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Reading v West Ham United

Filed: Saturday, 29th December 2012
By: Preview Percy

Next up is a trip to Reading for a 3pm kick-off. There’s been a few hassles on the main line out of Paddington of late. At time of writing “normal service has been resumed” – which could mean anything. Check, as ever, before leaving.

Our hosts lie second from bottom of the league with 10 points from 19 matches. They have a goal difference (-16) that is a single goal better than that of bottom team QPR. So it would seem that the streakiest team ever to be promoted from the second tier are finding it tough going when pitted amongst real football clubs.

Current form stats do not great reading (hoho) make, their 0-0 draw with Swansea on Boxing Day was preceded by seven defeats on the run. A 1-0 defeat at Man City was preceded by home defeats to Arsenal (2-5) and Man Utd (3-4) and reverses on the road at Sunderland (3-0), Southampton (1-0), Villa (1-0) and Wigan (3-2). They have also been blessed with the traditional “bottom at Christmas” curse, which is nice.

First choice ‘keeper is Aussie, Adam Federici. Federici was dropped earlier in the season by the Biscuitmen. “So what?” I hear you ask. Well it prompted Federici’s girlfriend to go all bonkers in the nut on twitter, a bit like the kid whose Mum turns up at the school to find out why her kid is only third assistant sheep in the school nativity. Another female friend of Federici’s moaned that the whole thing was “bad management”. An embarrassed Federici presumably “had a word” with his well-meaning but crap fan club, as the twitter accounts belonging to the two women were quickly deleted.

Defender Sean Morrison picks up this weeks Crimewatch Award for some drunken antics at the end of August. Seemingly hidebound by the heady delights of Reading by night he decided to head off for the more sophisticated attractions of London. He couldn’t handle the pace and was given a fixed penalty notice for being drunk and disorderly which cost him £80.

The funny bit was the aftermath though, when, once more through the medium of twitter, the player informed the world that the incident had taken place in a dark alley and that he hadn’t been “waggling his willy”. Now quite why Morrison felt the need to share this insight who knows but as explanations go it’s something of a corker. I may well use it myself one day. Morrison was on the bench for the Swansea game having had problems with an ankle of late.

One who did make the starting line-up against the Swans was veteran Ian Harte. Harte is such a veteran that he was part of the Leeds squad that reached the semi-final of the so-called Champions League – a fact that younger readers might just have a problem coming to terms with. By all accounts he’s still a bit hot with in a dead ball situation.

There’s an ex-Hammer in the form of skipper Jobi McAnuff. McAnuff came as part of the plundering of the Wimbledon coffers, after they’d moved to (but not yet been renamed) Milton Keynes. However he lasted only 8 months at the Boleyn before being deemed surplus to requirements. Sojourns at Cardiff, Palace and Watford followed, none of which were particularly inspiring, before he followed former Watford manager Brendan “tell me how wonderful I am” Rodgers along to Reading where he is well-regarded enough to have been given a deal that will keep him there until 2014.

One to watch out for is Jimmy Kebe. Not because he’s any good – in common with much of the Reading squad even his Mum would blush at any advance on “journeyman” as a description. The problem is that, like many prize idiots, he seems to think he’s Pele. The thing is, if you’re any good you get to do things like the “sock mime. If you’re a player of Kebe’s limited ability you’ll end up getting a kicking if you keep doing it – something that, as we saw last season, can only benefit Reading. Given the poor standards of refereeing we’ve seen of late I’d prefer it if he were left alone to make a fool of himself – though I wouldn’t be too upset to see a few “robust” challenges going in to remind him that he has to earn the right to be flash.

Talking of journeymen, there’s an injury doubt over Jason Roberts. He’s had a hip injury. That’s an injury to his hip rather than something that’s merely “trendy” (a broken metatarsal for example). The player is said to be close to a return but some sources suggest that it might be a week too soon. Let’s hope the Reading management don’t look at the stats for Roberts against us as he’s one of those who puts the ball in the net against us time and time again. You can bet you’re last penny that, if Roberts gets just one goal in a whole season, we’ll be the lucky recipients.

It’s one of those odd things in football that certain players have certain clubs against whom they always score. We could probably keep Lionel Messi quiet for 89 minutes then see Roberts score twice against us after coming on as his substitute. Roberts has had an eye on a post-football media career since the days when Blackburn were forgetting that he was on their books so his spell at Reading probably represents a last hurrah for the Granadian international on the playing front. He seems affable enough – and doesn’t appear nearly as smug as, say, Lineker.

Recently they’ve stuck with one up front, that one being the Russian Pavel Pogrebnyak. Known to his compatriots as “The Cellar” (an apparently hilarious play on words based around a pun on the player’s name in Russian. Those zany Russians eh), Pogrebnyak arrived during the close season from Fulham. He only spent six months at Craven Cottage having signed a deal in the 2012 January window to keep him in West London until the end of the season.

He started off like a bat out of Hell for Fulham with five goals from his opening three matches. However, a combination of injury and a tail-off in form saw him net only the once in his following nine matches. His deal coming to an end at the end of the season, he opened negotiations with Fulham for a new contract but these stalled over the usual question of “personal terms.”

