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West Ham United v Hull City

Filed: Friday, 16th December 2016
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy was last seen heading towards New Broadcasting House on his mobility scooter brandishing a baseball bat and muttering something about finding the person who decided to broadcast TWO Christmas specials of Mrs Brown's Boys. Before he left he left the following thoughts on this weekend's visit of Hull City. With additional material supplied by the good people of www.kickoff.co.uk.....

Next up we return to the Olympic Stadium (as we shouldn’t call it) where we will play host to Hull City. Kick-off is 3pm. It looks relatively clear of engineering works in the area though there may be some alterations to those C2C trains that divert from Fenchurch Street to Liverpool Street at this time of the year. Westfield will of course be even more hellish than usual so if you drive you may wish to bear that in mind. Or not. Entirely up to you. It’s a free country after all.

Hull then. For the second match running we play a team promoted from the Championship one season after being relegated. In Hull’s case, a 4th place finish saw them qualify for the playoffs. They raced into a 3-0 lead away at Derby in the first leg but were pegged back 2-0 at home in the second leg. They faced Sheffield Wednesday in the final and prevailed 1-0. However, since then it’s all been a little fraught on Humberside. At one point injuries and departures meant that the club had only 13 fit players on its books and it all got a wee bit too much for the loathsome Steve Bruce who resigned during July. Mo Diame, who left us so that he could play for a top 10 club, left at the end of his contract and went up to Newcastle, thus confirming the suspicion that top ten in the Championship is about his level.

Mike Phelan was appointed caretaker manager, picking up the Manager Of The Month gong for August after beating Leicester at home and Swansea away, despite being so short of resources the first seven people through the gate were named as substitute. That was pretty much as good as it got though and since that second match they have picked up a solitary win, a 2-1 victory over Southampton.

Last weekend they had a chance to climb out of the relegation zone and were 3-2 up in the dying embers at home to Palace. However, a late equaliser and our performance against Liverpool kept them down there and their 3-0 defeat at Punchbag Towers leaves them second from bottom with 12 points from their 16 games played so far. That’s a point clear of basement boys Sunderland and level on points with Swansea who have a seven goal advantage in the goal difference department. They are also three points adrift of Boro’ and Palace, both of whom have vastly superior goal differences.

The general situation there hasn’t been improved much by the length of time it’s taken to sort out a change of ownership. The not-very-much-liked Allam family (they’re creepy and they’re kooky) are in the process of selling up for a reported £130m to a Chinese consortium. One can’t help but feeling that had the Allams put as much time and energy into, well, just running the club properly as they did into trying to change the club’s name to Hull Tigers everyone might be a darn sight happier.

As it is when the FA put the block on that particularly ludicrous idea they seem to lose interest. The Chinese deal seemed to have collapsed a few months back but a conditional deal was announced though there are rumblings over the usual fit and proper tests. One thing that was noticeable was that whenever the Chinese spokesman made a statement on the situation he seemed to be trying to shoehorn the words “Hull City AFC” into his comments more times than one would have thought was strictly necessary or appropriate. Ok we get it. The name remains the same.

The hope is that the deal will be done in time for the January window and the ink drying on the paperwork probably can’t come soon enough for them. They had to spend during the summer just to get enough players in to form a squad. That was easier said than done with Bruce’s departure adding to the general chaos. However the work experience girl wearing the “Everything But The Girl” T-shirt without knowing who they are tells me that they did pay £13m to Spurs for midfielder Ryan Mason.

Mason owns the England cap that, by rights, ought to be on the shelf chez Mark Noble, having gained full international honours by virtue of his being an average player for Spurs. In 2015-16 he found his opportunities limited and made only 8 league starts. In the close season he probably said goodbye to all thoughts of an international career and signed for Hull, the £13m being a club record.

The work experience girl wearing the “Everything But The Girl” t-shirt without knowing who they are couldn’t find details of a fee for ex-Man Utd midfielder James Weir but she told me not to worry as he hasn’t featured in the League side yet anyway. However, she did find out that £1m was the fee paid to the Salford Child Poisoners to secure the services of striker Will Keane.

Keane made only three first XI appearances for the Salford lot having spent most of the last few seasons on loan at such exotic locations as Wigan, QPR, Sheffield Wednesday and Preston. Unfortunately for him his season is already over with him having sustained a knee ligament injury last month against Southampton. Still at least our players will now have to find another excuse to be confused on Saturday – Keane’s twin brother Michael was in Wednesday night’s Burnley XI.

£3m went west to Cardiff to obtain the services of Scottish custodian David Marshall. He was part of the Bluebirds side we dispatched 5-0 on aggregate in the playoffs a few years back and was also present during their brief sojourn in the top flight when Cardiff joined Swansea up top. A sweaty by birth he has 27 caps for the jocks though he is currently second in the pecking order behind Craig Gordon at the top level, which meant he sat and watched last month’s 3-0 stroll for the Three Lions at Wembley much in the same way as Jordan Henderson did.

