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Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United

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

We win an award the week there's an international break and therefore no Preview Percy? Coincidence? We don't think so......

Next up is Spurs away. 4pm on Sunday since you ask.

Travel news is that the good people of Network Rail (and I use that phrase quite wrongly) have decided to play silly buggers in the Tottenham area, meaning that there will be no trains on the line through Northumberland Park all day. That seems sensible doesn’t it. Cutting the number of available stations within a couple of minutes of the ground by 50% on the day of a derby? Further afield, if you come in on the C2C service, trains are being diverted between Pitsea and Upminster with replacement buses handling things if the diversion misses out your station. Check before you leave.

Tottenham then. Ah bless ‘em. Have a conversation with one of the few who can string a coherent sentence together and see how long it is before they mention how “big” a club they are. Like Chelsea who are even "bigger" (£1bn of dubious investment remember) they seem to equate size with class. As if to recognise that, no matter how big they end up getting, there is a serious deficiency in the credibility department, they have gone to extraordinary lengths to try and acquire some sort of vicarious respectability by coveting their neighbours’ metaphorical oxen. First they tried to get the Olympic Stadium (and people acting on their behalf now have criminal records as a result of that particular “project”). Now they’ve apparently looked into the possibility of renting the Boleyn while their place is being rebuilt. Thankfully, for those fearful of a collapse in property prices in E13, the various sale clauses relating to the Boleyn redevelopment preclude the use of the place for immoral or distasteful purposes. However, fearful of their next step in trying to acquire some sort of improvement in image, copyright lawyers are carefully looking over all documents and material issued in N17 just in case they try to sneak a pair of crossed hammers somewhere into their badge.

Somehow they’ve managed to remain unbeaten since the opening day of the season which has seen them sneak into their traditional 5th place in the league at the time of writing, though by kick-off things may have changed a bit thanks to the Sunday kick-off. They’re ahead of us on goal difference at present with 21 points from their 12 matches so far with their GD of ten being (to save any Spurs fans reading this the trouble of taking their gloves to do the counting) three better than our seven.

According to the Work Experience Kid With The Harry Potter Spectacles, the biggest fee they paid out this summer was the £22m or, if you will, €30m, that went out on South Korean Son Heung-Min. Son came in from Bayer Leverkusen, which was his second German club after a spell with Hamburg. Now I know what the Work Experience Kid With The Harry Potter Spectacles is like, and it’s not unknown for him to sneak the odd bit of schoolboy smut into his research to see if I’m paying attention. However, I checked and what follows is correct so I’ll have no tittering when I say that his arrival in Germany had him labelled as “the new Cha Bum-Kun” after a compatriot who had also done well in the Bundesliga. Stop it right there.

Son was the subject of one of the more unusual “club v country” disputes last year when the Korean authorities requested his release for the football tournament that formed part of the 2014 Asian Games. Both the player and the Korean authorities were keen for him to play, not for the prestige as such, but more because had the Koreans won the tournament the player’s gold medal would have exempted him from National Service. Leverkusen refused to play ball pointing out that the player could miss six matches over the course of the Games and, since the tournament didn’t appear on the FIFA list of tournaments for which player release is compulsory (I expect Blatter didn’t get his “admin” fee) the player remained in Deutschland.

The next largest fee paid was the £11.5m paid to Atletico Madrid for Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld. I say £11.5m, that fee itself may have been the subject of some sort of “admin” fee somewhere along the line there being a slight whiff of Billingsgate about the whole deal – not necessarily on the part of Spurs though they did ultimately benefit from something that looked rather iffy.

Alderweireld spent last season on loan at Southampton, who had a clause in the loan deal allowing them to purchase the player for £6.8m at the end of the season. However, Atletico also had a clause in the contract that allowed them to buy out Southampton’s option for the return of Southampton’s £1.5m deposit, a move that allowed them to hawk the player out to any higher bidder. So far so good. Except that Atletico’s buy-out option had to be exercised by a certain date, or the Southampton right to buy would automatically kick in. It transpires Atletico missed the deadline by a day or so though they did eventually send Southampton their money back. Southampton had the option of fighting their cause through FIFA (where no doubt more “admin fees” would have been payable to certain officials) or, alternatively, joining in with the bidding on the open market. They elected for the latter course of action and, it is believed, actually outbid Spurs for the payer’s services, only missing out because of the player’s desire to hook up with the rest of Spurs’ Belgian contingent in playing football on Thursday nights for the rest of his career.

“He’s one of our own” they chant of Harry Kane, like they actually believe that would be something to boast about. They do have a point though – he does come over as being not exactly the brightest of individuals even for a professional footballer. Despite the fact that he’s made a recent return to the scoring charts even his most fervent admirer would probably concede that he’s not been on the tip-top form they saw from him last season. One of the more amusing moments during what was understandably a sombre occasion at Wembley the other night was Glenn “The God Botherer” Hoddle’s commentary when (Spurs’) Lloris fluffed a clearance to (Spurs’) Kane who then screwed a shot which the French smuggled away from a corner. Hoddle saw it differently though, praising Kane for his “vision” in trying to "pick out" Wayne Rooney. Sadly the main commentator (they all sound alike to me since the sainted Brian Moore left us I’m afraid) failed to pick Hoddle up on his fabrication. It was a moment that almost made one nostalgic for Andy “I don’t care if he retired ages ago Steve Gerrard was still my man of the match” Townsend. Spurs main concern is that Kane will fail to maintain his form before they can profit from a big money transfer to a better club (at which point all those supporters claiming him as their own will no doubt bombard Michael Caine with abusive tweets, as is their wont).

