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West Ham United v Sunderland

Filed: Friday, 20th March 2015
By: Preview Percy

Disappointing - adj Descriptive of the sort of feeling one gets when your attempts to watch a solar eclipse are thwarted by cloud cover. Also, descriptive of anything written by Preview Percy. Especially this...

Next up is Sunderland. At home. On Saturday. At 3pm. That’s two in a row. Don’t tell anyone or they’ll move it. Oh they already have. Make that 5.30pm then. No Tube works in the immediate area though if you live a bit further out there may be rail replacement buses if you inhabit the uncharted territory beyond Billericay.

Well it’s a good job I hung on a few minutes before starting to write this. No sooner had I oiled the Remington and was flexing my fingers to start typing than in ran the Work Experience Girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her nose to say “Poyet – gone”. To be honest it didn’t come as much of a surprise really did it? If ever there was a match that said “you’re getting sacked in the morning” it had to be last weekend’s 4-0 home reverse to a Villa, a side that has been known to go through whole geological epochs without scoring.

Of course that match was merely the final straw that broke the camel’s back and their position overall probably meant that the tin tack was coming sooner rather than later in any case. They have 26 points from the 29 played so far which, after Burnley’s win over Man City at the weekend, leaves the Rokerites (you know the rules here – traditional nicknames irrespective of age) one point off the drop zone.

So the talk round here swiftly moved on to who would be replacing Poyet then? The old guy in the corner with dodgy knees didn’t even look up from his copy of the Racing Post to float the name of Dick Advocaat, whose name always reminds me of the sort of drunken game played by those appalling rugby sorts who weren’t good enough to make the football team at school. Before we even had the chance to get down to Winstone’s The Turf Accountant lo and behold the announcement of his arrival came up on the box, his appointment being a short-term one until the end of the season.

The short term nature of the appointment seems to suggest that they have someone in mind to take over for next season. Someone who, perhaps, isn’t currently available due to their being under contract until the end of the season at their current club but who may be free then, especially as they haven’t started to discuss a new deal yet. I can’t think of anyone who fits that bill off hand but when I asked the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips whether she knew of a manager that might fit the bill she just threw her scrubbing brush at me. Odd girl that one.

Advocaat will soon discover that the problem for them has been goals. They’ve only scored six of the blighters since the turn of the year. Add to that a defence that looked as if they’d turned up to watch their match against Villa rather than actually play in it and it’s not difficult to work out why they are in bother.

They only picked up one signing in the last window. Some chap called Defoe arrived from a similarly struggling Toronto for an undisclosed fee. This was a win-win transfer for them as, not only did it enable them to bring in a goalscorer with a proven track record at Premier League level, it also enabled them to get shot of Jozy Altidore. Altidore also possesses a proven track record at Premier League level, but it’s not one he’d probably really want people to look at too closely. Altidore’s signing, like a second marriage, represented an example of hope over experience and I was genuinely surprised when the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips informed me that he had managed one goal in his 42 league appearances for the Wearside outfit. I didn’t think he had that many.

Defoe has already managed to equal Altidore’s league tally in his short stay, though he’s finding it difficult to add to that tally without supply. I expect that if he appears on Saturday he’ll get a lot of stick. However, whilst it is fair to say that he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory in the latter stages of his Boleyn career, my own view is that he doesn’t quite fit in to the Ince category. Worryingly he does have a bit of a record of scoring against us though.

One person who was originally unlikely to feature, but now we’re not so sure, is Adam Johnson. Johnson “earned” his team a point in the reverse fixture earlier this season with his rather blatant dive gaining them a penalty. I suspect that he is now looking wistfully back on the days when the only reputation he had was that of being a diver. At the time of writing this he is under suspension by the club pending the outcome of a police investigation into allegations that he had had sex with a girl under the age of consent.

