January 26, 2015

Things We Think We Think #171


1. It’s hard to know what to make of the current quietness in the transfer market. Few, if any, of the players trailed in the press strike us as plausible signings. Our needs are obvious – a striker, or at least players to remedy our woeful record in front of goal. But our resources, limited even without the complication of our over-spending causing possible Financial Fair Play ramifications, don’t easily lend themselves to big signings.

2. One such big signing is, or would be, Aaron Lennon. But several million quid? On a winger? Now? It doesn’t feel right. There’s no doubt he’s a good player who’d improve the quality of our side. But do we need him? Can we afford him? And so on.

3. Of course, the problem, with a big signing right now is the prospect of re-sale if City go down. Dropping down a division means that Premier League quality players will want to leave, and the reduced status of the selling club makes extracting a high price from potential suitors a difficult task. There are big risks attached to spending significant sums on players at a time when relegation is a serious possibility.

4. On the flip side, there are also risks to inaction. City’s continuing lack of form and extensive injury concerns make doing nothing before the end of January unlikely. If only to freshen things up and ensure we have enough fit bodies to fill a squad until the injury situation eases, a couple of arrivals seem a sensible course of action. But please don’t panic or over-spend, City…

5. Newcastle next. The time for “taking a point” is gone. City have to win this game, and every part of Steve Bruce’s preparation’s this week must be geared towards ensuring we score the goals required for victory. That isn’t a task we’d fancy, because our present predicament is an ugly one. Perhaps his major task is just to restore the side’s confidence.

6. At least we’re not up against one of the division’s real powerhouses, or a side in form themselves. City have proven themselves to be reliable friends to teams in need this season, so it would hardly be a surprise to see another cheap three points handed over to struggling opposition; but we’d still rather have erratic Newcastle at home over, say, Arsenal away.

7. Newcastle, and then Manchester City away, form part of a reasonable run of fixtures. Villa at home, QPR at home, Stoke away, Sunderland at home – save for the champions, all of those are winnable. A burst of form now could propel us several places clear of danger. Failure to capitalise, however…

8. Mike Phelan seems a fine choice of assistant manager to replace Steve Agnew. There are never any guarantees, but his CV is one filled with coaching success and he has been a team-mate of the manager twice during their playing days - let’s hope Steve Bruce is successful in luring him to Hull.

9. It’s a clever and imaginative move on the part of Ehab Allam to stage an Under 21s game at the Circle immediately after the Newcastle match. Perhaps, in an ideal world (and with a 3pm kick-off) it’d be preferable to have the juniors as the curtain-raiser to the main event, thus guaranteeing at least some sort of audience for the lads – if City’s senior side lose then our appetite for more football could be significantly diminished. It could also be a tad dispiriting for the youngsters if scores of people depart the stadium while they’re actually playing. However, you suspect that Steve Bruce wouldn’t sanction a game on the pitch immediately before his charges take to the field, so maybe reversing the order could never be possible. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea and we’ll be interested to see how it goes.

10. This is our final TWTWT before February, the month in which the FA will tell Assem Allam no. Again. There’s still a little time for him to halt the madness of his own accord, for which he gain at least moderate respect – or be rejected again, and humiliated. His call.

Filed under: Opinion — Amber Nectar @ 6:43 am

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January 21, 2015


West Ham, the transfer window and custodians of the leather. Here it is…

Filed under: Podcasts — Amber Nectar @ 10:39 am

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January 20, 2015

Things We Think We Think #170


1. God, what a wretched watch that was at Upton Park, made more so by the genuinely excellent work by City in the first half that went woefully uncomplemented by any finishing capability. The game could have been won 3-0 just as easily as it was eventually lost as such.

2. Why can’t we shoot? Sone Aluko played marvellously at times but there’s no point in majestically weaving in and out of cumbersome centre backs and leaving them grassbound if you’re then going to fanny about in front of goal because the ball has the nerve to be on your ‘weaker’ foot. He even managed to score with that foot at Everton recently, so it’s not as if he didn’t have recallable form for succeeding with his right. So damn frustrating.

