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West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Filed: Friday, 31st August 2018
By: Preview Percy

We'll be honest, we didn't think Preview Percy would survive 90 minutes of standing on a terrace at AFC Wimbledon the other night. Fair play to the old so and so he managed to muddle through even if he has spent the whole of the following three days moaning about the state of his knees. Here's his thoughts on this weekend's visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers. With added linament....

Next up we play host to what I am legally obliged by the Football Previews Act 1899 section 3 (Use of clichés) to refer to as “newly-promoted” Wolverhampton Wanderers. Kick-off is at the sacred hour of 3pm on Saturday.I did think that the people in charge of engineering works on our railways had been captured by the aliens from the planet Kepler 442b who have abducted our owners as we have had no engineering works of late. However, replacement buses between Shenfield and Southend Victoria and points east of Chelmsford suggest that those responsible may have been returned to wreak their disruption on anyone travelling to Stratford. Check before you leave is, as ever, the watchword.

This will be the visitors’ first visit to the Olympic and this season is their first back in the top flight since we replaced them back in 2012. They arrive having won the League finishing 9 points ahead of Cardiff who somehow managed to sneak into second place while the bouncers weren’t looking. Whilst 9 points is obviously a decent cushion, in my head they won the title by a lot more than that. Serves me right for not paying attention I suppose.

Like us, they haven’t notched a win in the league to date though they have picked up a couple of points. On the opening day they came from behind to draw 2-2 with an Everton side reduced to ten men by a horrible tackle from Jagielka. They were then unfortunate to go down 2-0 away at Leicester who were reduced to ten men by a horrible tackle from Vardy. For a change their opponents managed to keep eleven on the pitch last weekend as they picked up a point at home to Man City, though they did get the rub of the green in other ways. Boly’s opener was clearly handled in and the Citizens were denied what I am legally obliged by the Football Previews Act 1899 section 3 (Use of clichés) to refer to as a “Stonewall” penalty in a match where some quarters were critical of the home side’s defensive approach.

All of which was water off a duck’s back to Portuguese manager Nuno Spirito Santo or NSS as I shall henceforth refer to him. NSS is now in his second season at the helm but it is the slightly complicated relationship with his agent that has raised eyebrows and eventually prompted a formal investigation into the club. Jorge Mendes acts for NSS, as well as Ronaldo and quite a few of the Portuguese members of the Wolves squad who have been persuaded to eschew the delights of Porto, Lisbon, Monaco and, er, Tondela (oh come on everyone’s heard of Tondela). The complication in the arrangement stems from the fact that Mendes sold a minority stake in his company to Chinese outfit Fosun International. Who just happen to own Wolves thus potentially opening up conflicts of interest. The EFL (aren’t they the racist lot?) had a look and said all was well so that’s ok then. However, I reserve the right to declare shenanigans should Ronaldo (another of Mendes’ charges) ever pitch up at Molineux.

Even for a “newly-promoted” side it was a busy summer up there. Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile, informs me that no fewer than fifteen permanent and four loan deals were concluded before the window on these shores closed. They probably felt that they needed to compensate for Spurs I expect. So what follows is something of a highlights show. If your favourite new arrival isn’t shown tough. Go get your own work experience girl.

Centre-back and part time volleyball player (based on last weekend) Willy Boly arrived from Porto for a reported £10m although this was merely the triggering of a clause in the arrangement that saw the player spend last season on loan at Wolves anyway. A graduate of the French Clairefontaine academy, the player’s international career with French seems to have stalled at U19 level.

Also in defence “Jonny” came in on loan from Athletico Madrid. He does have a full name but opts not to use it, which makes it difficult for them to enforce parking tickets I suppose. The Spanish U21 international is listed as a full back capable of operating on either flank, though he’s been used more as a wing back on the left hand side in front of a back three this season. And those of you waiting for a schoolboy-humour-based joke on the subject of his chosen name will have a long wait. There’s only room for one prophylactic-based running gag in this column and he hasn’t gained any representative honours for the Netherlands as far as I know.

Yet to make a League appearance this season is Norwegian defender John Kitolano. I mention him only for the comic effect of the fact that he signed from my favourite Norwegian team of Odd.

Slightly more involved has been Adma Traore who came in for £20m (£10m up front the rest in nice easy instalments) from Boro’. Traore is blessed with a decent bit of pace. He has even been described as a cross between Messi and Ronaldo but since that particular description came from Tim Sherwood we can probably discount that as being utter tosh like most of Sherwood’s utterances.

A few years ago someone within the Mali Football Federation (presumably having finished counting the contents of the brown envelope regularly given to African Federation representatives by Sepp Blatter) issued a statement that Traore, along with his brother Moha, had elected to play for Mali rather than the Spain of their birth. Whilst Moha jumped ship (or should that be galleon) and appeared in a couple of squads (without ever getting any game time) the announcement relating to Adma seemed to be just a wee bit previous. Adma gained his first Spanish U21 caps this year having previously been selected at U16,17 & 18 level. I wouldn’t hold your breath Mali.

