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West Ham United v West Bromwich Albion

Filed: Saturday, 28th November 2015
By: Preview Percy

We figured that Friday was "Black" enough without subjecting you to Preview Percy. So welcome to "Even Blacker Saturday" then.....

Next up we return to more civilised territory on Sunday when we will play host to West Bromwich Albion. Kick-off is at the “let’s make this up as we go along” time of 2:05pm. I mean in the name of all that is sainted, why? Do we clash with pro celebrity underwater hang gliding or something?

There’s no Hammersmith & City line on Sunday which, with Central London shutdowns for the Circle & Met will make it a slightly annoying trip from Euston for the visiting support. There’s also no Gospel Oak-Barking line if that’s your bag. Check and leave now I’d say.

West Brom then. They are, of course, managed by Tony Pulis. Now it’s not that long ago since Pulis found God or something and announced that he was going to fine one of his players for cheating after a rather blatant dive. Which is all well and good but it’s clear that this Damascene conversion to the concept of observance of the laws only applies to some aspects of the game. You see it’s clear that the man who has in the past openly and cheerfully admitted to coaching his players to cheat at set pieces is still at it. Look at the goal they got against Arsenal last week. It’s clear that the blocking that went on was choreographed better than anything you’ll ever see on Strictly Come Dancing (should your life be sad and pathetic enough to watch said waste of bandwidth). It was the same when he was at Palace and at Stoke. You might therefore think that the satanic lord of anti-football is a hypocrite of the lowest order. I could not possibly comment.

Pulis has got them to 13th place after Saturday’s matches with 17 points from their 13 played so far. The last three of those came in the aforementioned home defeat of Arsenal, a match notable for the hilarious penalty miss which, just to add insult to injury, would have been given(correctly) as an indirect free kick for playing the ball twice had the hapless Corzola somehow managed to have kept it down and scored despite the slip. That and Arsenal’s tendency to fail the most basic of “cow’s arse/banjo interaction” tests were enough to ensure that the points stayed in the West Midlands where losing to Pulis again must have gotten right up Wenger’s nose.

Their other wins this season have a come courtesy of 1-0 victories – away at Stoke, Norwich and Villa and at home to Sunderland.
Their big signing of the summer came in the form of Venezuelan striker Salomon Rondon. The work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles tells me that it cost £12m to Zenit St Petersburg to secure the services of the player who obviously liked it in Russia, having previously spent a couple of years on the books of Rubin Kazan. No doubt he’ll tell you that his sojourn in the country officially known as “Putin’s Plaything” was a trip made purely for football career reasons. Maybe, but I don’t know about you but if I were spending my afternoons off on a beach in Malaga, there would have to be something pretty special about Kazan to get me to ditch the knotted hankie and “kiss me quick” hat. He’s joint top scorer on 3 alongside Berahino and Morrison and, like the other two, all of his goals have come in the league.

Berahino. There’s an odd cove. He’s been in and out of the side this season and has spent much of the last 12 months doing a very convincing impersonation of somebody who would rather be in Chernobyl than in Smethwick (as if one would notice he difference in any case). The club started talks over a new contract which were then put on hold whilst the little matter of a drink driving charge was sorted out. Four goals in a cup match against Gateshead were celebrated with all the enthusiasm of an intelligent music lover opening the complete works of talentless fraud Morrissey on Christmas Day, and talks finally stalled for good in February, with the club letting it be known that the player could go for £20m in the summer. Meanwhile Berahino proved that he hadn’t gooten past chapter one of “How To Win Friends And Influence People” by announcing that he wanted to join a bigger club.

Fast forward to the summer and, after a spot of tapping-up of an order seldom seen outside Liverpool, in the absence of a “bigger club” coming in for him Spurs offered £15m for the player. Albion turned it down and Spurs made a subsequent three further bids, all of which were given shrift of a similarly short nature. Pulis left Berahino out of the squad claiming that he was being “disruptive”. The player threw his toys out of the window claiming he would “never play for the club again”, comments that earned him a fine. There’s sort of an uneasy truce going on at the moment with the player often being used from the bench.

