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West Ham United v Watford

Filed: Friday, 9th September 2016
By: Preview Percy

Hello. We'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that voting for the Football Blog Awards has now opened. However, if you’re one of the judges could we ask you to cast your eye elsewhere on the site at some of the good stuff. Only it’s just that Preview Percy is responsible for what follows and, well , let’s just leave it at that shall we?....

After the international break we return to action against Watford at the “We’re not supposed to call it the Olympic but everyone does” Stadium. Kick-off for the first time this season is 3pm on a Saturday, which is nice. There are engineering works on the West Anglia lines which, perversely, should mean extra trains between Liverpool Street & Stratford and services to & from Stansted will also travel that way. It’s an ill wind and all that.

It’s been a slow start to the season for the Hornets who have garnered but a solitary point from their opening three fixtures, that coming from an opening day draw down at Southampton. Since then they lost 2-1 at home to Chelsea (where, like ourselves the previous week, they fell foul of the change in laws that prevents referees sending off Costa), and 3-1 at home to Arsenal. They currently sit in 18th place, ahead of Bournemouth in 19th on goals scored and ahead of bottom club Stoke on goal difference (-3 to the Potters’ -4). They also went out of the League Cup. (nobody sent me any memo about a name change) going down 2-1 (AET) at home to Gillingham. So not the most inspiring of opening runs for the new boss Walter Mazzarri, who took over from Quique Flores at the end of last season, thus becoming the club’s 6th manager in little more than a year.

They brought in a few over the window. The work experience girl wearing a Hatfield And The North t-shirt without knowing who they are informs me that £12.5m went on the fantastically-named striker Isaac Success who came in from Granada. Now you may have worked out that, as a person of somewhat advanced years residing in the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for the Bewildered, I make full use of my licence to moan about how daft transfer fees are these days. It’s what residents of rest homes for the bewildered do. However, even the most ardent of defenders of the modern game must surely have raised an eyebrow at Watford’s shelling out such money for a player who, a) as far as one can tell, has yet to make a full international appearance for his native Nigeria; and b) has spent the last few seasons playing for a side which has spent the last few seasons fighting relegation from La Ligua. Success’s goalscoring record for what I am assured isn’t the works team for the company that makes Coronation Street doesn’t exactly get the pulse racing either – his league record comes out at something like one every seven games. The work permit discussions over that one must have been quite interesting. The transfer was completed a couple of weeks after Granada was flogged by the Pozzo fanily to Chinese interests. That’s the same Pozzo family that just happens to own Watford. Coincidentally, I expect.

One club that I can say with some confidence has no connection to the Prozzo family is Newcastle and it was to the North-East that Watford looked when searching for a full-back. Daryl Janmaat came in for a reported £7m to play on the right hand side of the defence. It is now with some pleasure that I can announce the first appearance this season of one of our traditional preview in-jokes by revealing that Janmaat has 27 Dutch caps to date. I thankyew. Janmaat was once nominated by Preview Alastair (the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s resident Geordie) as the “Danger Man of the week” for both teams as, whilst he was considered to make useful contributions going forward, he had a habit of causing problems to his own side at the back. Preview Alastair put it like this: “he never looks round”.

The defensive options were further bolstered by the arrival of Christian Kabasele from Belgian outfit Genk. Genk have produced some decent players through their academy over the years, including the likes of Courtois at Chelsea and Manchester City’s De Bruyne. They also produced Christian Benteke but I don’t suppose they boast about that quite as much. All that is a bit irrelevant really as Kabasele came through the ranks at Eupen (me neither but they are owned by the same mob that own PSG) with whom he had two spells punctuated by a spell in Bulgaria where a three-year contract with Ludogorets (no me neither and I have no idea who owns them) actually lasted for all of 11 games before going back to Belgium. Meanwhile the fact that Genk were once known as KFC Winterslag reminds one of the sort of chavvy type for whom a nice meal out comes in a bucket, and probably returns there later on after a few too many vodkas out of a bottle with a word that looks like Smirnoff written on it, but isn’t.

Another new arrival in the centre of defence is Yones Kaboul, for whom £4m is said to have gone in the direction of Sunderland during the transfer window just closed. Kaboul was stupid enough to sign for Tottenham not once but twice, returning to White Hart lane after a 50 match interlude with Portsmouth. He was re-signed for Tottenham by a certain H. Redknapp, who claimed “he’s a much better player now, honest”. The return from the south coast was said to have had more to do with the fact that Portsmouth were broke and were having problems keeping up on the repayments for the player so the transfer back was effectively a repossession job. I recall something similar happening years earlier with a couple of players Millwall signed from Raith Rovers. After a few months the Scottish side asked when they could expect the transfer money whereupon Millwall admitted that they didn’t have it but their cousin was out doing some tarmacking and he was sure to have some cash later that week. This did not go down too well in Kirkcaldy and eventually the players were transferred back north of the border, a deal brilliantly summed-up by the guy who used to write headlines for Ceefax thusly “Millwall move eases gripes of Raith”.

