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Burnley v West Ham United

Filed: Saturday, 20th May 2017
By: Preview Percy

It's the end of what has been a long, trying season. But that's what having to deal with Preview Percy is like anyway. Here's his final offering of the season before we lock him under the stairs for a few months. Don't worry he'll be back. Unless we lose the key.....

And so for the last time this season I drag myself away from the sofa here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home for the Bewildered over to the writing desk to prepare some musings in advance of our trip to East Lancs where Burnley will be our hosts. Kick-off on Sunday is 3pm. The trains up that way look ok but if you’re coming in from Essex there’s stuff going on around Chelmsford and Colchester so check before you leave.

Kick off is 3pm on Sunday, which is the usual thing for the end of the season so that they can capitalise on the tension of things being decided on the last day. Except everything is pretty much sorted. Ah well, never mind eh Sky?

Our hosts currently sit in 15th place on 40 points which is 2 points and 3 places behind us. So this is the battle for the coveted 12th spot. In theory we could finish as high as 8th but our goal difference looking as unwell as it is means that we’re probably looking at 10th spot at best depending on other results. And 16th at worse. Like one cares.

It’s fair to say that Burnley have their home form to thank for their getting to have another go in the Premier League next season. Of those 40 points 33 have come at Turf Moor and the 7 points they gained on the road this term includes just the one win, that being a 2-0 win down at Palace. Having said that, their home form has been patchy too of late, with them having just won once in their last five at Turf Moor ( the other four matches being braces of draws and defeats).

Last time they were up in the top flight there seemed to be a business decision on the part of the club’s owners to adopt a frugal approach to the transfer market, rather than blow Sky’s largesse on big money transfers in an attempt to stay up at all costs. In that regard, their one season stay at the top could be viewed as a bit of a sighter – like one of those so-called free holidays those dodgy time-share people used to tempt people with in order for you to attend a week of high-pressure brainwashing into laying out a ludicrous sum of money for an apartment in Benidorm. Having had a look see they went back to the Championship for a while to take stock and trouser the parachute payment before coming back up a bit better off financially and better placed to make a go of things. They didn’t go wild in the window, mind, but they did spend a few bob in January.
A reported club-record £13m went to Norwich City in return for the services of Robbie (when did footballing “Roberts” stop being “Bobby” and start being “Rob” or “Robbie”? And, even less importantly, why?) Brady. Despite being a Dubliner born and bred Brady has over 30 caps for the Republic Of Ireland side, the FAI presumably being unable to find an Englishman with a liking for Guinness good enough for the left back/left wing-back/left winger role that is Brady’s stock-in-trade. Amongst Brady’s siblings is a brother called Liam, but it’s not that one so there’s little point in bringing it up I suppose.

They spent £13m less on Joey Barton who, having got the tin tack from Rangers, was unattached. The work experience girl wearing an All About Eve t-shirt without knowing who they are told me in no uncertain terms that she had neither the time nor the inclination to run off a detailed rap sheet outlining all the controversies he’s been involved in over the years. He’s had spells inside prison for violence off the pitch, literally hundreds of thousands of pounds in fines and years of suspensions for football-related offences and the message never seems to have gotten through to him. He did issue a statement bemoaning the length of his current 18 month ban for gambling offences, pointing out the fact that others have had shorter bans for similar offences.

However, whilst there is a germ of a point to be found in that argument, we are not looking at a court of law (with which Barton is more than familiar) where previous convictions are kept from the jury and, for the powers that be, this was clearly one offence too many. I suspect he will get a reduced ban on appeal but the “it’s a fair cop but society is to blame” argument is beginning to wear a bit thin now.
Another £5m went on Villa midfielder Ashley Westwood. Ashley. There’s another modern footballer name that seems to have crept in over recent years. Where are all the “Berts”, “Freds” and “Jacks” of days gone past? The game’s gone to the dogs I tell you. Or at least it would have done had most of the greyhound tracks not shut down (which thinking about it may be why Barton felt the need to bet on football).

Star man at the back has been England international Michael Keane. Keane gained his first England cap earlier this year. In a mirror-image of Brady, Keane also bucked the trend by being an Englishman with Irish ancestry who plumped to play for England. How unusual is that? The form that earned Keane a deserved (as opposed to a “plays for Spurs or the scousers giveaway cap”) call up to the England squad has led to quite a lot of speculation as to his future, with his former employers at Salford being just one of the clubs linked with his signature. It appears that his contract expires next summer, something that will only fuel the speculation over the summer.

The other England squad member is custodian Tom Heaton. There you go. Proper footballer name that. None of your “Thomas” rubbish. Just plain old good old Tom. Unlike Keane, he has another three years left on his contract left so anyone sniffing around had better check the penny jar and all the stuff at the back of the sofa before they come a-knocking for his services. Like Keane he also did time at Salford though he failed to trouble the first team statisticians in his 7 years at the “Theatre of Tacky Marketing Slogans”. Whilst there he spent most of his time on loan at such places as Swindon, Rochdale, QPR and Wycombe, as well as a couple of overseas placements at Royal Antwerp and Cardiff.

