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Swansea City v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 18th December 2015
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy would like to convey his best wishes to all our readers this festive season. Actually he does no such thing - but we know it will annoy the hell out of him if we say so....

Swansea then. Sunday. 16:00hrs which, allowing for the time difference involved in foreign travel, is 4pm. Or thereabouts. Buses are in for trains between Shenfield and Ilford early on Sunday morning if that’s part of your route westward but other than that the trains should be relatively clear of works messing things up.

So Swansea. Bit of a pickle at present and without a manager since the dismissal of Gary “What Were His Parents Thinking” Monk following a run which leaves them in 17th spot, outside the drop zone only on goal difference. Yes things are so bad they are even below Chelsea. They’ve won just the once in their last ten, a 2-1 win over a Villa side so mind-bogglingly poor that even Chelsea beat them. They picked up two draws in that spell, both 2-2 against Spurs and Bournemouth. Other than that it’s been defeat all the way with Southampton, Arsenal, Stoke, Norwich, Liverpool and Leicester all emerging victorious from their encounters.

They must have thought that their luck had changed last week when a 90th minute equaliser from Gomis at the Etihad looked to have snatched them a point against an out of sorts Man City, only for a streaky deflection off the back of Iheanacho to deny them deep into stoppage time. When your luck is out, as they say….

Monk had already made his exit by the time they reached Manchester last weekend. At the time of writing their Chairman (presumably known as “Jenkins the Chair”) has been swanning around the planet seeking a suitable replacement. Jenkins once claimed that he had taken over the helm at Swansea purely because he was the only person dull enough to do so (Actually that’s pretty much the reason we have Preview Percy for our previews – ed). It appears that Marcelo Bielsa – who may or may not have been on our own shortlist before Mr Bilic arrived – is high on their shopping list at present, though talks are said to be struggling over the finances.

Should Bielsa – who lasted one game at Marseille this season before resigning – come on board the one thing it won’t be in South Wales is “Dull” – his nickname of “El Loco” is not generally regarded as an ironic soubriquet. Watch this space.

Whoever comes in won’t find themselves over-flush with readies with which to enter the transfer market – an already relatively small pot will have been reduced further by the reported £3m paid to Monk for the early termination of his contract. Meanwhile, in the absence of a full time manager, former player Alan Curtis will remain in charge. Refreshingly in these days of Brendan Rogers-style “Brentspeak” where temporary managers are described as “interim” or some such nonsense, Curtis is given the title for his role that is as proper and appropriate as it is traditional. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, welcome back the role of “Caretaker” manager.

Given their poor season so far, in retrospect, one wonders if they might be thinking that they could have spent a few more bob in the window. According to the work experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles, the biggest fee paid out was the £5m or so that went to Portuguese outfit Braga for striker Eder. He has yet to trouble the scorers as yet, other than for them to keep shaking their heads every time they are asked the question “has he scored yet?” . Although he has been capped over 20 times by the Portuguese national side it took him 18 matches before he broke his international duck so he has previous in that respect.

Far better value for money was the free transfer deal Andre Ayew who came in from Marseille. Ayew has at least netted six times this season. He began his career as a ten year old playing for the brilliantly-named Nania FC in Ghana. They really ought to play at a ground known as “The Wardrobe” but I don’t suppose that they do. He did spend some time with the kids at our old muckers TSV Munich 1860 where his dad, the modestly-nicknamed “Pele” Ayew plied his trade for a bit before moving home to “The Wardrobe” in Accra where he became club chairman. Working his way through the ranks there young Andre moved on to Marseille where he joined the youth system at what was one of his dad’s former clubs. He signed a four year deal at the Liberty Stadium this summer, whilst his kid brother Jordan went over to Villa. Not exactly the best of seasons so far for that family then.

Whilst we’re talking about value for money we should consider the curious case of French full-back Franck Tabanou. Ok the reported £3.5m paid to St Etienne wasn’t a great amount in the grand scheme of things and it looked a good move for the player who, let’s face it, was never going to oust Sarah Cracknell from her spot as first choice lead vocalist. However, since exchanging Gaul for Galles he has featured in but two League Cup matches. Officially since 5 October he has been on the injury list with a thigh problem. However, he did go into print to voice his frustrations at his non-selection claiming that he didn’t know why Swansea had signed him and intimating that if things didn’t improve he would be looking at pastures new come the winter window.

