Text  Larger | Smaller | Default

Swansea v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 24th August 2012
By: Preview Percy

We were going to ask Preview Percy to hold off writing this week's copy until the Matt Jarvis deal was done. However, when we arrived at the Avram Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered we were greeted by a dishevelled looking nurse who told us he was having his afternoon nap. We're not sure that was a real nurse's uniform you know. Here's what the old fool wrote before nodding off. Statistics from John Northcutt as ever...

Our next fixture is an international event as we cross the River Severn where our hosts will be Swansea City. This’ll be our first visit to the Liberty Stadium which replaced the Vetch Field a few years back.

The match kicks off at 12.45pm for the benefit of space television, which will mean an early start for those going. No engineering works are planned, either on the tube or on Mr Brunel’s steam railway system so it should be fairly plain sailing as long as you remember your passports.

For the second week running we face a team who changed manager in the close season. Brendan Rogers decided to take a step down in the world by joining Liverpool – and we think he’s done a fine job so far. He was replaced by Michael Laudrup who is one of the famous Danish Laudrup brothers.

Multi-talented to the extreme, Brian & Michael had a hit single in 1978 with “Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs” before eventually winning tournament honours as part of the Danish side who were the surprise package of Euro ’92.

Swansea have gained plaudits for their style of play in recent years as part of a project started by Roberto Martinez who ended up slumming it at Wigan, whose chairman was once adamant that he would never employ a foreigner as manager. The good work was carried on by the aforementioned Rogers.

Their start to the season, a 5-0 drubbing of QPR at Loftus Road, suggests that the new manager has been brought in with a brief of “more of the same please” though hopefully for his own sake Laudrup’s eventual departure will involve better relocation prospects than those afforded to his two immediate predecessors.

Received wisdom has it that our hosts are destined to suffer from “second season syndrome”. Lazy twaddle that this generalisation often is, one can, however, see why on the surface of it one might think that things might be a bit tougher this time round.

The manager that gave them such a successful start to their Premier League career is gone, as are a number of the players that did so well for them last term. Midfielder Joe Allen, a Welshman despite his apparent promotion to “English” in the Olympic football programme (no it wasn’t me that did the research for that) joined his old boss at relegation-haunted Liverpool, whilst Gylfi Sigurdsson, who had been on loan from Hoffenheim ended up going to Tottenham, poor sod.

The next on the list to go is likely to be Scott Sinclair, who has indicated that he will not be signing a new deal when his current contract expires at the end of this season. Thus the perennial dilemma in such cases raises its head: do you simply hold on to the player and get one last decent season out of him before he goes for nothing, or do you cash in? At time of writing it looks like the latter option is more likely, with Manchester City apparently in talks as we speak.

I may have to delay the writing of this preview for a bit as Sinclair is high up the list of those who would be included in the “Danger Man” section. Sinclair’s attitude behind the scenes has, we are told, been exemplary and, from what I saw of the highlights of the QPR match, there was certainly no obvious sign of the sulky “wantaway” attitude that can be prevalent in the modern game.

For example, contrast Sinclair with Clint Dempsey who is refusing to play for Fulham and is probably holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy as we speak.

Laudrup didn’t hang about in bringing players in. Midfielder Michu arrived for £2.2m from Rayo Vallecano. The Spaniard played just behind the top man on Saturday and helped himself to a brace. Though former Hammer Rob Green made a right pig’s ear of the first, his second was a beaut of a curler and he also set up Sinclair for the fifth. (Incidentally, the other two goals came from Nathan Dyer, possibly the only time that that particular surname will appear on the scorers’ list at Loftus Road this season).

The other new signing to make an impression on Saturday was centre-half Flores. Flores arrived for a similar fee to Michu from Genoa (tip for Swansea – when you sign someone from an Italian club make sure they pay you up front!) and rejoices in the name of Chico.

Thankfully he appears to have nothing to do with the similarly-named imbecile that occasionally infects our TV screens pointing at his watch and grinning inanely in the false assumption that anyone knows who he is or what he is supposed to be famous for. Chico (the footballer not the idiot) was described in many of the papers this weekend as “elegant” which sounds like a bit of a challenge to Carlton Cole to me.

There’s an ex-Hammer in the ranks in the form of Leon Britton. Britton arrived at the Boleyn from Arsenal at the age of 16 for a reported £400,000 but never made the breakthrough expected of him. He ended up at Swansea who, after a successful loan period, signed him on a permanent basis when we released him in 2003.

He had a bit of a mental aberration in 2010 when he signed for Sheffield United, possibly confused by their insistence that they were really a Premier League club. However, 26 games later he realised the error of his ways and returned to Wales. He’s represented Swansea in all four divisions and was Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in the Conservative government of the 1980’s under Margaret Thatcher, famously resigning over the Westland affair.