Another haggis-muncher in the squad is Robert Snodgrass. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth last weekend as he won a penalty with an embarrassing dive of Anfield proportions in the 3-3 draw with Palace. He does have previous in this regard – I recall his instability costing us up at Norwich not that long ago. Snodgrass’s antics and subsequent twitter apology prompted the BBC radio phone-in thing where people from Devon ring in to moan about “their” Man Utd to introduce the subject of diving as a topic of conversation.

“What can be done about this?” wailed the presenter. Well I’ll tell you what. How about the BBC applies a bit of consistency in its handling of the subject? You know, like starting to say “something must be done” when a Liverpool player goes to ground. It’s all very well on picking on a journeyman midfielder who plays for Hull but where were you lot when Gerrard was doing the same thing week in week out? I’ll tell you where you were: you were sitting there paying the likes of Hansen and Lawrenson to peddle the nonsense that a player “has the right” to throw himself to the floor as soon as someone so much as looks at him sternly. Meanwhile, back on topic, when he is staying on his feet Snodgrass is useful with a dead ball, something we will need to take into account.

And so to us. A few years back I recall the ludicrous Ian Holloway describe a victory in terms of an extended metaphor which involved leaving a night club with one of the less attractive women in attendance. I never knew what he meant at the time as, whenever I left the local Palais De Dance with a woman she was always gorgeous. Some of us have it others don’t.

However watching Wednesday's match against Burnley I think I can understand just what it is those of you less fortunate than I am in the dashing good looks department go through as you are invited to take your partners for the last waltz of the evening. It was not a pretty sight and, though we were by far and away the better side in the first half our sitting back invited them onto us under circumstances that might have proved more productive for the visitors had they a) concentrated on trying to play rather than rolling around the floor most of the time; and b) actually been any good in the first place.

We appear to have come through Wednesday unscathed on the injury front. Tore was originally listed as being ready for the weekend but that seems to have been pushed back to “Qno return date”. Byram, is still down for Boxing Day and Sakho 14 January. The remaining three casualties, Collins, Oxford and Zaza are all listed as “no return date” with a probable addendum to Zaza’s listing including the word “ever”. Similarly I think we may have seen the last of Arbeola, although he isn’t injured. Just past it.

So a prediction then. Although given recent events the points were all-important on Wednesday, there were spells, particularly in the first half, where, whisper it, we played some decent football. Not long spells, admittedly and we couldn’t finish a crossword. However, there were a few signs of people rebuilding their confidence. Hull, like our opponents in midweek, don’t appear to travel well. They have picked up four points on the road. One of those came at Turf Moor whilst the other three came at Swansea. Tellingly, the point at Burnley was their last away point so far - and that was way back in mid- September. That being the case I think that, even allowing for the levelling factor that our new home brings into play, I still think we will have enough to prevail this weekend.

So I shall place the £2.50 that was going towards the purchase of a mattress to put on the pitch to make sure Snodgrass doesn’t hurt himself when he throws himself to the floor, on a bet at Winstones The Turf Accountants which will read “2-1 home win”.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Boleyn: Won 3-0 (Premier League January 2015) A game of two halves. The first ended 0-0 and was about as interesting as a conversation with someone who voluntarily watches the “X-Factor” for entertainment purposes. We livened up in the second half as Carroll, Amalfitano and Downing wrapped up the points.

Referee: Lee Mason – we are really plumbing the depths here. One of those people who, if he were a regular in your local, and you had the sort of local like the “Swan And Superinjunction” where regulars have nicknames, he would be given the nickname “Trigger” by the second thickest bloke in the pub.

Danger Man: Robert Snodgrass. Dangerous with a dead ball, often from free-kicks earned from his own “unsteadiness”.

Percy’s Poser: Earlier this week we asked you what was Burnley’s River Brun’s claim to fame. The correct answer was that it is claimed to be Britain’s shortest river. In fact the last time I was up there it wasn’t so much a “river” as a damp patch on the wall of the Burnley Miners’ Social Club. The first correct answer out of the digital hat was that provided by Mrs Florence Heckmondwyke of Layer-De-La-Haye. Mrs Heckmondwyke wins a 2 litre bottle of River Brun water signed by the bloke who plays Norris on Coronation Street, or possibly someone even more famous. And if anyone from Burnley is reading this, that’s where your river has gone. All of it. Sorry.

This weekend’s poser we look back with a question for older readers. Back in the good old days before mobile telephones, the country was littered with red phoneboxes which, apart from their traditional use as urinals, could also be used to make phonecalls. However things were different in Hull. So for this week’s poser we ask: What colour were phoneboxes in Kingston Upon Hull and why were they a different colour to those in the rest of the country? The first correct answer drawn out of the digital hat will win a herring. 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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