Kaboul arrived after one season of a four-year deal, having been signed by the current England manager at the start of last season and was seen in tears at the end of the 3-0 win over Everton that saw Sunderland stay up. Preview Alastair was in much the same state. Allardyce’s departure and the arrival of Moyes meant the writing was on the wall for the defender and he signed a three-year deal with the Hornets in mid-August.

The biggest fee paid was the £13m that went to Juventus for Argentinian winger Roberto Pereyra, who scored on his debut in the defeat to Arsenal. Pereyra, who has been capped ten times by his country, spent two seasons at Juventus, the first of which was a spell on loan from Udinese, who are owned by the Pozzo family. That’s the same Pozzo family that just happens to own Watford. Coincidentally I expect. Assuming selection this will be Pereya’s second visit to the “We’re not supposed to call it the Olympic but everyone does” stadium, having been a part of the Juventus team that turned up to help us give the place an airing.

So us then. Well following the closure of the transfer window we now have two experienced full-backs in Arbeola and Masuaku and more choice up front in the form of Zaza, who joins Fletcher and Calleri as the fit striking options. Arbeola scored brownie points in these parts for having an on-pitch barney with the as-useless-as-a-pundit-as-he-was-useless-as-a-player Jamie Carragher during his spell at Liverpool. Zaza will forevermore be remembered for that daft run up and miss during the Euro penalty shootout against Germany. It’s ok Simone – we have Mark Noble for that sort of thing.

Injury-wise Reid should have his voice back after Aguero’s ugly assault whilst Feghouli should be close to making the squad for this one. Carroll’s a week or two away, whilst it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that Sakho’s back problem has eased up a bit now we are in September and the window is shut until January. Payet – who was never going anywhere despite the conspiracy theorists having a field day (we landed on the moon guys, get over it) – should also be ok to make a welcome return. Just as good, now that we have cover in the right back position we are more likely to see Antonio, used to his strengths.

Prediction? Don’t mind if I do. The return of the previously infirm, the new signings and the England call-up for Antonio will have given the club a much-needed boost following the travails of the past few weeks. There seems to be an air of “right, the season starts here” about the place and I think that, plus the fresh injection of class should see us have enough to see off opponents who will need to be wary of our old friend “second season syndrome”. The traditional £2.50 that this week would otherwise have been sent to the good people at Apple to help them with their tax bill (we tried sending it using one of their rubbish phones but the app didn’t work) will therefore be going on a 2-1 home win, us having used an android phone to complete the transaction with Winstones The Turf Accountants.

Enjoy The Game!

When last we met at the Boleyn Won 3-1 (Premier League April 2016) Carroll and two Noble penalties saw off a lack-lustre Watford side for whom Prodl was on target. Deeny missed a late spot-kick that would have given the visitors an undeserved spot of flattery had it been converted.

Referee Martin Atkinson-Again Remember those two trips to Wembley we had last season? No? Well it’s this guy’s fault. His handling of our trip to Old Trafford last season in the Cup QF effectively handed them an undeserved lifeline. I make it that this will be about the 12th time in the last two seasons we’ve had this waste of skin.

Danger Man: Odion Igalho The only other person I ever met with a similar first name had been conceived in a cinema. Probably slightly the better of the two usual strikers.

Percy’s Poser : Last time out we asked you why Maine Road, the former home of Man City, was named after one of the less memorable states of the USA. Well in the late 1800’s there was a thriving temperance movement in Manchester, presumably set up to counter the effects of people drinking to forget that they lived in Manchester. The temperance people had influence on the local council and successfully lobbied for the road to be named after one of the first states in the USA to introduce prohibition, the miserable sods. The first correct answer submitted via the red button came from Mrs Doris Metatarsal of Purfleet who will receive the incredibly rare booklet containing a Billy Bonds sticker, just as soon as we can find one.

Many of you found that one too difficult so this week we’ll make it easier and look at the world of music: Back in the 1970’s there used to be a low-budget series of records called “Top Of The Pops”. Sold in places like Woolworths (ask your dad) these albums had no connection with the tv series of Operation Yewtree fame and contained poor cover versions of the hits of the day performed by session musicians – think Now That’s What I Call Music performed by the sort of singer usually to be found earning a crust in working men’s clubs and cruise liners. This week’s question: Which famous Watford supporter started his career performing on such albums, his contribution including an hilariously inappropriate version of “Young, Gifted And Black” (Clue: oh come on how many famous Watford fans ARE there?)

The first correct answer drawn out of the digital hat via the red button will win a free* carvery meal from the Swan And Superinjunction just as soon as Algernon gets his food hygiene certificate back.
Good luck!

*Beef or Pork only. Surcharge for lamb or turkey. Vegetables and gravy available at own expense. Vegetarians can do one.

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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