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West Ham United v Fulham

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

Preview Percy struggles to keep up with current affairs. We've spent all week trying to convince him that Nigella Lawson isn't chairman of the Co-Op Bank for example. We'd like to say he's better when it comes to football. We'd like to say that but....

Next we return to the sanity of a Saturday 3pm kick off where we play host to Fulham. After last week's debacle on the tubes, TfL have shifted their engineering focus elsewhere. C2C are behaving themselves as well – though if you usually change to the District at West Ham be warned that they're diverting some trains up to Stratford for you to go to Westfield to buy my Christmas present.

We have Fulham to thank for keeping us out of the bottom three. Though they are level on points with us (10) they are five goals worse off in the goal difference department. Current form is pretty poor at the moment, they've lost four of their last six. Since following a 1-0 home win over Stoke with a 4-1 thumping of Palace at Selhurst Park at the start of October, they've come unstuck against Southampton away (0-2), at home to Man Utd (1-3), away to Liverpool (0-4) and, most recently at home to Swansea (1-2).

It was, of course, all change during the summer for the club. Mohamed Fayed finally sold the club to the US businessman Shahid Khan. The Pakistan-born businessman made his fortune in car parts and also owns the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team in the National Football League, which is nothing of the sort. One of the new boss's first actions was to order the removal of the ludicrous statue of Michael Jackson that the nutjob previous owner had erected outside the ground. As ever Fayed reverted into his usual fantasy world, claiming that the statue was a listed monument. One supposes that the souvenirs in the club shop, such as Michael Jackson key rings and the like, have also been removed from sale. Much hilarity ensued a few years ago when it was revealed that such trinkets came in packaging bearing the legend “not safe for children.”

They did modest business in the summer window. In fact one “new” signing was actually nothing of the sort. Sascha Riether is technically a new boy, having signed a permanent deal this summer having arrived from 1FC Koln. This is, however, the player's second season with the club having spent last term at the Cottage on loan. Riether will miss this match having been suspended for a stamp on Man Utd's Adnan Janujaz that the ref missed. The ref in our recent game against Villa missed a stamp on Mark Noble by Villa's Lowton. However, as the constant stream of substandard officials sent to ruin our matches has shown, we're not as important as the whingers from Salford so no further action was taken.

They brought in another right back in the form of Elsad Zverotic (no sniggering at the back there) at right back. Zverotic signed for the Cottagers (behave) from Young Boys (look I told you) for an undisclosed fee after two years at the Wankdorf (look I won't tell you again). Despite their obvious defensive issues Zerotic has made little impact. Until recently he'd only made League Cup appearances, though he has started the last couple of matches at Liverpool and at home to Swansea in the absence of the aforementioned Riether on suspension.

In midfield they rescued Scott Parker from his Tottenham nightmare. It was sad to see a player in such reduced circumstances, though his summer free transfer has seen his lot improve immeasurably, whilst that of his former employers in N17 has gone downhill. He picked up a nice goal against Swansea last weekend and those journos who are quick to put the knife in over the not entirely unjustified abuse given to Lampard (i.e. those who Lampard pays to write for him) might do well to reflect on the warmth of the welcome afforded to a player who actually made an effort for the club during his spell here.

Also in midfield they have the talented if somewhat inconsistent Adel Taarabt. Part of the QPR team that was relegated last season (or “European Champions” as Redknapp's book probably describes it), he was sent to Fulham a season-long loan. Taarabt seems to have trust problems with his managers in this country. He had a spell at Spurs without ever threatening to become a regular starter. Realising that Spurs probably wouldn't recognise a decent player if he were wearing a Brazil shirt with Pele 10 on the back, QPR picked him up, initially on loan then on a permanent deal for a reported fee of £1m. He survived having a crap manager like Warnock, who kept leaving him out of the side, only to see Redknapp arrive. A phrase containing the words “frying pan” and “fire” leaps to mind. He scored a not half decent effort against us during QPR's triumphant march towards World Series glory ((c) H Redknapp) before making the move across what's left of the Hammersmith flyover in close season. Since the start of the season he's only had two 90 minute runouts, those being during the opening day victory at Sunderland and latterly in the 4-3 League Cup defeat at Leicester. Otherwise it's been a mix of sub or be subbed for the Moroccan international, who reverted to playing international football for the country of his birth after representing France at various age levels.

Another loan signing was the surplus to requirements at Aston Villa Darren Bent. Regular readers will be aware of how baffled I am that he has fetched so much in transfer fees over the years – over £40m which even in these inflated days seems a lot for someone who, and let's not beat about the bush here, isn't really all that good. As ever with such players – Jason Roberts is another who springs to mind – he has often scored against us in the past which is irritating. He's been in and out of the side, starting last weekend with Berbatov slotting in just behind.

As for Berbatov the question is, as ever, “lazy or just laid back?” Lazy.

And what of us? Well last weekend's proceedings brought us a wave of depression here at the Avraam Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. We've lost matches a-plenty this season sure, but large parts of the last two defeats have been as spineless as the officials who presided over them. There's a pattern developing and, like the food here at the home, it's not one that I particularly care for.

As with Norwich, we started ok until Demel's cock-up and Oscar's embarrassing dive put us behind. Yet again, once that happened, the heads went down and we caved in. Clearly, all is not well behind the scenes and team spirit doesn't exactly seem to be at an all time high. Joe Cole, for example didn't seem overly impressed with his substitution and, though the player went out of his way to scotch rumours that his disillusionment with his lot may be terminal, the fact that the rumours gained any credence in the first place tells its own story.

The injury list isn't helping of course with no fewer than 6 first team squad members on the sick. More worrying is the use of the phrase “no return date” next to each of their names, though Alou Diarra is said to be making much better than usual progress. However, the boss needs to start making sure we do ourselves justice, something that has not been happening of late.

A win in this one would do us no end of good and, if the players are smarting after the events of the past two matches (and by golly they damn well ought to be) the boss should be capable of converting that into something positive. For that reason I'm going to suggest that we place the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home's fund to cheer up the bloke who accidentally chucked away a hard drive containing £4m worth of Bitcoins (whatever they are) (£2.50) on a 2-1 home win, as long as that fits in with whatever plans PGMOL have for the result.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn – Won 3-0 – September 2012. First half goals from Nolan, Reid and Taylor did all the damage. Someone called Andy Carroll made his debut and showed great promise before doing a hamstring in and disappearing for a month or two.

Referee: Martin AtkinsonDear Mr Riley. Instead of issuing fatuous apologies every time one of your group messes up, a precedent which admittedly will shed some light on what the hell it actually is you do for your bloated salary, how about doing something to improve standards? Which is what you're paid to do anyway. Atkinson was last seen trying to give Man Utd an FA Cup 3rd round game at the Boleyn.

Danger Man: Scott Parker – scorer of a fine goal last weekend. The law of the ex and all that.

Daft fact of the week: A Fulham is a dice (or die if you prefer to be more accurate) loaded to ensure that certain numbers are more likely to be thrown. In one of his non-Sherlock Holmes books Sir Arthur Conan Doyle refers to “the throwing of Fulhams”. The author was a decent goalkeeper in his time who played for Portsmouth Amateurs in between writing all the Sherlock stuff and being conned into believing in fairies. Sherlock Holmes famously lived at 221B Baker Street, which is on the Hammersmith and City line, and Hammersmith & Fulham are part of the same London Borough. Coincidence? Yes.

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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