3. Losing Alex Bruce with a thigh injury is a blow; losing James Chester to a dislocated shoulder is a disaster. Our injury list is now at the stage whereby one ‘flu bug will render us pleading with the FA to reschedule matches.

4. It may also make entering the orgy of panic that is the January transfer window unavoidable. It’s an utterly ghastly time of year, but our injury situation can also be described that way. Though this time, we’ll settle for a useful striker instead of “winning the transfer window”.

5. Graeme Souness said on Sky Sports prior to the game that Tom Huddlestone was too good a player to be at Hull City. Graeme, mate, your job is to research these players before making boneheaded comments like that; if you’d watched us at all this season you’ll know that Huddlestone has stunk our midfield out for the most part, and doesn’t deserve to be in *any* team.

6. The move by the new Hull City Supporters’ Trust to seek the nomination of The Circle as an Asset of Community Value is a terrific idea. Its benefits are obvious – safeguarding the stadium’s future as a venue to serve the people of Hull and East Yorkshire for years to come, and we congratulate their foresight and determination to achieve this.

7. This is precisely why a strong, independent supporters group for City fans is so important. The OSC, with the best will in the world, is never going to do anything proactive and visionary like this for us. The HCST’s campaigning heritage combined with its more formal role as a Supporters Trust has the potential to make real improvements to life for City fans. It would be nice to think the club are thinking of ways to engage with them, despite its recent record.

8. You can join the Hull City Supporters’ Trust here. We have; we strongly recommend all City fans do likewise.

9. Interesting to see the new Hull United AFC attracting 526 supporters to their game on Saturday against Beverley Town. That’s quite a bit more than North Ferriby United usually get for home matches, and while they remain a long way adrift of Ferriby’s standard, they’re creating a bit of stir. Hull only needs one professional football team and needless to say we’ll be sticking with City; but with our own club so determined to drive away long standing supporters with ridiculous prices and open contempt of fans, well, Hull United could find themselves with a rich seam to mine.

10. Over in the tiny world of eggchasing, dissent abounds about the SMC’s decision to remove cash turnstiles from the stadium. Far be it from us to ever make common cause with the small-minded gerrumonsard brigade who infamously whined that 25,000 seats would be “too many”, but they may have a point. Cash turnstiles in the Premier League aren’t really required, but it’s not just minority sports in which they are – if City fall back into the Championship we’ll no longer be selling out either, walk-up trade will be again present, and presumably sought by the club. There is an argument for unmanned turnstiles, and let’s be honest, using them and buying a ticket in advance is hardly rocket science (even for rugby fans) – but there’s a better argument in favour of making it as easy as possible for your customers to purchase your product. An easy compromise must be possible here.

Filed under: Opinion — Amber Nectar @ 6:42 am

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January 19, 2015

MATCH REPORT: West Ham 3-0 City


League tables are such uncaring things, aren’t they? Aloofly disinterested in such things as injury crises, promising first halves and those all-important “what-if-we’d-taken-our-chances” counterfactuals, they limit themselves to such trifles as goals scored and points amassed. It really is quite unseemly.

But we must deal with the world as it is, not how we’d like it to be, and so we must allow that on the current criteria for success, things are not looking awfully promising. After all, a good first half at West Ham isn’t going to keep us warm at Rotherham next season, is it? So perhaps, lads, it’s time to lower ourselves to actually acquiring some Premier League points, scoring some Premier League goals, and not cocoon ourselves in comforting excuses and hard luck stories? Because if we do find ourselves in South Yorkshire next season, it won’t just be us suffering. Roy Hodgson won’t care how many goals or clean sheets you keep in the Championship, and no-one’s going to pay you fifty grand a week to do them either.

That sorted? Good. Now, on we go.


Filed under: Match Reports — Amber Nectar @ 7:40 pm

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January 17, 2015

PREVIEW: West Ham v City


Erratic form. Injury woes of such magnitude as to, for once, deserve the term “crisis”. Barely any fit strikers. A wretched record at Upton Park. Ee, it’s all glamour this Premier League lark, isn’t it?

