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West Ham United v Manchester United - Match Preview

Filed: Friday, 1st April 2011
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy has taken time out from moaning about the cut in his winter fuel payments to give us his usual warped view of this weekend's opponents.....

Next we have a visit from the club from Salford that nobody likes.

It’s a middle of the night (oh alright Saturday lunchtime if you insist) kick-off at 12.45pm and, I am reliably informed that there are no engineering works on our bit of the District Line. Transport for London you spoil us. Don’t get used to it though – the men leaning on their shovels will be back for every Saturday ‘twixt now and season’s end. Except for 23rd April. When we’re away anyway.

The other United (so named to ape their betters who adopted the name well before they did) come to the Boleyn sitting rather unconvincingly at the top of the league at present. Their last six league matches have seen them win three and lose three (compared with our own 3-2-1 record). Tellingly, whilst their last 6 at home have all been won, their form on their travels has been patchy at best where they’ve won two (at Wigan 1-0 and 3-2 at Blackpool), drawn one (0-0 at Spurs) and lost three (2-1 at Chelsea, 2-1 at Wolves and 3-1 at Liverpool). So the fact that they remain top of the pile has much to do with the fact that other teams in and around the top have failed to capitalise on the leaders’ stuttering form.

One shouldn’t go much further without mentioning the fact that their manager won’t be down in the dugout to give his wisdom and guidance to the match officials, having finally incurred the wrath of the FA after so many years of getting away with it. The down side to this is that he’s likely to be seated in the upper tier of the West Stand where those of us from the home for the bewildered like to reside on matchdays. I realise that Ferguson is also of pensionable age but we do have standards in our part of the ground. So if he so much as thinks about trying to nick my tartan blanket to keep warm I shall have no hesitation in administering a short, sharp shock with my brand new Dyer 5000 walking stick.

There is of course a nice irony in the fact that Ferguson will have to climb the stairs to the posh seats following an attack on referees from whom his side have traditionally received so much help over the years. You only have to look at the match-changing penalty decision given to his side in the rather fortunate 3-2 win at Blackpool a few weeks ago to see how little has changed despite all the mind-games. As Avram Grant pointed out in response to Ferguson's latest efforts to influence matters, he should try being us before he complains too much.

In goal they will feature Edwin Van Der Saar, a goalkeeper who is so old he could probably fit in in our part of the ground without looking out of place. Of course goalkeeper is the one position where players tend to improve with age and the Dutchman has indeed enjoyed a decent season. He’s announced his intention to retire at the end of the current term though there is a continuing campaign to have him change his mind.

They have problems in defence at present. Former Hammer Rio Ferdinand is out. Although it was thought that the real England skipper would be out for the rest of the season the latest prognosis is that he may be fit for the run-in, though not for this week. Ferdinand has spent much of the season in the treatment room. This is presumably a different treatment room to that occupied for much of the year by our own Kieron Dyer. Which is a shame really as they could have swapped holiday stories from old trips to Aya Napa. I understand they made full use of their hotel carvery last time they were there judging by the number of Google entries that appear with the word “Roast” next to their names.

Ferdinand’s partner in their first choice central defence has been Nemanja Vidic who, like Ferdinand, has been suffering from a calf muscle problem. Unlike Ferdinand, Vidic was on international duty in midweek, somehow escaping from the general principle that Man Utd players should only play international matches when it suits Man Utd. Quite how Ferguson reacted to the news that Vidic had played all 90 minutes of Serbia’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Estonia we can only speculate.

The central defensive area has been further weakened by the absence of Northern Ireland international Jonny Evans whose tackle on Bolton's Stuart Holden last weekend saw him pick up a three match ban. I say weakened, arguably the reverse is true if his performance in the 4-0 Carling Cup drubbing is anything to go by. The injuries and suspensions will mean that Vidic will be partnered by Chris Smalling who, commentators love to point out, was playing non-league football last Tuesday or something.

In midfield they'll also be without Paul Scholes who, for some reason, seems to escape censure from commentators for the quality of his tackling. Whilst anyone else who picked up 10 yellows in 21 domestic appearances would probably be castigated by the media, with the telly boys every two footed lunge is greeted with a cheery “well that's Paul Scholes for you”.

