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Manchester City v West Ham United

Filed: Saturday, 10th May 2014
By: Preview Percy

That's it. We don't have to visit Preview Percy again for three whole months.We assume you are all as relieved as we are.....

And finally Cyril, we make the trip up to the home of Coronation Street where our hosts will be Manchester City for a 3pm kick-off on Sunday. There’s no engineering works between London & Manchester though there is a replacement bus service between Benfleet and Basildon/Stanford Le Hope early doors on Sunday. These works are supposed to be complete by 8am but, as we all know, they have a tendency to overrun so you may wish to factor that into your travel plans on Sunday morning.
All the usual gubbins about current form goes out of the window for this one. The season boils down to one simple fact: If our hosts get a point against us on Sunday, they will be champions as long as Liverpool don’t beat Newcastle by 13 clear goals or more. Now, even allowing for the dubious refereeing traditionally enjoyed by the red half of Liverpool and the distinctly mediocre form of Newcastle should that result occur we’d potentially looking at a scandal akin to that which occurred in Nigeria a while back when two teams going for promotion managed to rack up something like 130 goals between them without reply, presumably in the hope that nobody would notice.
It’s been a funny old season for them. After Arsenal made the early running the Citizens got into their stride and, for a while, they looked as if they might run away with things. Then Liverpool dived their way to something like eleven in a row, a run that coincided with a slight dip in City’s fortunes and, until quite recently, it looked as if Liverpool had their fate in their own hands. Unfortunately for them they proved to be as unable to stay on their feet in a metaphorical sense off the pitch as they are in a physical sense on the pitch and, just as it looked like we would have to put up with rubbish from all those glory hunters who started supporting them in the 1970;s and 80’s they cocked it up. This manifested itself most spectacularly the other night when they blew a 3-0 lead at Palace in what some wags have dubbed “Crystanbul” (although that’s a bit unfair on Palace who scored three legitimate goals, unlike the scousers in Istanbul).
Our hosts took full advantage of Liverpool’s Devon Loch moment, though the first hour or so of their win against Villa the other night was a nervy affair. However, once Dzeko had opened the scoring that was pretty much it. In fact, as we sat watching the match in the tv room here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered, as Dzeko’s first hit the back of the net I remarked to Matron “That’s pretty much it” adding “this’ll end up 4-0”. Would that my predictions were as accurate during my weekly trips down to the premises of Winstone’s Turf Accountants.
It’s not been all good news for them this week. UEFA have hit them with a fine of something like £50m (depending upon which branch of Thomas Cooks you change your Euros at) for breaching the Financial Fair Play rules. There are two points to note here: firstly, thanks to UEFA’s interpretation of the rules, the fine won’t have to come out of club funds. In what appears to be a self- defeating exercise, the owners can pay the money direct to UEFA who, apparently, haven’t a clue what they are going to do with so much dosh. If it were FIFA rather than UEFA that were involved I’m sure Sepp Blatter might have a few ideas. Secondly, the proposed punishment  includes a sanction limiting the size of their Champions League squad for next season to 21, rather than the usual 25.  Given the various restrictions that already apply regarding “domestic players” (players trained in England for at least three years between the ages of 15-21), if the sanctions apply they will be faced with having to leave a number of big names out of their squad for the so-called Champions League next term. For their part City haven’t commented properly on the sanctions, though it is believed that they will appeal against any punishment on the grounds that UEFA’s sums did not make allowances for certain types of expenditure which is supposedly allowable.  Best not order that solid gold backscratcher just yet Monsieur Platini.

Of course, unlike last weekend's opponents, the money has, by and large, been well spent. They have a team full of decent players. Star man Sergio Aguero has been missing with either a hamstring problem or a groin strain depending on which source you read. Hopefully for his sake the medics know the difference. With 28 goals this season he's their top scorer and has been cleared for action this weekend.

One of the high points of their victory against Villa in midweek was the 4th goal from Yaya Toure, a beast of a player who apparently needs to add biting and diving to his game in order to be honoured as Footballer Of The Year.

The nervous tension the other evening was broken by Edin Dzeko, whose double precipitated a sigh of relief so vast it capsized a number of barges on the Manchester Ship Canal. Like Aguero, Dzeko has previous when it comes to these last weekend showdowns. It was the Bosnian's 92nd minute equaliser against QPR that paved the way for Aguero's slightly more lauded 93rd minute winner that gave them their first title in over 40 years.

And so to us. Have you stopped laughing yet? No me neither. After last weekend I sprung a number of rib cartilages and severely dehydrated myself watching replays of the hat-trick win over Spurs. Funniest view of all was the look on Adebayor's face as he realised that his blunder in the wall had given us the second. That look was swiftly followed by a look around for someone else to blame. Sure the (correct) sending off helped but Spurs were so poor that I have no doubt that we'd have beaten them anyway. Such was Adebayor's involvement in the game, the dismissal effectively reduced them from ten to nine players.

Whilst to a certain degree some of the recent grumbles have been understandable, the net result of the last 10 months has been a season in which we will finish somewhere near 12th having gotten to the semi-final of one of the Cups and beaten our nearest neighbours three times in a row. I guess it's all a matter of perspective – most people would have settled for that pre-season.
Team news is that Boriello remains the sole person on the sicklist, leaving the boss with a full squad to play with as long as nobody picked up any knocks in Friday's training session.

Which leads me to my final prediction of the season. My ideal result would be a draw – thus enabling the home side to win the league and, more importantly, keep it out of the hands of the scousers. I don't hold with all this “Gerrard deserves it” nonsense – he's a most unpleasant cove who is little more than John Terry with better PR. Sadly for us I think that, whilst we will make it tough for our hosts, they have got the nervy part of the equation out of the way by beating Villa so the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for the Bewildered's Fund For Research Into Spurs-Related Laughter-Induced Injuries (£2.50) onto a 3-1 home win prompting record outbreaks of self-pity on Merseyide. Again.

Enjoy the game and have a good summer!

When Last We Met Up There – Lost 6-0 (League Cup Semi Final 1st Leg 2014). This came in the middle of the period whilst we were effectively pulling out of both cups. Although we had fielded a youth team against Forest we upped the team strength for this one to Development Squad status. The results were pretty much the same though, leaving us (as the phrase goes) “all to do in the second leg”. Needless to say we didn’t.

Referee: Martin Atkinson Last seen indulging Palace's penchant for diving at the Boleyn. It's been one of the poorest seasons ever for refereeing. Let's hope that the title is decided on merit rather than by the continued failures of the men in the middle.

Danger Man: Yaya Toure – in amongst a team full of danger men he has been outstanding this season and his failure to win either of the Footballer Of The Year awards reflects poorly on both professional footballers and football writers.

Daft fact of the week: The record European win at their old Maine Road ground was a 10-0 European Cup win over Anderlecht in the 1956/57 season. Unfortunately, the win was recorded by Manchester United, who were borrowing the ground due to the fact that their own place didn't have floodlights. The shame felt by the Citizens was so profound they moved to the City Of Manchester stadium in 2003 to rid themselves of the stigma.

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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