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West Ham Utd v Blackburn Rovers

Filed: Thursday, 28th August 2008
By: Preview Percy

So having played Mark Hughes’ current club we return to the Boleyn to face his former charges Blackburn Rovers, managed of course by Paul Ince.

Let’s get their manager out of the way first. To the outside world the whole affair centres over the infamous shirt-wearing episode where, whilst still a West Ham player, he happily posed for photographs wearing a Man Utd shirt. However Ince’s behaviour at that period plumbed even greater depths than a simple fashion faux-pas. Manchester United’s role in the whole affair was a complete disgrace and, on Ince’s own admission, “Sir” Alex Ferguson was in constant and totally illegal contact throughout the whole episode. This culminated in the appalling sight of Ince spending a match standing in the centre circle with his hands on his hips effectively refusing to play for the club that was still paying his wages.

Ince, when he comments on the period, tends to gloss over this and he usually forgets to mention the fact that he was taking his instructions from Fergie. Instead he predictably tends to concentrate on the shirt-wearing, the blame for which is conveniently shifted to his then agent Ambrose Mendy. The fact that Mendy later did time for attempted fraud will tell you all you need to know about that particular individual. As for Ince, well he was quick to dump on the club that effectively kept him out of serious trouble as a kid and in my opinion he will deserve every last decibel of the booing that he will no doubt get this weekend. In the Preview Percy household contempt for Ince is only matched by that for the ex-wife, who is slightly more tolerable only because she doesn’t turn up at my home ground once a season and grin stupidly.

Rant over so let’s move onto our opponents. Blackburn owe their place in the modern game largely to the late Jack Walker. Walker made an absolute fortune in the steel industry and returned to his home town to invest his profits in his home town team. The ground got redeveloped and the Premiership trophy arrived at Ewood Park in 1995, largely, and famously, as a result of Ludo’s last day heroics against a Man Utd side that contained Blackburn’s current boss. That side broke up and Blackburn suffered relegation 4 years after being crowned champions. Sadly Walker died after a long illness before his club returned to the top flight. His legacy lives on however and the club is still 98% owned by the Jack Walker Trust and, although the trust is willing to sell the club, the trustees appear to have a fairly stringent “fit and proper” test of their own. A number of groups have come in to buy the club in recent years but none have succeeded. The trust used to finance the club but withdrew regular funding once the club had become self-financing, though additional funds were made available at the start of this season to enable investment in the transfer market.

When I started to write this preview it hadn’t been the busiest of windows for Rovers up to this point – though Ince had proved that he is learning the managerial ropes well by trotting out football manager cliché 462 (the one that says “we’re looking at bringing in one or two before the window closes”) whenever asked about transfers. Since first turning on the computer Torino Aussie Vince Grella has arrived and Ince has also raided his former club MK Dons for their skipper Keith Andrews.

Earlier in the window septic Brad Friedel left for Villa to be replaced by Paul Robinson who has managed to escape Spurs relegation battle despite his reputation for dodginess. Making the reverse trip was England (when he feels like it) midfielder David Bentley in a rare case of a rat joining a sinking ship. Roque Santa Cruz – who might have had a shedload against us last season – spent all summer being linked with Manchester City before eventually signing a new deal. Chilean footballer of the year Carlos Villaneuva has also come in on loan, and, although he had a place on the bench for the season opener up at Everton, though he hasn’t featured in either of their league matches to date. However, by all accounts he put in a useful shift in midweek in the 4-1 victory over Grimsby in the League Cup.

Robinson is likely to start in goal this weekend and he is likely to have an unchanged back 5 in front of him of Ooijer (missus), Warnock, Samba Nelsen and Mokoena. In the middle much will depend on whether David Dunn is fit for selection. Dunn apparently bossed the first 45 against new boys Hull City but remained in the changing room after the interval having picked up an Achilles problem. Brett Emerton deputised for the second half, though the arrivals of Grella and Villanueva give them more options and Ince may be tempted to change things around and maybe even revert to a back four given the Chilean’s performance in midweek. Up front the chosen pairing has been Santa Cruz and Roberts and, with seven subs now sitting in the racing car seats (we can hardly call it a bench these days can we), they have been able to find room in the technical area for McCarthy – who is quaintly referred to as “Benedict” in all the official stats – and Derbyshire, both of whom have been linked with the Hammers at one time or another.

Last season’s match saw the home support leave with a big collective smile on its face as Freddie Sears bagged the winner on his debut in what, for many fans, was probably the highlight of an otherwise dull season. The goal certainly caught the imagination and a Preview Percy tour of pubs in a certain part of the Republic of Ireland over Easter found the locals wanting to talk about little else when West Ham cropped up in conversation.

The visitors’ lie in 4th place in the embryonic table at present – for what it’s worth. A fine last-minute (if apparently controversial) 3-2 win at Everton was followed up by a couple of points dropped at home to Hull. It’s fair to say that our own form has been somewhat indifferent – which is about the politest way of saying things without upsetting anyone so if anything predictions should point to an away win. However, I am going to buck the trend at this point. 30,000 plus supporters welcoming Ince back to the Boleyn should make for a somewhat hostile atmosphere directed, for once, away from the home players and management. I’m taking that aggression to filter through to the players to gee them up for a change. We’ve had some entertaining clashes with them in recent years so I’ll keep ‘em crossed and go for a 2-1 home win and sweetness and light will fill the air.

Enjoy the match!

Last year: 2-1

Danger man: Santa Cruz

Look out for: Their manager

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.

Your Comments

by Pete
06:43AM 29th Aug 2008
''Brilliant. A couple of lines in that gave me a real good chuckle, especially the one about the ex Mrs.

Apart from that, a good read and as far as the match itself, I always tend to say that West Ham never play the same in both halves of a match, well they have proved me wrong so far and have played badly in both halves of all matches ! So I'm revising my statement, West Ham don't play the same in every match or failing that, the same in both halves of the season.

How many times have we been stung by teams that have got a pasting the week before ? Let's be the team that goes out and gives it to Blackburn.''

by kiwihammer
04:06AM 29th Aug 2008
''Wow, the ex-wife must have hurt you bad! Wishful thinking on the result but then where would we be without that at the moment!

I would take a clean sheet!''

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