Filed: Tuesday, 29th November 2016
By: Preview Percy
Manchester United previews are a bit like buses -nothing for ages then two come along at once. Preview Percy is the driver who will pull away just as you get to the bus stop.....
Next up it’s…, hang on didn’t I just do this? What? Really? Oh alright then.
So it’s Man Utd away again. League Cup this time. With a kick-off at 8pm to give their supporters time to get there from their heartland of Surrey and extra time and penalties available to settle things on the night, or in the early hours of the morning, it’s probably best to book a morning off then.
Well usually about this time I would send the work experience girl wearing a t-shirt of a band of whom she has never heard out to do some ferreting round for some stats and figures but if I do that now she’s only going to come back with exactly the same stuff she brought back last week and want paying again for it. At her age the extra £2.50 could easily spoil her. So I’ve given her the day off and told her to come back later this week with a different t-shirt and some details about Arsenal for the weekend. So if you’re that interested in their new signings have a look at the last preview “wot I wrote”. The down side of all that is that this preview will be shorter than usual. (That’s NOT a down side – ed)
So Sunday then. Well all the headlines were about the Special Needs One getting sent to the stands for his protest at Pogba getting found out. Now given that over the years they have probably gotten away with just about as many episodes of “simulation” as their chums from the western end of the M62 at Anfield, the fact that one of the least able referees in the league was not only able to spot the dive but also thought it worthy of actually meting out the statutory yellow card should tell you exactly how bad a dive it was. So kicking a bottle of water along the touchline seems a bit daft. Unless, of course, Mourinho’s frustration was more directed at Pogba for executing such a poor quality dive. Pogba, incidentally will miss this tie through suspension alongside serial offender Marouanne Fellaini who, despite having a haircut that is a red card offence in its own right, only picked up his 5th yellow of the season in Sunday’s substitute appearance. The cynic amongst us might suspect that there might have been an element of deliberation about Fellaini’s yellow, clearing the decks as it does for the forthcoming league campaign. If that is the case they messed up with Rooney who is one booking away from his own ban, though since he seems to be peripheral to things on Premier League days at the moment. That being the case if they go for a specialist League Cup team I’d expect the chubber to start.
There is also a doubt about our old chum Michael Carrick who is said to have a “slight knock” and Morgan Schneiderlin who didn’t make the squad for the weekend but mysteriously doesn’t appear on any of the usual injury lists. We might see the re-emergence of midfielder in residence in the shop window Bastian Schweinsteiger, who appeared as if by magic on their bench at the weekend having been successful in winning the world’s biggest game of “hide and seek”.
Overall it looked like a decent performance from us up there on Saturday – certainly a lot less one-sided than Match Of The Day made it look anyway, even if Randolph was the busier of the two ‘keepers. Ginge was a worry of course. Although throughout his career with us he’s always been liable to the odd “whoops” moment, they’re becoming more and more prevalent. He lost Ibrahimovic completely for the equaliser at the weekend and as for his attempted header back to Randolph, well let’s just say that if Kouyate enjoys an occasional drink Ginge owes him a bottle of the finest possible vintage for the rescue job he did. If, as is widely assumed, we are out there looking for strikers, it may be time to take a detour through the central defender section of the store (neatly sidestepping the Spurs supporters drooling at the lingerie section), especially as we can obviously not rely on keeping everyone fit or for referees to behave honestly.
Injuries? Well just as Sakho was beginning to show us what we’d been missing with his goal he seems to have picked up a hamstring strain which means that he’ll be missing again. If our injury record hadn’t always been this bad at the old place I’d begin to start wondering whether the Olympic Stadium hadn’t been built over an Indian Burial Ground rather than toxic waste.
