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West Ham Utd v Leicester City

Filed: Friday, 28th October 2011
By: Preview Percy

We had to drag Preview Percy out of the pub to rewrite this following Leicester’s change in management this week.

We say 'pub'; it was 'Peppermint Hippo' - more of a lap dancing club where they have an OAP special every Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, ‘OAP Special’ refers to the women on show so we probably did him a favour.

Here’s his look at Saturday’s match followed by John Northcutt’s look at some of the history between the clubs.

And so the season moves on as we play host to Leicester City for a 3pm kick-off at the Boleyn that, thankfully, the TV companies have forgotten all about. Transport? Well whilst Upton Park is open there are closures to the more central bits of the District lines and some parts of the DLR so you may want to plan your journey. Weather? No idea – you’re on the internet, look it up.

The visitors come to the Boleyn in 13th place on 19 points, some five points behind ourselves. Inconsistency seems to have been the watchword for our opponents who have managed to beat Southampton and Derby but somehow managed to contrive to lose at home to both Bristol City and Millwall.

Their overall record reads Won five, Drawn four and Lost four, whilst away from whatever their ground is called this week they have won just the once (1-0 at Coventry), drawn four (at Forest 2-2, Barnsley 1-1 goalless draws at both Boro’ and Cardiff), and lost once (at Birmingham).

It’s probably fair to say that whilst the League table is remarkably concertina-ed at present, 14th place is not quite where Leicester’s owners had anticipated them being at this time of the season. The Thai-based Asian Football Investments group (which sounds suspiciously like the sort of mob that used to sabotage floodlights a few years back) took over in August 2010 from Milan Mandaric, about whom I will say nothing since m’learned friends seem to be all over any reporting of events linking him to a certain ex-manager and ex-MD of ours.

Rather inconveniently, after I’d written the first 1,538 words of this preview, the Thai owners decided to dispense with the services of Sven Goran Eriksson meaning lots of radical rewriting has been required. And will I get an extra bag of Werthers Originals for writing this from the editors? Of course not. And the sell by date on the last packet they sent me was so long ago I reckon they bought it off Ken Tucker as well.

Meanwhile, while the Thais work out who they want next, academy coach John Rudkin and goalkeeper coach Mike Stowell will be in charge.

Pre-season, the bookies made them favourites along with us to go straight up, largely on the back of the money spent by the owners in the summer. Much of that money seemed to go on players familiar to the now former manager Sven Goran Eriksson, who took over from Paulo Sousa just over a year ago following a poor start to 2010/11.

Eriksson has, obviously, been all over the newspapers since he first arrived on these shores. So much so that it may have escaped your notice that he is actually a football manager by profession who once managed the England national team, rather than just somebody who is just well-known for being famous . Eriksson has made himself fairly rich on the back of his severance pay from leaving managerial jobs over the years and no doubt this latest agreement will put off his having to adopt a new career as a Big Issue salesman for a little while yet.

First choice ‘keeper is Kaspar Schmeichel. Schmeichel is of course son of the famously red-nosed ex-Man Utd ‘keeper Peter . Schmeichel junior started his career at Man City where Eriksson was manager at the time. City’s signing of both Shay Given and Joe Hart meant that first XI opportunities were severely limited and, following a spell or five on loan, he was allowed to move to Notts County (manager Eriksson S) in 2009.

There were weird goings on at Meadow Lane in those times. Schmeichel arrived whilst new owners seemed to be awash with cash and he was on a decent wedge for the 4th Division. However much of the promised cash was illusory (familiar story eh?) and when the dust settled the Magpies were struggling to meet his wages.

At the end of 2009/10 County released the player from the final three years of his four-year contract with Schmeichel in return sacrificing the three years’ worth of £15k a week he was contractually entitled to. He then went to Leeds but when Leicester (Manager SG Eriksson) came knocking this summer he was reunited with his old boss. If Eriksson ever returns to international football expect a change of nationality.