Talking of Lloris (who ought to be Welsh with a name spelt that way) he is expected to play on Saturday though, like his compatriots in midweek, he was understandably out of sorts in the midweek friendly following the terrible events that were taking place all around in Paris. I'm sure nobody would think ill of him (or indeed any of his team-mates) were thety to take a few days off to take stock of things for a few days.

The MOTM award in midweek was given, with sad predictability, to Delle Alli, who they brought in last season before immediately loaning him back to Milton Keynes. Now he’s not looked bad this season, though his stock in trade as displayed on Wednesday night does seem to be the clumsy-looking foul given away ten yards either side of the halfway line designed to break up the flow (the “Liverpool Manoeuvre” as it is known). This happened on about half a dozen occasions on Wednesday night and from what I’ve seen of him on the box this season Wednesday would not exactly qualify as an isolated incident. On Wednesday one couldn’t help but thinking that an on the ball official (which rules out anyone in the “Select Group”) might have invoked the yellow card clause relating to persistent foul play.

The third player to have Hoddle writhing in ecstasy was Eric Dier – again it was difficult to judge his international credentials on such an emotional night but his unusual football upbringing - a childhood spent in Portugal saw him come through the ranks at Sporting – will certainly have prepared him for some of the more continental rigours of the international game. He got the undeserved winner against us at the Boleyn last season so he can chip in with the odd goal here and there.

So what about us. Well you may have noticed that since we last met this very website has won an award. Here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered we gathered round Matron’s laptop to watch the live ceremony and I received several hearty pats on the back when the award was announced. Only for me to be completely ignored when they did their thank you speeches. The short chubby one got a mention, even the boss’s missus got a namecheck but yours truly? Nothing. I mean I keep their website afloat and (we omitted the next 2,454 words on the grounds of space. And taste. And because we don’t like him – Eds).

Our last outing ended up with two of our players being kicked out of the game. In particular the disgraceful challenge on Payet by McCarthy was one of those which makes you think that there ought to be a method of suspension that keeps the perpetrator out for at least as long as his victim. Now the fact that the woefully inadequate Paul Tierney dished out a yellow card for the Payet attack is being used by the FA as an excuse not to take further action. So we get a referee not up to the job and, when he fails to do that job, it’s just tough luck. Oh and by the way whatever you do don’t complain about the referee who is not up to the job or we’ll fine you £40k for the privilege. It’s a bit like getting pulled over by a lying cop for doing 50 in a 30 zone, getting acquitted when you point out that the video evidence was tampered with and a clean version shows you were only doing 25, your acquittal being tempered by the large fine for suggesting that the traffic cop was lying.

The absence of Payet and Valencia is ameliorated slightly by the possible return of three others. The most important of these would be Sakho, whose running has been key to the decent start to the season that we’ve enjoyed thus far. Assuming that the bush telegraph is correct and he’s good to go I personally would start with Sakho and leave Carroll on the bench to come on as an impact sub if required.

We may also see a first appearance of the season for Alex Song, if the tweets from the owners (or those connected to them) are anything to go by. The third player ready for selection is Pedro Obiang who, in the light of all the column inches garnered by “we’ve got” Payet (Dimitri Payet) has had a relatively quiet start to his Boleyn career but has let nobody down so far for all that.

So a prediction then. Well as we saw over the two games last year, they can always be relied on to punch above their weight in matches against their betters so, like Watford and Bournemouth, this will probably turn out to be a tougher match than one might imagine and we do have a tradition of struggling against lesser clubs. As we will see below their point at their place last season owed everything to some desperately embarrassing diving and a ref keen to do anything to give them a goal and having seen who we have as referee this time around I’m concerned that we’ll get something similar happen this time around. So I’m going to err on the side of caution and place the £2.50 I was going to spend on my “I won an award” badge on a 1-1 draw – Winstones the bookmakers have promised a refund of my stake if the ref turns out to be the the difference between the teams either way.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At Their Dump: Drew 2-2 (February 2015) We raced into a 2-0 lead through Kouyate and Sakho. With ten minutes left A mis-hit Rose shot pulled one back for the home team and Jonathan Moss got the result he wanted by awarding a penalty for a Kane dive that was as disgraceful as it was embarrassing. Adrian saved the penalty but Moss decided that he wanted a draw and instead of blowing the whistle at the point of the save(as the laws of the game demand) he added on extra seconds to allow Kane to put away the rebound. The home support cheered at scraping a referee-assisted 2-2 draw in their cup-final showing that, like estate agents, traffic wardens and Piers Morgan, they are incapable of shame.

Danger Man: see “referee” below – he’s a danger to both sides as nobody can ever work out what he is up to.

Referee: Anthony Taylor Dear FA. Please can you just tell us how much you want for your drinks fund this season so we can send it to you all at once. That way you can liaise with PGMOL and try and find us a competent and honest match official, rather than sending us some idiot who is guaranteed to get a reaction out of the players every week. This will be the third time we’ve had this moron this season and, to put somebody who palpably hates the game of football in charge of a major London derby, is just asking for trouble. Look out for major decisions made on a whim deciding the game as he adds another 10 sets of newspaper cuttings to his “matches decided by me” scrapbook.

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: Like Liverpool – of whom, let’s face it, they are the southern counterparts, Tottenham seems to be the spiritual home of the unfunny comedian. So step forward none other than Michael Macintyre. Somehow, and nobody is quite sure how this happened, he has managed to get himself the title of the world’s highest-grossing stand-up comedian, despite having a career that, as far as anyone can tell, consists entirely of him, well, noticing things.

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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