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West Ham United v Sheffield United

Filed: Monday, 25th August 2014
By: Preview Percy

It's time for the first Cup preview of the season and you won't be at all surprised to discover that Preview Percy is most definitely one to bear grudges....

Next it's time for what until the sponsors pay me to mention their name I will continue to call the second round of the League Cup. Sheffield United will be the visitors for a 7.45pm kick-off. The tie will be finished on the night with extra time and penalties available if required.

There's history with this lot of course. To this day Sheffield United supporters are barred from the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered – our standards may be low but we still have them.

To summarise, back in '07in what turned out to be a kangaroo court where at least one key witness was mysteriously sent on holiday, we received a world record fine for breaking a rule not designed to cover player signings. When it was pointed out that Sheffield United had broken the same rule over the signing of Steve Kabba from Watford with a “no play” agreement. The authorities were then in a pickle. If they gave any sort of punishment to the Blades they would also have to do something similar to their beloved Man Utd who had entered into a similar deal with the loan deal that had sent Tim Howard to Everton. That wouldn't have been too much of an issue but for the fact that any points deduction would have given that season's Premier League title to Chelsea. So, in typical Premier League style a fudge was arranged. Gentlemen's agreements were suddenly allowed.

All this would have been academic but for the fact that Sheffield United weren't very good. They managed to let a ten point gap slip at which point they realised a points deduction for us would suit them better. On the last day of the season they lost at Wigan with the deciding goal coming under circumstances that were, to say the least, a bit fishy. A Wigan win would have been enough to have saved both teams if, as expected, we had rolled over and lost to Man Utd. Wigan's winner came from a penalty awarded from a penalty inexplicably given away for handball by Phil Jagielka. Had the match taken place in Italy the investigators would have been swarming all over it. As it happened a draw would have been enough to keep us up but we won anyway.

Aided by a number of journalists who perpetuated the lie that Tevez had been ineligible – the disgraceful Oliver Holt always forgetting to mention that, as Warnock's ghost writer he was effectively on the payroll – the hypocrites started a campaign for “fairness in football” - which, had they been honest, would have been entitled “campaign to stick money in the chairman's pocket”. Thus we saw the likes of Sean Bean bleating on the box every five minutes in what was in no way a sad attempt to gain publicity.

Luckily prevented from going to a real court of law by FA/UEFA and FIFA rules they ended up at an arbitration panel where the same lying journalists went into bat for them. Had the matter been heard in the proper courts instead the journos would have been looking at perjury charges – at least one gave total credit for a win to Tevez when on the day he had given the MOTM award to Rob Green for example. Finally they found someone gullible to believe their case whereupon we found that appeals were only allowed to one side. An out of court settlement followed that put the very existence of our club at risk with a rumoured £25m going up to Yorkshire in instalments.

Whatever happened to all the money – it didn't seem to go on quality players to add to all those players who, according to Griffiths would have definitely stayed in the Premier League but for Tevez. Jagielka got himself a nice easy move to Everton but the rest of them found themselves not walking the Championship as one would have thought. Thy blew one playoff final in 2009 before getting a further relegation in 2011. An hilarious playoff final in 2013 ensued whereby the 'keeper missed the twenty-somethingth penalty of the shootout to condemn them to another season in whatever Division 3 is called.

Of course the odious McCabe who was so vociferous about the whole thing from his Brussels hideout all those years ago now only owns 50% of the club, having sold the other 50% to a Saudi prince who has promised to bring Premier League football to Bramall Lane, though he has warned that they won't be plunging “an oil-well of money” into the club. One of the first actions last year on the arrival of Saudi money was the appointment of Nigel Clough as boss. The season ended with them finishing one spot outside the playoff places in 7th place some 7 points behind Peterborough in 6th.

They currently sit in 12th spot having won two and lost two of their four league matches so far – An opening day defeat at home to Bristol City was followed by a 1-0 defeat at “Coventry”. They've won their last two in the league 2-1 at Peterborough and 1-0 at home to Crawley. They progressed to this stage of the League Cup by virtue of a 2-1 win over Mansfield.

The in form chappie at the moment is former Everton midfielder Jose Baxter, whose parents obviously had a sense of humour, despite being from Liverpool. He's been on target twice this term. The work experience kid with an inappropiate amount of rings through her lips tells me that Baxter was the youngest player to play for the Toffemen when he made his debut in 2008 aged 16 years 191 days. In 2009 like pretty much everyone of his age in Liverpool, he got arrested on suspicion of possession of Cannabis with intent to supply though he was eventually released without charge. He never quite fulfilled the promise of those early years and by 2012 he had been released. A trial with Crystal Palace came to naught when the Glaziers deemed him to be too unfit – how difficult must it be to be too unfit for Palace? He ended up at Oldham, moving over to Sheffield United at the beginning of last season where he was reunited with David Weir who had been his youth team manager at Goodison. The reunion lasted little more than a month though as Weir was replaced by Clough.

One player we won't be seeing is Ched Evans. The striker is currently coming to the end of a sentence for rape, though club officials have recently visited him at HMP Wymott, presumably checking on his fitness. Not quite sure what the Saudi prince makes of all this coming as he does from a background where the punishment for such acts is probably a bit harsher than a spell in a category C nick.

In defence they have a Scottish defender by the name of Bob Harris whose strengths apparently do not include calling for the ball. (If you're too young to understand that reference too bad).

On the wing they can call on Jamal Campbell-Ryce. The 31 year-old has been about a bit over the years, with spells at Charlton, Leyton Orient (loan), Wimbledon (loan), Chesterfield (loan), Rotherham, Southend (loan), Colchester (loan), Southend, Barnsley, Bristol City, Leyton Orient (loan again) and Notts County. He arrived at Bramall Lane at the start of this season so is due a loan move any day now. Capped 22 times by Jamaica, at 5ft 3 he's a bit vertically challenged to say the least.

That's enough about them. Our turn. I was very pleased with Saturday's runout. Ok the selection of Zarate might have been forced on the manager by the absence of Nolan but nevertheless the style of play was most pleasing to the eye and the cherry on the cake was the shutting up of the so called “ultras” whose support wavered so much there were boos from the few of the that were left at the end. Kouyate was the outstanding player for me on the day though Noble wasn't too far behind. It's not often you see matron pushing me along in my bathchair in Croydon with a smile on my face but it happened on Saturday.

This being a League Cup match (still no cheque from the sponsors) we will of course be fielding a different eleven. The good news is that this will mean a pretty experienced side with some of our new signings getting a bit of a look in. The manager has suggested that we will see the likes of JJ, Morrison, Sakho, Diame, Valencia, Demel and Poyet will form the nucleus of the side, rather than sticking in the youth team in en mass. It seems we do have a bit of strength in depth for once.

Given the players who are likely to start this one I think we'll have too much for them, so the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered fund to send Sean Bean off for acting lessons (£2.50) will be going on another 3-1 win.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn:
Won 1-0 November 2006. Hayden Mullins' header gave us all three points. We finished three points clear of them at the end of the season. Tevez didn't score. You want fairness in football? Give us our £25m back then.

Referee: James Linington You take pot luck in the early stages of this competition. Got into hot water for allegedly mocking Birmingham's skipper during a match last term. Isle of Wight based so may be overawed by bright lights and being in a big city.

Danger Man: Jose Baxter Top scorer so far and probably still has a little bit left of whatever it was Everton saw in him.

Daft fact of the week: Sean Bean is a really, really crap actor.

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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