Text  Larger | Smaller | Default

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur

Filed: Friday, 22nd September 2017
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy being nice to Spurs? Surely not? Er, no.......

Next we have somebody called “Tottenham Hotspur” to whom we play host at what I still like to think of as the Olympic Stadium. Kick-off is at 12:30pm, a time when all right thinking people will still be in bed.

Embed from Getty Images

Changes for TV purposes are annoying at the best of times but being made to watch football when you can still taste toothpaste takes it one more stage further. And all so the tv company owner can ensure he has enough money to pay off Jerry Hall when the divorce comes through.

Trains? Well there is engineering work on the lines east of Shenfield. And similar shenanigans on the lines through Tottenham Hale, which should inconvenience the visiting support. Oh and there is no service between Liverpool and Stratford on TfL rail. Of course there isn’t. It’s a London Derby.

Now in the past I’ve got a fair bit of stick from Spurs supporters for perpetuating the stereotype long-held amongst supporters of other clubs that they are a bit, well, intellectually challenged. Now I know it’s a stereotype and, in this day and age this sort of thing is not to be encouraged. After all when did you last hear an Irish joke?

So I would hereby like to apologise to Spurs supporters for suggesting that they are all a bunch of shell suit-wearing, dandruff-afflicted thickoes. When our train back from West Brom stopped at Wembley Stadium on Saturday only one Spurs Supporter was wearing a shell suit. And quite a few actually didn’t have dandruff. And only one of them tried to get Marylebone’s oyster reader to read his paper ticket.

And I expect that the one who turned up at the Boleyn for last season’s fixture has now updated the map function on his iPhone (and it will be an iPhone rather than something without a nice shiny Apple badge) and so will not be relying on a desperate phonecall to a mate outside Stratford station.

Embed from Getty Images

One of the problems people have with Spurs supporters (apart from their constant attempts to reinforce those stereotypes by releasing videos which go beyond embarrassing of course) is their obsession with size. I guarantee that if you can be bothered to have a conversation with one (and at times that alone can be a bit like explaining the laws of planetary motion to a particularly awkward kitten) less than a minute will elapse before the words “big club” enter the discourse.

It’s even caught on with the manager who, presumably in an attempt to sound like “one of their own”, was mentioning only the other day how “big” clubs such as Tottenham don’t really bother with domestic cup competitions because they had the Premier and so-called Champions Leagues to prioritise. It’s almost as if he actually believes they have the option.

It seems the “big club’s” support took Pochettino a bit too literally with only 23,000+ turning up at the Bobby Moore Stadium for their defeat of Barnsley in the League Cup. The uncharitable amongst you may suggest that they turned up at White Hart Lane in error but, since we are trying to avoid stereotypes we will ignore that theory.

You will note that they have drawn us in the next round. As a “big club” who, they are fond of telling everyone “couldn’t care less about West Ham” I fully expect another 23,000 crowd at Wembley because it’s “only the League Cup” and “it’s only West Ham”. Anything more than that and you’d have to think that maybe they care more about their Cup Final than they like to let on.

To be fair to them their new stadium looks nice and is a reminder of what could have been with a little imagination as opposed to a desire to clear external debt and take advantage of a potential white elephant situation. However, beware of anyone – yes that means you Levy – who suggests that “not a penny of public money” will have been spent on the new gaff.

Embed from Getty Images

Yeah, maybe not the stadium itself but all the infrastructure around the outside is the sort of stuff that developers are usually required to pay for as part of what is called a Section 106 agreement. Not Spurs. The £16.7m requirement was quietly reduced to £0.5m when the club threatened to take its ball elsewhere. Then there was another £27m in grants from the local authority and GLA as part of the “Regeneration Project” (ie more infrastructure).

There was also the mysterious removal of the need for Spurs to provide social housing as part of the project, thus leaving them to profit from the sale of apartments on the old site at market value rather than having to deal with that bothersome problem of having local people actually live in the flats. I make that in excess of £40m that they are to the good through public money, before the flats are taken into account.

In their earlier stadium dealings they did get away with people working on their behalf hacking into people’s phones. “We knew nothing about it” and “no way would we sanction that” was the general tone of their response. This is generally known as “The Piers Morgan defence” so there is a nice amusing irony over the fact that they had to use the response pioneered by Arsenal’s most loathsome and irritating supporter, though to be fair Spurs’ use of that defence is more convincing than Morgan’s. Which wouldn’t be difficult.

