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West Bromwich Albion v West Ham Utd

Filed: Saturday, 17th September 2016
By: Preview Percy

Next we venture to the Midlands where we will be hosted by West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns. Kick Off is at 3pm two weeks in a row. They must have forgotten about us. Hopefully.

They currently stand in 12th place with 4 points from their first 4 games. They started – as I suspect many will this season – with a 1-0 win at Selhurst Park. Any optimism gained from an opening-day three-pointer will have been dissipated slightly by the 2-1 home defeat to Everton and the not entirely unpredictable 0-0 draw in front of the live cameras at home to Boro’. Last weekend they gave Bournemouth their first win of the season, going down 1-0 at Dean Court.

There appeared to be a bit of early-season apathy about the place, not uncommon amongst clubs managed by Tony Pulis. Nothing a hew signing or two wouldn’t put right yes?

Well the work experience girl wearing a Ned’s Atomic Dustbin T-Shirt without knowing who they are tells me that the biggest outlay of the recently closed window was the £13m that went to Spurs in return for Belgian winger Nacer Chadli. Chadli has netted four times in thirty-something matches for Belgium at the time of writing. It would have been five but for one of those odd little stories that we love so much here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered.

Chadli found the back of the match in a friendly against Luxembourg. That in itself wasn’t unusual – anyone could do that, with the probable exception of Jamie Carragher. However, it being a friendly, Wilmots the Belgian manager kept making changes. Seven of them in fact. This was one more than the six permitted as agreed before the game. FIFA or UEFA or whoever took time out from looking the other way whilst their officials stuffed brown paper bags full of banknotes to rule that the game was invalid and would not count as a full international, thus depriving Chadli of his goal. Thank god for UEFA or FIFA or whoever for protecting us from the major problems of the day. What would we do without them.

That £13m fee was exactly £13m more than they paid for Thomas Henry Alexander Robson-Kanu, who for reasons of brevity is known universally as Hal, possibly because of his resemblance to the malfunctioning computer in Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey, but probably not. Robson-Kanu was destined for his career file to be stamped with the word “journeyman”, his career consisting principally of 228 games in all competitions for Reading, in which he scored 30 goals. In his early career he was utilised primarily on the wing but there were spells when he was engaged in a more forward role.

Although capped at junior levels by England, a comment made in jest to Wales coach Brian Flynn led to a change in the player’s football nationality. “He can play for us – he used to go on holiday in Wales” Flynn was told during a visit to Reading’s training ground. Kanu confirmed that this was indeed the case, and that his annual trip to Tenby was subject to diversion to Caerphilly to pick up his gran en route. This latter revelation interested Flynn and, with the discovery that gran was indeed born in the Principality, Robson-Kanu’s international future was sealed.

It wasn’t much of an international career to write home about to be honest, two goals in 30 appearances was hardly going to set the pulse racing and towards the end of last season Reading announced that the player’s contract would not be renewed once it expired at the end of term. Thus it was that the player went to the Euros with the word “unattached” appended to his name on the squad list.

A late winner against Slovakia in the group stages and a fine goal in the 3-1 quarter final win over Belgium caught the eye enough for a number of clubs to be interested – though many of these appear to have been based in Asia where the football rarely matches the money on offer. In the end, with Reading presumably shouting “d-oh!”, Robson-Kanu plumped for West Brom, who are soon to be owned by Chinese interests and whose quest for a marquee signing had, by now, been downgraded to a search for one of those two-man tents that you often see on sale at service stations even though nobody ever buys one.

Another who owes his international career to the location of his great grandmother at the time she was giving birth is Matt Phillips whose gran had the misfortune to have been born in Scotland. Phillips came in early on in the window from QPR for whom the reported £5.5m fee represented a small profit on the £5m they had paid Blackpool for the player’s services. Phillips was part of the Blackpool team we faced in the play-off final at Wembley in 2012 and it was his pass that set up Ince’s equaliser to cancel out Cole’s opener. Whatever happened to Blackpool and their whinging supporters? Who cares.

The only other fee paid was for Watford’s Cameroon international right-back Allan-Romeo Nyom. £4m went down the M6 & M1 with the player making the journey in the opposite direction. The move represents something of a radical departure for Nyom. His previous clubs being Arles-Avignon, Udinese, Granada (loan) and Watford, his arrival in the Midlands represents the first time since 2009 that he has been contracted to a club not owned by the Pozzo family.

