Brighton & Hove Albion v West Ham United

You'll be pleased to know that there is no such thing as VAR for match previews. If we had to check Preview Percy's output for "clear and obvious errors" we would be here all week. Here is his look at this weekend's visit to Brighton.....

Welcome to game two of the season and, taking their eyes off the ball for once the fixtures people are sending us to the seaside on a weekend in August, rather than the traditional midweek fixture of a wet midweek in winter, though as I write this you'd be hard pushed to notice the difference. Brighton & Hove Albion will be our hosts.

No engineering works on the Brighton Main Line though C2C has stuff going on. And I believe that the M23 has roadworks around the Gatwick area if you intend driving that way.

So Brighton And Hove Actually Albion then. Lots of change at the Credit Card Arena this season, not least at the top where Graham Potter has taken over from the "popular with everyone except his own chairmen" Chris Hughton, whose services were dispensed with the day after the season ended. Potter's route to the Premier League has been an unusual one. After his playing career ended he decided to study, getting a degree in Social Sciences on the way, the Media Studies class presumably being full that week. He followed that up with a Masters in Leadership & Emotional Intelligence presumably from the Institute of Making It Up As We Go Along.

During all this studying he found time to coach the England Universities squad and the Leeds Metropolitan University (formerly Headingly Swimming Baths) team as well as spells as Football Development Director for the University of Hull (seriously!) and as Technical Director for the Ghanaian Women's team in the 2007 World Cup.

His first foray into the men's professional game came with Swedish 4th division outfit Ostersund. Under his leadership (and presumably emotional intelligence) they became 3rd division Ostersund, second division Ostersund and, in 2015, first division Ostersund. A 2017 Swedish Cup win got them into Europe. All of which attracted the attention of Swansea who brought him over last summer following their relegation, eventually finishing 10th in their first season back in whatever division two was called last week.

Potter became known for his progressive coaching style and Brighton had to shell out a reported ?3m to Swansea to bring him - and his backroom staff - to England. As an aside, for that price Brighton now probably own much of Wales as well.

Potter's opening game in charge resulted in a 3-0 defeat of Watford at their place. Of course, whilst a 3-0 win on the road is not to be sniffed at, I rather suspect that Brighton won't be the last to come away from Herts with three points.

Daisy, the full-time personal assistant with the beautiful smile tells me that Potter wasted no time in going into the transfer market this summer. ?20m was paid out to Bristol City for central defender Adam Webster. I mean no disrespect to player or club but ?20m seems rather a lot for a player whose 7-year career has taken him to such powerhouses as, er, Portsmouth, Ipswich and Bristol City but I guess that's the way of the modern game.

Slightly cheaper was Genk winger Leandro Trossard who, once the Post Office had taken its commission, cost ?18m. Trossard has been capped at age groups from U16 to U21 for Belgium but has yet to bridge the gap to full international recognition. Like Webster, Trossard was an unused sub up at Vicarage Road last weekend.

One sub who did get to step across the white paint at Watford was French forward Neal Maupay whose fee coming in from Brentford was undisclosed but reported to be ?20m. Maupay was on target 29 times for Brentford last term and made an immediate impact, scoring within 15 minutes of arriving as sub last weekend.

Maupay replaced the veteran Glenn Murray last weekend. Murray and his missus were arrested a while back over the alleged evasion of ?1.1m in tax. Although HMRC confirmed that their investigations had been concluded with no prosecutions forthcoming, my spies tell me that that doesn't necessarily mean that the Murrays got away scot-free. It is common for such arrangements to be concluded with the payment of back tax and a hefty penalty - it saves all that awkward mucking about with juries and the like, what with them being so unreliable and everything (see R v Redknapp & Others 2012).

As well as a few young freebies with one eye on the future they also brought in Aaron Mooy on a season-long loan from Huddersfield, who presumably are trimming back on the wages following their relegation last season. The Aussie was another who spent last weekend testing out the upholstery of the racing car seats last week.

"Enough of them. What's your take on the wacky world of Association Football Percy?" I hear you say, to which I reply: "That's MISTER Percy to you sunshine". Ok then. In Istanbul our erstwhile 'keeper Adrian won a glorified Charity Shield medal in the So called "Super" Cup, a title that fools nobody despite the BBC going into raptures over the whole thing because Liverpool won it. Adrian - lovely chap shame about his employers - saved a weak penalty in the shoot-out. He had earlier given away a spot-kick, both VAR and the ref failing to spot one of the worst dives ever seen in a match involving Liverpool - a title which for which there has been much competition over the years.