Another notable name in midfield is Wayne Routledge. I say notable more in the sense of his never quite having lived up to some of the early promise shown when he first arrived on the scene at Palace. With Tottenham sniffing around – no doubt without having had any unauthorised contact with either the player or his representatives – Routledge turned down a new contract with the Glaziers and joined Spurs where he disappeared into football’s equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle.

He resurfaced in some loan spells with Pompey and Fulham but in 2008 he made a permanent move to Villa. “Left Palace too Early” was the general consensus, a sentiment echoed by then Palace chairman Simon Jordan who gloated “he got greedy and left. Now he’ll be at Villa not getting in the team like he didn’t get in the team at Spurs, Fulham or Portsmouth”. Jordan was right as Routledge managed only a handful of appearances before turning up in Wales for the first time at Cardiff City.

Although a permanent deal looked on the cards it was to QPR he moved, his £600,000 fee representing a 50 per cent loss on the player for Villa. Then Newcastle got involved (I hope you’re paying attention – there may be questions later).

After a bright start he lost his place and went back to QPR on loan. Towards the end of 2010/11 according to some reports Newcastle terminated the player’s contract “by mutual agreement” but this was never confirmed. Swansea picked him up in August 2011 making that a cool nine different clubs represented in ten years. He’s been with Swansea for about a year now which probably means he’ll have gone by time I finish this paragraph.

As mentioned, Nathan Dyer was amongst the goals on Saturday. He started out at Southampton where, alongside Bradley Wright-Phillips, he picked up a conviction for theft from a bar in Southsea. CCTV picked them up relieving owners of their mobile phones and wallets.

Pleading guilty, Dyer picked up 60 hours of community service for his trouble, part of which appears to have been served on loan to Sheffield United. Dyer signed for Swansea in 2009 and was accused last season by Arsene Wenger of diving in Swansea’s 3-2 win at the Liberty. I suppose if anyone would know a diver it’s Wenger with him having encouraged so many over the years.

Up front they are usually led by Danny Graham. Graham arrived from Watford for £3.5m last season having been awarded the golden whatever it is you get for being the Championship’s top scorer for 2010/11 having picked up 24 goals, which is not a bad return for a player in a team not really challenging at the top end of the table. He managed a creditable 14 in his first top-flight season.

Our turn now. There was something satisfying about last week’s win. Yes the opposition left a lot to be desired but you can only play what’s put in front of you and to keep their principal goalscorer to a reported three touches of the ball said a lot. I thought that we played some good stuff in the second half as we settled into the game and I’ll be damned if I can remember the last time I saw us look fitter than the opposition on the opening day of the season.

Since then, of course, we’ve said "ta ta" to Sam Baldock despite his promising pre-season. Conveniently his destination is Bristol City so the fee will probably be taken off anything we still owe for Maynard.

It seems we’ve been able to agree a fee with Wolves for Matt Jarvis, and, at the time of writing, he appears to be undergoing a medical in the Shaun Wright-Phillips wing of the Kieron Dyer Memorial Medical Centre. Given the lateness of the hour and the early kick-off in Wales it would be a surprise if he were to feature in this match, even if signatures are placed on the dotted line in time.

Team news is that, by and large we have the same squad to choose from as we did last weekend. We’re bottom of the injury list table which shows Jack Collison as our only current casualty with an ominous “no return date” shown against his name. My preference would be for an unchanged starting XI to take the field, though I reckon that, with this being an away match, Mr A may try to beef up the defensive quality in the midfield, which may, perhaps, see Matt Taylor drop to the bench. Or possibly not.

Our hosts are similarly blessed on the injury front with only skipper Gary Monk “hors de combat”, with an unspecified back injury cited as the problem. Interestingly, if irrelevantly, it amuses me that amongst all the detailed injury descriptions listed on the physioroom.com league table (hamstring, the infamous “Gilmore’s Groin” etc) a number of Premier League players are listed as being doubtful with “a knock”. Ok not that interestingly then.

So predictions then. Well trying to gauge a season from the opening match is (to paraphrase the late, great Douglas Adams) a bit like trying to establish the complete history of the East India Company from a single tea leaf. Obviously I’d be quite happy for our season to be peppered with comfortable victories (and for Spurs, Liverpool and Man Utd to lose every week), but realistically it ain’t gonna happen.

