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Huddersfield Town v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 12th January 2018
By: Preview Percy

Twelve days into the year and unbeaten. Time for a cheerful contribution from Preview Percy one might have thought. Er, looking through his thoughts on this weekend's trip to Huddersfield, maybe not......

Next up we go back to the league where we will be entertained at the John Smith’s Stadium by Huddersfield Town. Kick-off is 3pm, which, after all the messing about we’ve had to endure of late, is a blessed relief.

The Terriers currently sit in 11th spot with 24 points from the 22 played so far. That’s two points clear of us and they are one of the few teams whose goal difference is worse than ours. December was a mixed bag for them. Defeats to Everton (a 2-0) and Chelsea (h 1-4) sandwiched a 2-0 win at home over Brighton. They then won 4-1 at Watford before they came over all Littlewoods with a hat-trick of draws with Southampton & Stoke (both 1-1) and Burnley (0-0) – though that last one might have had a different result had ref Tierney been the only one in the ground who didn’t think ‘keeper Lossl’s challenge on Burnley’s Hendrick was a penalty.

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 have already been active in the winter loan market to bring in defender Terence Kongolo from Monaco. Kongolo signed for the casino club for €15m (around £13.4m the girl at Thomas Cook tells me) or so from Feyenoord .last summer. Injuries – including a particularly bothersome knee – severely limited his opportunities in the principality and he made only three appearances in the league side up to the new year. Born in Switzerland he qualifies through parentage for the Democratic Republic Of Congo, for the Swiss by birth and for the Netherlands through having lived there most of his natural. Happily for those of us who like to maintain traditional standards of schoolboy humour in these columns, he elected to opt for the Netherlands and has three Dutch caps, the last of which came four years ago. He has been known to play all across the back four but favours the centre or left hand side of defence. He made his debut in last weekend’s 2-1 defeat of Bolton away in the Cup last weekend.

Five goals – all in the league – are enough to see striker Laurent Depoitre at the top of the Terriers goalscorer list. He arrived from Porto for what was (temporarily) a club record fee of £3.5m. He can call himself a Belgian international having picked up a single cap (which aren’t nearly as funny as those dished out by their neighbours to the north) back in 2015. Given the embarrassment of riches available to the Belgians at the moment he’s not one to place in your office World Cup Fantasy league team when they line up against England in June.

Slightly less prolific has been Tom Ince. You’d change that surname out of shame, wouldn’t you. His goal over Christmas against Stoke was his first top flight goal for 4 years. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that his gobby Dad was telling everyone how well his lad would do once he signed for Inter. Funnily enough he ended up at Blackpool. then Hull, then Derby before Wagner brought him in during the summer. Still I’m sure Inter are still waiting in the wings.

At the time of writing it appears that they have agreed a fee believed to be in the region of £14m for Norwich midfielder Alex Pritchard. The Orsett-born Pritchard actually started his career in our own youth set-up before having to suffer the indignity of signing for Spurs for whom he made two league appearances in his five years on their books and he was an unused sub when we beat them 2-0 in 2014. Most of his time suffering at White Hart Lane was actually spent on loan at clubs such as Peterborough, Swindon, Brentford and West Brom before he made the switch to Norwich in the summer of 2016 for an undisclosed (ie £8m) fee. Whilst on loan at Brentford he picked up armfuls of player of the year awards, including their “Player’s Player” gong and he also made the PFA team of the year for that season. He’s been capped at age level by England up to U21 though his last representative honour came something like 3 years back.

At the time of writing the player remains a Canary but by the time this goes live he may well have signed on the dotted line or whatever it is players do these days before posing with a shirt “liberated” from the club shop with a hastily ironed-on name on the back. If he hasn’t, well this has been a waste of a paragraph or two then hasn’t it?!

One shouldn’t continue without mentioning Rob Green who signed for them as backup for the aforementioned Lossl. He’s yet to make a proper first XI appearance for them this season so it remains to be seen where he ends up next season – he’s there on a one year deal with an option to extend at the end of this season. We at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered wish him well in his endeavours though obviously we hope he has a ‘mare should he be involved this weekend at any stage. Nothing personal!

So what else has been happening? Well we had the non-event that was the Brighton v Palace match. More specifically there was the non-formal use of the VAR system in that match. There were a couple of informal chats between Marriner and his tv oppo Swarbick sitting back in a studio in London which managed to dispense with a couple of minor queries but the full blown “make a rectangle with your hands” review wasn’t required. The one worry I have is that by using the same old PGMOL twits to look at the footage we may just be giving the likes of Dean a way of affecting games they wouldn’t otherwise have been part of. It’s bad enough when Dean decides the result of games as it is. Now that he can do so without even leaving a nice warm tv studio is another worry. Apparently the system was used in the Chelsea v Arsenal League Cup Semi-Final the other night but I couldn’t be arsed watching that one so I couldn’t possibly comment other than to say if you stuck Arsene Wenger in a room full of tv screens he probably wouldn’t have seen it there either.