They also paid out £3m to Liverpool for Rickie Lambert. It was an odd move for him to go to his native scouseland in the first place and the £4m plus add-ons that Liverpool paid for him put one in mind of some of the more creative accountancy practices utilised by the management here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered. The fee paid by the Baggies to Liverpool was £3m – only slightly less generous under the circumstances for a player not considered good enough to start, having come on from the bench in the last seven matches.

They seem to have cornered the market in ex-Man Utd journeymen over the past few years. Jack Chester, Jonny Evans and back-up ‘keeper Anders Lindegaard have all done time at Old Trafford, Chester having come in from Hull City who he joined in 2011. They join skipper Darren Fletcher who arrived last season having gone a long way down the road to signing for us, the deal ultimately falling through over concerns over the player’s health with his much-publicised battle with ulcerative colitis having pretty much kept him out of contention for long spells at a time over a three-year period. West Brom stepped into the breach and signed the player in February, the irony being that since then he hasn’t missed a game.

The first choice ‘keeper would normally be Ben Foster but he’s not made an appearance all season having done his cruciate knee ligaments back in March. The bizarrely-named Boaz Myhill has deputised this season. The American-born Welsh international (real name “Glyn”) came in from Villa five years back but has largely been utilised as back-up since then, having made only about 50 appearances over that period. The aforementioned Lindegaard is also an option there.

Ok I can’t put this off any longer Last week. Nightmare. When so many players have off days at once there’s only ever going to be one result whoever you end up playing. The result meant eveything to the moronic home support who, bravely after the whole world has packed up fighting at football matches, are now strutting around looking for a scrap – carefully avoiding anyone who might look as if they might be able to look after themselves of course. Crap game against a crap club with crap fans. Move on.

Mark Noble picked up a yellow meaning that he’ll join the visitors’ Brunt on the naughty step for this one. The one bright spot of the whole debacle last weekend was the return to action for Alex Song and he might come in for the skipper, though Obiang is also back in contention.

Interesting selection conundrum there. As there is in defence where Tomkins had a bit of a ‘mare last week with Ogbonna now fit again. Personally I'd stick Carroll on the bench as sticking Sakho out wide to be body checked by defenders allowed to get away with murder is a waste of his talents in my opinion. Carroll impresses more as an impact sub these days, though there is an argument to suggest that he will be needed to fight fire with fire if they are allowed to get away with their usual murder in defence.

Like last year’s Christmas dinner here at the Rest Home, I’m still digesting the Saturday scores but at present we’re down in 8th spot which, considering how well the season started, is slightly disappointing (although we’ll leapfrog Palace & Everton into 6th if we win this weekend). The last two defeats have come on the back of off days and stupid individual errors. The errors themselves have been bad enough, but our reaction to them has been awful – against Spurs we were arguably the better side up to the flukey combination of deflections that set up Kane for the first. After that they took full advantage of the presents given to them.

So prediction then. Well I think Mr Bilic is not one to sit back and let things slide. I suspect that there will be a few changes and that may be enough to give a boost to the side that could do with one at the moment. It won’t be easy - it helps if both sides have to abide by the laws of the game that Pulis thinks his teams are above, but referees are usually too busy counting their pay packets to worry about such minutiae as actually doing the job that they are paid to do.

However, assuming that we are allowed to play football I think we can pick up the points so I’ll be off to Winstones The Turf Accountants and placing the £2.50 we were going to send the shadow chancellor towards the cost of hiring a new scriptwriter (“I know John - you can throw a book written by one of history’s biggest mass murderers across the floor. Trust me it’ll get a laugh”) on a 2-1 home win to blow away a few cobwebs and wake up things a little bit around here.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn: Drew 1-1 (January 2015) Sakho put us one up. Berahino equalised on a break after our corner. Few chances either way after that. It was almost as if they had been as hungover on New Year’s Day as the rest of us were.

Danger Man: Saido Berahino – If he gets on he will be a danger in the same way as Lukaku – he’s scored four in five against us.

Referee: Martin Atkinson Again.

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: It’s easier to find a celebrity baggie than it is an ordinary one. Well do you know anyone who supports them? For this week’s irritating celeb look no further than Adrian Chiles. Bag of spanner-faced purveyor of lightweight television for the hard of thinking, he was dumped as ITV’s football host, though being on a reported £1m a year the payoff will have softened the blow somewhat.

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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