Much-capped Joao Moutinho bolstered the Portuguese contingent in the Black Country for a fee of c£5m, the relative size of the fee reflecting the player’s age (31). He’s made 113 international appearances for the country regarded as England’s oldest ally and arrived from Monaco this summer. His transfer from Sporting to Porto caused a few ructions a few years back. Sporting chairman was somewhat less than impressed with the deal saying The deal was done because Sporting wanted it, because it did not want a rotten apple in its orchard, and it did not want someone who was not an example, nor dignified the flag of the club strong stuff!

The midfielder primarily operates in the middle of the middle and, of course, should not be confused with his similarly-named compatriot currently managing at Old Trafford under the nickname of “The Average One”.

And what of us? Well that was a banana skin safely negotiated I suppose. There was an element of “same old West Ham” about the opening couple of minutes as the home side stayed in character and launched it high and so often it was out of sight from my vantage view at the back of the terrace. And I know we always stand at away matches but boy did my knees miss that seat at half time.

Although they were moaning like Yorkshiremen about the sending off it actually did the home side a favour – we’d already started to dominate and retreating with all eleven behind the ball made it difficult in the extreme. On the sending off itself Hernandez did make the most of the tug back – this is a legacy of the fact that MOTD has had this fixation with Liverpool over the years with a string of ex-players covering up for their former clubmates diving by repeating the mantra that a player is entitled to go down if there is any contact. Repeat a falsehood often enough and eventually it becomes accepted as fact and this is where we are today. I’d rather see players only go down if the contact is sufficient to make them go down myself. That will no longer happen because that’s 20 goals a season gone for Liverpool and nobody is allowed to upset them. However, the fact remains that the player did tug Chicharito back and Ardley’s rather bitter comments to the effect that in their league the player wouldn’t go down suggests that he hasn’t been watching any highlights packages recently. Still it gave them a convenient scapegoat to hang the defeat on I suppose.

Although we dominated to the extent that I thought there was a slope on the pitch, the concern was with our final ball and our finishing. When we did get in a half decent cross we ended up with a mis-kick or an air shot. On other occasions the radar was faulty or we ended up with a shot that showed all the power of one of those new-fangled lightbulbs that take so long to warm up it’s daylight anyway by the time you have enough light by which to find your pension book. I believe that the fact that our first two goals – and our clearest chance in between – fell to defenders was not a coincidence. Fine shot by Diop for the first one though, wasn’t it? A lesson to the others who sometimes seemed more intent on walking the ball in.

The good thing was that we didn’t panic. Even when trying to break down a defence that had hanging on as priority one and hoping for penalties as priority two we didn’t panic and the practice of switching the ball across the flanks which is the accepted best way of stretching and tiring a nine man defence eventually paid dividends. Snodgrass- who couldn’t get out of the place quick enough last year – in particular had a fine game. If Villa hadn’t been so skint he might well have stayed up there so to battle for – and get – a first XI place shows a good attitude. It also reflects well on Pellegrini who proved to be as good as his word with regard to his “clean slate” policy.

Injuries? Well no change on Carroll, Lanzini and Reid, obviously. Which leaves Noble (back) and Arnautovic (muscle) as the two concerns. Arnie has trained this week whilst Noble is listed as a “slight doubt”.

Prediction time. Well in our chosen post-match hostelry last week a couple of Arsenal supporters came in and you’d have thought that they had just come from a funeral such was their countenance. Admittedly the event was as quiet as an internment but it has to be said that, that pesky matter of points aside, we had got more out of the game than they had. The Wimbledon match showed further signs of improvement so on the whole we are on an upward curve.

The unifying factor about our last two matches has been our creation of and subsequent failure to take chances. Although Arnie’s potential absence would be a blow the law of averages says that we will start turning these chances into goals one day so, with that in mind I am going to plump for us to take the three points in a tight one.

So I will be opening up the Winstone Turf Accountant “app” (when the fun stops you’re probably watching the England cricket team bat) and place the £2.50 I was going to spend on a periscope to allow me to watch matches at Kingsmeadow on us to win 2-1

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at home: Won 1-0 (FA Cup 3rd Round January 2016)

A late Jelavic effort gave us the win in an FA Cup 3rd round tie that lasted in the memory for less time than it took me to write this sentence.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Took charge of the 2-0 win up at Leicester where he incurred the wrath of the home side by awarding Cresswell a yellow for a handball that prevented Vardy bearing down on goal. I might have had some sympathy had it not been for the fact that it was Vardy’s foul that caused the handball in the first place.

Danger Man: Adma Traore

If he starts his pace will be a worry even if he’s not the “Romessi” (or, if you prefer “Messaldo”) that brain-donor Sherwood thinks he is.

Percy’s Poser

In midweek we asked you what the missing words were from the following headline in the Surrey Comet:

“Single mum in Kingston council flat told she can’t keep XXXXXXXXXX”

First correct answer out of the digital hat came from Mrs Louise Troubridge of Morden who correctly identified the missing word as “trampolining”. Obviously. Well done Louise and also well done on passing that examination!

For this week’s poser we visit the pages of the Wolverhampton Express & Star and ask you what the missing word is from this headline:

Danger warning as thousands of fake XXXXXXXXX seized in Wolverhampton

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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