Their skipper will be missing for this match. Matt Mills started off at Southampton and had a spell at Man City where his career overlapped that of a manager by the name of Eriksson, though Mills made but a handful of first XI appearances at that time. Doncaster, then Reading followed before Eriksson pounced in the summer to make Mills Leicester’s record signing at £5m (£5.5m with add ons), making Mills captain in the process.

His absence is down to a suspension for a two-footed tackle in their defeat to Birmingham that I missed, nodding off while watching the match in the tv lounge in the rest home, probably as a result of the stuff they put in the tea. Regular readers will know that we do love a good middle name about here so it is with great delight that I add Matthew Claude Mills to our list, even if he’s not playing.

Talking of names, we can’t omit that of former Preston defender Sean St Ledger. Or, to give him his full splendid moniker: Sean Patrick St Ledger-Hall. St Ledger is a regular in the Republic of Ireland team and was another of the summer signings, coming in for a reported £1.2m from the Deepdale club.

St Ledger’s first brush with fame saw him feature in the toe-curlingly awful documentary that Sky did on Peterborough United a few years back. The programme, featured Ron Atkinson acting as “advisor” to the club, managing to nause everyone off in the process, with the reported exception of Peterborough’s bank managers who were more than happy with the £100,000 Sky were said to have paid the club.

St Ledger was shown in heated arguments with the then manager Steve Bleasdale who eventually walked out of the club an hour before a match. St Ledger joked that he would sue Sky for making him look like a “bad boy”, a comment taken seriously by no one apart from our tabloid press for whom “soccer star sues Sky” was an easy, if inaccurate, headline to print.

The full back berths in the squad include two ex-Hammers. Paul Konchesky is an alumnus of the 2006 FA Cup final side, scoring with a finely placed shot that was in no way a rather flukey, mishit cross. Since leaving the Boleyn, Konchesky has had spells at Fulham and Liverpool.

Liverpool’s supporters subjected the player to dogs’ abuse throughout his career and went ballistic when Konchesky’s Mum ventured to suggest that they were “scum” for doing so, thus breaking the unwritten law that thou shall not criticise anything about the city or people of Liverpool. The arrival of Dalglish saw the player move to Forest on loan before a permanent move to Leicester was sealed this summer. Konchesky won a few England caps between 2003-05. Have a guess who the manager was then.

The other ex-Hammer is John Pantsil or Paintsil, depending on whether you believe him or his passport. Pa(i)ntsil spent a short and not particularly distinguished career at the Boleyn and most of his appearances were made from the bench. His obvious keenness never quite compensated for a lack of talent, though it did lead to his becoming something of a cult figure in his time with us.

The “better than Kaka” chant was a particular hit amongst those who like their football humour served with a large dose of irony. As far as I can make out Pantsil has never before been at a club which has employed Sven Goran Eriksson as manager, which is why he seems to have been on the bench most of the time with Lee Peltier usually being preferred in the right back slot.

In midfield they have Michael Johnson who is in on a season long loan at Manchester City where he played under the managership of you know who. Johnson’s career never quite took off as one might have expected at Eastlands and the arrival of the oil money up there meant that first XI opportunities were going to be at a premium for the player.

Up front they have a number of familiar names to choose from. David Nugent has been about for a while, winning one England cap as a scoring sub in a Euro qualifier against Andorra joining Paul Goddard and Francis Jeffers in that particular quiz question. No, Eriksson wasn’t England manager at the time – it was, of course, Steve McLaren. Nugent was another summer arrival, coming in on a free once his contract at Portsmouth expired. Much of his time at Fratton Park was actually spent on loan at Burnley with Pompey struggling to pay wages at the time.

Another familiar name is that of Darius Vassell. Stop me if you’ve heard this but the player was previously managed by Mr Eriksson at both Manchester City and, before that, England. It was always a mystery to me how he used to look half decent playing for England despite often failing to impress at club level.

Ultimately it’s your club form that gets you the international recognition and it’s a fair bet that he won’t be adding to his 22 caps, the last of which was gained in the defeat to Portugal in Euro 2004 during which he added himself to the ever-increasing list of England players to have missed in a penalty shootout. Vassell arrived in summer (yes another one) from Turkish outfit Ankaragucu.

