as it gets anyway. However, as ever there are no trains in and out of Liverpool Street as far as Ingatestone all weekend. There will also be a reduced service between Liverpool Street and Euston Square on the Underground as there are no Met services, though the Circle and H&C will be running on that stretch to pick up the slack. Check before you leave and mind the gap.

Well much to the amusement of most people our opponents are having a mediocre season at present. Not that league form really has much to do with the Cup but following last weekend’s hilarious 1-0 defeat to West Brom at the Hawthorns they now lie in 6th place, a place and two points behind us. Their path to this stage of the competition started with a fortunate 1-0 win over Sheffield United, a game that had us here in the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered watching on the telly in the vain hope that both teams could somehow lose. Their winner, predictably, came from a dubious 90th minute penalty from Wayne Rooney.

The 4th round saw them see off a lacklustre Derby 3-1 at Pride park, benefiting from an offside Wayne Rooney goal in the process. They sauntered past the then 21st in League One (or Division Three as we call it here) Shrewsbury, who were guilty of going into the match in “damage limitation” mode, the match at the New Meadow finishing up 3-0 to the visitors. That match was the 51st consecutive FA Cup tie of theirs that had been televised, which isn’t bad I suppose for a mediocre mid-table side.

Their defeat at the weekend saw the traditional bleating at the referee over Juan Mata’s totally correct dismissal (Mike Dean loves the chance to do controversial stuff on live tv doesn’t he). I always think that it’s a bit ungrateful of Man Utd to complain at the one group of people who have done so much for them over the years. However, even by their standards this complaint was a doozy. You see according to Hertz Van Rental the referee should have taken Mata’s character into consideration . Of course taking that to its logical conclusion Roy Keane would never have been allowed on the pitch for all those years in the first place – you’d have had referees sending him off for being offside, taking his “character” into account. Careful what you wish for Louis – next time a ref is unsure when one of your players takes a dubious tumble, do you really want the referee to take into account the very strong possibility that he is dealing with a diving cheat? When all is said and done, despite the fact that he is, apparently, a really nice guy to whom the laws of the game shouldn’t apply, Mata will be serving out his suspension for this match.

When I shouted at the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles to get his backside into gear and get working on their January transfer window signings, he just laughed at me and carried on blowing Arnold Schwarzenneger up on his computer tabletty thing. A few hours later, once the local constabulary had clarified the legal position vis-à-vis clumping work experience kids round the back of the head (apparently it’s illegal these days – who knew?) he explained to me that they had spent as much on transfers during the last window as the average Spurs supporter annually spends on soap. That is, nothing at all. They have traditionally been one of the more frugal winter spenders but even for them this was a quiet one, despite the traditional link with Christiano Ronaldo that always surfaces about that time of year.

Recent weeks have seen the emergence of Marcus Rashford. Rashford came to prominence in the Thursday Night League match against FC Typingerror (Reidy’s old mob) the other week. A warm up injury to Martial handed him an unexpected start, an opportunity grasped with both hands as he helped himself to a brace. He followed this up with another double three days later in the 3-2 win over Arsenal though he came up empty handed against West Brom, a match in which his highlight was being spectacularly brought down by Mike Dean whilst busting a gut to get forward to join a promising attack. Rashford’s cause was not helped by the fact that he had had to drop into midfield after Mata had been “not that sort of player” and it might be argued that his lack of tracking back indirectly led to the Baggies’ goal. Tough life, isn’t it.

The dismissal of Mata left them playing one up front in the form of Anthony Martial. Since we last played them he picked up the 2015 “Golden Boy” award. Whatever you are thinking at this point is probably a) wrong and b) reflects badly on the sort of person you are. In fact the award is given to the best U21 player in Europe. Martial arrived in Salford at the close of the summer window for the record-for-a-teenager fee of £36m. You will recall that this had the potential to rise to an eye-watering £57m depending on a number of clauses including his scoring 25 goals over the next four years, getting 25 caps for France in that time or winning the Ballon D’Or over the same period. Little wonder that they didn’t get the cheque book out back in January then. Of his ten goals thus far seven have come in the league with two in the so-called Champions league and one in the League Cup. He hasn’t has been as prolific as they might have liked since his arrival from Monaco, his last goal coming in last month’s defeat to Sunderland.

They will be without top-scorer Rooney on Sunday. The spud-faced granny-botherer damaged knee ligaments in the defeat at Sunderland but has now got the brace off, though it’ll be a few weeks before he is available for selection. The injury meant that he was able to indulge in what all the papers described as a “warm weather break in Dubai”, presumably as opposed to all those “really cold weather breaks” people go to Dubai for.

Rooney’s vice-captain, and therefore likely wearer of the armband if selected, is none other than Michael Carrick. Carrick is still trying to rebuild his career after the disappointment of being transferred to Spurs all those years ago in what would not go on to become known as “The Zamora Deal” in kumb circles (one for our older members there). As usual when I happen across an ex-hammer who started out in our academy I was gobsmacked to discover that the lad is now 34 years old. It seems like only yesterday he was a fresh-faced teenager knocking the ball around the midfield whilst Joe Cole was nicking all the headlines. Makes a guy feel very old. you ARE very old - Ed

Carrick played at centre-half in the Thursday Night League match. That match put one in mind of two inebriated old dears on the dancefloor of a run-down pub disco having failed to get in at the more prestigious nightclub up the road, the bouncers having been unimpressed by the "don't you know how who I am?" entry tactic.

