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West Ham United v Reading

Filed: Friday, 30th March 2012
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy has spent his time in the sunshine this week queuing for petrol. He doesn’t actually own a car - he just wants to lend a hand should riots start up in Croydon again. He’s also panic buying beer in case brewery deliveries are affected by the tanker drivers’ strike. Before he went to the pub he left us this. Or was it after? As usual John Northcutt supplies the history....

Next up Reading will be the visitors to the Boleyn for a glorious 3pm Saturday kick-off. Deep joy. Tubes in the general vicinity of E13 will be unburdened by works of an engineering nature so it’ll be just the usual glitches and groans that’ll be the cause of any delays. I expect there’ll be some weather of some sort as well but you can look that up yourselves.

You’re all aware of the current league positions etc so I won’t bother to run through the usual stats. If you don’t know what are you doing here.

Of our visitors, it is rare indeed that this column gets to award a club the full five Kermit marks to a club for its efforts towards Muppetry. However our visitors this weekend are almost the benchmark (along with Palace whose latest change involves a redesign of the club crest) for all things of that ilk.

The Reading checklist is full to bursting with examples of all that is annoying about the modern game. A change of nickname (no club should tell people what its nickname is – otherwise it’s not a nickname), playing music after goals, listing “the fans” as a substitute in the squad list, trying to instigate rivalries with others because they’re too insignificant even for Aldershot to be bothered anymore are all amongst the “things we thought that proper clubs do”. I

n that respect they’re a bit like that kid who hung around on the fringes of us trendy people at school and tried to copy us, usually missing the point by several miles. If one might be permitted to use an anachronistic metaphor, they were the ones who rushed out to buy a copy of “Invisible Touch” when they saw you carrying around a copy of “Selling England By The Pound”.

Latest on the “things other clubs do that we ought to copy” list has been to acquire a rich Russian owner. Suspiciously-coiffeured owner John Madejski is currently in the process of bringing in Thames Sports Investments in as investors with a view to a takeover. Details are a bit sketchy but it is understood that the due-diligence process is currently in progress as we speak. Whatever happens, Madejski will remain as chairman until at least 2014.

Although Thames Sports Investments sounds nice and cuddly British it is in fact an investment vehicle for 29 year-old Russian moneybags Anton Zingarevich, which is a bit like discovering that there’s no Mr Kipling and all his cakes are mass produced on an industrial estate somewhere. Zingarevich comes complete with supermodel missus who, presumably, fell for his looks.

The Zingarevich family made their money from timber and pulp products in post –Soviet Russia in amongst all the usual commercial wars that that entailed. Anton’s Dad – the reassuringly Russian-sounding “Boris” - was linked with a bid for Everton a while back. Meanwhile, following the announcement of the proposed Reading takeover, Anton’s PR machine went into charm overload, with heavy emphasis on his connections with the Berkshire town.

Some sources suggested that he’d been at university there, though this turned out to be a private school. Still he seems to have grasped some of the finer traditions of English football, his spokesman being quick to play the “he stood on the terraces of Elm Park as a kid” card. It took him a while to see his first official match as part of the new ownership set up though – unspecified “visa issues” prevented him from getting into the country, though based on my normal experience of Heathrow the delays were probably just a result of him being stuck in a queue.

Zingarevich will of course have to get past the current “fit and proper” tests before he can take over properly at Reading. After the debacle at Pompey these tests have been tightened up and the football authorities now demand that you complete the question “I think I should be allowed to own a football club because” in 12 words or fewer.

Whatever the outcome of the tests, TSI are said to have already made funds available to the club who duly went shopping in the January window. Our old nemesis Jason Roberts came in on an 18 month deal from the BBC for whom he was appearing more than for his actual club Blackburn. Roberts, who has an MBE for his services to sport in the UK and Grenada, has been an irritant to us for many years. He’s one of those players that you’d see missing a succession of sitters on MOTD before turning up and playing out of his skin and picking up a couple of goals against us, before returning once more to his usual form a week later. He’s had a spot of hamstring trouble of late but reports suggest that this may have cleared up, which is a pain as he always seems to score against us.

They also brought in QPR defender Matthew Connolly on loan for the rest of the season and the out of favour pole Tomasz Cywka came in on a free from Derby. Cywka famously upset Rams’ boss Nigel Clough who called the player “not very bright”. Presumably the player failed to respond to Clough’s usual tactic of “shouting loudly at the foreigner in the hope he’ll cotton on eventually.” Another loan signing was Arsenal kid Benik Afobe who came in last week on another “until the end of season” deal. Dagenham kid and (allegedly) a Hammer he stood in for Roberts last week and may repeat the exercise if the veteran’s hamstring hasn’t healed yet.

There a couple of ex-Hammers to look out for. Jobi McAnuff seems to have found his niche at the Madejski and has been given the armband. Meanwhile, the meltdown at Fratton Park also enabled them to circle the carcass and carry away Hayden Mullins, a saving that will help us to hang onto the six points we picked up from Pompey.

