Watford v West Ham United

And so a new dawn arrives. A new chapter in the history of West Ham United as a new manager takes the helm in the form of David Moyes. We're sticking with Preview Percy though because, er, well we'll get back to you on that one. Here's his look at the visit to Watford....

Next up we go up north to Watford. Kick off on Sunday is 4pm. Although there are some of the usual engineering works to the north of Euston they should only really affect you if yu were going on the slow lines anyway. In and out of Liverpool Street though it's the usual shambles, which is why they have given us the extra day to play I expect - it will take everyone that long to get there. All I can say is that this Crossrail thing had better be worth it.

At the time of writing before the current round of games start they sit in 9th place with 15 points from the 11 played so far. That are on a bit of a poor run at present with them losing the last three - 4-2 away at Chelsea, 0-1 at home to Stoke and, in an eventful game at Goodison Park 3-2 to Everton.

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 informs me that that the first major change in personnel to occur in pre-season was the arrival of Marco Silva at the managerial helm. Silva replaced the departed Walter Mazzari back in May. Mazzari left one year into a three-year contract with all the disinterested air of someone who had already been looking through new car catalogues in advance of the termination payoff. I have it on very good authority that, apart from a general dissatisfaction with results (they finished one place -albeit 6 points clear - off the drop zone last term) the club's ownership were less than impressed with the manager's failure to learn English as she is spoke. It is alleged that he failed to take the English lessons that had been arranged for him - something Harry Kane might want to think about if he is considering a managerial career once he hangs up his diving boots.

Silva made his name in a 5-month spell at Hull City last season, coming in in January and winning his first four home matches in the process. However, the good form tailed off and they eventually finished 6 points shy of the safe spot occupied by this weekend's opponents, who he then joined. The club had been a bit busy since Silva's arrival, though with Watford being owned by the Pozzo family who also own Udinese in Italy, one is never sure how the transfers are arranged and how much input the manager has into things. For example, a while back it seemed that a spell on secondment at Watford was a contractual obligation for anyone turning out in Udine.

Stoke releasee Daniel Bachmann was one of two 'keepers to arrive in the Summer Window. And if you think I mention him purely to get the phrase "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" into this preview shame on you. Taking care of business I shall move on and point out that Bachmann came in on the idea that he would effectively be the no.3 choice behind present incumbent Huerelho Gomes and summer signing Orestis Karnezis, who came in on a season-long loan from, yes, you guessed it, Udinese. Karnezis didn't exactly have the greatest of starts to his Watford career, looking decidedly shaky when replacing the injured Gomes as they threw away a 2-0 lead at Goodison. Gomes's head injury was serious enough to contribute to 12 minutes of stoppage time in that match but the international break plus the extra day afforded by the Sunday kick-off means that he is only a "slight doubt" for this one, which is a shame as I reckon we'd have fancied a go at Kamezis.

A rumoured ?8m was enough to secure the services of Tom Cleverley for what, technically speaking, is the player's third spell with the club, having won their player of the year award in 2010 whilst on loan from the mob in Salford and having spent the latter half of last season on loan from Everton. I have long gotten past the stage nowadays at being surprised at the number of England caps that less than inspiring players have won over their career. Suffice to say that the 13 that sit in the Cleverley trophy cabinet seem to be what players are issued with at birth by the FA when it is known that they are English. The last of those caps came in 2013 so it may be a good bet that you are more likely to see Cleverley in Currys buying a new enormo-screen telly to watch the World Cup on than you are to see him appearing on said screen. Missing a 250th minute penalty against Everton (well it seemed that late anyway) won't have helped his cause any.

?8m was also the going rate for Derby's Will Hughes. Hughes, whose blonde coiffeur puts one in mind of the young Toyah Wilcox as "Monkey" in Quadrophenia", came up through the ranks at what we used to call the Baseball Ground until they closed it down and replaced it with somewhere with grass on the pitch and, as a 17 year-old he picked up Derby's "Scholar Of The Year" award, presumably after some sterling work in learning his twelve times table. I expect Harry Kane is even now cramming in the hope he can pick up a similar award at Spurs in 2020. Given all the favourable comments that have been thrown in the general direction of "Monkey" (as I suspect nobody else calls him) it seems a bit odd that it has taken him this long to get to the Premier League. However, he has made just the one start in the league this term (in the aforementioned Everton match), his only other league appearance being as an 80th minute sub in the home defeat to Stoke. The fact that he started the 2-3 League Cup defeat to Bristol City may give an indication of his current place in the pecking order.

