Filed: Sunday, 14th August 2016
By: Preview Percy
Like Gary Lineker, Preview Percy usually does his work in his underpants. Which is why he is barred from every public library within a ten-mile radius of his rest home. We bailed him out in time for him to prepare his look at Monday's visit to Chelsea. For some reason....
So here we go once more. After all the Euro shenanigans we open our Premier League account with a visit to Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea. Thanks to the telly we have an 8pm Monday kick-off so rush hour tubes and traffic to contend with then.
Last season they ended up in 10th place, never really recovering from a poor start. That may have been due to Mourinho’s apparent belief that a few weeks in Benidorm and a run out in what I will call the Charity Shield until my dying days was a valid pre-season.
Their opening day last season was notable for what became known (around here anyway) as “Eva-gate”. Dr Eva Carneiro ran on to the pitch to treat Eden Hazard. Now whilst the player does have previous for simulation and feigning injury, if he is lying on the ground and the ref calls you, on you go. This annoyed Mourinho whose side was down to ten men and was therefore using every time wasting trick in the book. Mourinho somehow got away with a charge of using abusive language towards the doctor, despite audio and language experts apparently confirming the accusation that he had referred in Portuguese to the good doctor as the “daughter of a whore” (Mourinho’s explanation that he had said “son” not “daughter” and had aimed his comments at ref Oliver was, shall we say, not entirely convincing).
Over the following months Dr Carneiro left her job and sued for unfair dismissal. Chelsea offered her £1.2m to go quietly but quietly was not what Dr C. had in mind. The case was due before the tribunal in June but on the second day of the hearing proceedings were brought to a halt by the announcement of an out of court settlement, The details of the deal were confidential but it was believed that the doctor got much more than the £1.2m originally offered, presumably in return for not revealing all the really juicy stuff that was rumoured to be about to come out in court. The deal also included a grovelling apology from the club, though Mourinho got away without having to apologise on a personal basis.
Eva-gate was probably a contributory factor to Mourinho’s dismissal only a few months into an extended four year deal. Hiddink came in and kept them up but that appointment was only ever made on an interim basis.
Whilst Mourinho continues his tour of places with ignorant supporters up in Salford this week’s manager at the money laundry is Antonio Conte, who is fresh from jumping up and down on the touchlines of France where he was in charge of the Italian side. Better spring for some new astroturf for the technical area then Roman.
Conte's not been without his own controversial encounters with m'learned friends. It’s not that long since he had to bear the brunt of an investigation into one of those match fixing scandals they’re so fond of in Italy. Whilst he was not directly accused of instigating or arranging the fixing of matches it was found that he was present when it had been discussed and had failed to report it. A ten-month ban was eventually reduced on appeal to 4 months when the Italian FA realised that they might want Conte as manager one day. He should get on well with the scrupulously honest and in no way bent Abrahamovic then.
When I asked the work experience girl wearing an “X-Ray Spex” t-shirt without knowing who they are to look at the transfer “ins and outs” for our opponents she nearly blew a fuse. When she had recovered from her attack of the vapours she realised that the vast majority of the dozens of players shown as “in” were in fact simply players returning from loan. Over the past few years it’s been a feature of Chelsea’s game plan to sign a player from every club in the world only to lend them out to every other club in the world. At the moment they are well down from the numbers lent out last season – at one stage there were three teams’ worth writing home every week – but expect that to change before the window closes.
As ever the roubles have been splashed out in close season. In came Leicester’s N’Golo Kante. Kante was the engine room behind Leicester’s surprise title win last term. It might be stretching a point to say he was their “unsung hero” – most observers recognised his contribution to the cause – however it’s probably fair to say that he didn’t quite grab the headlines in the same manner as the diving ratboy Vardy and Mahrez. The work experience girl wearing an “X-Ray Spex” t-shirt without knowing who they are tells me that £33m was shelled out by the Pensioners for Kante’s services, which represents a tidy profit to Leicester, who brought Kante in for a reported £5.6m. Kante will be reunited with John Terry who turned up at Leicester’s Premier League title celebrations in full kit as is his usual practice. I expect.
Another £33m went on Marseille striker Michy Batshuayi, an amount which allegedly trumped a lower bid from our good selves. Again his old club profited handsomely from the deal, the player having arrived on the south coast of France a few years back on a free from Standard Liege. Whilst at Liege he won something called the “Ebony Shoe Award” which sounds like something you would get on one of those god awful shows that have fat former rugby players doing the tango with some emaciated sort wearing a fake tan, a superglued-on smile and three sequins pretending to be a dress. In fact the work experience girl wearing an X-Ray Spex t-shirt without knowing who they are tells me that this is given to the “Belgian Player Of The Season Of African Origin”. Which seems a bit apartheid to me. Still, next season maybe Mark Noble can look forward to his "Golden Tub Of Eels" for being the best player from Canning Town.
Apparently Batshuayi goes by the nickname “Batsman”. It’s a play on words, which reminds us all why the chapter on Belgium’s contribution to world comedy is not a lengthy one. We do love a dual nationality story here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered and “The Batsman” (oh my aching sides) was approached by the Democratic Republic Of Congo to represent them. However, the Brussels-born striker, whilst acknowledging his heritage decided that, on the whole, he preferred Belgium as he wasn’t keen on the preferred fruit-based soft drink of the land of his forefathers. As a result, he was part of the Belgian side which rather disappointed in France during Euro 16.
No doubt there will be a few more in no way ifreshly laundered roubles being splashed out before the end of the month but that’s the lot for the time being.