On the pitch they have had a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde start. Away ? No problem, though they were slightly fortunate that Arsenal’s own Harry Kane seems to have been awarded the “Paul Scholes ‘Not That Kind Of Player’” Referee exemption. A shocker of a scissors tackle up at Newcastle was given a very lenient yellow up at SJP on the opening day. It’s not his first tackle of that ilk and I’m sure it won’t be his last. That 2-0 win and the 3-0 demolition of a currently hapless Everton came on the road. However, their home form is the stuff of football cliché.

It fair makes one smile that every time they play at home they currently have to do so at a place with a statue of Bobby outside the main entrance. Maybe that affects them. So far at home they have lost to Chelsea (1-2) and drawn with Burnley (1-1) and Swansea (0-0). In the latter match even dishonest Mike Dean forgot they were the home team and accidentally gave a bogus handball against them, rather than for them as is his usual practice.

Embed from Getty Images

All of that leaves them in 5th place behind Newcastle who, despite not having much in the way of players, suddenly find themselves in 4th place, a run inspired by beating us at our most dreadful. Just shows what a decent run can do, especially at this time of the season.

It was an odd transfer window for them. This season there seems to have been a general practice amongst clubs to at least try to get business done as early as possible. However Spurs did all their incoming deals in the last 7 days of the window.

According to the work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises the biggest fee spent was the club record £42m that was paid to Ajax for Davison Sanchez. A lot of money for a player who, though highly sought after across the continent, didn’t actually qualify for an automatic work permit. (Much as I suspect is the case with the cleaners here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered given the way they are told to make themselves scarce every time there is an inspection).

He’s made three appearances for them in the league this season, his availability being delayed by the usual red tape. Actually he was probably available for selection all along but was simply stuck in one of those bloody queues to enter the country that airports seem so fond of at present. The last one I was in had a kid in it who had never left the country in his life, having actually been conceived and born in the queue by a couple who met while waiting to get one of those damned machines to recognise a passport photo.

Part of the Sanchez’s paperwork issue was that, as a recent addition to full international status in Colombia, he hadn’t played the requisite number of times for his country over the past two seasons. However his reputation and his participation in European competition for Ajax (I can still hear the late great Brian Moore pronouncing that as “A-jacks”) were enough to score him the bonus points needed for the requisite scrap of paper and, once he had persuaded the damned machine that the passport photo was him and not that of a Mrs Gladys Llewellyn of Port Talbot, he was free to make his debut as a sub in the 1-1 draw against Burnley.

A further £23m went on right-back Serge Aurier who arrived from PSG, a club who have to do a fair bit of book balancing every year to try and convince the powers that be that they are fully compliant with the financial fair play rules. Aurier has had his own issues with Border Control in the past.

Although Ivory Coast born, a country for whom he has full international honours, he moved to France as a kid and it was some surprise when it didn’t appear to have occurred to him to pick up a French passport, a document that would have given him freedom of movement around the EU. None of which would have caused him any bother had he not elected to assault an officer of the law outside a Paris nightclub last September.

Clouting a Clouseau is frowned upon over there and he got a two month jail sentence for his trouble. He stuck in an appeal but before it could be heard PSG were due to come over to play Arsenal. An eagle-eyed Home Office employee – possibly an Arsenal fan - noted the conviction and the player’s UK visa (which wouldn’t have been required with a French passport) was withdrawn. Despite further appeal from both club and player he was forced to miss the game.

He’s had a number of brushes with authority, having been made to train with the kids thanks to insulting – and in one case homophobic – comments against team-mates and ex-players through social media. Maybe footballers should hand over all laptops and tablets along with their car keys when they sign their first pro contracts. Most of them are certainly not to be trusted when using any of that stuff.

An estimated £12m went on Spanish/Basque striker Fernando Llorente who arrived from Swansea. Now in recent years we have seen an exponential increase in the number of players missing the opening games of the season with mystery ailments which, hallelujah, manage to somehow heal themselves 30 seconds after the window has closed – hence the move to a pre-season window close.

Now I don’t mean to laugh at misfortune – and this column’s policy of not wishing injury on any player no matter who they are is a matter of record. However, it was most refreshing to see that Llorente was unavailable for Swansea’s opening matches not due to any worryingly-vague “strain” but due to the fact that he had genuinely broken his arm as a result of a cycling accident. This made him the first player in 20 years to be genuinely injured during the window. Either that or the plaster cast was a work of genius. All nicely healed now of course and his presence is more likely to be from the bench at present.

And so to us. Midweek? Well it was what it was. A number of players were rested and there were decent performances from those chosen to replace them. Of course it helped that, according to both the big screen and our announcer, Bolton were simultaneously playing away at Wolves where, apparently, they were drawing 0-0 at half time.