Nani appears to have recovered from his near-death experience at the hands of Carragher the Scouse donkey and will be a danger both from play and play-acting, whilst Antonio Valencia, named after that famous Spanish football club FC Antonio, may start this one after successfully recovering from a horrible ankle break/dislocation he sustained back in September against Rangers in the so-called Champions League. It was the sort of injury that, back in the days when I first started watching football, would probably have meant an end to the player's career. To us old timers it is astounding that the player is playing at all let alone six months or so after sustaining such an injury. How medical science has come on over the years.

Up front they'll have the scouse chubber Wayne “Lock Up Your Grannies” Rooney alongside one of Javier Hernandez or Dimitar Berbatov. Hernandez wears a shirt bearing his nickname “Chicharito” which means “Little Pea” a problem suffered by many of us in the old folks home. Meanwhile rumours that Spud-Face's shirt will bear the name “Shrek” in future seasons are of course scurrilous and should not be given any credence.

And so to us. Team news is that nobody seems to be bearing any ill-effects from the recent round of internationals. Arsenal's Wilshere may have picked up many of the headlines in the 2-0 stroll against the Land Of Not enough Vowels in the LLLLLanguage. However it was pleasing to see many pundits recognising the role played by Scott Parker in providing the platform for the rest of the team. It was, of course nice that we were only playing a pretty awful Welsh XI who didn't exactly stretch Scotty, the match resembling a light training session with the lot from over the Severn Bridge playing the part of the cones. There are still concerns over Parker's shoulder and calf but most sources suggest that he should be ok.

Freddie Piquionne will be available for selection having recovered from the match-ending assault by Robert Huth in the 2-1 FA Cup defeat to Mike Jones a few weeks ago, whilst Robbie Keane will also be available having been ruled out by red-tape against Spurs.

Carlton Cole will also be available for selection despite having “tweeted” (as I believe you kids call it) that he would not be in the squad, the message appearing as some sort of April Fool joke. Stephen Fry eat your heart out.

On the injury front there was heartening news as Jack Collison played the last half hour of the reserves' 1-0 defeat to the Salford Second String. The club are rightly taking it easy as to the player's return and I suspect it may be next season before we see him making a regular appearance in the squad.

The draw at Spurs saw us get back on track after the Stoke farce and the Cup defeat seems to be treated as the referee-inspired blip that it undoubtedly was. Despite being on the back foot for periods at White Hart Lane there was an air of calm about proceedings which wasn't there at the start of the season and this gives me grounds for optimism this weekend. The visitors haven't travelled well in recent weeks and the slightly makeshift nature of their central defensive partnership is something that may interest Ba who is an awkward customer at the best of times.

Prediction? Well though there is a small note of caution sitting at the back of my head – let's face it for all their manager's posturings they do get the rub of the green with officials – I'm in a good mood as my Saga Holiday brochure has just arrived. So I'll throw caution to the wind and go for a 2-1 win and a relaxing Saturday afternoon watching the other results come in.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: Lost 0-4: The injury list got longer as Zavon Hines' season came to an end. Robert Green threw up on the pitch. They were flattered.

Danger Man: Nani: will be a threat, particularly if he concentrates on staying on his feet.

Referee: Lee Mason: Last seen officiating in the amazing 3-3 draw up at West Brom in which it seemed that a player would have to virtually kill, maim or disfigure someone to give away a penalty. Winston Reid in particular had cause to thank his lucky stars.

Daft Fact Of The Week: ITV commentator Clive Tyldesley is paid £10,000 each time he mentions their European Cup win over Bayern Munich, with a £5,000 bonus if he can get it into a match between two sides outside the Premier League. So successful has Tyldesley been in his endeavours he has been able to purchase three Caribbean islands on the proceeds and he was on the verge of putting in a bid for Libya until recent events made negotiations a bit tricky.

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 Kayahammer
01:40AM 2nd Apr 2011
''Nice one Preview! I'll have to agree on a nice 2-1 victory.''

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