West Ham United v AFC Bournemouth

As a new/old manager (delete as appropriate) arrives it's worth musing on the fact that there are few constants in an ever changing world. Except, unfortunately, Preview Percy. Here's his musings on managers old and new and, of course, Bournemouth...

We enter the twenties with a home fixture against AFC Bournemouth. The vultures at TVHQ have picked this one out so look forward to a 5:30pm kick off. All sorts of stuff going on on the trains - the stuff on the Southend Victoria line is coming to an end but check before you leave etc.

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Bournemouth then. There's not much Daisy, the full time personal assistant with the beautiful smile, can add to her input the last time we met what with the window not being open at the time of writing so she has another day off.

The away match was, of course, where it all started to go pear shaped for us, Fabianski's injury starting the slump that eventually cost Pellegrini his job. In truth they have scarcely fared better in the ensuing months. In the 13 matches since that fateful day they have won two, drawn three and lost eight. Just to add to the comparisons between the clubs, their run of poor form started after they beat Man Utd, at which point they were seventh. Since then they have beaten only Chelsea.

They at least have the excuse of a lengthy injury list which at the current time stands at 9 players long. That injury list now includes Josh King, the improbably-named Norwegian international who has that annoying habit of scoring against us a lot. Or so it seems. He had one of the few chances they mustered at Brighton before limping off with a hamstring problem.

They also lost Jack Stacey towards the end, again with a hamstring problem. This left them playing out the back end of the game with 10 players.

Top scorer is that other thorn in the side, Callum Wilson. Wilson became the first Bournemouth player to score for England back in 2018. However, the fact that his caps total appears to have stalled at four suggests that he won't be wanted on voyage come the Euros next summer.

Wilson has five this season and with King possibly hors de combat for a while there will be increased focus on Dominic Solanki who arrived from Liverpool just under a year ago. He will be more desperate than most to score as, since his arrival from Merseyside for an eyebrow-raising ?19m, he has failed to net. This suggests that he will not be adding to the statutory one cap every English-born Liverpool player gets issued.

You'll detect that I'm struggling to find much to say about our opponents without coming back to the parallels with our own situation. For example, the Brighton result was described as "no endeavour, no bravery, no fight" and as being "nowhere near good enough". Stuff I am sure we have all heard about our good selves from time to time this season.

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The above comments, however, came from Cherries own defender Steve Cook. Maybe if the management had made similar comments instead of being constantly "baffled" by our performances they might still have been in a job come kick-off time on New Year's Day.

Since there isn't much to say about Bournemouth I'll move on to the Wide and Wacky World of Association Football. As VAR continues to work for and on behalf of Liverpool I couldn't help but notice the cheap and nasty plasticy looking sticker they have stuck on the front of their shirts for winning some tournament in the Middle East.

Perhaps the Baroness could look into sticking a commemorative star on our shirts for those times that we won the old Evening Standard London five-a-side tournament years ago. A slightly more meaningful tournament I think you will all agree.

Then there is the Bobby Madley affair. Madley was sacked by PGMOL back in August for sending messages that mocked the disabled. He has now come clean about the whole affair. Although the reason has been known for some time, it does remind one of PGMOL's statement at the time which suggested that his employment had been terminated because the referee had "relocated due to a change in personal circumstances".

This, of course, is what is technically termed "a lie". Deliberately making a false statement to cover up the true circumstances is a lie in anyone's books. It's a good job our plummeting standards of refereeing is in the hands of such honest people as PGMOL isn't it?

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Anyone might think that an organisation capable of lying about such matters might be capable of manipulating, say, referees' performance statistics to imply that everything is fine. When it isn't. The fact remains that despite Madley's dismissal it's still easier to get the sack by PGMOL for sending a dubious text message than it is for constantly performing at a level well below of what most major leagues would consider as acceptable.

And so to us. What ought to have been a moving tribute to the late great Martin Peters was ruined by two things for me. Firstly, the concept of the "minute's applause" is one that grates with me a bit. I'm sure Leicester fans could have been trusted enough to pay suitable tribute in a more taciturn manner.

