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West Ham United v Manchester City

Filed: Saturday, 28th April 2018
By: Preview Percy

Last week it was sunny and Preview Percy was in a good mood. It's been chucking it down for a few days now so you can guess how his look at the visit of Manchester City is looking....

Next up we take on the now champions in the form of Man City. It’s a Sunday match with kick-off at 2:15 pm, a rather odd time that seems to have been picked by a random number generator rather than with any rational reasoning.

It’s relatively quiet on the engineering front for the trains – buses east of Shenfield if you’re coming in from the Southend Victoria line and that little shuttle between Upminster and Romford has got the day off as well. Check before you leave because they are bound to find something to mess up your journey….

So Man City then. Here’s a rum thing. When last I did one of these for them I suggested that their owner was responsible – in his role as de facto Minister For Justice in the UAE – for some pretty unpleasant human rights abuses back home. At which point some idiot jumped onto the comments page to accuse me of racism because I didn’t take into account the “cultural differences” between the UK and the UAE. Well if that cretin happens to be reading this, I am more than happy for this column to be considered to be a “disgusting turd of a read” by anyone who is sick and stupid enough to think that it’s ok to kidnap someone and wire their genitals to the UAE National Grid.

It is to the credit to some residents of Manchester – including a significant number of City fans – that they have petitioned the local authority to name a street after Ahmed Mansoor, the poor soul who is now in his second year of incarceration in Abu Dhabi for using Facebook and twitter to criticise the ruling regime. The council, with one eye on the billions that they appeared to have sold the city for, have discovered a convenient rule about not naming streets after people who are a) still alive or b) who have little connection with the city. So that’s ok then.

On the football side of things the visitors have, by and large, been a joy to watch this season. In fact, by rights they should arguably have one eye on Kiev as we speak (as it used to be spelt before they started mucking about with the alphabet to confuse old people like me). I have little doubt that had they gone into the interval of their quarter final match 2-0 up, the way they were playing that night they would have torn Liverpool a new one in the second half. Instead, at 1-0 the offside decision that denied them the second goal their efforts merited at that point resembled a throwback to the sort of decision that you used to encounter back in the 1970’s, when progress to the next round often depended on the result of a bidding war between the two clubs for the referee’s services. Thus it was that a Spanish referee ensured that Real Madrid got a slightly easier set of potential opponents available to them in the semi-final. Just coincidence I suppose – though that all went a bit Pete Tong when they drew Bayern in a match that ought to have been the final had there been any justice.

Let’s face it it’s a hellova squad, which has been assembled by taking full advantage of the inadequacies of the Financial Fair Play rules. These are designed to stop the wealthy simply pumping money into a club. Thus each year you are allowed to increase your total wage bill by a certain percentage. Anything above that prescribed amount has to be funded from external commercial sources. Which is all well and good but if, like City and PSG you are funded by people who own a country, all that happens is that the money comes in via a different route. So, having hit the limit for cash he can put into the club directly Sheikh Mansour simply gets the family airline to enter into increasingly lucrative shirt and stadium sponsorship deals which, as legitimate commercial income, aren’t subject to those tiresome FFP rules that our owners inevitably cite as the reason we didn’t sign whichever superstar we were going for at season ticket renewal time. This is all perfectly legal, one should stress, and you can’t blame them for taking full advantage of the rules. However, one does wonder why such an obvious flaw in the system wasn’t dealt with right from the start. Why you might almost think it were deliberate and represented a case of pulling up the drawbridge behind you to prevent others from following.

In Kevin De Bruyne that expensively assembled squad contains probably Preview Percy’s non West Ham Player of the Year. Yeah Saleh whatever. De Bruyne is, for me, the chap that stands out, even in a squad as good as City’s. His range of passing is second to none whatever anyone says and that range is matched by his shooting ability. The shot for his goal last week was so sweet they were carrying diabetics out of the stadium by the dozen to get emergency insulin shots.

Such are the riches contained within their squad that they will barely notice the absence of Aguero whose knee problem may keep him out for the season. They will also be sans John Stones. I did raise an eyebrow when 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 informed me that Stones had had problems with his abductors. This conjured up images of blokes in balaclavas forcibly removing him from whatever bad taste footballer mansion he lives in with him waking up somewhere in Abu Dhabi with his genitals wired up to the UAE national grid. I mean yeah his form has been patchy and, as we know it’s possibly not best policy to upset the Sheikh if you are a subject or an employee but kidnapping seemed a little draconian. Turns out that it is the abductor muscles that are the issue. I knew that, obviously.

Sterling won another penalty last week. Another victory for the “oh but there was contact” brigade who like to conveniently ignore the fact that with some players they are usually horizontal before the contact is made. And that it is them that actually make the contact in the first place. If you want proof that this retrospective ban thing isn’t working just look at how many players from the top 6 have served bans.