Even when you include the loan signing of promising Everton youngster Brendan Galloway it’s hardly been the most inspiring of summers in that part of the world then. In fact so uninspiring was the window at the Hawthorns their mood would actually have been IMPROVED had the signing of Diafra Sakho actually gone through, the rumoured £12m transfer collapsing when the player failed or didn’t fail a medical (depending on who you believe). Still, on the bright side, they still have Berahino who is now in his third glorious year of not having managed to escape. It was a quiet window for him too as clubs seem to have mislaid their barge poles this time around.

Manager Pulis was said to be considering his future following the club’s failure to make a splash in the transfer market. The BBC’s headline was nicely ambiguous: “Disappointed Pulis to stay on” a headline that failed to clarify whether Pulis’s disillusionment was a result of the lack of new players or the fact that he was still there.

At the time of writing (and I’m knocking this out early this week so I can go and recover from the debacle that was our last outing) Pulis is still in charge, though there seems to be a bit of a civil war brewing. With Pulis moaning that the players they did sign weren’t what he wanted, their chairman has also gone into print bemoaning the fact that it had been Pulis who had pulled the plug on a few higher profile deals. With Pulis having previous in this sort of area (he left Palace after similar arguments with the owners) and with new owners on the way it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world if he were to be gone before this gets published.

Ok I can’t put this off any longer. Watford. The fact that we let in four to a side that average will tell you exactly how shockingly awful we were once we had gone 2-0 up. It’s been quite some time since we were that bloody awful. Ginge looked exactly what he is - 33 years old and with his better days behind him. Byram suffered from a lack of help down his side. Winston had his work cut out covering for colleagues and, oh, what’s the point. Nobody covered themselves in glory.

Things weren’t much better in the crowd. The much promised changes in stewarding proved to be for the worse. Dozens were available to wade in and home in on a few people in the Sir Trevor who were standing. They were nowhere to be seen up the other end where they were actually needed of course.

On the subject of standing, I do understand why some people like to stand and why there are those who prefer to sit. I tend to remain seated at home games – I find that on the road by full time after 90 minutes of standing my knees start to protest. However, I do realise that from time to time in the excitement of things one stands up. However, it does take a special type of fool to complain when people stand up for the pre-match singing of “Bubbles”. The sort of fool that wears a Brazil shirt and causes much more of an obstruction when getting up to leave with 20 minutes left. I guess that’s the sort of thing we have to expect from newbies who have no idea how to behave at matches.

Rant over. Payet’s cross for the second was a thing of beauty and that’s the memory I will try and keep from that totally unsatisfactory afternoon. The good news is that we are close to getting Carroll back and Feghouli came through a development squad match the other night with no ill-effects. Let’s hope lessons have been learned.

Prediction? Well bad as that was last time out we are hitting a club which, though a point better off than us at present, are miles behind even our depressed state of mind. Like the Bournemouth match last season, Watford might act as an enormous kick up the backside to kick-start the stuttering season. For that reason, and the fact that by the time you read this I will be enjoying a cold one in a small hostelry near our sister facility, The Dom Mintoff Maltese Rest Home For The Frankly Quite Bonkers, I shall try and move on from all this gloom and despondency and I shall be placing the traditional £2.50 which I was going to send our cousins in the US to buy themselves a drink to numb the pain of having to choose between Trump & Clinton on an away win. Work experience girl – be off with you and pop into WInstones The Turf Accountants on the way and ask for a wager on a 2-1 away victory.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Mat At The Hawthorns: Won 3-0 (Premier League, April 2016). A Kouyate header and a rare brace from the skipper gave us a comfortable three points towards the end of the season

Danger Man: Salomon Rondon. Can be a handful on his days which are sufficiently rare for us to be concerned that this will be the game in which he decides to turn it on.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg. All depends which Clattenburg turns up. "Sensible Clattenburg" referees with common sense and intelligence but only appears with the same regularity as Halley's Comet. "Standard Clattenburg" just isn't very good. Gawd help us if "Look At Me Clattenburg" is on duty. Especially if he's short a few pages for the book that is no doubt being planned for his retirement....

Percy’s Poser: Last week we asked you which international megastar started his career by performing cover versions of 1970’s hits for supermarket covers LPs. The answer was of course Elton John whose version of Young, Gifted and Black is still one of the most unintentionally hilarious things ever committed to vinyl. The first name out of the hat with the correct answer was that of Mrs Marjorie Swarfega of Little Thurrock who wins a carvery dinner at the Swan & Superinjunction subject to permission from the health inspectors. Well done Marjorie!

For this week’s poser we return to matters Oriental to ask: What was Albion defender John Trewick’s answer to the question of what he thought of the Great Wall Of China when the Baggies visited China in the late 1970’s. First correct entry received via the red button will really win a classic car, courtesy Mr Vaz of Leicester who has generously given our prize winner the use of a 22 year-old escort for a week.

Good luck everyone!

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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