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West Ham United v Huddersfield Town

Filed: Sunday, 10th September 2017
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy spent the international break visiting Italy. So there's one European country now in favour of Brexit then. Here's his look at our first home game of the season. It's not for the faint-hearted, as usual....

Next up we face newly-promoted Huddersfield Town. We will be playing them somewhere called “home” which I believe is located in the Stratford area but it’s been a long while so you may want to check. Kick-off is 7:45 pm on Monday night for the benefit of Space Telly, so no weekend engineering works to worry about. Just the usual rush hour hassles with the trains and tubes then.

Huddersfield then. It’s their first visit to the top flight since the 1970s, gaining, as they did promotion via the playoffs after a 5th place finish in the league. Their play-off run wasn’t particularly good for the ticker. Both semi-final and final went to penalties as first Sheffield Wednesday and then Reading were sent on their way. In the latter case Reading were allocated over 38,000 tickets for the final which was double their average for last season. I expect they all brought one of those inflatables they all think are so important with them.

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This season has gone well for them thus far. They turned over Palace (one team who will DEFINITELY finish below us) 3-0 on their own patch and this was followed-up by a 1-0 defeat of the Geordies at what is now known as the John Smith’s Stadium. This was followed up with a 0-0 draw against Southampton. They rode their luck a little against Palace who missed a number of good chances and, whilst they undoubtedly had the better of the match against Southampton they were thankful for Bertrand’s fluffed effort towards the end of the match for gaining them a point. All of which leaves them in sixth place with 7 points from their matches played, down from third before this weekend’s matches.

The boss is David Wagner. As choices for new managers go this one came out of what our American chums would call “left field” – an apt analogy given his half-American ancestry. Consider the situation. You are David Hoyle. You own Huddersfield Town having flogged your “not quite as good as Clintons” “Card Factory” emporia for a cool £365m. A not particularly spectacular start to 2015-16 sees you dispense with the services of Chris Powell at the helm. Where do you go for a replacement? Borussia Dortmund of course – or to be more accurate their reserves. They haven’t looked back since.

As a player, Wagner was capped 8 times by the Septics thanks to an American dad, before going on to play the male half of the crime fighting duo in Hart to Hart. He was the subject of a complaint by the Canadian FA who suggested that his appearances for Germany at age level made him ineligible for selection for the US side. Fortunately for him the good people at FIFA couldn’t be bothered to look up from all those brown envelopes for long enough to check the rule book and nodded him through without further ado, muttering something along the lines of “just say the German games were exhibition matches”.

As you might expect from a newly-promoted side they were a bit busy in the window, recognising the strengthening that would be required to consolidate their new-found top-flight status. The work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises informs me that they brought in no fewer than thirteen players this summer. Three of those were on loan, one of whom, of course, is on the books at Chelsea.

Of the ten permanent deals one of the more familiar players to us is none other than Robert Green, who arrived on a free from Leeds. A warm welcome will of course ensue whether his appearance comes between the sticks or simply in the racing car seats.

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There is a less auspicious Hammers connection in their squad in the form of Tom Ince who arrived from Derby for £8.5m. My spies inform me that he is so embarrassed by his father that he intends to change his surname to something less controversial, like Payet.

The biggest fee paid was the £11.5m (at the time – god alone knows what the exchange rate would make of that now) to Montpelier for striker Steve Mounie. Mounie made an instant impression in the defeat of Palace by notching twice on the opening day of the season. He’s been capped 7 times by Benin, a country that livens up its football existence by getting itself suspended by FIFA from time to time. Early days of course but he did appear to look in decent nick in that first game, though yes it was only Palace.

A fee of £8m – potentially £10m with add-ons – went to Man City in return for Aussie Aaron Mooy. That’s not a bad return for the UAE’s Minister for Torture on a player who never made a first team appearance for the Citizens. The deal apparently contains one of those buy-back clauses so beloved of that part of Manchester.

On his arrival in Manchester from Melbourne in the summer of 2016 he was immediately shipped out on loan to Huddersfield and was an integral part of last season’s promotion side, scoring a penalty in the shoot-out at Wembley. He has also been on target this season, his curling effort inside the far post capping a fine move against the Geordies to give the Terriers all three points in their first home match of the season.

The obligatory loan signing from Chelsea is Kasey Palmer. He featured in last season’s promotion side before returning back to a Stamford Bridge who had clearly forgotten that they owned him in the first place, electing to send him straight back to Huddersfield, having first got him to sign a contract tying him to whatever club Chelsea want to send him to until 2021. Palmer started off at Charlton at the age of 9, leaving for West London at the age of 16. I expect that there’s an interview somewhere with the player explaining how the lure of first team football at Stamford Bridge was the reason he left the Valley and nothing to do with the money to be made. I wouldn’t waste too much time looking for it though.

Enough of them what of us? Well even for a club for whom the description “soap opera” barely seems inadequate it’s been a weird couple of weeks. It’s almost as if the club have hired Bell Pottinger to do their PR. We have had adverts for t-shirts suggesting that Dimitri Payet is a “Legend” (can we stop using that word now please?).

Then, having failed to bring in Carvalho from Sporting, there was another advert on the official site that read something like “West Ham saved money on their transfer window now you can save money too….”, which, understandably, went down as well as a tv announcement that starts with the words “next we join Piers Morgan……”.