It won’t be for the faint-hearted, this one. Not at a preposterous £43, and with Sky Sports preparing to beam the gory details into the nation’s living rooms. But while we can feel a little down in the dumps, we must raise the team. And they must raise themselves, because however unpromising the circumstances, we no longer have the luxury of writing games off and waiting for easier ones – largely because we invariably lose the easier ones anyway (Burnley, Swansea, Leicester, West Brom…), but mainly last weekend’s grim outing combined unhappily with other results to deposit us back in the bottom three. Points are needed, not just next month when everyone’s fit, but right now.

The task, then. West Ham are having a stellar season, vying with Southampton for the most unexpectedly impressive ascent of the table. They currently lie 8th, on the cusp of European qualification, and with fears of the bottom three long extinguished. A hefty 33 points have already been amassed, 20 of them at home, and their view is upwards, not downwards.

Avoiding defeat has been a hallmark of their season. Three at home will be a slight disappointment, but with only three away as well, they regularly add to their points tally. 16 goals from 11 home matches isn’t amazing (though it compares well to City’s paltry 10), but a relatively miserly concession of 10 suggests our makeshift attack will need to exceed expectations just to register once.

That there’s been talk of putting Harry Maguire up front is a sign of City’s desperate situation, though Sone Aluko and Gastón Ramírez may be fit to play. For West Ham, Winston Reid and Guy Demel may return to action after recent injuries. Though presumably a little jaded after their epic midweek Cup game against Everton, they’ll at least have the confidence boost of emerging successfully from it. Their form has actually dipped a little lately, and they’re winless in the first four Premier League games.

Set against that is City’s ghastly record at Upton Park. The Tigers have lost the last five trips there, including a 7-1 thrashing in 1990 – the same year in which our last victory came there. Nor is our overall record against the Hammers much better, with last season’s 1-0 win at home the only success in eight. Crumbs of comfort are sadly lacking. But the incentive’s a good one. Today’s results weren’t bad for City, meaning that a win would elevate us to 14th (or 13th if it’s by four goals…) – that’s a 9/2 shot with the bookies. The draw that’d lift us to 16th is 11/4 – but a home win is just 3/4. Hm. C’mon City.

Filed under: Match Previews — Andy @ 11:58 pm

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January 12, 2015


Depressing week, and a depressing podcast to follow – the disappointment against West Brom, the injury list, the latest chapter in the continuing rebrand of the club by stealth and Steve Bruce’s blundering and ignorance over the Ched Evans case. Even when being nostalgic, we went for one of those (many) occasions where the sale of a popular player has caused massive consternation…

Still, it’s articulate (we think). Have a listen…

Filed under: Podcasts — Amber Nectar @ 11:00 pm

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Things We Think We Think #169


1. A drab, disappointing defeat at West Brom. Forget the preposterously over-hyped “Pulis Factor”, they’re a side of roughly equal ability to City, and to lose to them without scoring represents a missed opportunity.

2. Another missed opportunity, too. City stayed up with a degree of comfort last season by frequently beating sides of comparable standing. That isn’t happening this season, and it’s a concern, particularly when our ghastly run-in is taken into account. We need to be ahead of the run-rate by the end of April, and these are the games in which those points must be accumulated.

3. There are mitigating circumstances. City’s injuries are now numerous enough for the tag “crisis” to be not far from accurate. If the front two that limped off on Saturday are both out for any length of time, we are in trouble. We’re due a little good fortune on that front.

4. If not, Steve Bruce will probably have to bring in players in the January transfer window. It’s a dislikeable time of year, when agents grow fat on the panic of others, and had City been blessed with a fit squad, we suspect Steve Bruce would have given it a miss – and not only because Assem Allam has sulkily said he doesn’t want to spend any more money because his stupid name change has been rejected (though he says a lot of things). However, despite a squad that looked quite bulky a few months ago, we’re suddenly short in key areas. If the Jelavic/Hernandez news is not good – and perhaps even if it is – we may have little choice but to at least bring in a loan player or two.

5. Concern continues about some of City’s fit players, however. Tom Huddlestone is still nowhere near to the form that propelled us to success last season, and his ongoing absence from the starting XI is far from unjust. Meanwhile, Tom Ince conspicuously failed to take his opportunity on Saturday. Davies is the Davies of 2008, not 2014. And so on.

