Text  Larger | Smaller | Default

West Ham United v Middlesbrough

Filed: Tuesday, 20th March 2012
By: Preview Percy

Old people. Some age gracefully, moving on in their twilight years with as much dignity as they can muster, trying as hard as they can not to be a burden on the younger generation. They can be a font of knowledge with a wealth of experience gained from a life well-lived over the years.

So quite why Preview Percy is such a complete pain in the backside we can't imagine. Here he takes a break from writing letters of complaint to the BBC to have a look at this week's visit of Middlesbrough. Stats round-up from John Northcutt. It's a team effort, you see....

You’ll barely have got home from Yorkshire before it’s time to go back out for the visit of Middlesbrough, who will be our visitors this Tuesday. Kick-off is 7.45pm.

Before I start on my usual in(s)ane ramblings, I’d just like to add my good wishes to all those currently on their way to Fabrice Muamba. To say Saturday's events put football into perspective is something of an understatement. It has been, however, heartwarming (at least to this bitter and twisted old fool) to see the almost universal tide of goodwill toward the player from “the football family” and, if the power of positive thought (or prayer if you prefer) has anything to do with things, Muamba will be ok.

Ok on to less weighty matters. Boro's current form is what you might call a bit 'bi-polar'. Of their last six they’ve won three (3-1 at Millwall and Pompey and 2-0 at home to Barnsley) and lost three (0-2 at home to Reading and Leeds and 0-3 away at Brum on Saturday). This has left them in 6th place with 59 points from 36 games. That’s level on points with 4th placed Birmingham and 5th placed Blackpool, though both Birmingham and Blackpool have a game in hand on the Tangerines.

Boro’ are also a point clear of Hull in 7th, Cardiff in 8th and Brighton in 9th, though both Boro’ and Hull have a game in hand over the Bluebirds and the Seagulls. With the top play-off place seemingly destined for one of us, Reading or Southampton that leaves six clubs separated by one point chasing (probably) three places. Which is nice.

It appears that the defeat at St Andrews at the weekend was about as comprehensive as the scoreline suggests, though a brief perusal of match reports would indicate that there was the odd chance or two to equalise at 1-0 which, had they been taken, might have altered the direction of the match. Life’s like that.

They had a quiet transfer window with their priority seemingly being to keep hold of the likes of Bates, Bennett and Williams, a target that they managed to achieve. Despite the obvious Welshness of his name, Rhys Williams is a full Aussie international (or 'Socceroo' as they will insist on referring to such players). Through various combinations of parentage and grandparentage, qualified for international recognition for England, India and, yes, Wales.

He has two younger brothers in the game; Ryan is currently working his way through the ranks at Fulham whilst Aryn is in a similar position at Fulham. All of which tells us that Mr and Mrs Williams really need to enlist help in the naming department if they’re planning on having any more kids. Rhys is currently hors de combat with ankle ligament problems that will probably see him miss this one.

Having little in the way of available funds, the lack of sales activity meant that there was limited scope to do much on the purchasing ledger side of things. The one significant arrival in January was Lukas Jutkiewicz from Coventry for something like £1.3m. Jutkiewicz actually signed on an emergency loan basis – something that allowed him to play for Boro’ while the two clubs were sorting out the fine print of the transfer deal.

Since his arrival from a few miles away from Highfield Road he’s netted but twice in 12 games (one in ten in the league and one in two in the Cup). Even when you add in his nine goals (all league) for Coventry this term that still leaves him second in the Boro’ chart.

Top of that particular chart is Marvin Emnes who has 15 goals in all competitions, 11 of which have been in the league. Emnes set off like Jesse Owens (ok younger readers Usain Bolt if you must) at the start of the season, netting seven in his first seven matches. However, goals have been a bit thinner on the ground of late. In fact he went between November and February without troubling the league statisticians. Which is probably why Tony Mowbray felt the need to blow his transfer budget on Jutkiewicz.

Another absentee will be left winger Barry Robson. He’s twiddling his thumbs on the naughty step following a late kick at Adam Clayton in the home defeat to Leeds. I must admit I felt much the same way when I heard the last U2 album.

Robson used to have a goal to his name for the Scottish national side. Following up James McFadden’s penalty in a World Cup qualifier a few years back against Iceland (then Bejam), it was a race between Robson and McFadden to stick away the rebound. This was a race that McFadden appeared to have won. So FIFA gave the goal to Robson, obviously, only to change their mind six months later.

