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West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion

Filed: Friday, 29th March 2013
By: Preview Percy

After what seems to have been an interminable length of time, at last we have another match. This weekend we will entertain the good people of West Bromwich Albion at the Boleyn in a match that will kick-off at 3.00pm on Saturday. Hurrah.

Transport for London are so surprised by the fact that we’re still here they’ve completely forgotten to schedule any engineering works at our end of the District Line, though bits of the Docklands Light Railway will be shut. Check before you leave.

Our visitors will arrive in 8th place with 44 points from their 30 matches thus far. This puts them six places and 11 points above them, though we do have a game in hand for what it’s worth. Current form has seen them won three (2-0 up at Liverpool and a pair of 2-1s at home to Sunderland and Swansea), drawn once (0-0 at Stoke before the break) and lose twice (1-0 at home to Gareth Bale and 1-0 at Chelsea).

They had one of the more amusing transfer windows of recent years. Not that they were particularly active – the departure of a few fringe players being the sum total of their action. However the antics of Peter Odimwinge raised eyebrows-a-plenty. It’s a bit complicated but basically QPR, whose manager is in no way dodgy (it says here on this bit of paper handed to me by our lawyers), put in a bid to sign the Nigerian international. The bid was rejected.

Somehow, and who can tell how, Odemwinge became/was made aware of QPR’s interest though of course it couldn’t have been as a result of QPR contacting him of course, because that would have been wrong what with their not at all dodgy manager not having permission to talk to the player. Under the completely false impression that a deal was on the cards, Odemwinge drove to Loftus Road to speak (for what would obviously have been the first time) with QPR and, whilst his comments to the tv people at the time stopped short of actually saying he’d already been in discussions with Rangers, they certainly could have been construed that way.

The Baggies were a bit gobsmacked to see the player on the box giving the traditional "interview through the car window" and pointed out that no permission had been given to anyone to speak to the player. QPR’s manager, possibly remembering his earlier denial of having spoken to Joe Cole which had been blatantly contradicted by his later admission that he had been in talks with Joe Cole, appears to have had second thoughts about the whole deal and, on trying to gain admission to the ground, Odemwinge was given the same sort of reception as I would reserve for people knocking on my door at 9am after a heavy night in the Swan and Superinjunction and asking me if I would like to talk to them about Jesus. (Tip – they don’t seem to bother you again if you tell them you’re ritually sacrificing a goat).

So back to the Midlands traipsed the player with his tail between his legs. The club sent him away from the training ground and he was eventually fined a couple of weeks’ wages. He was slowly reintroduced to the first team squad and since his little trip has made four sub appearances. You’d think that, having made a bit of a fool of himself, he’d have kept his head down for a bit. However, as one continually points out in these pages, the average professional footballer is not exactly noted for his common sense. True to stereotype, Odemwinge recently went into the sort of twitter meltdown rant that one associates with someone who has had a heavy night in the Swan and Superinjunction. The result: another fine (that’s over £150,000 this year so far) and, no doubt, a less than fraternal reception from his (soon to be ex?) team-mates.

First choice 'keeper is Ben Foster. Foster declared himself unavailable for England selection a couple of years ago. This, as regular readers will be aware, is not something that goes down too well here at the Avram Grant Rest Home for the Bewildered, where the day room is full of full of hopefuls such as myself who are still hopeful of a call from Mr Hodgson (though to be honest I think Ada may be on a hiding to nothing what with her hip and all). Foster has since changed his mind though and at least he has made himself generally available, unlike Jamie Carragher who generously brought himself out of retirement once all that tedious mucking about with qualifying was done with. Foster was on the bench for the trouncing of San Marino – Joe Hart might as well have been next to him.

Another international retiree is defender Stephen Reid who overcame the handicap of starting out amongst the medical experiment victims at Millwall to gain 20 caps for the Republic of Ireland. Although he is regarded as a defender these days he has played most of his career in midfield and had 7 years at basket case club Blackburn before arriving at the Hawthorns in 2010. Reid is a doubt for the weekend with a “groin/pelvis injury” which may or may not have been sustained during an alleged recent training ground altercation with the aforementioned Odemwinge.

Odemwinge isn’t he only Baggie with a few disciplinary issues. Macedonian left-back Gregor Popov hasn’t featured since getting sent off for spitting at Kyle Walker in the home match against Spurs. Ex-Hammer youth player Liam Ridgewell has been preferred even though Popov’s now served his suspension. At the time of the incident former Hammers Assistant Boss Steve Clarke expressed his “disgust” at Popov’s actions and it seems that Clarke’s disgust has been enough to keep Popov out of the limelight, though he has been on the bench. Popov’s problems have also extended to the international arena where he is currently coming to the end of a six-month ban for unspecified disciplinary reasons from representing Macedonia. On loan from Dinamo Kiev (and that’s how I’m spelling it whatever they say) Albion have an option to buy at the end of the season but his “throat clearance” antics may have put paid to that.