The news this week is that the police have extended his bail, an announcement that had led the club to announce that it would be reviewing Johnson’s suspension. This announcement was promptly followed by another saying that the suspension had been lifted and that he would now be returning to training and would be in consideration for selection. The fact that Johnson just happens to be their top scorer this season is, of course, pure coincidence. Either way I’d have thought that would be rather difficult to get him into the frame of mind for him to play. However, if he does Defoe can expect an easy ride from the crowd in comparison to the stuff that will be hurled at Johnson (metaphorically rather than literally one hopes).

Next in the goalscoring chart, one behind Johnson with 4 goals in all competitions is Steven Fletcher. In fact those four goals all came in the league and, in fact, they came spread over two matches – two against Stoke and two against Palace. It’s a far cry from the heady days of last season – or was it the season before? – when at one stage he had pretty much scored all of Sunderland’s goals. The noted Newcastle supporter Preview Alastair’s comments to the effect that “he still has!” are amusing, if not entirely helpful.

Level with Fletcher on 4 is Conor Wickham, though one of Wickham’s goals came in the League Cup. We seemed to spend the whole of summer making bids for Wickham - £5m being the one that they finally turned down if rumour is to be believed. However he’s failed to capture the form that helped them stay up last term and £5m now looks like a lot of money. Whilst Sakho hasn’t been quite at the top of his game in recent weeks I think we ended up making the right choice. Wickham signed a new contract in December but there are already rumours in circulation that suggests that he may have some sort of “Get Out Of Wearside Cheap” card in that deal which will allow him a move in the event of them going down.

Twixt the sticks they are likely to have Romanian skyscraper Costel Pantilimon who, at 6ft 8” tall is apparently the tallest player in the Premier League, towering a hole inch over Peter “Shorty” Crouch. Poyet brought Pantilimon in earlier on this season after Mafia Don Vito Mannone had managed to let in 8 at Southampton and another 2 at Arsenal in successive weeks. Mannone’s only appeared in cup matches since those two games and you’d have thought that he’d be spending Saturday in the racing car seats. However, I suppose if a new manager really wanted to make a statement to show he is in charge, reinstating Mannone would be one way to do so.

And so to us. Another disappointing trip to Islington last week, though for spells in the early second half we didn’t look that bad if I’m honest. Unfortunately, it was another case of not taking chances when they arise and the second goal killed the game – the third was pure flattery really. Not a performance to lose sleep over then. There’s mixed news on the injury front. My sciatica is playing up since you ask. As for the team, well the recovery of Winston Reid seems to have slipped a week. Kouyate has let nobody down during his sojourns into the back four but the way he brought the ball out of defence is a reminder of what a waste it is to have to play him back there. Tomkins’ injury means that his season is over so the announcement that young Henry up at Blackburn has caught hamstring is even less welcome than it might otherwise have been.

Further up the pitch Valencia’s Teacup (what a fine band they were – I saw them supporting Syd Barratt era Floyd back in ’72 you know. Probably.) means that he’s waiting for his toe to heal up but “Good Old” Carlton Cole should be ready for a seat by the dugout, whilst Carl Jenkinson has recovered from bureaucracy and will return to the back four.

Prediction? Well this match heralds the start of a slightly less difficult run of games for us and up until the other day I was all for a home win. I still feel that way, though that odd galvanising effect that a new boss can have on a team has slightly lessened my confidence. On the other hand the effects may be minimalized by the fact that it’s a home match for us – something to be grateful for. So after due consideration, all of the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s net gains from this week’s budget (£2.50) will be going on a 2-0 home win that will take us past the so-called magic 40 point mark.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Drew 0-0 (December 2013) A match so indescribably awful that the short chubby one who works at this site stuck up a picture of some kittens rather than put himself through the agony of writing about it. Whilst he had a point I just think he was using the match as an excuse for laziness.

Danger Man: Jermain Defoe – The law of the ex and all that.

Referee: Lee Mason Not seen much of this simpleton this season. He did preside over the 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford which saw Kevin Nolan’s equaliser ruled out for offside. This seems to have led to a secret change in the laws, judging by the number of identical goals that have since been allowed.

Daft Fact Of The Week:In days of old Sunderland were known as the “Bank Of England Club”. This was due to their spending power in the transfer market rather than for them being under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

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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