However, worse still was the preamble in which the 1964 FA Cup win was included in amongst Martin's honours. Famously, Peters missed our first major honour having been replaced by Eddie Bovington for the match. Poor show gentlemen. Lazy and sloppy. On and off the pitch.

As for the game itself, it was almost as if Manuel Pellegrini was fed up with all the speculation and wanted out as soon as possible. That team selection struck me as something of a suicide note. As if to underline the matter the replacement of Sebastien Haller by Michail Antonio when the match seemed to be crying out for the pair to be playing in in tandem seemed to be the act of someone with a train to catch.

If there is one positive thing to come out of the Pellegrini era (if "era" is the right word to use for an 18-month spell) is the fact that Declan Rice is now a first teamer and I hope that the other night won't be the last time he wears the armband.

Fabianski's return was of course welcome, but if he would mind not giving away penalties for a bit we'd all be grateful. Still it was nice to be expecting our keeper to save shots rather than hoping that that was the case. Otherwise it was the same old stuff, players rarely able to string two passes together, failing to track back and generally showing as much interest in proceedings as I would in a turkey sandwich right now. I know the club hates anything negative being said about things but for Pete's sake, guys throw us a bone here.

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Oh and Leicester dived. A lot. Rodgers was at Liverpool. Enough said.

And so to Moyes 2.0 as I believe the geekier ones refer to the new managerial appointment. Whelmed? Not really. For all the stuff about "unfinished business" etc, I think that the whole thing can be summed up by the probable answer to one simple question that someone ought to ask of Sugobra. Namely: "If Moyes had been employed by another club would you have been willing to pay compensation to get him on board?" I have my suspicions as to what would constitute an honest answer to that question.

Moyes will come in with a preconceived idea of how he wants his side to line up. 3-5-2 is a particular favourite of his so the return to Saturday's squad of Winston Reid will add to the numbers available to populate the three of that equation - although it's not a given that he'll change formation.

Reid's return means that the Carroll/Dyer Medical Centre is down to three occupants, namely David Martin, who has a small chance should the new boss require someone less worrying than Roberto on the bench. Jack Wilshere and Andriy Yarmolenko are unlikely to make it.

Well the events of the last coupe of days have made the prediction business all the more iffy. They are probably the ideal side to be playing just now and for us there is the usual potential managerial dead cat bounce to anticipate, though this being West Ham it would be typical if we were the only club not to get the immediate benefit from a new boss that others seem to get.

Also the new boss won't have had an awful lot of time to educate his new charges in the way of Moyes.

Having said that Bournemouth are also in a pickle. Hell it's a New Year so here's a new optimistic me. Sort of. I'm going for the dead cat bounce bet of a home win. Mr Winstone, please place the ?2.50 I was going to place on the year that those engineering works on the Southend Victoria line were going to finish (I reckoned 2029) on a 2-1 win to us as an unbeaten run extends into a whole decade.

Enjoy the game!

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When last we met at the Olympic: Lost 1-2 (August 2018)

Arnautovic opened the scoring on the half hour after Chicharito was upended. However, Wilson's unopposed solo effort and Cook's header from a set piece saw us throw away a promising situation. Again

Referee: Graham Scott

Got stuck in traffic earlier this season and missed Chelsea v Leicester. I don't suppose we will be so lucky.

Danger Man: Callum Wilson

Likely to be recalled after a rest for Brighton. Usually scores.

Percy's Poser:

Last time out we were indebted to the Leicester Mercury from which nicked the following headline:

XXXXXXX among 28 people banned from Leicestershire's libraries for XXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX

Well done to Mrs Iris Sparkplug of Loughton who correctly identified the missing words as "Flasher" and "Inappropriate Behaviour".

Well done Iris.

This week we look at the Bournemouth Echo who posted the following headline the other day:

"From XXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXX to panto giant - here's how Poole's villain made it to the stage"

(Warning - it's not the most obvious of career paths!)

Best of British!

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