6. A bright note: the City fans were in excellent voice at the Hawthorns. That was always likely. The process by which more partisan fans surrender the supposedly “glamourous” games to half-scarf-wearing divs in favour of earthier trips is accelerating this season. That doesn’t do the side any favours at the Old Traffords of this world, but it doesn’t do much for those who want to sit at less venerated venues either. One wonders what the solution is, because the divide is definitely growing.

7. West Ham next. Their form this season has been a significant surprise, and while this may have felt a potentially winnable fixture at the start of the season, it feels desperately difficult now. City’s brittle, injury-ravaged squad just doesn’t seem up to taking anything there at the moment. Hopefully that will prove pessimistic.

8. Steve Bruce’s biggest media splash in the past week has not been anything relating to City, sadly. His intervention in the sordid Ched Evans affair has captured plenty of headlines, none of them particularly edifying. It’s worth considering this in two stages: firstly, why on earth did he feel the need to get involved? It’s a emotive case, one that has caused a great deal of comment and anger. But it doesn’t affect a City player. It doesn’t affect anyone who is ever likely to play for City, unless we drop a couple of divisions. It’s none of Bruce’s business, and commenting could only end badly. He should have known better, and simply sidestepped the question.

9. But having declined to keep quiet, he then got it grossly wrong. Evans’ conviction is not unsafe, it was the consequence of considered deliberations by many people an awful lot closer to the trial than him. Sadly, Bruce’s comments make him look like the bovine throwback to the 80s that some of his detractors make him out to be. Legally, there is of course a case for Evans to be allowed back into the game, even though he remains disgustingly unrepentant for his loathsome behaviour. Equally, football – having chose to make itself beholden to sponsors – has little option but to respond when said sponsors react to overwhelming public revulsion to this vile specimen. The situation as it is seems about right – Evans’ legal right to try to re-enter the game is present, and football fans have a corresponding right to voice their disquiet about unapologetic rapists playing our sport, and to lobby for their exclusion. What a shame that our own manager seeks to undermine this with crass, ignorant and unnecessary comments to the contrary.

10. Hull City AFC have changed their YouTube page to be “Hull Tigers”. Some of the people at this club are beneath contempt in their open hatred of the fans; but we’re almost past getting angry now. One day, under more enlightened ownership, the people behind this will be sacked and competent replacements recruited. Now, we understand that working in football is quite addictive, so they’ll probably want to go to another club. We don’t fancy their chances of persuading anyone else to employ them if their CV contains “tried to impose vastly unpopular rebranding onto widely opposed fans”. So however clever they feel right now by continuing their obsessively spiteful behaviour, one day…

Filed under: Opinion — Amber Nectar @ 6:00 am

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January 11, 2015

MATCH REPORT: West Brom 1-0 City

Bruce, Steve (v Bristol C 19-3-2013) 37

A dreadful game, determined in a dreadful fashion.

We could probably leave it there, for there’s precious little else to report, and even less of it will gladden the heart. West Bromwich Albion may be the best away trip the Premier League has, but its footballing offering yesterday cannot fail to leave us cold, and still concerned about how this season is going to pan out.

Beforehand, a goodly portion of the Tiger Nation assembled in the spectacularly brilliant Vine public house, a 20 minute walk from The Hawthorns. It does curry and ale, and is sufficiently excellent as to represent the sole reason for attending for many. Beforehand, confidence was moderate. Tony Pulis is not quite the Josep Guardiola his more loyal media advocates may fancy him to be, but any new manager affords a sugar rush to underperforming players. It’d be tough.

Nonetheless, the side selected afforded us a level of optimism. Two strikers, and as strong a City XI as injuries would allow, with three changes from the FA Cup defeat at Arsenal and a line-up of: McGregor; Chester, Davies, Bruce, Figueroa; Elmohamady, Meyler, Livermore, Quinn; Jelavić, Hernández. 4-4-2.


Filed under: Match Reports — Andy @ 6:23 pm

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January 7, 2015


The festive football discussed at length! Plus the FA Cup exit, the plight of Dean Windass and a look back at the day an ex-Tiger became a laughing stock at the KC – and loved even more for it.