I suppose when you’re as poor a team as Scotland it matters quite a lot which of your players scored – I mean with so few goals being scored it’d be a bit embarrassing not knowing who was responsible. Robson was one of the million players brought to Boro’ from Celtic when Gordon Strachan made the same move at managerial level, and his absence is something that Boro’ will be getting used to as he’s off to Vancouver Whitecaps as soon as the season ends.

And so to us. Injuries? Well you can add Tomkins (calf) to the list of probable absentees that includes Demel (strained purlicue), Diop (hamstring), Vaz Te (ditto), Reid (who presumably must has one of those comedy bumps on his head like you see in cartoons) and Faubert (groin).

The draw on Saturday seems to have produced mixed feelings amongst the faithful. I reckon that the point up at Elland Road was a decent one and is one that normally, taken on its own merits at face value, would usually have met with general approval. Only results elsewhere seem to have dulled its lustre.

Southampton proved once more that there is no leg too far out of his way for Lambert to fall over and surely the time has come for them to run out of dubious refereeing decisions to save them from the defeat that has been coming for a while. Reading did what was expected of them against Barnsley and our match against them at the end of the month is looking to be a six pointer.

I think this one will see us return to winning ways – Boro' aren't exactly firing on all cylinders at present and, even if we're similarly spluttering, at least we're not losing. I reckon that we’ll be too strong for them. I shall therefore elect to place the Rest Home’s catering budget for the week (£2.50) on a 3-1 win to us.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met: Won 2-0. An early goal from Piquionne and a late one from Cole book-ended one of our better performances of the season.

Referee: Scott Mathieson. Displayed a less than satisfactory knowledge of the laws of the game the last time he was in charge of one of our matches (the 1-0 win over Barnsley). So much so that Mr Allardyce took his frustration out on a tray of plastic bottles, a kick that saw him sent to the stands once the 4th official had grassed him up.

Danger Man: Marvin Emnes. Although he's gone off the boil since his storming start to the season we have had this habit over the years of being sequence busters...

Daft Fact Of The Week: Every time there's a major royal anniversary or some significant date like the millennium, the mayor of Middlesbrough fills out the competition form for his town to become a city (I think that my town should be a city because...). Every year the organisers have a good laugh at the entry before binning it. This year Middlesbrough lost out to St Asaph, which is a small cottage so obscure even the Welsh nationalists haven't gotten round to burning it down yet. Meanwhile the mayor of Middlesbrough has given up on the city idea and has returned to doing 'Spot The Ball' instead.

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 63; West Ham Utd 26, Middlesbrough 24, Draws 13.

Biggest Win
16th May 1999: West Ham Utd 4-0 Middlesbrough (Boleyn Ground, Premiership)

Heaviest Defeat
30th October 1954: Middlesbrough 6-0 West Ham Utd (Ayresome Park, Division One)

First Meeting
3rd February 1912: Middlesbrough 1-1 West Ham Utd (Ayresome Park, FA Cup 2nd Round)

Last Five Meetings
29th November 2011: 2-0 (Riverside Stadium, Championship)
24th May 2009: 2-1 (Boleyn Ground, Premier League)
25th February 2009: 0-2 (Riverside Stadium, FA Cup 5th Round replay)
14th February 2009: 1-1 (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup 5th Round)
1st November 2008: 1-1 (Riverside Stadium, Premier League)

Memorable Match
23rd April 2006: West Ham Utd 1-0 Middlesbrough (Villa Park, FA Cup Semi Final)

West Ham reached the 2006 FA Cup FA Cup Final against Liverpool courtesy of Marlon Harewood's 78th minute winner in a tightly-fought semi-final at a packed Villa Park having previously beaten Norwich, Blackburn, Bolton and Man City. However the abiding memory of the day happened before a ball had even been kicked. Four days before the semi final, the club was rocked by the news of the passing of former manager John Lyall. A minutes' silence was held before the game, but just a few seconds in one lone supporter broke into a chorus of 'Johnny Lyall's claret and blue army' - and was followed by the entire away support. It was an outstanding and unique tribute to possibly the club's greatest manager.

You're Off! Red Cards Received
Shaka Hislop (Riverside Stadium, 1999-2000); Tomas Repka (Riverside Stadium, 2001-02).

They Played For Both
Brian Deane; John Dow; Jeremie Aladiere; Paul Ince; Sam Jennings; Matthew Kilgallon; Mido; Gary O’Neil; Robbie Stockdale; Frank Piercy.

Bossing It
Our former player Malcolm Allison was Middlesbrough manager between 1982 and 1984.

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

comments powered by Disqus