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Manchester United v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 4th December 2015
By: Preview Percy

Picture the scene: A wise man in a velvet smoking jackets pores over reference books and the internet to construct a well-researched article concerning his club’s forthcoming opponents. Pausing only occasionally to sip a chilled glass of Sancerre he constructs his article over the course of a few hours before sitting back at the end of the day in front of a log fire with a decent Armagnac, content with the knowledge of a job well done. That’s how other websites do it. We, on the other hand, have Preview Percy, with a bottle of Mackesons, a packet of Werther’s Originals and, if he’s got change for the meter, one bar on an electric fire……..

Man Utd away then. 3pm. Saturday. Good. Trains should be fine though if your journey in to town to go north involve the District Line or the Gospel Oak Barking line you may want to have a look, engineering works being the order of the day over there. Also buses replace trains between Ascot and Aldershot so home supporters should allow extra time for the journey.

The tourists that visit their ground from time to time are not happy at the moment. It’s almost as if they’ve started moaning in an attempt to prove they’re somehow “proper” supporters. They are currently third in the league with 28 points from their 13 matches played so far. That’s a point behind both the team across the border in Manchester and Leicester who currently occupy the top two spots. So what’s to moan about then? Well bless ‘em, they are getting all nostalgic for the days when obnoxious hypocritical dictator and serial cheat Alex Ferguson was in charge. It seems that these days they’re just a bit, well dull at the moment. Apparently the shameless intimidation and influencing of match officials that gave them so many trophies was infinitely more interesting to watch than the 1-0 wins (of which there have only actually been two in the league) they are getting at the moment.

Of course Man Utd supporters have a bit of a problem not encountered by supporters of most teams. In the past, when things were going a bit tough many of their supporters would simply just go back to supporting Chelsea. With Mourinho’s meltdown in full effect at the moment that’s not really an option. Leicester? Gosh no that sounds so provincial doesn’t it. And even their bunch of club hoppers have twigged that they can’t just pop over the border into Manchester and support City. Tough times indeed. Meanwhile all they can do is huddle together and grumble about how much damage Van Gaal is doing to “the brand”.

On the transfer front they’ve developed such a habit of paying big money for teenagers in recent years that ears of the guys at Operation Yewtree started to prick up every time a sports report came on the radio. They had set the record for a teenager’s transfer fee 12 months earlier with the £27m spent on the unfortunate Luke Shaw (to whom best wishes are sent). However, they trumped that big time with this summer’s arrival of 19 year-old Anthony Martial who arrived from Monaco on a deal that contained so many add-ons the final bill will resemble one of those £1 Ryan Air flights to somewhere vaguely in the same time zone as where you actually want to go that end up costing you £500 plus the cost of a bus to the place you actually want to end up at. According to the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles, the basic fee was £36m - big enough one might have thought. However, should the player score 25 goals within the next 4 years that’ll cost them another £7.2m. 25 caps for France in the same period? Another £7.2m. Ferguson’s illegal but unpunished policy of claiming players were injured for friendly matches would have spared them that chunk anyway – though with a certain R Giggs still on the staff who’s to say that that policy won’t continue. The final add-on provides for another £7.2m to be paid over should the player win the Ballon d’Or, though quite what ice-cream has to do with anything lord alone knows. All in all if all the potential total including add-ons come into play the player will end up having cost them a cool £58m in total.

Only slightly older is striker or winger Memphis Depay. The fee for the 21 year old who came in from PSV Eindhoven was a reported £25m or so depending on how many Euros they got to the pound when they went down to the post office. The fee will go up by another tenner if the player changes the name on the back of his shirt to something more sensible. It is rumoured that the reason that the player utilises his given rather than surname on the back of his shirt is to cock a snoot in the general direction of his Ghanaian father, who split up with Mrs Depay when the player was four years old. Newspaper interviews earlier this year suggested that Pop Depay wouldn’t mind getting back together with his multi-millionaire son one day. Funny that.

Whether or not as a consequence of his parental split the lad seems to have had disciplinary troubles in the past, with one former coach referring to him boringly, if accurately, as being “very angry”. It is said that the player employs the services of a “life coach”. We had one of those here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered once. This bloke came in and told us to make sure we kept breathing. Depay is listed as having scored six times this season. Two of those have come in the league with the remainder coming in the so-called Champions League apart from one that came in something called the International Champions Cup or something, which sounds like one of those tournaments they fly half way around the world for the cash before moaning that the Premier League aren’t doing enough to ease their fixture congestion.

After all that largesse the £6point something millions paid for Bastien Schweinsteiger seems relatively frugal. Ok at 31 he’s not exactly in the first flush of youth but these days the way players often look after themselves it’s hardly wizened veteran status. Bizarrely, given the cosmopolitan nature of the game in this country these days, Schweinsteiger is the first German to play in the Salford first XI – there have been others on the books but none have ever gotten that far.

It looked for all the world as if ‘keeper David De Gea (think Adrian but not as much fun) was on his way to Real Madrid. Deals had been signed, hands had been shaken and agents were wondering where to park the next few yachts they were going to buy on the strength of the commission on the £29m fee. Then someone forgot to email/fax/carrier pigeon the relevant documents to the Spanish FA and the deal collapsed. At which point De Gea, who had either asked to be left out of the first team squad or not depending upon whether you believe club or player, saw his international future disappearing up the swannee and decided that Salford wasn’t a bad place to be after all and he returned to first team action. Meanwhile, if you have a few bob spare there are a few luxury yache manufacturers who would dearly love to speak with you.