One player who will be looking forward to the visit to the Olympic Stadium will be David Silva. In his last six visits to either The Olympic or the Boleyn he has scored four times – including on both occasions at the Olympic. Another Lukaku then.

To be honest if I analyse their squad too deeply it will just get a bit depressing so we’ll move on shall we? I see the FA are likely to sell Wembley to the chap that owns Fulham. There’s been a bit of hand wringing over the proposal which kind of rather ignores the fact that since the original place was built in 1923 the vast majority of its life has been spent in the ownership of just about anyone other than the FA. The place is due a bit of a refurb – it will need a deep clean once Spurs have moved out to make it suitable for people with normal standards of hygiene to use – and I’d rather that sort of money be used by the FA to set up a properly accountable organisation to oversee our appalling referees. Like, you know, they are meant to under FIFA regulations.

Elsewhere results were much as expected. Southampton were always going to beat Bournemouth. Liverpool v Stoke was unexpected I suppose. Although I saw a bit of that match I missed the bit where Klopp went into scouse mode and blamed someone else for the result. Last week it was West Brom’s groundsman’s fault for not watering the pitch enough. Perhaps someone could inform me whether the Anfield groundsman did a proper job?

Us? Well 4-1 was in no way a fair reflection of a match after which the outgoing Wenger had a pop at what is generally accepted to be a very poor bunch of supporters, accusing them of a lack of unity. I dunno Arsene, quite a few of them seemed quite unified by the thought that they would rather be anywhere else than watching Arsenal, such was the abundance of empty seats, particularly in the upper tiers.

Young Rice got a bit of a slating in some quarters over their second. A bit unfair as, up to that point he’d had a fine game and it’s not like he’s the only player to have made an error this season, is it?

It was nice to see Ginge slumming it in the cheap seats, taking all the selfie requests with good humour. Of course rumours that he was, in fact, fit but wasn’t risked due to the high UV levels are almost certainly untrue. Ginge is the only one on the injury list with any sort of chance of playing – but that chance is only mathematically greater than zero for statistical purposes. The other long termers (Reid, Obiang, Byram, Antonio) will all play no further part in the season. Noble has had something of a “niggle” which is not serious enough to threaten his participation.

We will also of course be missing Hart due to the parent club rule. Meaning that Adrian will return. Moyes has gone on record as saying that if Adrian does well enough he will retain his place, which may well mean that Hart has played his last match for the club. If that’s the case file under “seemed like a good idea at the time”.

So to the prediction then. We ought to stay up but the other results - expected though they may have been – will keep us on our toes. Huddersfield’s run in is horrendous and with Swansea and Southampton playing eachother at some point we may already have just enough to stay up, though two points will of course settle the argument.

We won’t get them in this match though. I’m struggling to see a bright side to this one, try as I might. So with heavy heart I will be placing the £2.50 that I might have spent on Royal wedding/baby presents on a bit of a thumping. Call it 5-1 Mr Winstone then will you?

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at the Olympic.Lost 0-4 (Premier League February 2017)

If you give the ball away to this lot they will punish you. So we did that three times in the first half. De Bruyne, Silva and Jesus capitalising on slapdash defending. They added a 4th in the second half when Sterling’s embarrassing dive in the general direction of Fonte was given as a spot kick. City fans were heard to defend the diver’s actions thusly “if a player sees a leg sticking out he is entitled to throw himself at it”. Sadly the rules on the retrospective ban didn’t come in until this season and nobody appears to examine their games too closely, which explains whu Lanzini has received a ban for much, much less than Sterling did, whilst Sterling has not.

Referee: Neil Swarbrick:

Stick him in front of a big team and he goes all gooey-eyed. It wouldn’t surprise me if he went round asking for autographs after the game.

Danger Man: Kevin De Bruyne

I mean take your pick really. De Bruyne gets the player of the season gong in these parts and our only hope is that we get another repeat of the heatwave of the other week – his colouring not being best suited to excess lashings of Ultra Violet.

Percy’s Poser

Last week we asked you what Arsene Wenger’s spectacles prescription is and what it ought to be. Well done to Mrs Juliette Lupin who pointed out that a) the precise optics involved in Wengers glasses is classified information on the grounds that if anyone replicated them they would have a weapon strong enough to focus the sun’s rays line that gadget in “The Man With The Golden Gun”, and b) The prescription ought to be twice that strength if he actually wants to see anything.

For this week’s poser we ask you: Why is Associated Press Journo Rob Harris unlikely to be on Guardiola’s Christmas card list this year?
A copy of the Sheffield United Little Book Of Hypocrisy to the first correct answer out of the digital hat.

Good luck everyone!

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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