Hull City v West Ham United

If you're one of those who actually enjoys Preview Percy's ramblings, there are probably some people you ought to speak to. In the meantime knock yourself out.....

Next up we travel oop North where our hosts will be Hull City. Or Possibly Hull City Tigers. Some sort of "rebranding" type thing we understand. Since we don't hold with such stuff here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered - we still refer to "Woolwich Arsenal" - we'll stick to Hull thank you very much.

Kick off is at the sacred hour of 3pm on Saturday and those of you thinking about using the Central Line as part of your route to King's Cross for the train journey up there may care to note that the same stuff as last week will be going on. Check afore ye venture out I say.

Our hosts currently lie in 11th spot in the fledgling table having picked up 7 points from their 5 league matches thus far. On the opening day they went 2-0 down to a Chelsea side that looked like they were going to run up a cricket score early on. Well I suppose they did - albeit an Australian one. They followed this up with a 1-0 defeat of Norwich, a 2-0 defeat at Man City, a 1-1 draw at home to Cardiff and a 3-2 win at Newcastle last weekend that Preview Alistair described thusly:

"The defending was worthy of a bunch of second rate school kids and Hull are useless. Repeat, USELESS. What does that make us!!"

That makes you Newcastle I'd say mate. In between all that they are through to the last 16 of the League Cup having beaten Barry Hearn's lot 1-0 and Huddersfield 1-0 the other night. The odious Steve Bruce described the early rounds of the competition as "like watching paint dry" and said that supporters would rather have been watching Coronation Street than the Huddersfield tie. Difficult choice that one, either a poorly executed drab slice of grim Northern life, or Coronation Street.

They are, of course back in the top flight after a three-year absence. They avoided the play-offs on the last day of the season by drawing 2-2 with Cardiff whilst Watford were getting beaten by Leeds. As is usual amongst promoted sides, this prompted a recruitment drive. Starting between the sticks in came Allan McGregor from Turkish outfit Bekitsas. McGregor ended up out there after all the shenanigans up at Rangers, where the change of employing company meant that he could bugger off on a free wherever he wanted. Which he did, signing a 2 year deal worth over EUR1m a season. With that sort of money about he could afford to leave Turkey after just the one year and no doubt Bekitsas were far from displeased at the ?1.5m profit they made on the deal that took the player to Hull.

McGregor was banned for life or playing for Scotland a few years back. Returning to the team hotel at 4am after a match against the Dutch, the then boss George Burley gave McGregor and a couple of others permission to go to the bar for a nightcap. McGregor presumably had the following night in mind, resurfacing somewhat tired and emotional the following lunchtime. Dropped as a result for the following match against Iceland he then made what the papers described as "obscene gestures" at cameramen from the bench, prompting the SFA to send him a fax informing him that he wouldn't be picked again. Which was pretty amazing - even as late as 2009 they were still communicating by fax in Scotland. As it happened the lifetime ban lasted less than a year, although his recall was delayed by his getting beaten up
after a night out in Glasgow. Something about an unpaid fax bill I expect.

They picked up Tom Huddlestone from Spurs for a reported ?5m. Huddlestone has vowed not to have his hair cut until he scores again. On our side of things, Ginge did much the same thing years ago but nobody noticed.

Huddlestone was accompanied in his arrival from Spurs by Jake Livermore, for whom there probably wasn't room enough in the changing room following the arrival of just about everyone in Europe. Having scored in a pre-season friendly against Barcelona a couple of years ago, his response to the question "what's it like to score against the best team in the world" was "the best team in the world? I play for them", which just proves that Tottenham players are every bit as deluded as their fans.

Also on loan is striker Danny Graham. Graham - a Newcastle supporter - is yet to score for his parent club Sunderland. He's maintained that level of form at Hull since his arrival on a season-long loan, which is a bit of a worry for us as a club with a solid tradition of sequence busting.

A third loanster is Mohamed Nagy Ismail Afash who is in for the season from Egyptian side Al Ahy. The player is known universally by his nickname "Gedo" which I am reliably informed means "Grandad" even though he's only 28. He'd feel at home in Liverpool then.

The one ex-Hammer in the squad is Abdoullaye Faye who made over 20 appearances for the side that came up via the playoffs. Liam Rosenior lso has Hammers connections, being the son of Leroy whose boots in the 1980's were apparently made of gold.

Us? Well the League Cup match was typical West Ham wasn't it. We played some decent football (have a look at the passing that led to Jarvis's goal but look away at the finish) and could have been four or five up at the break. So quite how we found ourselves pegged back to 2-2 with 15 left was a bit baffling. On thing that it wasn't of course was like watching paint dry. That's just your teams Bruce.

There'll be changes again - Diame will start despite not appearing on the back page of the match programme for the last two games. Nothing sinister we are told, just a printer's error in the two programmes which were printed at the same time apparently. With that in mind, and not that I'm one to start rumours of course, but I couldn't help but notice that Lionel Messi was also absent from the same page. I expect Reid will come in to replace Tomkins alongside Ginge and, with no return date slated for Demel, expect Joey O'B to start on the right with Roland on the left.

Noble will have served his pointless suspension at the hands of the atrocious Lee Mason. There has been much made of Noble's habit of giving away free-kicks in dangerous places, but surely a player has the right to expect a certain degree of competency amongst the match officials. I mean when you go for a tackle there simply isn't time for the thought process that goes "that ball is mine. Oh wait a minute it's Lee Mason who, if he had two more brain cells, would be a plant. He might well give a free kick even if I get the ball cleanly" You just go for it and trust that the referee knows what he is doing - a rarity in this day and age.

We may see returns to at least the bench for one or both of Downing and Cole who have been training this week and there is an intriguing selection poser up front for the manager with Vaz Te looking sharp, Petric getting closer to match fitness and even Maiga looking a wee bit better in midweek

Prediction? Well I have a bit of a good feeling for this one. Last week's performance in the first half was ok - though we had our work cut out against Lukaku in the second half it still took the referee to turn the game against us.So I'll be putting the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered fund to bring email to the third world (Scotland) (?2.50) on a 1-0 win to get the season moving onwards again.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Sunshine Ground - Won 2-0 Championship November 2011. Second half goals from Baldock and Collison were enough to give us all three points. Abdoullaye Faye played for us in that one.

Referee: Kevin Friend - last seen in January 2012 handling our 1-0 victory over Portsmouth at Fratton Park, although he also took charge of the pre-season friendly this year against the never to be forgotten, er, Paco Rabanne or something. You know, they ere in the Champions League for a while. Like Chelsea.

Danger Men: Tom Huddlestone & Danny Graham. One is due a haircut if he scores. The other hasn't scored for ages. It's always against us isn't it?!

Daft Fact Of The Week: The full name of Hull is Kingston Upon Hull, which is used to differentiate the city from Kingston Upon Thames so that Man Utd supporters don't get lost on their way home. Hull is apparently on the shortlist of cities going for the title of "UK City Of Culture which suggests that someone has either got a really weird sense of humour, or they don't realise that the word "culture" in this context doesn't actually include the unidentified stuff growing at the back of Humberside fridges.

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