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West Ham United v Barnsley - Match Preview

Filed: Saturday, 8th January 2011
By: Preview Percy

A 5-0 drubbing at Newcastle but is Preview Percy depressed? Well yes, he is. However he decided that he's suffered enough this week so now it's your turn...

If it's January it must be the third round of the Cup and, not for the first time in recent years we have been drawn at home to Barnsley in a match that kicks off at 3pm. Travel news isn't great I'm afraid. There are no tubes through Upton Park with buses replacing the District/Hammersmith & City lines. Not enough for you? Well the bit of the c2c line between Barking and Fenchurch Street is shut with trains being diverted to Liverpool Street. “Ok let's go by car then” I hear you say. Well fine but if your normal route home takes you along Barking Road towards Canning Town just be aware that the road is closed westbound between the building site that used to be Rathbone Market and the flyover. Hope you all got walking boots for Christmas!

The visitors make the trek south as a break from life in what we are supposed to call the Championship. It will always be division 2 to me, partly because I'm a traditionalist but mainly because I hate being told that things are being “re-branded” and it annoys the hell out of the marketing people. They currently lie in 16th place in the 24-team league, six places and 8 points above the relegation zone outside which our mutual “friends” Sheffield United currently hover. You will recall that, quite apart from any local enmity that may exist between the Tykes and the hypocrites, The red and white half of Sheffield plumbed new depths (even for that tawdry little club) over the Iain Hulme affair. Hulme found himself in intensive care (or “high dependency unit” as those irritating marketing people “re-branded” it) after an assault from defender Chris Morgan left him with a broken jaw. Despite the seriousness of the injuries (they don't stick you in “high dependency” for a bruised fingernail), Sheffield United insisted that Barnsley were making “too much” the incident. As I said, a new low.

Canadian international Hulme spent most of this season on loan at Preston and the deal became permanent as the current window opened. Dagenham-born Paul Hayes came on loan in the other direction last October. It's Hayes' second spell at Oakwell with him having spend two years at the club between 2005-07 scoring both in open play and in the penalty shoot-out in the 2006 3rd division (or “League One”) play-off final.

They currently have a couple of loans from Premiership clubs. Midfielder Diego Arismendi is currently registered with Stoke City having arrived from Uruguayan club Nacional in 2009 but has spent much of the time since his arrival either injured or out on loan. Having spent the back end of last season on loan at Brighton he joined Barnsley on a season long loan during the summer. The other loanee is Wolves full-back Matt Hill who came in in October as emergency cover for Jay McEvely before, in an almost West Ham turn of events, fracturing a foot. However, having recovered from the injury, his loan period was extended and Wolves have given the 29 year-old permission to play in this tie.

In goal their current first choice is 26 year-old Luke Steele. Steele started his career with Peterborough, moving to Man Utd for £500,000 where he picked up an FA Youth Cup winner's medal. Steele starred in Barnsley's 2008 cup run to the semi-final, coming in on loan from West Brom where his performances in the eye-catching wins at Anfield and at home to Chelsea nabbed him a shedload of man of the match/round awards. In 2008 Steele also picked up what was one of the more bizarre disciplinary fines in recent years. The FA fined the 'keeper £1,000 for wearing an undergarment that displayed a manufacturer's logo that was visible over his 'keeper's kit. That's the same FA who took no action on Sheffield United's Chris Morgan for his assault on Iain Hulme by the way. Aren't you glad that the guys who run our game have such a strong sense of priority.

The current jewel in the crown is apparently 22 year-old winger Adam Hammill. Hammill is reported to have been the subject of a recent bid from Blackpool, with whom he spent time on loan from Liverpool with whom he spent his early years and Tykes' manager Mark Robins is apparently pessimistic as to the club's chances of retaining Hammill's services much beyond the next few weeks.
Hammill is the current top scorer having netted 8 times in whatever you want to call the league. Their current form has brought them 8 points from their last 6 with two wins, two draws and two defeats. Their last outing saw them beat Coventry 2-1, a match which represented their 1,000th win in whatever you want to call the second tier, a level at which they've spent a record 69 seasons and counting.

So much for them. As for us, well my Mum once told me if you can't say something nice about someone you should say nothing at all. She obviously didn't have a preview column to fill only a few days after a performance so bad it wouldn't have seemed out of place on a programme designed to make money for Simon Cowell (who is to genuine talent what Mike Dean is to refereeing). The events of the other night were simply unacceptable – sadly not the first time I've written those words this season. If you believe the papers (though frankly, why would you?) our manager has this match and Tuesday's League Cup match at home to Birmingham to rescue his position. It seems a little illogical to give someone two cup games to save a position when it's the league position that is causing concern. Even if we win the next two we'll still be bottom (albeit a lot closer to Wembley) so it's difficult to see what's supposed to change.

Team news – well it looks like some of the youngsters will be given a run out – Jordan Spence and Zavon Hines are being mentioned in dispatches so expect a number of regulars to be on the bench or sat at home with their feet up. Whilst I can appreciate that some players ought to be rested for more important battles to come (someone please lock Parker away for a few days), after Wednesday night's debacle I'd be tempted to send those responsible for the disgrace straight back out on Saturday and made to play without pay, the money going to reimburse the ticket and travel costs of those who went up to Tyneside on a Tuesday night in January. And to buy them a pint or two into the bargain. The rest can go to the Bobby Moore Fund. If nothing else it should serve as a reminder to those that let everyone down on Wednesday that they are damned lucky to be in a job that most of us would give our right arms to do (not including goalkeepers obviously – that would be daft).

Prediction? Well it's the Cup. We ought to have too much on paper for them but we do have this habit, don't we? I think we'll win but I'm not optimistic that that will be the case. I'll go for a dreadfully unconvincing 1-0 but don't back it on my say so!

Enjoy the game!

Last season: N/A

Danger Man: Adam Hammill – unless they discover a reason for leaving him out thus maintaining his transfer value by not having him cup-tied.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick – Influential violinist, guitarist and vocalist with folk-rock legends Fairport Convention who is credited with a major influence on the band's direction and....no wait that's Dave Swarbrick. Neil? Football League ref who once annoyed Dennis Wise so he can't be all bad.

Daft fact(s) of the week: Far be it for me to suggest that there's sod all to to in Barnsley other than to get drunk. However, I would point out that the UK's first bottle bank was opened there in 1977. Coincidence? I think not! Also the late great Brian Glover, whose cameo as the sadistic games master in the film “Kes” is still one of the greatest football scenes in cinematic history, came from the town as did umpire and rainmaker Harold “Dickie” Bird. And irritating "Egghead" team-member CJ De Mooi, but they don't like to talk about him much.

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 Preview Percy
11:21AM 9th Jan 2011
''Thanks Tyke - our medical correspondent has been sent home with a box set of 'Casualty' videos and told not to come back until he gets it right!

Best of luck - PP''

by Vital Tyke
01:27PM 8th Jan 2011
''Good preview - am looking forward to the game this afternoon and feel it could go either way really. Think Hammill will play today, he's got a £500k release clause in his contract so the club has nothing to lose really - they already know we'll get a shit deal on our best player.

One thing about Hume though - it was a fractured skull and internal bleeding not just a broken jaw (although the way Sh*ffield United played it down you'd never know).''

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