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West Ham United v Sunderland

Filed: Thursday, 20th October 2016
By: Preview Percy

For some reason, when we heard that a gorilla had escaped from London Zoo and consumed 5 litres of undiluted blackcurrant juice last week, we immediately thought of Preview Percy. Here's his look at this weeknd's visit of Sunderland.....

Next up we play host to Sunderland at what we ae not supposed to call the Olympic Stadium. Kick-off is 3pm on Saturday. Good. There are the usual engineering works east of Liverpool Street to contend with. Not so good. Check before you leave I say.

Well it comes as a relief to be able to talk about someone having a more torrid time than ourselves for once. They currently sit bottom of the league with just two points from their 8 played so far. The draws, both 1-1, came at home to West Brom and away at Southampton. Other than that the form guide consists pretty much of consecutive “L”s to the extent that it resembles a Welsh telephone directory. The latest defeat came away at fellow bottom feeders Stoke, who, up to that point had also been without a win. All of which is a source of much amusement to Preview Alastair, The Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home’s resident Geordie. Preview Alastair claims that, but for the points earned by Sunderland against Newcastle they would have gone down, adding wryly “so hopefully they are knackered this season”.

A poor start to the season is becoming par for the course in recent years up there. Last season the glory – if that’s the word – for keeping them up was claimed by our erstwhile boss Sam Allardyce who promptly upped sticks to take over the England role for all of five minutes. Given that the FA would no doubt have had to pay Sunderland compensation to get their man, and factoring in Allardyce’s own payoff it’s been an expensive few months for the suits at Wembley. In came David Moyes as replacement and he has spent the last couple of months looking more morose than ever – and let’s face it he hasn’t exactly been noted for being a barrel of laughs over the years in the first place, has he? Winstone’s The Turf Accountants has Moyes down at evens to be the next Premier League boss to go. No prizes for guessing who is odds on favourite to replace Moyes should that happen.

All of the new signings this summer came in after Moyes had taken over, though some of the signings took place early enough in August to suggest that the previous incumbent may have had some input into the deals (that’s “input into” and not – as our lawyers have asked us to point out – “output from”). The work experience girl wearing a Comsat Angels t-shirt without knowing who they are came across an unusual deal which saw them bring in Paddy McNair and Donald Love from Salford for one single combined transfer fee. Presumably the fee included some sort of discount for buying in bulk. If one had to apportion the fee between the two players it is probable that the bulk of £5.5m would be attributed to McNair who made 24 league appearances for the Salford mob and has a dozen or so full caps for Northern Ireland. As opposed to Love, who made a handful of appearances – just the one in the league – for the tourist attraction and has no full international caps. Even if he had been honoured at full international level it would only have been for Scotland so that doesn’t really count, does it.

The biggest fee paid was the £13m paid to French outfit Lorient (home ground “La Rue de Brisbane”) for midfielder Didier N’Dong. The Gabonese international arrived on deadline day after fewer than 50 league appearances for “Les O’s” (that’s got to be their nickname. Right?) and a similar number for his first professional team Sfaxiene of Tunisia. So £13m would seem to be a bit of a gamble – especially since it represents a club record for the Mackems. He said all the right things on arrival of course: “Today is the most beautiful day of my life” is a sentence seldom, if ever, uttered by anyone arriving in Sunderland for the first time (unless of course they have just left Croydon – and even then you’d be pushing it). The player even caught the eye of the good Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge who commented that his hairstyle resembled “blonde worms sprouting from his head”. One can only presume that the good Baroness was struggling to fill her newspaper column that week.

They spent a further £8m on Papy Djiloboudji who came in from Chelsea. Well he came in from Chelsea’s loan stock anyway. Papy arrived at Stamford Bridge in September 2015 from Nantes presumably with high hopes of first team glory. One can only presume that nobody had told him of their business plan of acting as the world’s lending library for footballers, although to be fair, in the year he was with Chelsea he did actually make a first team appearance unlike many of their loan stock. However, when he makes up a DVD of career highlights for the grandkids, the one minute of stoppage time sub appearance he made in the League Cup against Walsall should leave plenty of space on the disc for “extras”. By January the 27 year-old defender had been shipped out on loan to Werder Bremen where he was forced to sit out a couple of games for making a throat slitting gesture at an opponent (presumably that particular incident will be saved for the special-edition blu-ray). He moved north in August, the £8m fee at least doubling Chelsea’s investment in the player – possibly more given that the fee paid to Nantes was somewhere between £2.7m-£4m depending on add-ons and source.

They picked up a couple of freebies, both of whom have Everton connections. Steven Piennar came in at the expiry of his contract with the Toffeemen. In truth he had barely featured at Goodison over the previous couple of seasons so his departure from Merseyside was not entirely unexpected. Back home in South Africa he was once the subject of an attempted lawsuit from an ex for not marrying him. If only the former Mrs Percy had done that – I’d have been broke but much less miserable. I understand that that particular lawsuit failed but he was less fortunate when picking up a 12 month driving ban in Liverpool having been spotted failing to observe a traffic sign in the city centre. That must have been a remarkably good spot by the scouse traffic police – road signs up there are generally ignored by the local population as a matter of course, with the obvious exception of those involved in graffiti. Pienaar’s career has been blighted by injury on occasion and he has already had a couple of spells on the sidelines this term through, his return as a 55th minute sub last weekend at Stoke marking his recovery from a hamstring strain.

