West Ham United v Manchester United

Nobody could have anything to moan about in an 8-0 victory, right? Well one person could. See what Preview Percy's bone of contention was as he takes a look at this weekend's visit of Manchester United.....

And after a midweek off on League Cup duty we return to the bread and butter of the league where we will play host to Manchester United. Yet again they have elected to stage this one in, what is to most sane people, that period when you are just contemplating getting out of a nice warm bed following the excesses of a pleasant evening putting the world to rights in the lounge bar of the Swan And Superinjunction getting round the outside of several pints of Allardyce's False No.9 Bitter followed by a thermonuclear curry takeaway from Asbestos Arry's Ruby Rendezvous. 12:30pm is a kick-off time which probably pleases only the visitors whose tv support tends to watch in a different time-zone.

Trains? Well buses replace trains on the Southend Victoria line east of Shenfield and, for the benefit of visiting supporters making the long journey there are similar issues on the line between Barnes and Hounslow. As ever, check before you leave.

The visitors arrive in 7th place in the league with 10 points from the six played so far. Those points came from wins against Leicester (2-1) Burnley (2-0) and Watford (2-1) and a point last weekend at home to Wolves (1-1). The two defeats came away at Brighton (2-3) and at home to Spurs whose third goal in a 3-0 victory cost me a couple of hundred quid in the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered's pontoon draw. Just shows that you can't trust Spurs. Or Man Utd. All that has left them 8 points of the top spot occupied by Liverpool. I've never quite understood the animosity between those two. After all they have so much in common. Going back in the day they used to work happily together to fix matches and their support probably live happily side by side with eachother in sunny Scandinavia. They even share a love of those half and half scarves that supporters of every other club in the country shows proper disdain for. Odd bunch all round really. Their latest outing was of course the defeat to Derby in the League Cup the other night, which was downright hilarious.

They are currently managed by Jose Mourinho, a man who seems to have decided to take the fact that I was once described as the "grumpiest man in football" as a personal affront this season. Every time you see him on the box he seems to be grumbling about something. Maybe it's the prospect of paying a ?1.78m fine and having a suspended jail sentence for tax evasion in Spain hanging over him. Still that merely shows he is trying to fit in with the traditions at Man Utd - he's not the only manager to have fallen foul of the taxman in recent years eh "Sir" Alex?

Mourinho seems to be in some sort of civil war situation with Paul Pogba who has been relieved of "second captain" (or Vice-Captain as it ought to be called) duties for reasons that are skirted around rather than fully explained. Pogba was "rested" from the League Cup match though really he ought to have faced a suspension for turning up to watch in a dodgy white tracksuit sort of thing. Whatever happened to club blazers and ties when on official duties?
Pogba spent much of the match messing about on something called "Instagram" (I think I had one of those from the Queen a few birthdays back). This seems to have naused Mourinho off more than the League Cup defeat. All very funny but still a long way from making it up to the point where I actually care.

It's been a fairly easy week for Daisy, the work experience girl with the beautiful smile in that there were only three new arrivals in the close season for her to research. ?19m was the fee paid to Porto for the youngster Diogo Dalot. It's a fair wedge for a 19 year-old full-back who had but 8 first XI appearances under his belt for "The Dragons" (a nickname presumably derived from the visit to Portugal made by the former Mrs Percy). He hasn't featured in the league as yet but did make his debut in last week's So-Called Champions League 3-0 victory over Swiss outfit Young Boys. (Ok go ahead and snigger if you want. You usually do when I mention that particular club). Mourinho was fulsome in his praise of the player's performance in Switzerland, saying that he looked like the sort of player that could spend 10 years at Old Trafford. There's always a down side isn't there.

They spent something like EUR57m on Shaktar Donetsk midfielder Fred which is around ?50m according to Thomas Cook, (the staff at the local branch of which no longer get excited when I send Daisy the work experience girl with the beautiful smile over there to find out how much EUR57m Euros is in proper pounds). Fred is involved in the strange case of a failed drugs test. Back in June 2015 he failed a test for a banned substance with more letters in its name than I can be bothered to type. The substance was a diuretic, which makes me wonder whether it is the active ingredient in Allardyce's False No.9 bitter. The South American Federation issued a ban in December 2015 as the test was taken during that year's Copa America. Bizarrely (some say suspiciously) the one year ban was backdated to June 2015 and only applied to matches under the auspices of CONMEBOL (which itself sounds like the name of an anabolic steroid rather than being the acronym for the South American football federation). FIFA then stepped in to extend the validity of the ban to cover all games worldwide. However, the March-October season that is played in Ukraine meant that the ban was effectively only a few month's long. At this point the good people at WADA got involved and high tailed it off to the CAS to protest against the leniency of the ban. But then the trail goes a bit cold. If CAS did get involved I can't find any mention of it on their website and despite newspaper reports confirming WADA's appeal I can't find anything on their website either - other than their confirmation of how much better the Russians are handling things today. Odder still is the assertion (admittedly on Wikipedia) that the "as of July 2017, he was cleared by all organizations". One can only presume that this means "cleared to play" rather than "cleared of all wrongdoing" but since there is no citation for the comment lord alone knows. All very "Salisbury Cathedral" I'd say.

The fee paid to Stoke City for 'keeper Lee Grant was substantially lower than that for Fred. A "mere" ?1.5m was enough to tempt the custodian away from the racing car seats at what used to be called the Britannia Stadium (if you have to name grounds after a sponsor at least make it sound as if it isn't). Instead he is Man Utd's equivalent of Rob Green at Chelsea. i.e Third Choice who gets to sit in the racing car seats in cup matches. Grant was called into action during Tuesday's match when second choice keeper Romero handled outside the box to deny a goalscoring opportunity. The resulting suspension for Romero will see Grant on deputy duties this weekend.