At one stage it looked like John Terry’s Chelsea career was coming to a close. Terry was very public in his desperate begging for a new deal, probably realising that employment prospects aren’t exactly enhanced by the inclusion of “ignorant, loathsome, racist thug” as a job title on your CV. Anyone who attended the kumb.com end of season podcast will know exactly what single word accurately describes this waste of skin – and it’s not “legend” as the notoriously stupid Stamford Bridge support would have it.
And so to us. Since last we spoke there have been a few changes on the personnel front. We say bonjour to French left-back Arthur Masuaky who comes in on a 4 year deal from Greek side Olympiakos. Arthur, who probably uses that name as his real first name is Fuka, arrives to provide a much-needed boost to the resources available in the left back berth, where Byram has been filling in in the absence of Cresswell. The general consensus (though not one necessarily shared by the boss) is that Antonio doesn’t look all that comfortable at right back, so gaining the option to move Byram to the opposite flank from where he has been playing is another bonus from the transfer.
Also arriving is the Ghanaian chappy Andre Ayew whose reported fee of £20.5m puts us into “new club record” territory. A quick look back on the old Percy Previews (rescued from those soundproofed storage rooms in the basement they sometimes take some of the more difficult residents to here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for the Bewildered) shows that he has spent a lot of time playing for clubs where his dad “Pele” was on the board.
Ayew’s arrival seems to have put paid to the arrival of Bacca. What happened there depends on your source of information but to nobody’s surprise he looks like staying at Milan where he will have sufficient time to relect on whether or not it was really that good an idea to mess us about so much.
Argentina’s early exit from the Olympic tournament (shame) has also seen the world’s worst kept secret confirmed with the arrival of Jonathan Calleri on a season long loan from Deportivo Montevideo, subject to work permits and the like. The club moved swiftly to scotch rumours of a Tevez style third party deal going on, it being illegal for West Ham to enter into such arrangements, though apparently it’s quite alright for other clubs to do so as long as they lie to the authorities about it.
Team news. Well Tore and Cresswell are both going to be out for some time with knee injuries. Lanzini is similarly afflicted but is slated for a mid-September return. It says here that Sakho has a back injury (rubs chin quizzically) for which there is “no return date”. My medical experts call this “Behrami Syndrome”, a mysterious condition which one can expect to clear up spontaneously on 1 September if the player hasn’t found a new club. Only to suffer a 31-recurrence starting on New Year’s Day. Payet may play some part but the full 90 minutes is unlikely following his Euro exertions.
Prediction? Well it’s always tricky at the start of a season, especially when facing opponents who effectively took last season off. One of our biggest problems will be the management of expectations – especially given that the increasingly unfit for purpose refereeing in this country was pretty much all that stood between us and an even better finish last term. The disruption caused by the Euros is difficult to quantify, though at least the English contingent within the squad will have had a decent rest thanks to Hodgson’s policy of “I don’t care how crap they are, if they play for Liverpool or Spurs they are in”.
We deliberated long and hard at the Swan and Superinjunction as to where to place the £2.50 we were going to send the obviously impoverished Gary Lineker so he can buy some clothes. Eventually we ended up going for the draw. So off to Winstones The Turf Accountants we will go and using only one of those odd little biros you only find in such places we will mark our betting-slip with the scoreline 1-1.
Enjoy the game!
When last we met at the Money Laundry: Drew 2-2 (Premier League, March 2016) If this match had taken place in Italy it would have had the investigators all over it. Referee Robert “Bobby” Madley’s performance was so shockingly bad even those usually happy to apologise for refereeing incompetence were found to be looking at their shoes coughing. A fine opener from Lanzini was cancelled out by a Fabregas free-kick assisted by Madley, who made sure the wall was back an extra three yards just in case Fabregas didn’t have enough room for the shot. Carroll ran through to restore a semblance of reality to the scoreline only to be thwarted by a Fabregas penalty “earned” by Loftus-Cheat that was: a) the worst dive you’ll ever see; and b) outside the box. A suitably bent result for a club that has never had an honest owner.
Referee: Anthony Taylor Dreadful excuse for a referee. They made great play the other week of how they are going clamp down on dissent from players. Maybe if officials like this one were weeded out that would treat the cause of this perceived “disease” rather than the symptom.
Danger Man: Eden Hazard Not the greatest of seasons last term but he started to come good at the end and he gave Spurs their own “West Ham Sequence Busting” moment when his first home goal in a year ended what Spurs (hilariously) thought was a title bid. No really they did. Watching Spurs lose the plot in that match was one of the season's best comedy moments – all that was needed to accompany the sight of Chelsea players being kicked up in the air was the soundtrack of an out of tune cowboy saloon type piano and a few prop chairs being smashed over heads.
Percy’s Poser: Last time out I asked you why a man should think twice about marrying a larger lady in the Slovenian resort of Bled. The answer is that tradition dictates that the groom carry his bride up the 199 steps to the church. So anyone thinking of courting Matron here might want to give Slovenia a miss. Congratulations to Mrs Enid B Rancid of Oswestry who wins a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost and a year’s supply of Turtle Wax car polish.
This week’s question: Last season Chelsea fans were seen displaying a banner stating that they were “London’s First, London’s Finest”. For the chance to win* a genuine** Picasso*** all we want to know is: Of the 13 professional football clubs currently plying their trade in the top four divisions, how many are actually older than what Chelsea believe is “London’s First”?
Notes: *By “win” we mean “buy” **probably not ***also probably not
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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