The other freebie was Victor Anichebe who came in from West Brom having spent aeons at Everton for whom he scored 18 times in 131 league appearances. Usually against us. He had a run-in with our former skipper a few years back when Nolan, then of Newcastle, cleaned him out with a shocker of a tackle that put Anichebe out for 11 months. Anichebe sued Nolan for loss of earnings (rather than for not marrying him), an action that was settled out of court. Anichebe is an Olympic silver medallist having been part of the Argentinian team that went down 1-0 to Argentina in the 2008 Olympics – that’s the Beijing ones 4 years before we did them properly of course. He had three seasons with the Baggies netting 9 times in 61 games in all tournaments but he only made 10 appearances for them last season resulting in the non-renewal of his contract.

The highest profile of the three loan arrivals, none of which, oddly, is from Chelsea, is probably that of Adnan Janujaz. Janujaz is on a season-long holiday from Old Trafford where he had worked with David Moyes during the latter’s brief sojourn in Salford. Janujaz was the “next big thing” for a while up there as the start of his career went off like a rocket. However, like so many of his teammates he succumbed to the temptation to throw himself to the ground at every possible opportunity – to the extent that at one stage he had picked up more yellow cards for “simulation” than he had scored goals in professional football. He was memorably cautioned once for throwing himself to the floor after a non-existent challenge from Ginge, who had sussed what was happening and simply kept clear. We won’t be treated to such antics this time around as an ankle injury will keep him out of the squad for this weekend.

And so to us. Well last week was pleasing for so many reasons. Above all it is always fun coming away from the dump that is Croydon with a full complement of points. To do so with a fine team performance and playing against 12 men made it doubly satisfying. There were good performances all over the pitch – even the hitherto unimpressive Zaza made a fine contribution - and, for possibly the first time this season we actually looked like a team. That was even before Atkinson finally abandoned all pretence of impartiality with the sending off of Cresswell. The insult to injury is, of course, the ”no appeal” system which deprives us of Cresswell for a match just when he was showing us what we had been missing.

It would have been nice to have read that Atkinson had rung up the FA first thing on Monday morning to say “you know guys on reflection I messed that up and would like to withdraw (at least) the first yellow”. Hell he could even have lied and claimed that he hadn’t noticed Cresswell’s legs being taken away from him. Of course that hasn’t happened and whilst Cresswell – who is good at his job – will have to sit out this match, Atkinson – who isn’t good at his job – has been rewarded with Chelsea v Man City, rather the lengthy ban his handling of the whole match deserves. If it were me I’d be sticking in an invoice to PGMOL for the sum of one week of Cresswell’s wages spent where he was not available thanks to their failure to supply anyone capable of refereeing to an acceptable standard. Hell if we did that every week we could bankrupt the buggers and then the powers that be would have to replace PGMOL with something that would have the interests of football as its main priority (as opposed to the protection of people who shouldn’t be in the job in the first place).

Team news is that it’s pretty much the usual suspects who are not available, Carroll and Sakho may be looking at Everton away for a return whilst everyone else will be a few weeks at least. Of course we also have the traditional new injury each week so step forward (carefully) Darren Randolph who has a knee problem. It is listed only as a “slight doubt” though and he should be available for Saturday if required. The best news is that Andre Ayew has returned to full training. He won’t be available just yet but it won’t be long now.

Prediction? Well one swallow doth not a summer make or something. However, there was enough in last week’s performance to suggest that things are at least beginning to be on the up. For a change the passing was a lot crisper and more incisive last week than it had previously been for example. Cresswell will be a miss of course but even with all the injuries I’m thinking we will have too much for a team that must have been hoping for something out of last week’s trip to Stoke.

So this week I shall be stepping through the portals of Winstones The Turf Accountants and placing the £2.50 I was going to give Atkinson for every decision he got right last week on a home win. 3-1 to us I think.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at The Boleyn: Won 1-0 (Premier League February 2016) A more comfortable win than it sounds. Antonio’s nicely angled drive across the box did the trick.

Danger Man: Jermain Defoe Still capable of scoring on a regular basis to the extent that I’d have taken him to the Euros in summer.

Referee: Bobby Madley Or “Chelsea’s Bobby Madley” to give him his full title after his astonishing performance at Stamford Bridge last season to deny us the three points we deserved.

Percy’s Poser: Last week we asked how the London Borough Of Croydon made the rest of the country collapse with laughter in 1954, 2000, 2002, 2012. The answer was that they actually applied for the borough to be given city status. Seriously! Congratulations to Mrs Muriel Vaporub whose answer was the first correct one out of the digital hat. Offered the choice of prizes between the London Borough Of Croydon or a soiled J-Cloth, Mrs Vaporub chose the J-Cloth on the grounds that it was the “less unpleasant option”. Well done Muriel!

For this week’s poser we will be looking at the world of cinema and asking: what is the connection between Sunderland and the 1996 film The English Patient. The first correct answer out of the digital hat will win Martin Atkinson’s brain cell – assuming he has one he won’t be using it. Good luck!

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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