They have pretty much a full squad to select from - though Rashford's suspension will keep him out and will be more of an imposition on them than that of Romero. This will probably mean a start for Romelu Lukaku who has six goals for the season thus far. You suspect that when the fixtures come out each season, whilst most people connected with that club will be looking at the dates involving Liverpool or the bigger club in Manchester, Lukaku's eyes go straight to West Ham home and away. We clearly upset him in a previous life such is his goalscoring record against us.

Enough of them. What about us. Now this may not come as a surprise to regular readers but the 8-0 win against Macclesfield annoyed me. You see in all the years I have been watching us, I have seen us score 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and 10 goals in a match. Guys would it have hurt you to get just the one more for me to get the set? I suppose I'll forgive you if you do it this weekend.

There's not much you can say about the match itself really. A thoroughly professional performance against a woeful team who look as if they already have one eye on the safer havens of the National League. It was the ultimate "hiding to nothing" game. Beat them handsomely and everyone says "it's only Macclesfield". Anything else and they will get slated. Full marks to Mark Yates their boss though for splendid use of litotes with his comment that the result was "not what we needed". And it's gotta hurt when even the referee steps in to save you further grief. There were two lengthy stoppages in the first half for injuries to Sanchez and Oggy. However, sensing that Macclesfield might benefit from a break, he added a paltry 2 minutes. Better still, despite subs a-plenty in the second half, he blew up right on the 90 - thus robbing me of the potential 9th goal that would have completed the set. Damn you Pawson.

I was pleased with the side that was fielded the other night. I'm all for blooding the kids in the earlier stages of this competition but that has to be on the basis of one or two rather than six or seven. For potential perils of overdoing the kid quotient you only need to look at the defeat to Forest in the Cup under Allardyce a few years back when he threw them all in at once when trying to prove a point about squad depth to the owners. By picking a squad with first team experience and throwing Diangana in, MP ensured that there would be enough old heads around to provide guidance. Given that the game was done by half time bringing on Coventry was a shrewd move and he immediately impressed with some of the passes he picked out. By the time Powell replaced Antonio we were already six to the good and Powell's fine pass contributed to Diangana's second.

However, it was Diangana who caught the eye from the start. He had a hand in the first - his blocking work as the visitors tried to clear their lines led to Rice's cross. He was also a bit unlucky not to have scored when his shot was parried and blocked on the line for Snodgrass to tap in. He played with the sort of freedom that only comes with youth and very refreshing it was too. The selection came as a result of MP's insistence that the U23s train at the same place as the senior squad, something that you would think was a bit of a Mike Dean (a no-brainer).

Diangana will have harder games in his life - including his next training session I suspect but you can only beat what's in front of you so let's just enjoy the moment shall we?

Injuries? Well the one shadow on Wednesday's performance was the knee injury picked up by Sanchez. He seemed to twist awkwardly and you know when it looks bad when you see players beckoning the physio on like that. Knee ligaments is the initial diagnosis so we could well be adding him to the ling termers.

Wilshere, Carroll, Lanzini, Reid are all still out. Arnie's listed as a "slight doubt" but we now have an update on Hernandez which suggests that he has glandular fever. If that's the case he could be ages.

All things being equal I would expect a similar line-up to the Everton and Chelsea matches with Antonio subbing for Arnie if the latter isn't quite ready.

Prediction - well this is another team that enjoys a helping hand from the officials, though at least we have got Dean out of the way for the time being (though Oliver has his moments). The civil war within the camp up there won't help them whilst two wins and a draw in our last three will put a smile on the face around our gaff, even if few of those involved on Wednesday will feature on this one. I actually can see us winning this one but I will err on the side of caution and go for a draw. The ?2.50 I was going to spend on a white tracksuit like Pogba's will instead be invested on a 2-2 draw using the Winstone Turf Accountancy App (When The Fun Stops, Mourinho has started to speak).

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Olympic: Drew 0-0 (Premier League May 2018)

Penultimate match of last season. We had sealed safety the previous weekend by winning at Leicester. They were a million points behind their bigger neighbours, who had already won the league ages before. Not the least predictable of results then. Noble grabbing Pogba by the neck near the end of the match was the game's highlight. I'm just wondering whether Mourinho put him up to it.

Referee: Michael Oliver

Invertebrate official. The early kick-off is so he can get home for his tea before his Mum calls him in.

Danger Man: Romelu Lukaku

Why? If you have to ask you haven't been paying attention for the last seven years or so.

Percy's Poser:

The other day we asked you to identify the missing words from this headline

Ofsted scrap Macclesfield school visit because XXXXX XXXX'X XXX XXXXXX"

Congratulations to Mrs Hyacinth Microchip of White Notley for correctly identifying that the missing words were "there aren't any kids" and winning the ?1.5m jackpot. Hyacinth's entry was actually the second entry out of the digital hat. However our team of investigators established that there is no such person as Elspeth McSporran in Duntulm, Isle of Skye leading us to suggest that her rather ludicrous name was made up by a kumb forum member from that part of the world in an attempt to snaffle the jackpot for himself. So we disqualified the entry.

For this week's poser we go to the pages of the Manchester Evening News which, for the benefit of the visitors this weekend, is the local evening paper up there. To win a really special prize, possibly, all you have to do is fill in the missing words from the following headline:

"The X-XXX-XXXX moment police dealt with an escaped cow in Didsbury"

Good luck everyone!

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