Us? Well Joe Hart described us up at Shrewsbury as “terrible”. However, I disagree. I don’t think we were actually that good. We had the look of a team made up of different teams who had been thrown together at short notice to take part in some charity tournament against a regular team used to playing together on a weekly basis. Which, when you think about it, isn’t a million miles away from the truth if you ignore the charity bit. The kids did ok without tearing up any trees – the big surprise being that, given the current state of refereeing in this country, Cullen didn’t get a straight red for that disgraceful head-butt to an opponent’s boot. Or at least a yellow for littering the pitch with the contents of his mouth. Highlight (such as it was) of the day was the sight of England’s no.1 ‘keeper arriving for a match without a cap. You’d have thought that a cap would have been a standard piece of equipment for professional ‘keepers. Apparently not, and we were treated to the sight of our custodian having to borrow a cap out of the crowd. Still if he’d been playing for Spurs Hart would have had to worry about catching dandruff, though I suspect his endorsement contracts might have that eventuality covered.

Meanwhile most of us in the crowd had to seek refuge at the Mike Dean Hospital For Chronic Eyesight Problems having spent over an hour looking into the low winter sun (that’s the yellow dwarf star located about 93,000,000 miles away rather than Liverpool’s favourite newspaper by the way). Though even that was less painful than actually watching the match.

Hernandez continued to cause concern and the lad Martinez probably did more chasing in the first couple of minutes after arriving on the pitch and his body language seems to indicate a spot of “attitude” problem. Yes I realise we are not playing him in a system adapted to his strengths but the injury list is such that you have to compromise and, in Hernandez’s case, at least give it a go.

Talking of the injury list we have one in and one out. The treatment table bids welcome to Winston Reid who limped off the pitch on Sunday with a groin problem. This means that, assuming Rice partners the ever-improving Ogbonna in the middle, the only cover we have at present for that position would be Oxford, who is himself injured, listed as he is as a “slight doubt” for the match. Reid replaces Collins on the list keeping it at 9. Arnautovic and Cresswell are, like Oxford, listed as “slight doubt” for this one.

This leaves Sakho, Antonio, Fernandes, Byram, and Fonte as the definite no shows, though arguably Sakho should probably not be on that list, the “cyst” on his knee will disappear as soon as he gets his transfer or the window closes, whichever happens first. The club is holding out for £15m for the player which I feel may be a wee bit optimistic given that that was the reported fee when his proposed move to West Brom collapsed over his injury problems.

Prediction? Not feeling good about this one I’m afraid. Although we should be boosted by the return of Arnie & possibly Cresswell from their respective injuries we look woefully short at the back, particularly should Cresswell fail his fitness test, though the skipper should add some much-needed urgency to the midfield. I’m not sure quite what they have in mind up front but I would respectfully suggest that any tactic that involves Chicharito being used as a ball holding target-man is probably misguided.

The best I can plump for this time is a draw so it’s off to Winstones The Turf Accountant I go to place the £2.50 that was going into the Joe Hart sun hat fund on a 1-1 draw.
Enjoy the game!

When last we met at their place: Lost 0-1 (League Cup September 1997)

A 75th minute effort from Alex Dyer gave them the win. This was back in the days of two legged 2nd round ties though and a Hartson hat-trick put us through to the next round.

Referee: Jonathan Moss

Last seen doing the 0-0 draw against Arsenal. In the 2-2 draw up at Leicester during their title winning year he gave them a last minute penalty that had Leicester’s Wes Morgan commenting “he hasn’t a clue, has he?”. He still hasn’t.

Danger Man: Laurent Delpoitre

Top scorer though if they have signed Pritchard by then the law of the ex-may kick in as he makes an attempt to make a name for himself.

Percy’s Poser

Last week we asked you for the connection between Shrewsbury and Neasden FC. Congratulations to Myrtle Featherstonehaugh of Marks Tey who noted that Neasden FC is the team plying their trade in the North Circular Relegation League whose exploits have been the subject of Private Eye Magazine’s sports section over the years. That’s the Private Eye which was founded by Richard Ingrams and others, the forerunner version of the magazine being the satirical magazine they put out at Shrewsbury School.

For this week’s poser we go back to the 1970’s and bring back memories of Frank Worthington, the wayward but talented striker who started his career at Huddersfield. Having made a name for himself at Leeds Road, Liverpool were interested in signing him. However, he failed the medical with high blood pressure. Our question this week is that old favourite “what happened next?”

The first name out of the digital hat will win a pint of Worthington E – a pint popular in the 1970’s due to the fact that it was marginally less horrible than Watney’s Red Barrel. (Subject to availability, obviously).

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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