As a Russian, he will have already, no doubt, have been familiar to the new Russian owners at Reading, who I should point out, are in no way shape or format all dodgy (the food here at the Avram Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered is bad enough without some joker adding Polonium to the stuff). As a result it wasn’t too much of a surprise when he ended up at London Irish’s ground once negotiations with the Cottagers had failed. He’s on a good wedge there too, though the much-quoted figure of £65k a week has been denied by all those concerned.

And so to us. Rumours that last week’s referee has applied to join us here at the home for the Bewildered have been denied by the company that runs the place (Soylent Green Enterprises plc). As matron put it “the Bewildered we can cope with. The bloody stupid is another matter”. Thankfully the appeal against the frankly baffling decision to dismiss Carlton Cole was successful, though the point that that cost us will never be replaced. As for Mr Taylor, is he being suspended? Is there a spot of re-education going on? Is there some sort of warning as to his future conduct being issued? Nope, he’s got the fourth official slot at a couple of matches this weekend. PGMO covers it’s own once again.

Team news is that “the curse of the calendar” has struck. Traditionally players featured in the official club calendar get moved on before the calendar expires and, 2013’s is no exception. They’ve hedged their bets a bit – if January is anything to go by they’ve stuck at least two players in there for each month which would pretty much account for the whole squad. However, even by our standards, the return of Mr January Yossi Benayoun to Chelsea before the calendar was even unwrapped was some going. The mystery injury that has kept him out of contention over the past few months has tested the patience just that little bit too much it seems.

The usual long-term suspects will be back on the treatment table. The match against Anthony Taylor saw the welcome returns to the fold of Jack Collison and Alou Diarra, though I’m sure the medical team would have preferred the pair to have had a less hurried return to the squad. Guy Demel has apparently recovered from the virus that kept him out of Anthony Taylor’s public brainstorm. Expect Tomkins to return to the bench if that’s the case. There’s a doubt about Gary O’Neil who wasn’t 100% fit for Everton – groin/pelvis is the area of concern apparently – so the final composition of the midfield might just depend on how trusting Mr Allardyce is of the fitness of Collison & Diarra.

Prediction? Well this lot have been a bogey team over the years much to the delight of the sad individuals who creep out of the woodwork every few seasons once they scrape their way into the top flight (only to return to Chelsea once they’ve been relegated). Without any proper rivalries (that would require them to be worth giving a damn about) the Pardew affair that saw the loathsome Madejski having to apologise over some of the crap he published has led to this being a cup final to them bless ‘em.

Despite that, and despite the recent setbacks I’ll expect Mr Allardyce to be using their antics of last season – with a bit of Mr Taylor thrown in for good measure – to wind up the players to rectify the injustices of yore. The availability of Carlton Cole will have also given the club a boost – he’s in a rich vein of form at the moment. So with that spirit of optimism Mr Winstone can have the Rest Home’s budget to buy a real Turkey for next year’s Christmas dinner (£2.50 - note to matron – this year’s Spam was not a universal success) and I’ll go for a rare but welcome 2-0 win to us.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Madejski: Lost 3-0. Shot ourselves in the foot but, even with 9 men 3-0 was mightily flattering to the home side.

Referee: Michael Oliver. 12-year-old kid who gave a ridiculous penalty against us when last we saw him doing our 2-2 draw at home to Leeds. Was probably sent to bed without his tea by his mum when she saw the replays.

Danger Man: Jason Roberts. On the assumption he’s fit and available (a big “if” I know) he’ll be looking to score his 155th goal. 153 of which have come against us. Probably.

Daft fact of the week: Reading is officially dullest place on the planet. Don’t believe me? Consider this: Trip Advisor’s list of 24 things to do in Reading compiled is comprised mainly of attractions that involve leaving the place as soon as possible. The soulless dump that is the Madejski Stadium is on that list, as are two paintball venues. I was moderately impressed by the claim that the late Elizabeth Taylor was born there. That was until I discovered they were referring to some unheard-of novelist rather than the slightly more famous actress. Even the people of Basingstoke look down their noses at Reading!

John NorthcuttStat man John: Northcutt's corner

Head to Head
Pld 11; West Ham Utd 3, Reading 6, Draws 2.

First Meeting
11th September 1002: Reading 0-0 West Ham Utd (6-5 pens, Madejski Stadium, League Cup)

Last Meeting
31st March 2012 West Ham Utd 2-4 Reading (Boleyn Ground, Championship)

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

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

March 1962: Reading 4-2 West Ham Utd (Crawford 2)
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, Defoe, Cole, Camara)

Early baths
2011/12: Joey O’Brien (a); 2011/12: Jack Collison (a).

They Played For Both
Tommy Allison; Ken Bainbridge; John Blackwood; Chris Cotton; William Davidson; Steve Death; Tommy Dixon; Jack Fletcher; Harry Gunning; Jim Holmes; Sam Jennings; Harry Kinsell; Herbert Lyon; Steve Mautone; Jobi McAnuff; Trevor Morley; Hayden Mullins; James Reid; William Robson; Peter Simpson; Rod Williams; Alan Wooler; Len Young; Shaka Hislop; Adrian Whitbread; Ray Houghton; Jimmy Quinn; Keith McPherson.

Bossing It
Former manager Alan Pardew was also the Royals manager.

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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