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AFC Bournemouth v West Ham United

Filed: Sunday, 24th December 2017
By: Preview Percy

The good news: It's the last Preview Percy column of the year. The bad news: He'll be back for 2018. Here's his look at the Boxing day trip to Bournemouth. Merry Christmas!

Next up we travel to what used to be called Dean Court for a Boxing Day blowout against Bournemouth and, sadly, no longer “and Boscombe Athletic”. Shame. Kick-off is at 3pm and basically your one option is road transport there being no trains to speak of on the feast of Stephen. Enjoy the M3.

After the pre-Christmas matches they are currently sitting in 19th place with 16 points from the 19 played so far. This is not quite as comfortable as they would have liked to have been given their proximity to the trapdoor. Their last two outings saw them fail to replicate the previous season’s comeback against the Scousers , going down 4-0 and duplicating that score away at Man City.

They are currently managed by Dorian Gray-a-like Eddie Howe who many were touting as a possible replacement for Mr Bilic when the manager’s position was vacant. I wasn’t so sure. It’s not that I didn’t recognise the decent job he has done down in Dorset. It’s just more that in football there are some players and managers who can’t replicate what they have done at a particular club when transplanted elsewhere. They just seem to fit right at a certain place. Not that Howe didn’t try elsewhere but it never seemed quite right for either party when he was up at Burnley that time. It’s odd really but both manager and club seem to be a perfect fit for each other.

Howe has said that they are unlikely to try and buy their way out of trouble this coming window claiming that “it’s a seller’s market”. One gets the impression that there are budgetary constraints down there. The size of the ground is not helpful in that respect – they can fit just under 11,500 in there which is about half a Suprs League Cup gate. Various plans have been mooted to improve things, ranging from staying put and redeveloping to upping sticks and moving elsewehere. The latest plan is to move elsewhere within the same park as they are currently located. For the time being they will stay put though.

It’s likely that much of their annual budget went in the summer. 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 reckons that they blew £20m of their savings on Chelsea defender and Ruud Gullit hero-worshipper Nathan Ake. “Stomach” as he is probably not nicknamed is now in his second spell in Dorset having spent the first half of last season on loan there as part of Chelsea’s plot to install a player at every club on the planet as part of their plan to take over this quadrant of the galaxy. Or was that last year’s Dr Who Christmas special? Born in the Hague and his youth career including spells with our old sparring partners at Den Haag and Feyenoord I am pleased to be able to tell you (for the last time in 2017) that (fanfare) he has no fewer than five Dutch caps. (Lovers of simple schoolboy humour will be delighted to note that that particular gag will be back in 2018).

The rest of the £30m they shelled out in the summer also ended up at Chelsea where they swooped to bring in Asmir Begovic from the Chelsea bench. Now 30 Begovic was born in what we used to call Yugoslavia though the family legged it to Germany when Civil War hit that part of the world when he was 4. Six years later they upped sticks again, ending up in Edmonton – that’s the nice one in Canada rather than the one in Spurs territory that actually looked better after the riots. Playing at youth levels in Canada got him trials with both Portsmouth and Spurs and Pompey offered him a contract on the spot, thus sparing him the ordeal of finding out how unpleasant the other Edmonton actually was. He only made league 11 appearances for Pompey in his 5 years or so on their books, though this was topped up a little by various loan spells. He joined Stoke in 2010 making over 150 league appearances in the five years that followed. He made 19 league apps as Chelsea’s second choice netsman in the two years he was there. To put that into context he has done that much already since arriving in the summer. Now here’s a funny thing: On 12 July, having been capped numerous times at U20 level for Canada he stated that he had “no intention of playing for Bosnia”. However, on 21 August 2009 he accepted a call up to the Bosnian Squad for a series of World Cup qualifiers, eventually making his debut a month later.

No such identity problems for some chap called Defoe who only ever qualified for England in his career. This didn’t stop him asking for a transfer to Brazil 30 seconds after England’s disastrous 2010 World Cup defeat to Germany. Probably. Unlike some I don’t have quite the same distaste for him as one would reserve for the genuinely unpleasant Ince. For one thing Defoe wasn’t in constant contact with his future boss and for another, well he is simply not as nasty a piece of work as Ince. One of the few natural goalscorers that the country has produced over the past 20 years you only have to look at the Van Basten-esque effort he got the other week to see that certain types of talent stay with you irrespective of age. We were linked with him for a while but, despite his availability on a free, the proposed signing on fee is said to have been too rich for the owners’ liking. He was missing from the side up at the Torture Chamber on Saturday with what we now know to be a broken ankle so he’s definitely out. As is the other ex-Hammer in the side, Felix “Junior” Stanislas. Stanislas’ hamstring went ping up at Man City to cap one of those days for them.