The latest wheeze of their supporters involves the oh-so-hilarious idea of throwing socks on the pitch to commemorate Jimmy Kebe’s infamous mime in the reverse fixture last December. You see they’re actually not embarrassed by the idiot’s antics which led to Collison giving him a deserved kicking. Though Collison’s red was deserved it was hardly the “career threatener” their boss made it out to be (unless a place at RADA was at stake).

Going back a few years to my own playing days, had a team mate of ours done something as pathetic as that we’d probably have joined in with the opposition if they’d lumped him over the touchline. Kebe can at least think himself lucky that his career did not overlap with that of Julian Dicks, who would have put him into the crowd.

Now I’m not one to suggest or condone breaking the laws of the game and I’d urge caution on the part of our players, especially if they already have a yellow card. However, if we were to score at the STB end and the scorer were to come up with a sock-based celebration, I’m sure I could misappropriate some of the Rest Home’s maintenance budget (£2.50) towards a foaming pint of ale in the Swan & Superinjunction by way of compensation for the inevitable caution that would come their way.

There’s a three-way tie at the top for the title of top scorer with each of Church, Hunt & Le Fondre sitting on 7 goals each. Church & Le Fondre were both on the bench for last week’s 3-1 defeat of Blackpool, with Church getting on as sub for the aforementioned Afobe who made his debut in that match, which might have been made a bit more interesting had Kevin Phillips not missed a sitter at 2-1.

And so to us. Well Tuesday was a bit of a game of two halves really. The first half saw us at our most tentative, or, alternatively, waiting until the opposition’s energy levels had run out depending on your viewpoint. Fortunately we rode our luck in this period with Posh hitting the bar and us surviving a bit of a scramble late in the first half. Once we’d scored, however, we bossed it and could have won by far more than the 2-0 by which we eventually prevailed.

The win came at a cost. Abdoullaye Faye took a frightening crack to the noggin which was at one stage feared to be a fractured skull. Thankfully a trip to hospital proved that he had just sustained bruising and a spot of concussion which, while probably serious enough to rule him out of this one, is at least not as bad as feared. Joey O’Brien pulled up lame and is another doubt. On the credit side of the equation Papa Bouba Diop and Winston Reid are now back in full training and join Ricardo Vaz Te and Julien Faubert, both of whom turned up on Tuesday, in returning to the squad.

And now a historic moment as we announce the return to contention of the one and only Guy Demel. For younger readers, Demel came in during the summer window but injuries delayed his debut until the 2-0 win up at Middlesbrough. His second match lasted all of 90 seconds of the disastrous trip to Reading, a badly torn thigh muscle bringing his Hammers career to a stuttering halt. Three and a half months later he is now, once more, back and available for selection, which at least means that I won’t have the bother of making up imaginary injuries and ailments for him every week.

It’s good to have gotten back to winning ways as the three points on Tuesday which let’s not forget, came against a side that had comprehensively outplayed this weekend’s opponents not that long ago, will have relieved a bit of the pressure that was building up – though some of the manager’s comments did him little credit in my opinion. His comments in reaction to the “we play on the floor” chant rather ignored the fact that Tuesday’s win came as a result of our playing it on the deck in the second half.

There should be no problem with getting the players roused for this one. A video of Kebe’s antics alone should be enough to get the blood stirring, though it would be wise of the management to ensure that the adrenaline is channelled to positive ends – as the usually docile Collison found out to his cost getting a red card for being wound up just lets everyone down.

Prediction – well if we don’t win this we don’t deserve automatic promotion. I reckon the injustice factor arising from the first match will prove decisive so I’ll be putting the Rest Home Laundry Budget (£2.50) on a 3-1 win as our forwards finally discover the goal touch that has eluded them in recent weeks.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met: Lost 3-0, Demel injured after 90 seconds. O’Brien gets two yellows. Collison gets wound up and they get two late goals to give them a 3-0 win that flattered them a bit. Other than that it was a good day.

Referee: Chris Foy. They’ve sent down someone from upstairs who presumably will know what the sanction for unsporting behaviour is. Last time out he handled our trip to Cardiff before presumably cycling home to practice for the Olympics eh Spurs fans?

Danger Man: Jason Roberts – journeyman veteran striker who has a habit of scoring against us.

Daft fact of the week: Reading is another one of those places that applied to become a city as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Presumably they forgot that Her Majesty only lives up the road and therefore knows exactly what the place is like which is why their being passed over for that cottage in Wales for the title came as no surprise. It is also an often forgotten fact that the insult “berk”, though considered to be very mild in the grand scheme of things these days, is in fact a very rude bit of rhyming slang arising from the phrase “Berkshire Hunt”. Until now Matron was unaware of this fact, but she has now placed the word “berk” on the Rest Home’s banned list along with ****, ****, ********, and Lampard.

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 10; West Ham Utd 3, Reading 5, Draws 2.