It took something like ?11.2m or maybe ?13m depending on your source to extract Brazilian striker Richarlison from Fluminese in his home country. He has had a habit of scoring one for every two or three sitters missed, most notably in the 4-2 defeat to Chelsea when Watford could have been two or even three clear had the player kept his composure when only a few feet out. The annoying thing about these "cow's backside and hand-plucked stringed instrument" players is they invariably remember how to score when they play us. Life's like that.

They will be without captain Troy Deeney who is serving a justified suspension for violent conduct after a contretemps with Stoke's Joe Allen. Stoke had put the ball out for an injury and Deeney tried to put the ball in for a cross in contravention of the usually accepted norm that you give the ball back. The cross having been blocked Allen remonstrated with Deeney who, had a good grab in the general direction of Allen's eye socket. When the dust had settled the powers that be thought the woefully inadequate yellow received by Deeney hadn't been enough and slapped a three-game ban on him.

Deeney is what you might call "a bit of a twat" He has a habit of boasting about how he turned-over opponents - their win at the Olympic being a case in point. Far from us handing them four goals it was all down to him being angry at Payet's Rabona apparently. He did something similar against Arsenal earlier this season accusing them of a lack of bottle. His new boss Silva wasn't impressed and slapped a "shut-it" order on the player, whose lack of self-awareness is such that it doesn't seem to have occurred to him that he is criticising teams that he wouldn't get into in a month of Sundays. That's a list that seems likely to include Watford sooner rather than later. Two League starts this season (plus five from the bench) tells its own story. Meanwhile that noise you can hear is the sound of Graham Taylor revolving in his grave every time Deeney opens his gob.

Us? .Well as usual when there is an international break one finds it hard to remember what has happened over the past couple of weeks. A quick check of the diary reminds me that we handed Liverpool a 4-1 win in yet another match in which we had a penalty refused. I make that 7 clear cut ones we haven't had this season now. The other laughable thing about that match was the fact that Mark Noble (quite correctly) picked up a yellow card for simulation. In a match against Liverpool who, by that time must surely have been into double figures for diving, their first coming as it did after 31 seconds of the match. That's a bit like a traffic cop stopping the slowest car on the motorway for doing 71mph. The performance highlighted one of the great double standards of professional football. A player plays badly he gets dropped and eventually transferred. A team performs badly and the manager loses his job. A referee performs badly and he is protected to the extent that if you point out the fact that he has had a bad game you get fined.

Which brings us on to Mr Bilic. His departure is tinged with sadness in these parts. He seems a decent cove and listening to the recordings of his press conferences that the short chubby one brings over he was a breath of fresh air from the previous incumbent. Many's the time I listened to that chap spouting some statistic or other trying to convince me that the oxygen-stealing 90 minutes we had watched earlier that day was in fact the most exciting thing since that episode of Only Connect when we thought the wonderful and beautiful Victoria Coren Mitchell might be on the verge of a wardrobe failure. At least Mr Bilic was honest in his post match summings-up. Unfortunately those summings-up had become far too often an admission that the team were not playing well enough. Whatever it was Slav got them doing in his first season, it appeared that he was unable to capitalise on that in subsequent years, Some of this was down to circumstances beyond his control - nobody does well at the start in a new stadium for example, all the stuff involving that bloke who we can now refer to as a "former French international" (that move worked out well didn't it Dimi!), injuries and the fact that there seems to have been a decision at PGMOL towers that we won't get a decision until April have all conspired against him. However the buck rightly stops with him and his failure to be able to get the best out of a talented if possibly unbalanced group is what has cost him. Here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For the Bewildered we will raise a glass in his general direction when we have all recovered from the food poisoning that has been running about the place (chef thought that can said "2017" not "2007") enough to get out to the Swan & Superinjunction. Thank you Mr Bilic and best of luck for the future.

