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Sunderland v West Ham Utd: preview

Filed: Friday, 21st November 2008
By: Preview Percy

We next have a long trip up to the North East to the Stadium of Light where the football authorities and the TV companies have showed exactly the contempt they have for us supporters by decreeing that we will have to play at a travel-unfriendly 4.00pm on a Sunday. Still, as we all know, we’re the last ones that matter to the powers that be.

Sunderland currently lie three places above us in 11th place though, given the currently concertina-ed state of the league table at present, the more important statistic is probably the fact that they are one point ahead of us and, for what it’s worth, they are the only side above us that has an inferior goal difference (-7 to our -6). Like us their results have been mixed. Their last home victory came against Newcastle about a month ago, since when they have been beaten 1-0 at Stoke, thumped 5-0 at Chelsea and were unfortunate to go down to a late Defoe penalty in a 2-1 home defeat to Portsmouth.

A measure of their inconsistency an be gleaned by the fact that their last two matches saw them go down 2-1 at home to Blackburn in the League Cup before going over to Ewood Park and beating them 2-1 to halt a run of four league & cup defeats in a row. Reports suggest that the result against Rovers came at the end of the proverbial “game of two halves” where they ought to have been more than just the one goal behind at the interval, only for them to have a much better second half – assisted by yet another error by the inexplicably England-bound Paul Robinson, whose error let them back into the match early in the second half.

In goal up at Ewood was Marton Fulop, a name which sounds like it ought to be a service area on the M4. Fulop has been standing in of late for Craig Gordon, the Scottish no.1 who has been missing of late with a sprained ankle. However, the extra day’s recovery will probably see him available for selection on Sunday.

There are some familiar faces in amongst the usual back four. George McCartney had a very consistent spell at the Boleyn before letting down men everywhere by moving back up to the North-East 'because his wife told him to.' Confusion reigned at the time of his transfer, not least because the club claimed that Linda had submitted a written transfer request whilst the man himself denied ever having done so. Linda has been missing with an ankle problem but is listed as available for the weekend.

Expect Danny Collins to continue at left-back should Keane decide not to disrupt a winning side. The other ex-Hammer in the side has been Anton Ferdinand. Sunderland fans appear to have been more impressed by Ferdinand than by McCartney – though what little I’ve seen of him since his move wouldn’t necessarily indicate any major improvements to his game. It seemed a strange move for Ferdinand – though any rumours that he was convinced it would be a good move if he wanted to be near his unwell grandmother on the Isle of Wight are of course scurrilous. Probably.

The back four has lately been completed by right-back Nyron Nosworthy, whose name sounds like a small village somewhere off the M4, not far from the Marton Fulop service area, and sometime right-back Phil Bardsley who has been playing in the middle alongside Ferdinand.

In the centre of midfield is summer signing Timo Tainio who arrived during the summer from feeder club Spurs for an undisclosed fee alongside Pascal Chimbonda, who appears to be out of favour at the moment, and fellow midfielder Steed Malbranque. Another ex-Spud in the squad is Andy Reid – though he did at least have a spell at Charlton first. Reid was on the bench last week, Keane preferring to complete his midfield quartet with skipper Dean Whitehead and former Hammer’s youth midfielder Kieran Richardson. Winger Carlos Edwards may feature in the squad having been recalled from a loan spell at Wolves.

Also on the bench last week is the obnoxious El Hadj Diouf whose habit of spitting at opposition fans first came to light against us at Anfield a few years back. Diouf is capable of playing either as a wide midfielder or up front. First choice in the striking berths has been Kenwyne Kones. The Trinidad & Tobago international arrived from Southampton in 2007, presumably to save a few bob in buying new kit. He proved quite a handful in last season’s match at the Boleyn and is in good recent form having missed the earlier part of the season in the treatment room. He was on the scoresheet last week, as was his striking partner Djibril Cisse. Other options up front include the veteran Dwight Yorke though “Angry Ant” David Connolly (it seems so very long ago doesn’t it) won’t be around thanks to injury.

As for us, Robert Green will thankfully be 100% fit having watched the Terry & Carson Comedy Capers like the rest of us from the safety of his sofa. “Cheri” Ilunga looks to have recovered from the knock that curtailed his participation against Pompey. The Pysio Room lists both Mark Noble and Jonathan Spector as available, though I’m not holding my breath in anticipation. Similarly some guy called Tristran is listed as potentially available, but frankly I’ll believe he actually exists only when I see him with my own eyes. Otherwise I wouldn’t expect there to be too much in the way of changes from last week.

Predictions? – well frankly they will be futile for this one. Partly because we have two teams for whom the only consistent factor is their inconsistency, but mainly because once more the authorities have yet again shown their contempt for the paying fan by giving a live TV match to the worryingly stupid Mike Dean. Dean is a bad enough referee at the best of times, but give him a live TV match and he plumbs new depths time after time after time. I’ll plump for a 2-2 draw for this one but given the identity of the man in charge I’ll be happy to see the match decided on the merits of the two teams involved – after all there is a first time for everything I suppose.

Enjoy the game!

Last Season: lost 2-1 Andy Reid’s winner comes bafflingly in the 7th minute of the 5 added on by ref Marriner and boosts the relegation-threatened home side’s chances of staying up.

Danger Man: Kenwyne Jones Caused major problems at the Boleyn last season – mind you Anton won’t be marking him this time!

Look out for: The Statue of Bob Stokoe.

The statue commemorates the 1973 Cup Final win over Leeds. It is an accurate depiction of the manager’s run across the Wembley turf to hug match-saving ‘keeper Jim Montgomery. However a Sunderland fan once described it to me as being reminiscent of a 'Benny Hill character chasing an unseen bird in a desperate attempt to get a grope' and I’ve never been able to look at it in quite the same light again!

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 david edward geary
07:57PM 22nd Nov 2008
''We are playing brilliant football lately and it would be so nice to get a win against the Mackems. Especially as Roy Keane gobbed at West Ham supporters at Villa Park in the semi final against Nottingham Forest when he was playing for them. I was there. Hammers never forget scumbags.''

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