Biggest Win
1st September 2007: Reading 0-3 West Ham Utd (Madejski Stadium, Premier League)

Heaviest Defeat
1st January 2007: Reading 6-0 West Ham Utd (Madejski Stadium, Premiership)

First Meeting
11th September 2001: Reading 0-0 West Ham Utd (AET, Reading win 6-5 on pens) (League Cup)

Last Five Meetings
10th December 2011: Reading 3-0 West Ham Utd (Madejski Stadium, Championship)
26th December 2007: West Ham Utd 1-1 Reading (Boleyn Ground, Premier League)
1st September 2007: Reading 0-3 West Ham Utd (Madejski Stadium, Premier League)
1st January 2007: Reading 6-0 West Ham Utd (Madejski Stadium, Premiership)
1st October 2006: West Ham Utd 0-1 Reading (Boleyn Ground, Premiership)

Memorable Match
1st September 2007: Reading 0-3 West Ham Utd (Madejski Stadium, Premier League)

With the Great Escape in the bag and following a summer of decent transfer activity, this win was the first sign that Alan Curbishley's cunning plan was finally coming together. Their fifth game of the season and unbeaten since the opening day - a 2-0 home defeat against a pre cash-rich Man City - West Ham blew away the Royals with a brace from Matthew Etherington and a 6th-minute opener from Craig Bellamy that set the tone. Curbs's side were that good (at both ends, centre half Anton Ferdinand picked up KUMB's MotM award) it could easily have been six, with a little more composure in front of goal. It was also one of those rare occasions on which Bellamy and Dean Ashton started up front together.

Friendly Meetings
April 1970: Reading 3-3 West Ham Utd (Brooking, Bonds, Greaves)
August 1971: Reading 0-0 West Ham Utd
July 1996: Reading 1-2 West Ham Utd (Quinn, Morley)
August 2002: Reading 5-4 West Ham Utd (Kanoute, Cole, Defoe, Camara)

They Played For Both
Bill Robson; Jimmy Quinn; Jobi McAnuff; Ken Bainbridge; Tommy Dixon; Harry Kinsell; Sam Jennings; Trevor Morley; Ron Tindall; Rod Williams; Len Young; Steve Death; Shaka Hislop; Jim Holmes; Ray Houghton; Keith McPherson; Adrian Whitbread; Hayden Mullins; Steve Mautone.

Bossing It
Our former manager Alan Pardew was the Reading manager between 1999 and 2003.

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 Fishlips
09:19AM 2nd Apr 2012
''Funny article. As a Reading fan I enjoy a bit of banter...''

by Robsy (RFC)
09:07PM 31st Mar 2012
''We were poor in the first half - better in the second half. Odd Allardyce tactics!''

by Clyde1998
06:50AM 31st Mar 2012
''As a Reading fan, it's interesting to see what other clubs think about us.

The sock thing might not be going ahead - as people are starting to come to their senses.

I agree with what you said about Collisions red card at the Mad. It was a red card for his actions, but it wasn't a dangerous tackle. Kebe was out of the next game (but he might have picked up an injury elsewhere). If the game had stayed at 10 v 11 - it would have been much closer.

Jason Roberts isn't likely to start - due to an injury picked up in our defeat to Peterborough. He still may feature though. Afobe looked decent last week, but he still needs time to fit in with the squad.

Likely Reading Line Up:
GK - Adam Federici
RB - Shaun Cummings
LB - Ian Harte
CB - Alex Pearce
CB - Kaspars Gorkss
RM - Jimmy Kebe
LM - Jobi McAnuff
CM - Jem Karacan
CM - Mikele Leigetwood
ST - Noel Hunt
ST - Benik Afobe

GK - Alex McCarthy
MF - Jay Tabb
MF - Hal Robson-Kanu
ST - Adam Le Fondre
ST - Simon Church''

by Dave
09:42PM 30th Mar 2012
''Nailed on win. The team that disposed of Reading 3-1, we beat 2-0 away, with the second half at a canter. Yes, I agree with Sam, delusional fans (at times) particularly at home, so BFS, go for broke.''

by Robsy
04:08PM 30th Mar 2012
''Very funny article. It will either be a classic on Saturday or as dull as ditchwater: who knows?''

by Ironman
03:13PM 30th Mar 2012
''Couldn't agree more about Kebe and Reading in general. Not that I condone that sort of thing I hope you understand, but it could be argued that Collision deserved a medal for his reaction to the odious little turd's antics; like Noble, Collison is West Ham through and through. Suspect that Reading will be up to more 'funny business' on Saturday so we will need to be ready for them; 'competative' whilst keeping 11 men on the pitch, and I mean 11 men, because that is what we are going to need.

In my opinion, the only things left for Reading to do in order to complete their descent into total farce is find a Chairman that can deliver a "Let's be 'aving you!" speech and adopt the nauseating pig-bag or something by the Piranhas to stir the fans.

Good luck to us all Saturday. Let's hope the team turns up!''

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