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West Ham United v Queens Park Rangers

Filed: Saturday, 19th January 2013
By: Preview Percy

Next up we entertain – weather permitting – Queens Park Rangers. Kick-off is 3pm and, whilst there are no engineering works planned for our bit of the District line, no doubt should one snowflake fall within 20 miles of the Boleyn the Tubes will go up the Swanee and chaos will abound.

Here at the Avram Grant Rest Home For The Bewildered the temperature indoors is currently registering minus 4 – which means it’ll be at least minus two outside. So, as ever, check before you leave and wrap up warm as they say.

QPR lie bottom of the pile with 14 points from their 22 games thus far. 7 of those points have come from their last six matches, a spell that has included two wins (2-1 at home to Fulham and 1-0 away at Chelsea) – three defeats (1-0 at Newcastle, 2-1 at home to West Brom and 3-0 at home to Liverpool) and a solitary draw (0-0 at home to Spurs). It’s certainly an improvement on the early part of the season, though resurgence is probably putting it a bit strong. The Fulham match, which took place on 15 December was their first win of the season.

Of course their manager, who has never been shy of self publicity, won’t be slow in claiming the credit for the modest upturn in form. Every time I go to write stuff about Mr Redknapp it never makes it past the kumb lawyers. So all I’ll say is that I’m sure that QPR’s owner Tony Fernandes has as tight a control over the purse strings as Tottenham’s owners did.

Those strings were loosened recently when they paid £8m to Marseille for Loic Remy. This came as a surprise to Newcastle, who had already agreed a fee with the French outfit. However, the financial package offered to the player (a rumoured £70k a week) was too tempting for Remy. The deal prompted many a humorous comment along the lines of “the first thing they should check in his medical is his head”. Presumably there’s a nice relegation release clause in that contract. He’s only made a handful of appearances in France this season, suggesting that Marseille weren’t too upset about cashing in on the player.

They are also in talks with a view to shelling out over £6m for Rennes defensive midfielder Yann M’Vila. A fee has, apparently been agreed between the two clubs but the player is apparently, and understandably, a bit wary of signing for the team currently propping up the league. I’m sure Remy was just as concerned until the salary figure came up in conversation. The £6m figure is a massive reduction from the £28m that Rennes reportedly turned down a year ago. Even Spurs are supposed to have offered £15m as recently as August. The reason for this fall in value may or may not be linked with the fact that an “unauthorised night out” has seen him banned from international duty until June 2014. Meanwhile there are rumours that QPR face competition for his signature from “an unnamed Premier League club looking at a loan with an option to purchase deal”. Hmmmm.

Although there are a number of ex-Hammers in the squad, we’re unlikely to see much of them. It’s not been the greatest of seasons for Rob Green, who found that he has been second in the pecking order to Brazilian Julio Caesar for much of this season. Green was probably as bemused as anyone when Caesar arrived at the start of the season. If he thought things might change with the arrival of Redknapp he appears to have been mistaken, with Caesar preferred in the League, though Green was given a start in the other night’s cup replay, keeping a clean sheet in the 1-0 victory over West Brom at the Hawthorns. Recent speculation has seen Green linked with a move to Nottingham Forest. That speculation may or may not be a load of newspaper twaddle but it does serve as a cautionary tale to show that the grass is not always, er, Greener.

Another ex-Hammer is the geographically challenged (South Carolins – that’s on the Isle of Wight isn’t it?) Anton Ferdinand. Like Green, Ferdinand seems to be a benchwarmer for league matches, though like Green he featured in the Cup win.

2005 play-off winner Bobby Zamora has had a thoroughly lousy season with injury and is still a few weeks away from fitness. How he’ll fit into Redknapp’s plans once he’s fit remains to be seen. Remy’s arrival has been interpreted as a case of “writing on the wall” by the strangely-barneted Djibril Cisse, who is currently in talks with a club in Qatar where it’ll be a darned sight warmer than it is here

The other two former Hammers that were in the squad will be elsewhere. Hogan Ephrahim is a step behind Green and Ferdinand in that he seems to make the bench only for Cup games. Meanwhile Kieron Courtney Dyer is a name that might ring a very vague bell. We were all gobsmacked to see his name come up on the vidiprinter thing the other week as scoring the equaliser in the first cup match against West Brom. Clearly the goal came as a similar surprise to Redknapp who probably hadn’t realised he was playing. Redknapp acted fairly quickly – three days later Dyer was released as thousands of physiotherapists up and down the country were placed o alert.