Given the way that the draws for this competition have been conducted this season it would have been no surprise had that genuinely been the case, though quite where that would have left poor old Bristol Rovers, who were actually the visitors to Molineux that night, lord alone knows. Probably on some promotional visit to one of those east Asian countries who appear to have about as much interest in the sponsor’s product as we do here in the UK.

Of the youngsters the highlight was young Rice who was playing in his preferred central defensive role. Now I know we were playing a particularly poor Championship side who themselves made a load of changes but even so, in coming up against more experienced pros who might have given him a hard time he showed a great deal of maturity.

Arnautovic played well and the main bugbear in these parts is that we ought to have been four or five up by the interval, so wasteful were we. Marco himself should get a slapped wrist for the lob that he elected to attempt when there were about 432 better but less flashy options available to him that were 99.623% more likely to end up with a goal according to the work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises and his strange spreadsheets.

Injury news and, as usual, just when you think things are clearing up, they get worse.

Lanzini – who was supposed to be close to a return – is now looking at mid-October. As is Ginge who did his ankle in up at West Brom. Ginge’s absence will give the manager a selection problem with Rice pressing a claim for a part at the back. The newest addition to the physio room (the queue for which at times has been so long it resembled those aforementioned airport lines) is Pedro Obiang whose “muscular injury” will keep him out of contention for a few weeks. Expect the skipper to step in – I’d have picked him anyway as it’s his sort of game.

Prediction? You never know with this lot. Even when they don’t raise their game against the club they couldn’t care less about they have been known to get a spot of assistance from the officials. We played them off the park twice last year – the usual deadly combination of Mike Dean and live TV securing them the points at home last term before normal service was resumed at the Olympic.

And we haven’t been at our best this season – injury and lack of home matches being contributory factors. On balance I will go optimistically for a draw, placing the £2.50 I was going to chip in for their stadium because “not a penny of public money” has been spent on it on a 1-1 scoreline when next I am in the vicinity of Winstone the Turf Accountant.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Olympic: Won 1-0

Could and should have been more. The visitors should have been down to ten after Lloris’s more than passable re-enactment of Schumacher v Battiston with Lanzini playing the role of the Frenchman. Sadly ref Taylor stayed faithful to the role as interpreted by his 1982 predecessor (the infamous Charles Corver) and failed to award a free kick. Lanzini got booked celebrating his 66th minute goal which showed a strange set of priorities for the officials. We should have added more late on. The result ensured we were safe and, apparently, ended their title aspirations. Which was nice.

Referee: Michael Oliver

Gullible official for whom a the word “dive” is simply something that turns up in triplicate in those WWII movies featuring submatines. And they have Harry Kane in their side. Also falls foul of the first of Percy’s three laws of refereeing, namely that all referees called Mike or Michael are dreadful. For those with short memories law 2 is “All Bald Referees are dreadful and law 3 “The appearance of a Bald Referee called Michael or Mike at the bottom of the teamsheet mean you may as well pack up and go home”. We are monitoring Oliver’s hairline just in case…

Danger Man: Harry “Arsenal” Kane

a decent enough player even allowing for his dive and dodgy tackle exemption, all of which could well come in useful given the referee for this one.

Percy’s Poser

In midweek we asked you what was the name of the White Horse in the “White Horse” Cup Final and what became of him. The horse’s name was, of course Billy and, my what a sick lot you are. I lost count of the number of answers received in the digital hat that mentioned the words “Glue Factory”.

The correct answer was of course that he ended up in a can of pet food. Well done to Mrs Rosemary Ailment of Castle Hedingham for being the first out of the digital hat with the correct answer and for also pointing out that a number of Billy’s descendants played leading roles in the Great Horsemeat Scandal of 2013, mainly as part of Findus Frozen Lasagne meals. (Did someone mention lasagne?).

Embed from Getty Images

For this week’s poser we refer back to Spurs' bumper 23,000+ League Cup crowd the other night which brought another “big” club to mind in the form of the Chelsea money laundering operation. On 26 August 2003 Chelsea were in so-called Champions League action in front of 23,408 “supporters”. Our question for you this week is in two parts: 1) What were West Ham doing that evening?, and 2) In front of how many people were they doing it?

First correct answer out of the digital hat has been supplied by none other than Daniel “I had no idea about those bugged telephones” Levy himself who has promised to give the winner a pound back of the public money that has in no way gone into the construction of Spurs’ new ground. Thanks Daniel.

Good luck everybody!

* With thanks to the team at KickOff.co.uk for supplying our graphics.

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.

Your Comments

comments powered by Disqus