The transfer that sticks out like a sore thumb in the listings is one which relates to a player who we almost certainly won’t see this weekend. In amongst all the millions paid out to the likes of Bayern, PSV and Monaco this summer, there is the small matter of the £100,000 - yes that’s one hundred thousand pounds – paid to Newport County for kid defender Regan Poole. The fee could go up as high as £400,000 if certain conditions are met, though it’s not believed that any of them involve the winning of the Ballon D’Or on this particular occasion. Though more of an academy signing anyway, he found himself unable to play competitively at any level for a while. It appears that the transfer got bogged down in red tape while FIFA tried to find someone not actually in prison awaiting extradition to do the international clearance paperwork. They probably asked for copies of his customs clearance documents from the Severn Bridge as well knowing them.

Top of the goalscoring charts is spud-faced chubber Wayne Rooney who has recently gone to the top of the all-time England goalscoring charts , thanks largely to the break-up of the Soviet Union leading to us getting drawn against Durkadurkadurastan (or whatever that country was in Team America) in every bloody World Cup qualifier. He now has 51 international goals. Co-incidentally, 51 is the minimum age for employment at a certain establishment that he has been known to frequent. Er, apparently.

And so to other matters. The big news of the week, other than some stuff about (checks notes) er, Syria, is that Leeds have hit on the bright idea of charging an extra fiver in their South Stand and throwing in a meal voucher, whether you want grub or not. Now bearing in mind that most catering within football grounds consists of stuff so awful that even the people here at the Rest home rejected it, it’s quite a clever ploy. Charge somebody a fiver for something you probably won’t have to provide ? Genius. As is the person who came up with the epithet “pie tax” for the scheme.

As for us, Bit of a curate’s egg last week wasn’t it? To begin with, we were understandably a bit nervy (as you would be having been on the end of a shock upset the previous weekend). The goal settled us down and but for their ‘keeper we would have been 3 or 4 up by the interval. As with Tottenham, a freak goal was enough to unsettle us and only a splendid reaction save from Adrian kept us going. We then had late chances of our own to win but ‘twas not to be.

Sakho’s injury was a major downer. You could see him start to pull up as he bore down on goal but he admirably took the extra strides in an attempt to put the ball away. Fully fit he’d probably have succeeded . His absence is going to be measured in months rather than weeks unfortunately and, with Carroll the likely starter in his absence, the injury is going to have a marked effect on the way we play.

It’s a shame that all our injuries – with the exception of that currently being endured by Randolph – have come in our attacking section of the squad. Our options become severely limited with "We've Got" Payet (Dimitri Payet), Valencia and now Sakho all hors de combat. For the rest of the squad, Noble comes back into contention after his referee-induced break. Everyone else is fit and available and even Randolph, whose knee problem surfaced on international duty for the Republic Of Ireland, could be ready for the bench.

Prediction? Well despite the dull nature of their play they are still grinding out wins and of course they have a goal start by virtue of their contract with PGMOL. I’m afraid that playing against 12 men with a squad limited on attacking options may just be too much for them so, unless Clattenburg forgets who his employers are I see this going their way. So the £2.50 we were going to send to the “buy half a pie for Leeds” campaign will instead be going on a 1-0 home win down at Winstone’s The Turf Accountants this time round.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Tourist Attraction: Lost 2-1 (September 2014) The Granny Botherer and the Van Persie put them 2-0 up before Sakho pulled one back. Rooney then got sent off for a wild kick at Downing. We proceeded to play them off the park before the usual corrupt refereeing we encounter at their place kicked in as Nolan’s equaliser was disallowed for offside by a linesman who wasn’t in line and was looking the other way at the time. Same old, same old. Interestingly enough over the next few weeks we conceded goals that were a good two or three yards offside in subsequent matches that weren’t given in our favour. I guess the big bucks buy the best referees.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg. It’s a difficult trick to nause off both fans AND PGMOL but he’s managed it. He’s not very good , which is not usually a problem for Riley and his cronies. In fact it’s clearly a prerequisite. However, he doesn’t get on with the Blatter-like hierarchy at PGMOL HQ, something that results in them doing things like issuing bizarre sanctions for breaking obscure rules. It’s nice to see the authorities have their finger on the pulse of what needs sorting out amongst our incompetent and self-glorifying officials. Fail to punish a career-threatening tackle? No problem old chap. Drive yourself to an Ed Sheerhan concert? Suspended from duty! Of course to a certain degree PGMOL do have a point: in an ideal word here’d be the death penalty for anyone attending an Ed Sheerhan concert. Particularly Ed Sheerhan.

Danger Man: Wayne Rooney – always scores against us. And when he doesn’t look like scoring the officials will usually give him a hand as evidenced by the so-called wonder goal a few years back that had Gary Neville et al lying through their teeth on TV as he shoved over Tomkins on route to a 50 yard volley.

Irritating Celebrity Man Utd Supporter of The Week: Terry Christian all day long. Zero discernible talent for anything and a permanent smug look on his face that makes even fellow Man Utd supporters want to grab a cricket bat. Runner-up: Eamonn Holmes. Zero discernible talent for anything and a permanent smug look on his face that makes even fellow Man Utd supporters want to grab a cricket bat. Look out for him getting angry if Man Utd ever introduce a “pie tax”.

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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