There was some talk about the possibility of Carroll being available for last Sunday. That seems to have been put back to the weekend with even that being labelled as “slight doubt”. Oxford, Tore and Masuaku are all slated to be available though leaving Byram to sit alongside Sakho in the hamstring unit. We have an African Cuppa Soup coming up in January – you may recall that we picked up a fine because Sakho’s back problem got better a week before the end of the tournament last time. It’ll be interesting to see what happens this time around as there’s little enough love lost between the club’s medical staff and the Senegalese Football Federation as it is.
Incidentally has anyone worked out why they play that tournament every other year instead of the more usual 4 years for major tournaments? In a day and age when it is often claimed that there is too much football, surely it is in the players’ interests to avoid burnout wherever possible? This is especially the case with Africa where the top players are mainly European-based so you have to factor in often-lengthy flight times for all but the most Northern states. Just a thought.
Prediction? Well it’s a difficult one. I expect us to put out a strong side, well as strong as is available anyway. We may do the usual ‘keeper swap of course. However, I haven’t a clue what sort of side they’ll put out. Traditionally they have used the kids in the earlier rounds but they may well want to use the League Cup as a fall back to qualify for next season’s Thursday Night League should they not make it by virtue of their league exploits.
So anything could happen. Having seen the identity of the ref his record with quarter finals is not good and I have little hope that he will play a straight game. However, it is a Cup so I’m going to go all optimistic and hope that the spot of luck that we are well overdue will finally rear its head. I’ll be sticking the £2.50 that I would have been paying the work experience girl wearing a t-shirt of a band of whom she has never heard on an away win. The betting slip at Winstones The Turf Accountants will show “West Ham To Win” 2-1 though it wouldn’t surprise me to see this result take place AET.
Enjoy the game!
When last we met in Salford: You really do have a short term memory problem don’t you?
Danger Man: Wayne Rooney – more likely to start given that this is the League Cup and still has a decent scoring record against us even if you take out the large number of goals scored with the benign assistance of his mates at PGMOL.
Referee: Mike Jones. Described by one of his linesmen of my acquaintance as an “arrogant prick” this idiot is one of the “look at me” brigade. The last time he took charge of a quarter final involving us he single-handedly handed the match to Stoke with a performance of such dishonesty that even the placid Avram Grant was moved to suggest that all was not well and that the referee’s second half performance might have been a reaction to Pulis getting in his ear and moaning about a decision that he had in fact got right. Certainly the award of a penalty for Etherington’s dive (worse than Pogba’s) the denial of a stonewaller up the other end when Tomkins was rugby tackled to the ground was suggestive of someone who didn’t want one side to win. Grant’s comments were treated by the authorities with their usual “shoot the messenger” policy which cost Grant £20k for a breach of the Official Secrets Act. Jones owes us big time but it’s a live game on the box so all we can hope is that when he does goes off piste it’s in our favour. I wouldn’t bank on it though.
Percy’s Poser: We asked how Manchester United were linked with the poisoning of Manchester schoolchildren? Well back in the 60’s the club was effectively run by a bit of a charlatan by the name of Louis Edwards. He had gained control by befriending the widows of the club’s shareholders and buying their late departed’s shares from them, usually at well under their actual market value. A butcher by trade, Edwards had the contract to supply the schools of Greater Manchester with meat for the school dinners. With a few civic officials kept onside with the aid of transactions involving cash and brown envelopes, the meat actually supplied was largely comprised of the stuff stamped as unfit for human consumption. There were also allegations of bribery and illegal payments by the club all of which were exposed by the TV programme World In Action. FA charges seemed likely but were quietly dropped when, a month after the programme aired, Edwards conveniently passed away. Mrs Mavis Llewellyn-McZappa supplied the first correct answer to pop out of the digital hat. Mavis wins a copy of Alex Ferguson’s “Socialist Hypocrite’s Guide to Tax Evasion” which she may want to keep handy in order to help with this week’s poser.
Which is: “Why does the blood drain from Alex Ferguson’s face at the mention of the word “Eclipse”? The first correct answer out of the digital hat will receive Paul Pogba’s (clearly unread) copy of Steve Gerrard’s seminal work “How To Dive Convincingly”.
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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