Ok enough of them. Us? Well it was hard to disagree with whinging Wenger’s premise that some of the players appeared to be already on holiday in the second half of last weekend’s debacle. Although, to be fair, at least our players are putting their feet up at the end of the season, as opposed to halfway through it, like, say, Arsenal’s. Perhaps the myopic moaning machine might like to address problems like that at his own gaff before having a pop at others. Or, alternatively, he could wonder out loud why, when given two clear penalty decisions to consider, last weekend’s referee elected to continue one of the most spineless performances given outside the Jellyfish Variety Hour (a programme coming to one of those standard definition only entertainment channels hidden away in the middle of the Sky listings just after the Monkey Tennis). A penalty and possibly a red card depending on which of the clear offences he awarded would have seen us back in the game at 2-1. Instead we sauntered back as if we knew the ref would blow up once he’d found the instructions for the highly complex piece of machinery that is the whistle. I can’t help feeling that Collins might have been better served putting a little of the effort that went into his protests into getting back and defending.

I’m not blaming the ref for our defeat – despite a performance from Swarbrick that even Liverpool’s in-house broadcaster the BBC found time to describe as oddly one-sided. However, we’ve seen too many of these performances this season. Far too many times we have simply caved in as a gullible sorry excuse of a human being (all requirements of a job with PGMOL it seems) has given an opponent a start. This was a bit like Man City in that respect. In fact there are similarities between them and Liverpool - two sets of supporters who will bend over backwards to justify cheating from their players, though to be fair such hypocrisy does owe its origins to Merseyside. The introduction of retrospective bans for diving will be a start I suppose, though wouldn’t it be much better to employ referees who can do the job properly in the first place?

So enough of all that. Injury-wise it’s much as you were. Actually it’s a bit worse. Reid is now out having somehow decided to grow an extra bone in his leg (I’m not making this up!), which now needs surgical removal. Only West Ham.

Other absences are the result of Noble’s Hernia and Carroll’s Groin, both of which are lesser-known battles of the Anglo-Zulu war. (The much-inferior Rorke’s drift simply had a better publicity man).

Arthur might be available but given the end of season meaninglessness of the whole game I wouldn’t expect to see anyone involved who isn’t 100% fit, which will probably mean some space for some more of the youngsters on the bench. Which will deny us the opportunity to say goodbye to Arbeola whose contribution to the cause this season has been unforgettable. Or is that unmemorable. Is he in the country even? He gets my worst signing of the year award anyway.

So prediction then. Well I’d like to think that the criticism thrown at the players over the last week or so might have some effect. In practice I don’t supposed they are in the slightest bit bothered by the words of an old git who lives in a rest home for the bewildered and I think that this will end up as a desultory oxygen stealing 90 minutes at the end of a season where just about everything that could go wrong on and off the pitch did so. With that in mind I will be visiting the newly-named Joey Barton Memorial Counter at Winstone The Turf Accountants and placing the £2.50 that Diane Abbott would have spent on a dozen police constables in the unlikely event of her getting into power next month on a home win – 2-1 being the predicted score.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at Turf Moor: Won 3-1 – Premier League October 2014
They had the better of a goalless first half. We had the better of a 4 goal second half. Headers from Sakho and Valencia put us 2-0 up. Ings pulled one back before Carlton Cole put another header away to give us the three points. They went down at the end of the season, which was a shame.

Referee: Bobby Madley. Another gullible brain donor who even had the normally taciturn and laid back Slav blasting his “unacceptable” performance at Chelsea last season. The importance of the game can be gauged by the fact that he has been chosen to officiate.

Danger Man: Sam Vokes – Englishman who plays for Wales who are fast becoming the new Ireland in that regard. Seems to be coming into a bit of late season form with three goals in his last three matches. Or is it four. Something like that anyway.

Percy’s Poser: Last week we asked you what change to the Laws of the game caused Liverpool so much grief back in 1992. Thanks to Mrs Cordelia McBrexit of Thorpe Le Soken who was first out of the digital hat with the following: “In 1992 FIFA decided that they would ban goalkeepers from handling back passes. Those of us who grew up watching Liverpool’s 80’s sides perfect the art of giving the ball back to the keeper from the halfway line to waste a few minutes when 1-0 up were delighted. Liverpool less so. It remains a fact that Liverpool to this day haven’t won the league since the backpass law was changed.” Thanks Cordelia – and well done!

For this week’s poser we invite you to have a guess as to roughly how much Joey Barton has paid in fines over the course of his football career. As this is the last preview of the season we’ll give the answer on here as an update after the Burnley match!

Just back from Burnley in time to open up the digital hat where I find that of all the guesses, the closest came from Mrs Portia Wainscotting of West Mersea who said "Percy, it must be over a million by now". Well Portia, nobody's quite sure how much it is but the work experience girl with the random assortment of band t-shirts has found evidence of fines totalling £915,000 so we reckon you're close enough. Well done Portia!

Good luck everyone – and (pretending I care one way or another about your miserable little lives) have a good summer. I suppose. Me? I’m off to the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home & Time-share in Benidorm unless one of you fancies buying it off us.

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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