A better loan deal this year was the pinching of Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea on a season-long deal. Still only 19, the Belgian looks to be a skilful prospect. He’s their top scorer so far this season, something that contrasts strikingly with the form of Fernando Torres, whose presence would be keeping him out of the Chelsea team had he stayed in London. Of course Chelsea’s “Manager Of The Month” policy hasn’t helped in that regard but it would be a major surprise if Lukaku didn’t return to the club as planned at the end of the season. I suppose the odd thing is that Clarke & Keen might have had a better chance of keeping hold of Lukaku had he not had such a good season.

And what of us? Well the last match we encountered was the trip to Chelsea – remember that? Although the home side ended up good value for their win in the end, we were left once more ruminating at the deficiencies of the officials, whose decisions at a crucial stage of the match potentially altered the whole course of the game. This wasn’t the only decision that stank during the last round of matches in the Premier League and the authorities’ laughable failure to deal with Callum McManaman should put paid to any thoughts that anyone in power has any interest in improving refereeing standards.

The other news since I was last here is, of course the news that we’ve been awarded the right to occupy the Olympic Stadium. Much has been made of the “fact” that we’re supposedly being “given” a stadium for £15m. Which rather ignores the approximately £250m we’ll be paying in rent for the place, a figure which will also increase with inflation. The plans are now available for inspection, though, like all architectural plans they don’t make an awful lot of sense to those of us not dull enough to be architects. Meanwhile I look forward to the consultation we’ve been promised for all these years so we can finally make an informed decision.

Back on the football side of things. injury news is largely good. Since we last spoke Stephen Henderson has returned from his Ipswich loan spell to cover the sub ‘keeper spot in the light of Raphael Spiegel’s broken finger. Joe Cole’s hamstring is all better now so he’ll be in the squad and the relative lack of action for the team over the last few weeks has meant that Nolan’s toe (a medical condition rather than an American Civil War battle) has also have healed up enough to see him return. Similarly Linda’s back as well. The one major absentee will be Mark Noble, whose trapped nerve in the arm/elbow has apparently required surgery so he’ll be out for a while.

Thankfully the international break was kind enough and we don’t seem to have picked up any of the injuries that our players usually return with from foreign climes. The penalty given away by Pogatetz merely being embarrassing.

A prediction? Oh all right then if you insist. It’s difficult to get any sense of form when you only get to play with the same regularity as Barry Hearn opening his gob and saying something sensible, so any prediction will have to be pure guesswork. So no change there then. I’ll therefore be placing all the money that the Avran Grant Rest Home has been able to rescue from its offshore account in Cyprus (£2.50) on us to win. Let’s go for a 3-2 goalfest for a change then shall we?!

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met at the BoleynDrew 2-2 (November 2011) The 50th deliberately wrong decision against us by the disgraceful Mike Dean handed the visitors the lead through a penalty converted by Odemwinge. Scott Parker’s 25 yard effort levelled the scores. Dean awarded another penalty, getting it right for once as Kieron Dyer was shoved to the floor. Piquionne put the spot kick away and we should have increased the lead before conceding a late equaliser to Ibanez to leave us rooted to the bottom. Dean, as ever, went unpunished.

Referee: Andre Marriner. Third time he’ll have been in charge of us this term though this will be his first visit of the season to the Boleyn.

Danger Man:Romelu Lukaku. The on-loan striker has recovered from having his surname rejected as a catchphrase on “Shooting Stars” (they used “Uvavu” instead) and is their top scorer this season. They must be hoping that whoever Abrahamovic appoints as Chelsea’s next “Interim” manager doesn’t notice that the player is still there.

Daft Fact Of The Week: (NB I may have used this story before (damned if I can be bothered to check). However, if this is the case consider it a tribute to a recently departed Hammer). It is said that during one of their forays into Europe during the 1970’s, the Throstles found themselves playing Dinamo Bucharest at home. Unable to locate a copy of the Romanian national anthem, the announcer went for “close enough” and thus it was that the Romanians trotted out to the sound of Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen’s rendition of “Midnight In Moscow”. RIP Kenny.

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

01:23PM 29th Mar 2013
''Thanks, humourous as always.''

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