“Best rant ever,”says Liz in Canada.“Someday, may we again live in times where the only thing raising our hackles is irresponsible meteorologists. Rest in peace, Greavsie.”
“Will either of today’s Uniteds be capable of proving the old adage of no player being bigger than the club?” muses Steve Hewlett. “The 1900 version seeking to keep up their unbeaten start to the season without their main source of goals in Michail Antonio; or the 1902 version, eager enablers of the twilight tour of the Cristiano Ronaldo show and his mammoth social media following?”
I knew I should have brought my quill today.
From the archive
This is really nice – a piece on Jimmy Greaves’ testimonial in 1972.
Jadon Sancho is on the bench today. Have Manchester United bought a dud? No, behave yourself.
“I was fortunate enough to watch United against Tottenham several times when Greaves and my hero, Denis Law , were both on the field,” writes David Gaskell. “The excitement was electric. However, I seem to recall that Greavesie, like Bobby Charlton was a very fair player and was cautioned. Denis, on the other hand, presumably because of defective eyesight, could often catch the opposition with a misplaced tackle. Can anyone confirm that Jimmy was virtually spotless?”
I’m pretty sure he was sent off once in a European game, though would have to check. Jimmy Greaves and Denis Law on the same pitch, eh – I’m surprised the game wasn’t postponed due to dangerous levels of charisma.
It’s a reflection of West Ham’s confidence – and attacking options – that David Moyes has stuck with a back four. He often plays three centre-backs against the bigger teams but clearly fancies his chances today, even without Michail Antonio.
Kurt Zouma and Nikola Vlasic make their full Premier League debuts for West Ham. Vlasic or Jarrod Bowen will play up front instead of the suspended Michail Antonio, a like-for-like replacement either way.
The increasingly influential Scott McTominay returns from injury for Manchester United, which means a slight reshuffle and the omission of Jadon Sancho.
West Ham (4-2-3-1, positions of the front four tbc) Fabianski; Coufal, Zouma, Ogbonna, Cresswell; Soucek, Rice; Vlasic, Fornals, Benrahma; Bowen. Substitutes: Areola, Dawson, Diop, Fredericks, Masuaku, Lanzini, Noble, Kral, Yarmolenko.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Greenwood, Fernandes, Pogba; Ronaldo. Substitutes: Heaton, Bailly, Dalot, Lingard, Mata, Matic, van de Beek, Martial, Sancho.
Referee Martin Atkinson.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of West Ham United v Manchester United from the London Stadium. This is a story of three centre-forwards. Michail Antonio is suspended, which means David Moyes will have to get creative; Cristiano Ronaldo is Cristiano Ronaldo; and Jimmy Greaves MBE has died at the age of 81.
Greavsie is one of the few footballers you can regularly call by his nickname without sounding ridiculous; that’s because he went out of his way to become our friend. He was a supernatural goalscorer who never stopped seeing the good in football or life, no matter how hard they kicked him. He’s best known for his spells at Spurs and Chelsea, who meet this afternoon, but he also spent 14 months at West Ham in the twilight of his career. Richard Williams has written a beautiful tribute, full of insight and great lines.
As for this game, the Uniteds are two of only four teams still unbeaten in the Premier League (Liverpool and Chelsea are the others). Both have had solid starts to the season, though Manchester United’s performances have been mixed and the Champions League defeat to Young Boys means that, once again, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is one defeat away from a crisis.
This infantile discourse shames us at the best of times, but it feels even more egregious today. Not to mention charmless: if you’re going to go off on one, at least do with a bit of style.