Yet another summer arrival was Jermaine Beckford. Beckford came in from Everton where he failed to impress having joined from Leeds in 2010. That didn’t stop the Toffeemen charging Leicester £2.5m for his services. Beckford is uncapped at international level. Former Hammer Tommy Taylor asked him to turn out for Grenada in 2009 but nothing appears to have come of the request and Beckford has been linked in recent months with Jamaica.

For us, my spies tell me that James Tomkins is progressing well but this might be a few days early for the defender, similarly Matt Taylor is still a doubt. Demel’s hamstring is beginning to take on mythical status akin to Devonshire Flu or Kieron Dyer Anything I presume we will see him eventually but just not yet. Almunia will continue in goal I believe.

Monday night was a strange one wasn’t it. How many times have we seen what happened to Brighton happen to us at home over the years – particularly the last time we were at this level. One was reminded that when eyebrows were made at his appointment, Mr Allardyce made comment to the effect that we’d be more likely to play football at home – away would be a different matter.

This was the ultimate embodiment of that statement, though I wonder if this was a reversion to “away plan A” prompted by the defeat at Southampton, where, initially at least until Taylor’s injury forced a reshuffle, we’d started with a more attacking outlook in mind.

Though being as pleasing to the eye as the first Mrs Percy first thing in the morning (shudder) the plan was executed well I suppose, though had we played Brighton a few weeks earlier before they went off the boil I wonder would things have been different. The opposition showed a naivety and a lack of patience that led to Almunia having but one save worthy of the name to make and I have to say that, particularly when Sears came on and ran at people, we looked to have a bit more cutting edge.

I would hope that we would have a bit more ambition for this one, particularly at home against a team that must be in some sort of disarray following the Swede’s latest pay-off. I know we have this habit of being the sequence busters of football – if you haven’t won in ages, or have a player who hasn’t scored for eons or if you’ve just sacked your manager seeing West Ham next up on the list will bring a smile to your face. The bookies must have lost a fortune to Hammers fans when Torres scored against us last year.

However, I do think that we’ll win this one – if we go for it more in the manner of a home side chasing points rather than an away side aiming to avoid defeat. My prediction this week is there fore for a 2-1 win –so, given my track record, get your money on any score but that if you like a flutter.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met: You have to go back to March 2005 for this one as a brace from Edward Sheringham saw us twice come from behind to pick up a point. Marlon Harewood missed a late penalty which would have given us all three points. Earlier we’d drawn 0-0 up there on the opening day of the season.

Referee: James Linington – another for whom this will be a first time in charge at the Boleyn. Has spent most of his season in Divisions 3 and 4 – this will be his third match at this level this term. Comes from the Isle Of Wight so don’t be surprised if he stops the match to point at the bright shiny things when the floodlights come on.

Danger Man: David Nugent – top scorer this season. Also Beckford is without much in the way of goals this season and given that sequence-busting record we have….

Daft fact of the week: The double decker South Stand at their old Filbert Street ground was an exact copy of our old West Stand, apart from the little box precariously perched at the front of the upper tier from which Bill Remfry played James Last records. They thought about copying the old Chicken Run as well but didn’t want to spoil the Midlands supporters with too much luxury.

Stat man John: Northcutt's corner

Bad boys: sent off

Don Hutchison (h) 1994-95; Igor Stimac (h) 2000-01; Rufus Brevett (a).

They played for both

Sid Bishop; Albert Carnelly; David Connolly; Tony Cottee; Les Ferdinand; Andy Impey; William Jackson; Peter Kyle; Colin Mackleworth; Fred Milnes; Mike Newell; Chris Powell; Norman Proctor; Jimmy Quinn; Keith Robson; Nobby Solano.

Three Hammers who became Leicester manager

Frank O’Farrell (1968-1971); Jimmy Bloomfield (1971-1977); Martin Allen (2007).

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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