So enter Mr Moyes then. Not my first preference but then to be fair I'm not sure I really had a preference amongst those who are actually available at the moment. Nothing personal but the chap's style of football in the past hasn't been one that has particularly inspired me. I don't know if you saw the short chubby one on the box the other week but I found myself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with him. Of course the appearance of the short chubby one also prompted uncomfortable positions of another type for everyone here at the rest home, his ugly mush having a disastrous effect on a population already weakened by something that, if it wasn't actually botulism, was doing a bloody good impersonation of it. The club's media department have been busy of course. There has been more video posted online of the players running themselves into the ground in the past 8 days than exists of the club as a whole for the previous 137 years. Probably. The message is clear: they haven't been fit enough up to now. Whilst there is obviously an element of "propaganda" about this sudden burst of physical activity I can confirm that the message has its roots in fact. One of the inmates here at the rest home (we prefer the word "guests" - Matron) is distantly related to one of the youngsters in the youth system. The kid had been drafted in for first XI training on the Friday pre-Liverpool and was also training with the bigger boys on Mr Moyes' first day in charge. The youngster said the difference in intensity was "astonishing".

Ok one would expect there to be some sort of difference between a session 24 hours before a match and one a few days after but even so signs are that the players are being worked hard. Ultimately I hope Mr Moyes can prove us all wrong and keep us up. I won't be complaining if that's the case. If nothing else there is enormous comic value to be gained from the sight of all those football stickers showing the manager as a young player!

One thing the new boss will have to get used to is managing an injury list which seems to have all the qualities of some sort of self-replicating virus. Just when you think everyone is just about fit a load more injuries happen. Hernandez, Collins, Fonte, Antonio and Byram are all on the sick at the moment. Hernandez's absence stems yet again from international duty and whilst I am always loath to deny a player a chance of a cap I'm getting to the stage where I am beginning to think we might just start to wave two fingers at the rule book and simply lie about injuries in the same way as Liverpool & Moan Utd have always done and just say someone was injured. When the fine comes in just send it to Liverpool as they have a few thousand cases to be taken into account.

One of the other hazards of international breaks is the presence of overseas journos desperate for a story. In Hernandez's case a local from the Aztec Gazzette or Daily Burrito or some such tabloid took it upon himself to announce to the world that Little Pea fancies a move back home in January. This sort of thing happens every November international break so it was mostly a case of "ho hum" around here. However Chicharita's response was (presumably unintentionally) straight out of the Fast Show's "Chanel 9 Neus". His twitter denial opened with the sentence "Completamente Falso". Brilliant! One does wonder how much sleep young Carroll will have gotten, the young lady with whom he has been stepping out having given birth to their second sprog, this one being named "Wolf Nine". Really Andy?

Prediction? Well traditionally the introduction of a new boss often has an immediate bounce effect even if that doesn't carry on for the long term. This is a game that ought to have been winnable pre-managerial change but probably wasn't given the low confidence in the team up to that point. I have my doubts but in a case of hear over head I'm going to back the manager with cold hard cash. Yup two pounds fifty of my own money that you would have to prise out of my fingers with a crowbar assisted by ten of the biggest blokes you could find before I would part with it in favour of Children In Bloody Need will be exchanged down at Winstone the Turf Accountant's shop for a slip bearing the words "West Ham to win 2-1"

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Vicarage

Drew 1-1 (League February 2017) An early penalty of the sort only giveable by one of a) Somebody who had taken psychoactive pharmaceuticals; b) Somebody who had never seen a game of professional football in their life or c) a member of the Premier League Select Group was converted by Deeney. Cresswell,, Kouyate and Antonio were all clearly fouled in the box up the other end confirming that this thing about the laws of the game only applying in one box is far from a recent phenomenon. Ayew equalised after Antonio's shot had somehow hit both posts and Pawson had either run out of drugs or excuses.

Referee: Andre Marriner

First time we've had him this season. The chances of him having improved any are roughly on a par with those of Donald Trump saying something sane.

Danger Man: Richarlson

You just know that he won't miss those sitters against us.

Percy's Poser:

Last time out we asked what had happened to Liverpool's Mane and Loveren that used to be a lot more common for Liverpool players. Thanks to Mrs Enid Toxoplasmosis of Layer De-La-Haye who pointed out that both players had been burgled whilst away from the family home on European duty. Those wacky scousers eh!

For this week's poser we look at the town of Watford itself. With a reputation for being about as exciting as Croydon at least one travel site has been brave enough to list 24 must-do things when you're in Watford. To win this week's prize just have punt at what the no.1 thing to do in Watford is according to the list.

The winner gets the chance to take part in that activity - at their own risk!

Good luck everyone!

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