Similarly, for them whilst they’ll be cock-a-hoop at the size and manner of their victory last weekend, the realists amongst them will be enjoying it while it lasts. This match will represent a much sterner test for both teams – neither of us is likely to be as woeful as were Villa and QPR last week - so I’m going to put the contents of the Rest Home’s charity box (£2.50 – chosen charity Guide Dogs For Referees) on a draw. Let’s call it 2-2 shall we.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met: January 1999. Lost 0-1 (FA Cup 3rd round replay). We went down to a Martin Thomas goal on the half hour in a match notable for marking the final 1st XI appearance (of 7) of Richard Hall who came on as a 72nd minute sub for Tim Breacker. Hall had signed from Southampton in 1996 but picked up a serious foot injury in pre-season. His 3 years at the club were blighted by injury and he was forced to retire at the end of 1998/99 aged only 27. Our last league visit (to the Vetch Field) was in 1983 and ended up 5-1 in our favour (Dickens 2, Pike 2, Devonshire).

Referee: Martin Atkinson. Not one to dirty his hands outside the top flight, he was last seen in the FA Cup in January 2011 when he took charge of our 5-1 win over Burnley. In an eventful season last term, he allowed a Mata goal for Chelsea (a bad thing) against Spurs (a good thing) in the FA Cup semi-final, ignoring the usual convention of having the ball cross the line first. This was the reverse of his decision the previous month to not allow QPR’s Clint Hill’s header against Bolton to stand, despite the ball clearly crossing the line by several feet. When does that goal-line technology come in again?

Danger Man: I’ll plump for Michu on the strength of his two goals last weekend ahead of Sinclair because:

1). Sinclair was only a sub last weekend;
2). By the time you read this Sinclair might not even be with the club; and
3). Last week’s danger man (Darren Bent) managed the grand total of three touches of the ball during the game – despite being on the pitch for the full 90 minutes. I’m hoping for a similar result this week.

Daft fact of the week: Leon Britton once featured in a Walkers Crisp ad with jug-eared BBC Olympic weak link Gary Lineker. As a kid he also starred as a young Ryan Giggs in a road safety advert. Sadly, history does not recall who played Giggs’ brother or the woman who...

(We apologise for the loss of your Daft Fact Of the Week, the remainder of which has been cancelled following legal advice. We may have a similar problem with Fayed next weekend).

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 51; West Ham Utd 23, Swansea 16, Draws 12.

Biggest Win
18th January 1958: West Ham Utd 6-2 Swansea (Boleyn Ground, Division Two)

Heaviest Defeat
21st August 1954: Swansea 5-2 West Ham Utd (Vetch Field, Division Two)

First Meeting
7th January 1922: Swansea 0-0 West Ham Utd (Vetch Field, FA Cup)

Last Five Meetings
13th January 1999: Swansea 1-0 West Ham Utd (Vetch Field, FA Cup)
2nd January 1999: West Ham Utd 1-1 Swansea (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup)
8th October 1985: Swansea 2-3 West Ham Utd (Vetch Field, League Cup)
24th September 1985: West Ham Utd 3-0 Swansea (Boleyn Ground, League Cup)
5th April 1985: Swansea 1-5 West Ham Utd (Vetch Field, Division One)

Memorable Match
16th February 1980: West Ham Utd 2-0 Swansea (Boleyn Ground, FA Cup 5th Round)

A tight, tense FA Cup fifth round match was finally decided in the last five minutes of normal time - but not before the visitors, managed by John Toshack (the football league's youngest manager at just 30) had seen two 'goals' somewhat dubiously ruled out for offside.

With Lady Luck clearly on their side, West Ham - a division below the Swans at the time - took advantage of their opponents' misfortune and won the game with two goals inside 90 seconds. 17-year-old Paul Allen pounced to open the scoring after 'keeper Glan Letheran dropped the ball before David Cross made sure of the win a minute later. It was the first time in history that the Hammers had reached the quarter-final stages of both domestic cups in the same season - and all whilst a Division Two side.

They Played For Both
Harry Lewis; Noel Dwyer; Tudor Martin; Frank Lampard; Leon Britton.

And Finally...
Between 1920 and 1926, "Bubbles" was regularly sung on the Swansea terraces and as West Ham played them three times in the FA Cup in 1922, it may well be the case that we got our song from them. Last season in their programme, Cardiff also claimed to be the first to sing "Bubbles" at their games in the 1920s.

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 steve j
12:42PM 24th Aug 2012
''Good read. I was at that 5-1 home defeat in '83 and the two league cup matches in 85, the only time I've been to Upton Park. One point, your reference to the 5th round FA Cup match in 1980 says you were a division below us? We were division 2 that season then got promoted along with yourselves the following year; 81/82/83 we spent in the top flight.''

comments powered by Disqus