Top scorer in the league so far this season is striker Callum Wilson. His three goals to date all came in November’s 4-0 defeat of Huddersfield. Indeed he scored a hat-trick against us a couple of years ago. A month later he was under the knife having ruptured his left anterior cruciate knee ligament. Ouch. He made his return 7 months later and managed to get 5 months of football in until he got exactly the same injury to his right knee. Now touch wood I am not the most superstitious of people but, if that lot had happened to me even I would have a think about ditching the no.13 squad number he seems to have been lumbered with.

Josh King also has three to his name this term but one of those came in the League Cup. I bet like me you are always confusing him with the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics up at Cambridge of that name who held the post between 1839-49. I have hit on an easy way to tell them apart though. King the academic won the Smith’s Prize awarded to Cambridge mathematics research students in 1819. Whilst King (the footballer) didn’t. King (the footballer) is one of a long list of journeymen strikers who have blagged hat-tricks against us over the years, his effort coming in the corresponding fixture last season. Not known for his intellectual prowess, I fear that the modern day equivalent of the Smith’s prize might be beyond the striker, who might be better advised to have a tilt at the crown for the Norwegian with the least Norwegian-sounding name. If such a thing exists. The player was born in Oslo and has over 30 caps for the full senior side. King is another who is a “major doubt” for this one, another victim of the hamstring epidemic.
It is said that we put in a bid for midfielder Harry Arter last week. It figures – he’s injured as well at the moment and we do have a history of signing players whilst crocked. He has a a calf problem making him a major doubt for Boxing Day.

Ok us. Well the word “complacent” is the one that leaps to mind. Silly individual errors cost us big time. As did the inability of anyone not called Noble to stick a penalty away from 12 yards. We missed Lanzini big time this weekend. On the few occasions we did run at them we looked dangerous. Lanzini will of course be back following his ban for diving. I saw two worse dives on MOTD the other night. One of which came from Alli who should already have been serving a three match ban for that disgraceful tackle the other week. Just to add to the mix, the penalty was converted by Kane who, for the 4th or 5th time this season ought to have been serving a similar ban for his equally disgraceful tackle. There comes a time when referees must finally start to realise that just because his manager says he’s not “that type of player” doesn’t mean that he’s “not that type of player”. If as I suspect Alli escapes a ban for his dive it will just confirm what everyone knows about the FA. Still as long as they sort out the important stuff like giving Wembley FC a hard time for using their own name, that’s the main thing.

Injuries? Noble – who I venture to suggest was also missed at the weekend – faces a late fitness test. The other usuals are still out. Antonio isn’t injured apparently but he seemed strangely lacking in pace, as though his muscles were responding in a manner akin to running through the weapons-grade treacle that cook uses in her treacle puddings here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. Something’s nor right there to these eyes. I just hope the lad isn’t unwell or something.

So on to the prediction. The defeat ought to have shaken a few of the cobwebs out of the collective brains and the drop to just above the relegation zone should serve to concentrate the minds a little. A timely reminder that the hard work and organisation that have been the hallmark of the recent improvement in our fortunes don’t “just happen”. Caution prevents me from going the whole hog and plumping for an away win despite their injury list and apparent lack of depth. Had Winstone the Turf accountant actually been open I would have therefore placed the £2.50 I “liberated” from the last lot of carol singers to pass this way on a 1-1 draw.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at Dean Court: Lost 2-3 (Premier League March 2017)

Odd game. They failed to convert two first-half penalties – the second of which would have seen a suspension for Pugh had it happened this term given his dive – as Antonio gave us the lead. King scored one either side of the interval, the second of which saw Afobe 5 yards offside and clearly interfering at a free-kick. Well done Bobby “Move the wall back 25 yards” Madeley. Ayew got what looked to have been an unlikely equaliser with 7 left on the clock only for King to complete his hat-trick on 90 minutes.

Referee: Stuart Atwell

I can only think that Atwell – who owes his whole “Select Group” career to the fact that he was fast tracked as a favour to his mentor Keith Hackett – is going for the most number of mistakes by a match official in a career record. I suspect there’s a bonus in it for him.

Danger Man: Calum Wilson

It would have been Defoe but his ankle precludes his appearance. So top scorer Wilson it is.

Percy’s poser:

Last time out we asked you which member of the Auf Wiedersehen Pet cast is a West Ham fan. Congratulations to Mrs Brenda Hope whose answer was first out of the digital hat – though she has turned down the prize of an all expenses paid trip to Gateshead on the grounds that she “went there once and didn’t much care for it”. Mrs Hope was the first to provide the information that it is Christopher Fairbank who played the scouse pyromaniac Moxey in the much-loved series, who is the Hammer. The scouse accent was so convincing that many thought that the Hertfordshire-born actor was actually from that neck of the woods. Well done Brenda!

For this week’s poser we ask you: What did actress (apparently) Amanda Holden once do in Bournemouth for a £20 bet. And no, it wasn’t that. First correct answer out of the digital hat will win a stick of rock. Possibly with the word Bournemouth running through it, though we can’t guarantee it.

Good luck all.

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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