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West Ham Utd v Manchester Utd

Filed: Friday, 6th February 2009
By: Preview Percy

Next up we have the mob from Salford. It’s a Sky game which means two things. Firstly it’s a 4pm Sunday start, and secondly the cameras will face the right way and they’ll leave the adverts until half and full-time.

Like Arsenal, this weekend’s visitors have a long history of corrupt practice and rule-breaking, little things of which their rightly-mocked supporters appear strangely ignorant. Still they are ignorant of a lot of things that lot judging by the numbers that one has to give directions to when visiting the laughably-named “Theatre of Dreams” – a suitably Disney-esque title for the home of something that is more marketing brand than football club. In short, if we can compare the world of football to that of music, Man Utd’s supporters are the ones who went out and bought that bloody awful X-Factor version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah “because it’s number 1 innit”.

The visitors lie top at the moment, two points clear of Liverpool with a game in hand, courtesy of the ludicrous trip to play in the so-called World Club Championship a while back. The “World” title fools nobody apart from their support (and let’s face it if you’ve spent years thinking Wes Brown was international class you ain’t gonna be that difficult to impress). The marketing guys love it of course because it means that the “brand” can use the tag to flog more tacky tat that the support will lap up. The “achievement” can be measured by the fact that, in discussing this the other night, none of us could remember who it was they’d beaten in the final (whilst the achievements of West Auckland FC in beating Juventus in 1911 to retain the trophy from a similar tournament were known to all). None of which will matter to their manager, of course, who, no doubt will forget this and similar trips to Monaco the next time he moans about fixture congestion.

Their current form is an impressive 6 out of 6 though closer scrutiny suggests that there has been an element of “grinding out” amongst those results. Certainly the 3-0 victory over Chelsea carried a bit of swagger about it. However, four of the other five victories – against Boro’, Wigan, Bolton and Everton – were 1-0 wins and, whilst few outside Smethwick would claim there was ever going to be much of a likelihood of West Brom getting much out of their recent encounter, the 5-0 margin of victory owed more than a little to the disgraceful antics of Rob Styles whose sending-off of the Baggies’ Robinson was rightly overturned, though as ever that’s little consolation to the Midlanders, whose chances of a point probably disappeared down the tunnel with Robinson.

The defence has been stingy of course and van der Sar has picked up an award for breaking the record for minutes without conceding a goal, breaking the 1,103 minute mark previously held by a former Hammer, the late Steve Death who set the record whilst playing for Reading in 1979. I expect the kit manufacturers are just waiting to produce a special replica ‘keeper’s kit just as soon as they know what the new record will be. Much of the credit for that will go to the defence which has been strengthened by the return in recent weeks of dear old Rio from a back problem. I’ll admit that I was a bit gobsmacked the other day to discover that Rio is actually 30 years old – it seems like only yesterday he was that kid that had so much promise. His partnership with Vidic is widely regarded as the benchmark for central pairings.

Though inevitably Ronaldo has picked up all the publicity (another meaningless “World” title to go on the souvenir merchandise) our old chum Michael Carrick has been keeping things ticking over for them in the middle and he was instrumental in winning them the penalty that was enough to get them the 1-0 win over Everton last week. Genuine home penalties at Old Trafford are so rare, of course, that that the souvenir guys are probably working on a commemorative mug as we speak.

On the injured list have been Wayne Rooney, with a hamstring problem, and Nani whose groin has kept him out of the reckoning for a while. Along with Evra, who has a refreshingly vague “foot injury” according to physioroom.com, they are listed as being possibly available for selection at the Boleyn. Up front we are likely to see Berbatov paired with Tevez if Rooney isn’t risked. Tevez is assured of a generous reception on his return and, despite the ramblings of the Telegraph’s football correspondent as swallowed by the moronic halfwits on the arbitration panel, Fergie is likely to go through the motions and actually pick ten other players to accompany the little Argentinian who, uniquely in football, is legally capable of winning matches all on his own.

Of course our own form of late has been none too shabby and in little more than a month we’ve gone from looking nervously over our shoulders to the giddy heights of 8th in the league. Recent performances have been those of a team beginning to come to terms with the style of football expected of it both by its management and by its supporters. It’s not been perfect by any means but when the passing game has been working, such as in the Hull match for example, the results have been exhilarating. The hard work done on the defensive side of things, presumably the province of Steve Clarke, has also not gone unnoticed in these parts and the point gained at the Library at the weekend owed much to a contrasting performance against a rather average Arsenal to whom we were perhaps guilty of paying a little too much respect. We’ve done well out of the transfer window losing only Bellamy (Mr February in the official Club calendar) out of the so-called big four’ and the arrival of Savio and Kovac are welcome additions to the squad.

At home, without resorting to suicidal recklessness, I’d like to see us going for it a bit more this time round. As for predictions, well we have a habit of giving Fergie something to moan about – not that he ever needs much of an excuse. The fact that many of their recent wins have been largely the result of determination rather than domination gives me cause for optimism, though we may have to rely on assistance from the back at set-pieces if we are to score more than once against a defence on top of its game. I’m in a good mood so I’m going for an admittedly, but shamelessly optimistic 2-1 victory which will taunt the chasing pack by keeping the Premiership race open for another week or so – though I think it’ll be false hope for both Chelsea and Liverpool, neither of whom I can see pipping Salford for the title.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: Won 2-1 Goals from Ferdinand and Upson cancel out a Ronaldo strike whilst the Portuguese diver also missed a penalty.

Danger Man: Ronaldo – especially from set pieces (often dubiously “won” by himself).

Look out for: X-factor supporters pointing out that we’ve only come to see 'United' – yup, we do every week having adopted the name well before the Johnny-come-lately mob from the north. Also traffic jams on the A3 as their support gets back to Surrey.

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 Chris
01:14PM 6th Feb 2009
''Dear Percy,

Enjoyed the read. Liked in particular the reference to the 'Library' and traffic jams on the A3. Nice. Can't wait for the game on Sunday.''

by RedBoy89 (MUFC)
10:06AM 6th Feb 2009
''You always seem to get a result against us, we always seem to help Chelsea win nothing. All hunky dory no?''

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