Another who has struggled with injury of late is Jonjo Shelvey. He hasn’t featured since the 2-2 draw with Bournemouth, a combination of a calf injury and a 1 match five-booking ban keeping him sidelined in recent weeks. There is a chance that he will be available for this one, which, if so, will mean a bit of innocent pleasure for the away support whose chants usually make reference to the player’s resemblance to Voldemort out of the Harry Potter films. The good-humoured nature of the taunting has, in the past been acknowledged by the player himself with a cheery grin and a wave which is always good to see.

“And what of the week in football?” I hear you say. Or would do if my digital ear trumpet were working. Well the back pages have been full of the Stamford Bridge mob’s continued descent in what must be the worst crisis of their 12 year history. Here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for the Bewildered have spent a lot of time looking at the way they’ve been playing (car crash tv) and why there is such a disparity between last season’s XI and that of this season. With the help of the work-experience kid with the Harry Potter spectacles and his computer we have analysed every possible variable concerning their matches and have come to the following conclusion: It’s just funny. Nobody cares why.

As for us, well I found last weekend’s 0-0 draw slightly low on quality but none the less entertaining for all that. Both teams had chances a-plenty to take the points and at the end of the day a draw probably represents a fair return for both sides for the afternoon’s work.

We have, of course, now relocated to Rush Green for training purposes in an attempt to cure the outbreak of hamstring which was going around Chadwell Heath. Reid and Moses are probably looking at mid-January for their return, Payet, Dimitri Payet, is still listed as due for a February return, though Mr Bilic has been quoted as saying that the player is “ahead of schedule”. Similarly Manuel Lanzini’s recovery is such that he may well play some part over the festive period, though even with the extra day to recover before kick-off this one may be a tad too early for him just yet. This leaves Sakho as our longest term injury, with his return possibly not occurring until March. Incidentally, I don’t know if anyone saw the surgery scar on Sakho’s thigh but blimey, it looks like it was sewn up by someone who had only that morning quit a lifetime of drinking scotch for breakfast. Shaky!

Of course this wouldn’t be a proper preview without at least one new injury to bring to the table and the word is that Andy Carroll is feeling his groin. Now admittedly this sounds a bit more like a piece of gossip than a proper injury update but I am reliably informed that this renders the player doubtful for the trip over the bridge, which is a shame as Carroll has had had a more than decent record against them.

So a prediction then. They were a bit unlucky against Man City last week it is true to say. However, City were rather under the weather at the time so it’s always difficult to gauge the true value of a performance under those circumstances. I think much depends on the start – an early away goal will see their heads go down. If this were a few weeks later and they had the new manager all sorted it would be typical West Ham and I’d go for a home win. However, all that is still up in the air as I write and, as a result, I still fancy us. So the £2.50 I was going to spend on a “keep up the good work” card for Mourinho will instead accompany me to Winstones the turf accountants where I will exchange it for a betting slip containing the words “West Ham to win 2-1”.

Enjoy the game and have an otherwise miserable Christmas!

When Last We Met Overseas:: Drew 1-1 (January 2015) Drew 1-1 January 2015. Carroll’s fine individual goal was cancelled out late on by a Noble OG as the post-Christmas slump started to get into its slow but inevitable slide.

Danger Man: Andre Ayew – Their top scorer at a club which, as far as I can ascertain, has nothing to do with his dad.

Referee: Lee Mason Part of the extortion racket currently operated by the FA and PGMOL. The way it works is 1) referee makes an outrageously wrong decision. 2) The wronged team protest vehemently, so outrageously wrong is the decision. 3) FA overturn any red cards issued as a result of the outrageously wrong decision. 4) FA fine the wronged team for having the cheek to protest against the outrageously wrong decision in the first place. Of course for such a scam to work you need a referee who is intellectually unsuited for any sort of proper job whatsoever. Someone who, but for the existence of PGMOL would probably be unemployable in any role that involves anything more taxing than being able to tie up one’s own shoelaces. Somebody so bad at their job it’s got to the stage that nobody bats an eyelid when they give yet another outrageously wrong decision. Step forward Lee Mason (careful – best get someone to tie up your shoelaces first).

Irritating Celebrity Supporter Of The Week: It may raise an eyebrow or two when I pick Catherine Zeta Jones for this week’s ICSOTW. However there are two valid reasons: Firstly there isn’t much of a pool of celebrity Swansea supporters from which to make a selection. Secondly, she never, ever returns my calls. You think she would, especially as she seems to be an aficionado of the slightly more mature gentleman. But no. Not a sausage have I heard from her. You’d almost think she wasn’t interested……

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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