Filed under: Podcasts — Amber Nectar @ 12:34 pm

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December 31, 2014

Things We Think We Think #168


1. One step forward, two steps backwards so far this Christmas. The defeat to Swansea was execrably lame; the win at Sunderland stirring; defeat to Leicester galling.

2. Sunderland first, and while it’s now been emphatically overshadowed by defeat on Sunday, we must still acknowledge that City were excellent that afternoon. A goal down inside a minute is as unpromising a situation as you can encounter, but the Tigers’ response was brilliant and the longer the game went on, they more they controlled it. It was greatly encouraging to see that performances of such skill and resilience are still possible from this confidence-starved side.

3. How dismaying then to once more fail to follow up a good result. A second defeat of the season to a then-bottom side just isn’t good enough, and illustrates perfectly why this is proving to be a season of unattractive struggle.

4. There are some mitigating circumstances to that defeat. City created more chances in the Leicester game than they’ve created in any other this season; had the finishing been better, or even adequate, we’d have won with a bit to spare. All too often this season we’ve looked stodgy, slow and unimaginative as an attacking force. That was, at least in the latter stages of this game – and with the caveat of it being against arguably the division’s weakest side who were protecting a lead – less in evidence.

5. But chances are nothing without an end product. Blame ill luck, excellent defending (a Nigel Pearson speciality) or just an off day, but that volume of chances simply has got to see a couple of conversions.

6. As for Nigel Pearson, City could have gone into absolute free-fall in 2010 without him. Booing him at the end of the game is understandable given the frustration of the afternoon, but he did a fantastic job to stabilise a club in crisis, and if you want to know why he left, go ask Assem Allam.

7. The same Assem Allam without whom a TWTWT is apparently no longer possible. The build up to Boxing Day was spoiled by City changing their Facebook name to “Hull Tigers”, in explicit contravention of the expressed wishes of the majority of fans and against the directives of the Football Association. We doubt Mr Allam micro-manages to the extent of antagonsing City fans on social media, but it’s his imbecilic idea that is being so devoutly vomited over us by his employees. The club promised to look into this and provide some further information. We’re still waiting. A bit like we’re still waiting for a report on the rigged ballot, the discontinuation of the Huddersfield hashtag, etc…

8. A hat-tip to the eagle-eyed City fan on Twitter who caught the club removing their name from the programme in recent weeks. Things like this aren’t an accident, but proof that the club thinks that it makes good business sense to continue provoking its own fans/customers at every opportunity. Be in no doubt: some people at the club despise us for embarrassing them over the name change and are keen to instigate a long, ugly fight. But they will never, ever prevail.

9. But a final thought on the matter. Yesterday, the football writer for a national newspaper named Assem Allam as its Villain of the Year. That is quite extraordinary given that Allam could, if he’d kept even a quarter of his promises, be something of a hero. That most of the football world views him with contempt is actually a little sad; but it’s entirely his own fault.

10. Everton on New Year’s Day. Their season is also not going entirely to plan, and City gave a fine account of themselves at Goodison Park a few weeks ago. This is still a fearfully tough fixture, but the relentless spurning of points in easier games makes this a game we cannot really afford to lose.

11. By the time our next TWTWT is cobbled together, City will also have made their first FA Cup appearance of the season – and quite possibly their last. We’d like to think that Steve Bruce’s pattern of promising to take a Cup game seriously and then doing the precise opposite will be discontinued at the Emirates, if only because a weakened side there could easily be on the wrong end of a serious hiding. Let’s wait and see.

12. Then again, Steve Bruce could be the Newcastle manager by Sunday, if you read anything into tabloid rumours. We don’t. It’s somewhat bizarre that the media suggests our manager is being sized up by bigger* clubs while some City fans advocate his sacking. For what it’s worth, the three Amber Nectar editors are still ensconced in the #BruceIn camp.

13. That’s it for us for 2014. As ever, thanks for reading, commenting, saying nice things, calling us names or anything that keep the site alive and healthy as our 17th birthday looms. Happy New Year, Hull City AFC fans.

*Highly subjective.

Filed under: Opinion — Amber Nectar @ 7:00 am

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