Poor old Adrian then came a cropper as one of their oh-so-well behaved supporters ran onto the pitch and is now himself a doubt for this weekend's fixture.

Further down the leagues, Sol Campbell left Macclesfield after only 8 months at the helm. It is, of course, not the first time he's left somewhere early, though being given the runaround by Bobby Zamora is not believed to have been a factor in his departure "by mutual consent" this time.

Manchester City were given a ?49m fine but no transfer ban for "irregularities relating to the signing of youth players". Such was the severity of the punishment that City's owners reportedly asked for time to pay - probably a couple of minutes while they remembered where they left the cheque book. Nice one FIFA - that'll teach them!

I don't suppose it would occur to FIFA to ask Man City to deliver a small percentage of that fine up the road to Bury who have had all their games suspended so far this season pending receipt by the authorities of evidence that they can pay their way. There was an unedifying exchange between midfielder Stephen Dawson and owner Steve Dale with Dawson claiming his house is on the line unless Bury are saved. Jill "mother of" Neville has left her role as company secretary after over 30 years. They are on minus 12 points thanks to a points deduction. The whole thing is all the more remarkable for the fact that Bury were promoted last term and Dale has managed to bring the club to the edge of extinction in all of 8 months since taking over in December 2018. As I say, a small percentage of City's fine would help, pending someone sensible taking over.

And so to us. Well I suppose the result last weekend was no surprise but the way we capitulated in the second half was disappointing in the extreme. The furore over VAR managed to hide the real scandal of the game which was the overall performance of Mike Dean. Again. Seriously, in any other walk of life this person would have been deemed unemployable years ago. As usual, he seemed about as familiar with the concept of persistent foul play as he does with the string theory of quantum physics. Or the rest of the laws of the game.

Time after time a promising move would come to an end in that "Liverpool Fouling Zone" ten yards either side of the halfway line, Rodri usually being the culprit. Yet it wasn't until the 86th minute that the card came out for a visiting player, by which time Dean had found time to punish Anderson and Balbuena for offences that were innocuous by comparison. Dean probably welcomes the extra attention VAR will bring him and the sooner this waste of oxygen is given a Tranmere season ticket the better. He is both the reason why VAR exists and the reason it won't work properly.

Bright spots? Well I'm struggling a bit to be honest. There were signs that Haller might be a useful addition - he held the ball up well and brought others into the game well at times in the first half. And, when City/Dean weren't messing things up, we got into some promising positions but the wide players really need to work on crossing.

Injuries? Well Wilshere is likely to have recovered from the kicking that he had at the feet of Rodri whilst there are doubts over Haller and Anderson both of whom got knocks. Noble will definitely be missing. Andy Carroll will also.....oh wait, sorry, force of habit.

On to the prediction then. Well all the talk has to be about moving on and let's face it they are no Man City. They will be confident after their opening day win so we will need to get out of the blocks early. An early goal would serve to remind them that it was only Watford that they beat. However, overall I'm thinking "draw" for this one. The ?2.50 that I was thinking of chipping in towards Dean's Tranmere season ticket will therefore be placed on a wager using the Winstone Turf Accountancy app for a 2-2 draw.

Enjoy the game!


When Last We Met At The Credit Card Stadium: Lost 1-0 (Premier League October 2018

Wastefulness in front of goal proved costly as the home side stoutly defended Murray's 25th minute effort. Arnautovic missed a few but Balbuena's late header miss was the best chance to take what would have been a deserved point away from the match. Comic relief was provided by the ref removing a foreign object from the pitch, discovering it to be a dildo just too late to avoid embarrassment.

Referee: Anthony Taylor

A bit of a tool really but he was in charge for the away win at the Tottenham Toilet Bowl last term and let's face it we all like a good omen don't we.



Danger Man: Glenn Murray

It may be my imagination and neither I nor Daisy can be bothered to check but he always seems to score against us. He is the sort of journeyman striker who always does. Last week's Danger Man got a hat-trick. I'm hoping to be wrong this week.


Percy's Poser

Last week we gave you the following headline from the Manchester local paper:

Mum calls police to frame neighbour but forgets to XXXX XX.

Congratulations to Mrs Florence Tandem-Cyclist of West Mersea who correctly identified the missing words as "hang up". Congrats also to the aforementioned Mum - normally one has to visit Liverpool to find a criminal quite that dumb.

For this week we visit the Brighton Argus where, in Pythonesque style, a Hove cheese shop has closed down. Rather than do a missing words round this week we invite you to guess the name of the shop. Note this competition is not open to retired journalists resident in the Brighton area, doubly so if they bear the surname Williams.

Best of luck!


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