And so to the week elsewhere in football. Liverpool won their last league match with a late penalty/free kick as the result of a blatant dive. (Actually I should just leave this up permanently and let you delete the penalty/free kick bit each week as appropriate). Tottenham’s “this time next week we’ll be top” week saw them end up in, er, second place with the gap between them and top now five points. They also went 3-0 down in teh Thursday Night League. That all worked out well then.

FIFA announced some changes to the laws of the game to come in from 1 June. On past performance it will be about ten years before they are released to tv commentators and pundits and another two years before they go on to read them. As for the prospect of tv pundits actually understanding the laws of the game, well let’s not hold our breath shall we?

Us? Well how tempting would it have been for Payet to have run up to McCarthy and given him a suitable gesture at the final whistle. Evertonians have been whining about a lot of stuff (well they are Scousers after all), many concentrating on the fact that Adrian’s match changing penalty save saw him well off his line. Yes he was. He was about as far off his line as the “trip” by Song had been outside the box, Besic’s great leap forward conning the not-exactly-hard-to-fool Taylor into thinking that it had occurred inside the box.

Yeah we should have gone 3-0 down – Adrian’s subsequent one-on-one save from Lukaku was as much a game changer as the penalty – but when we got the first back I honestly thought we’d win. More importantly, so did the players.

There were a lot of little things that pleased this jaundiced old eye. For example, watching Noble go into bat on behalf of his teammates every time one was the victim of another foul was good to see. Remember when Matt Upson was our skipper? No, me neither.The one thing that did make me grumpy (ok even grumpier than normal if you insist) was the fact that once again we failed to start well. A “never say die, never surrender” attitude is all well and good but it does no good for us who live in rest homes with dodgy tickers. How about going, say, three-nil up early on then adding to the total at fairly regular intervals. Just to save on the defibrillator electricity bills which the rest home owners suggest are getting out of hand on matchdays.

Injury news. Well the defence may have a slightly less makeshift look to it at the weekend. There is a possibility that Joey O’Brien might be available which would give us some cover on the right. It’s slightly annoying that Byram’s suspension finishes just in time for him to be cup-tied, isn’t it? Victor Moses and Enner Valencia are also said to be available, probably. Reid and Tomkins will be another week, possibly two, though.

So what about a prediction I hear you say (or would do if a) I wasn’t slightly mutton, and b) could be bothered to listen to you in the first place). Well for all Hertz Van Rental’s moaning about the officials last week, but for friendly officiating over the years the Old Trafford trophy cabinet would have been half the size with twice the amount of dust in it.

Actually with fixtures piling up left right and centre at the moment it’s a bit difficult to predict what sort of side they will put out. I guess it rather depends on their priorities. On the one hand they won’t want to be missing out on their usual autumn of being knocked out of next season’s So-called Champions League as soon as they come across someone half decent, which would suggest that a top four finish might be their priority. On the other hand, winning the Thursday Night league comes with direct entry into the so-called Champions League for next season. Even if they decide not to prioritise that competition they will almost certainly not want to be evicted from it by Liverpool which, as things stand, looks a distinct possibilty. All of which kind of moves the FA Cup lower down their list of things to worry about. For that reason we may see a couple more of the kids (there’s a couple of them with double-barrelled surnames but the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles has gone to get an ice pack for his head and I haven’t got the time to look them up) playing.

Tempted though I am to go all optimistic the usual worries about the refereeing up there apply. Also, and I know that there are all practical reasons why this should not be the case, on a purely selfish level I wouldn’t mind another night under the lights at the Boleyn while we still have the chance. The management of neither club will thank me for the sentiment but, for that reason, I will be off to Winstones The Turf Accountants to place the £2.50 I was going to give as compensation to the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles on a 1-1 draw.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Theatre Of Tourists: Drew 0-0 (December 2015) We had the better chances and hit the metalwork twice in a game notable for Schweinsteiger’s cowardly elbow on Reid. The incident was originally missed by ref Clattenburg but it got the player a deserved retrospective three match ban once the suits got to see it.

Danger Man: Marcus Rashford. Youngster with a bit of recent form behind him which, even if the goals dry up forever, will see him catapulted into the England set-up because of who he plays for.

Referee: Martin Atkinson – Look I really WAS joking when I suggested there was some new regulation that means we have to have him every other week. Last seen rewriting the laws on handball and back passes up at Anfield in the cup. A bit of a homer, which doesn’t bode well at a ground where the first question asked by officials on arrival is usually “what time would you like your penalty?”

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: Mick Hucknall Out Of Simply Red. Once appeared in the Viz “Billy The Fish” strip where he was playing up front alongside Shakin’ Stevens for Fulchester United. He scored early on then missed a load of sitters prompting a voice in the crowd to note that “in a sad reflection of his musical career he promised much early on but ultimately failed to deliver”. Claims to have slept with 1,000 women, all of whom will, no doubt swear blind that they were attracted by his looks, wit and charm.


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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