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West Ham Utd v Barnsley: match preview

Filed: Friday, 2nd January 2009
By: Preview Percy

And so, after a successful Christmas in the league thoughts turn to the FA Cup where we entertain Barnsley who are currently plying their trade in The Championship.

The club has a long history of second-tier football – over 60 years which I believe is a record. It could have been a lot different as they ought to have been promoted to the top flight after the First World War. However, they lost out in all the bribery and corruption that saw Arsenal promoted and Manchester United and Liverpool keep their places in the league despite having been found guilty in the courts of match-fixing. They had to wait over 80 years for another shot at the big time, a sojourn which lasted but one season before their return to more familiar territory.

They look a long shot for a return to the Premiership this season, lying as they do in 16th place some 9 points off a play-off spot, though they would appear to be safe enough from relegation worries sitting some 8 points off the drop zone. Recent results haven’t been too bad with the stand out victory being a 2-1 win at Burnley who have been going well of late, though their most recent outing saw them held 1-1 at home by Preston who currently hover just outside the play-offs on goal difference. The Preston equaliser came as a result of an alleged dive by a Preston player which goes to show that they haven’t changed much since we were promoted.

Of course as every football correspondent will be writing at this time of year, league positions count for nothing in The Cup, a theory that Barnsley themselves proved during their fine run in last season’s competition. That run knocked out both Liverpool and Chelsea much to everyone’s delight. Well almost everyone – the screenshot of the arrogant and smug Phil Thompson’s face as the Liverpool result came in on Sky Sports was one of my favourite photos of the season.

They are managed by Welshman Simon Davey who has been dining out on the fact that, as a Preston player, he stepped aside to allow a young loan player to take a free-kick. The resulting goal was apparently the first league goal for a kid called Beckham. Whatever eventually happened to that kid, he is likely to have had a lengthier playing career than the unfortunate Davey who was forced into retirement as a player following a training ground mishap at the age of 27. Davey learned his trade under David Moyes at Preston and got the Barnsley job 2 years ago, his promotion from Youth Academy boss coming on the sacking of Andy Ritchie.

The current first team squad has something of a cosmopolitan air about it, with the club having convinced Jamaican, Canadian, Peruvian, German, Dutch, Brazilian and Argentinean players of the delights of South Yorkshire. The current incumbent twixt the sticks is Heinz Muller who you will not be surprised to hear is German. He arrived via a spell in the Norwegian league and has returned to the no.1 slot having missed the latter stages of 07/08 with a knee injury.

In front of Muller against Preston the back five consisted of Dutchman Marciano Van Homoet, player of the year Stephen Foster, Jamaican Darren Moore, Bobby Hassell and Robert Kozluk who, despite the foreign sounding name actually hails from Mansfield. Kozluk picked up what was at first suspected to have been a hairline fracture of his cheek against Preston. Although this turned out to be a smudge on the x-ray film or something he will still be out for this weekend and Davey will have a selection problem in trying to replace a name that has been a first choice in the line-up all season.

In a three-man midfield they went with Brazilian Da Silva , Spaniard Diego Leon, who started his career at Real Madrid and much travelled Jamaican winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce who counts Leyton Orient and Southend amongst his list of 7 former clubs which isn’t bad for someone who won’t be 26 until April (though this total does include loan spells at the O’s, Colchester and Milton Keynes).

Up top they will need to change from the pairing of Cureton and Macken. Cureton, who has scored in the last two matches, is currently on loan from Norwich City and the Canaries have refused permission for him to turn out in this one. One possible replacement is another Dutchman Maceo Rigters whose own loan from Blackburn is a season-long deal.

Canadian Iain Hume would have been a likely starter but he is still recovering from the disgraceful assault on him by Chris Morgan of that hotbed of hypocrisy Sheffield United. The fact that Morgan is still selected week in week out, whilst Hume is still recovering from the attack shows exactly the contempt that that tawdry little club really has for the concept of “fairness in football.”

Equally incredibly, no action was taken against the disgraceful comments of Sheffield United’s assistant boss Sam Ellis, whose statement to the effect that “too much” was being made of the incident should have seen him up on a disrepute charge the second the last syllable exited his stupid thick gob. Quite why the local plod in South Yorkshire failed to get involved in the affair is also something of a mystery – though they’d presumably have had to take time off from their hobby of illegally hassling ordinary football supporters to issue Morgan with the assault or GBH charges the thug so richly deserves.

Cup-ties are difficult to predict – as the visitors’ own exploits last season proved. Even on paper, our own traditional fallibility against opposition from lower leagues mean that matches such as this are never as straightforward as they ought to be. However, I can see Barnsley giving it a go a bit more than the likes of Stoke City, whose tactics last weekend were simply appalling. Assuming Bellamy is selected following his suspension his pace on the counter attack will hopefully prove the difference so this time I’ll plump for a 2-1 win to us to put our ball into Sir Trevor’s velvet bag for the next round.

Enjoy the game and Happy New Year!

Last season: n/a

Danger Man: Macken is one of those irritating players that you know in your heart of hearts isn’t very good but always seems to score, and Campbell-Ryce is the sort of player that seems to pop up at Cup time to provide a shock.

Look out for: The justice for Iain Hume campaign – website: http://www.bfcst.org.uk/justiceforhume

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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