The fans’ favourite seems to be the Moroccan Adel Taarabt. Taarabt first arrived in this country on loan to Spurs in 2007, making his debut as a late sub at the Boleyn in the match that, though we lost 4-3, kicked off the “great escape”. Spurs never seemed quite sure how to handle the player and shipped him off to QPR, initially on loan. Any thoughts he might have had about becoming a White Hart Lane favourite went out of the window when he gave an interview declaring himself to be sorry that he hadn’t joined Arsenal instead. Calling Arsene Wenger a “legend” in the same interview probably didn’t help much either.

It looked like he might be on the move during the reign of Neil Warnock, who, frankly, wouldn’t recognise a talented player if he rode up to him on bicycle in a daft black & white spotted suit saying “I’m Lionel Messi, here’s a picture of me with my Ballon D’Or and here’s a box set of dvd highlights of my greatest moments.” Taarabt outlasted both Colin – what a great Premier League manager he really is – and Mark Hughes, neither of whom seemed quite sure what to do with him. Redknapp may get more out of him, having experience of dealing with the likes of Paolo Di Canio in the past. Though Taarabt is definitely the Lidl version to Paolo’s Harrods, he’ll still need to be watched.

Us? Well that was a tad unlucky in the cup wasn’t it. I say unlucky but the inherent bias shown by referees to the home side up at Old Trafford is really becoming past a joke. I think you’ll find that in my last preview I predicted that Wayne Rooney would be the danger man, a prediction that was based on precedent and the fact that if he were struggling the ref would no doubt pitch in to help. I was right wasn’t I.

The fact is that Phil Dowd made severe errors of judgement for which there can be no excuse. He can’t claim being unsighted for the key decisions he got wrong, he simply made spineless panicky calls. Add to that the fact that the man is clearly physically unfit to referee at the top level of the game and you have a situation that suggests that a suspension ought to be due. Of course, as we saw with Anthony Taylor whose reward for his complete shambles of a display in the Everton match was to be awarded a League Cup Semi-Final, referees are fireproof no matter how poor they are.

Just to underline the thought, the lino who suggested that Man City players might like to acknowledge their travelling support has been given some time off “to keep him out of the limelight” – yeah right. Mr Allardyce will no doubt be asked to explain his comments by the authorities and may pick up a fine for revealing what the powers that be clearly believe to be some sort of state secret. The whole thing stinks more than the home section at White Hart Lane.

At least we managed to avoid further serious injury – no thanks to Scholes who yet again escaped the punishment that any other player would have received for a shocker of a tackle. The return of Diame was good to see, though he (understandably) looked a tad short of match fitness. On the injury front, there had been some speculation that Andy Carroll might make the bench but with Chamakh about they’ll probably leave him another week or so. Joey O’Brien will be available as will Mark Noble who missed Sunderland with a calf problem. Joe Cole, who was rested lest Paul Scholes decapitate him, should return to contention.

Prediction? Well with a number of players rested and hopefully raring to go, we ought to be able to get a win out of this. It won’t be as comfortable as the win at their place was for most of the match. New manager syndrome is still in operating as Redknapp enjoys his honeymoon period so confidence levels will be ok. Nevertheless, I still fancy us for this one. Let’s place the Avram Grant Rest Home Fund For The Bewildered to keep Phil Dowd supplied with pies (£2.50) on a high scoring 3-2 win to warm the proverbial cockles as the mercury drops.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: (Championship, November 2004) Won 2-1. A Harewood brace gave us revenge for a 1-0 defeat at Loftus Road a few weeks previously. McLeod netted the equaliser for the visitors.

Referee: Howard Webb. Let’s just say we’re due a good performance from the officials. Not as good as he once was, but we live in hope.

Danger man: Adel Taarabt. Scored a cracker in the reverse fixture and is the sort of player that their manager can get the best out of.

Daft fact of the week: A quick search of the interweb for “facts about QPR” came up with a whole list of pages about suicide prevention, the initials standing for “question, persuade, refer”. I know that they’re bottom of the league but even so...

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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