Talking about Carvalho we then had the war of words with Sporting, a club whose history suggests that they really ought to be a bit more careful about accusing other clubs of tapping up. Emails, claims and counter claims have been bandied about with threats of us being slapped with a transfer ban. If that happens I will not rest until Liverpool are relegated to the Toxteth & District Paper Boy’s League Division 3 (South) for the thousands of similar crimes that have gone unpunished over the years. Then when I have done that I will start on Man Utd, and…….(ed: he carried on in this vein for quite some time but we thought we would spare you)

Meanwhile the according to Sullivan the manager was offered and turned down half of Europe. The manager saw it differently and…..Well I could go on but frankly I’m loath to give away plot spoilers. I merely intend to simply take a screen print of the days West Ham news and forward it to the producers of EastEnders, who, no doubt will reject the plotline for being too far fetched before having the Launderette wiped out by a meteorite.

Going back to our last match if you can remember that far back, we were gob-smackingly awful up at Newcastle. Even if the officials had done their job properly we wouldn’t have gotten anything out of that. As it happens they didn’t need the assistance of 4th official Mike Jones (who has previous of giving deliberately incorrect decisions to even up matches) to beat us – though he couldn’t resist trying anyway.

He was very quick to bring a minor skirmish involving Hernandez to the attention of the idiot on the pitch. However, although the assault by Mitrovic occurred right in front of him Jones suddenly forgot the duties he had been so keen to undertake earlier on. Inevitably Mitrovic went on to score when he should have been having an early bath, his belated punishment being dished out only because suddenly everyone pretended that they hadn’t seen it. I have seen three red-card elbows in the matches I have attended this season. The only one that was been punished correctly at the time was Arnautovic’s. Funny that.

Since then at international level we have seen the continued folly of picking players for England based purely on the fact that they play for Liverpool or Spurs, though congratulations must go to Jordan Henderson for winning two competitions to win not only a place in the side in the first place but also for a souvenir armband. Yes we got a couple of wins but a more on the ball referee might have seen us reduced to ten men against Slovakia. The two wins fooled nobody though and, though even Spurs probably couldn’t make a mess of World Cup qualification, next summer isn’t a tournament to which I will be looking forward on current form.

Meanwhile back on planet Premier we have 5 on the injury list. Fernandes (ankle), Lanzini (knee) and Ayew (muscle) are all listed as “major doubts”. Fernandes will also be missing having picked up an ankle injury on international duty for Switzerland. Reid is set for a return having pulled up lame with a calf problem in the warm-up at Southampton. However we have been informed that a chap called Andy Carroll will “play some part” in the match. Now I realise that playing two strikers up front is slightly untrendy these days but I can’t help thinking that a proper old-fashioned partnership between Hernandez and Carroll might just be what the doctor ordered at this time.

So on to the thorny subject of a prediction. Well any result that doesn’t see us lose will get us off the bottom to third from bottom (going higher would involve a six-goal favourable swing in goal difference so let’s put that one to bed now shall we).

The psychological benefit of being at home would have been so much greater had we been at the Boleyn. Ho-hum. Usually the first home game is a day for optimism – the team haven’t had a chance to depress you and there’s still much to look forward to. Three away matches on the trot and three defeats will have changed all that.

However, I’ve had a nice break, a bit of sunshine and far too much in the way of Grappa, which, incidentally, probably isn’t really for internal use. So, with that in mind, I will be taking my spare leftover Euros to the approximate value of £2.50 down to Winstone The Turf Accountant’s place of business and place a wager on a 1-1 draw on my way to the Swan & Superinjunction where it will be pints of Grappa all round should I win.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Won 3-0 (League Cup 2nd Round 1997)

A Hartson hat-trick was enough to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit back in the days when the 2nd round of the League Cup was a two-legged affair. When the draw was actually made somewhere within the same time zone as where the matches were occurring. What will they think of next.

Referee: Kevin Friend

You know how people sing “you don’t know what you’re doing” at referees? Well he doesn’t.

Danger Man: Steve Mounie

With a couple of goals already this season and facing a defence short on confidence, well. It doesn’t really bear thinking about…

Percy’s Poser:

Last time out we asked you what the connection is between James Gordon Bennett (Jr) and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley. Congratulations to Mrs Enid Stoat-Botherer of Laindon who tells us: “James Gordon Bennett was a newspaper baron in New York who lost out on a potential fortune. Due to marry a wealthy, heiress he turned up at his own engagement do in a state that would have made Oliver Reed look teetotal. In his less than sober state he found himself caught short but, rather than avail himself of any of the many bathrooms available in the in-laws-to-be’s mansion he elected to use the fireplace, resulting in instant cancellation of the proposed nuptials, and, it is sometimes claimed, the birth of the phrase “Gordon Bennett”.

Mike Ashley too has been known to utilise fireplaces as plumbing fixtures as evidenced in court recently where he was heard to admit having vomited in a number of pub fireplaces after a skin-full over the years. So the answer is Fireplaces. Well doe Mrs S-B – one of those Sports Direct “Bags For Life” will be on its way to you as soon as we can find one Ashley hasn’t thrown up into.

For this week’s poser we ask you is this: One of Huddersfield Town’s most famous supporters is Patrick Stewart who played Capt. Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek The Next Generation. To win a suitably Star Trek themed prize we ask you: Who was better – Picard or Kirk? Answers next week!

Good luck everyone!

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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