September 21, 2014

MATCH REPORT: Newcastle 2-2 City


brucewise

Goals goals goals. Four yesterday. Four more last Monday. That they’ve been shared is the only slight disappointment, though they’ve also harvested two points that are not without value. But we are being entertained. And that’s tough to complain about.

Newcastle always feels like one of those places where we’ll be entertained, though. We have an excellent record at St James Park of late – it was the venue for our first ever top flight away win in 2008 and we’ve added to that a Cup and another League win since. Aiming to take City to four games unbeaten in Tyneside were:

McGregor; Elmohamady, Davies (c), Dawson, Robertson; Livermore, Huddlestone, Quinn, Diamé; Jelavić, Hernández.

Not only did that represent the same XI as the one that kicked off against West Ham last week, it only meant a trio of diacritics on the pitch. Proper cosmopolitan, City.

With 2,600 visiting fans in attendance it was good fun in the stands, and it looked enjoyable enough on the (distant) pitch as well, with both sides geared up to attack. That was brave from Steve Bruce, whose emphasis upon attractive and progressive play is a genuine delight. For Alan Pardew it was probably essential, this being close to a Must Win Game. The advertised Pardew Out protest didn’t really materialise, and it was muted rather than seething atmosphere in St James Park, despite there being just a shade under fifty thousand in.

Meanwhile, the attacking intentions of both were admirable but erratically executed. The nearest either side came to scoring in the opening skirmishes was when Jelavić turned an Elmohamady cross home, but the “goal” was disallowed when the linesman ruled the ball had gone out. From 56 miles away it was impossible to comment upon; the minimal nature of City’s protests suggest we were not unfairly denied.

19’04” came and went with the customary cry of “City Till We Die”, and thankfully no-one booing City fans singing a City song at a City game, but the game was labouring somewhat by now. Colback tested McGregor when wriggling into a yard of space and being nicely fed by Sissoko, and he probably ought to have done better than blat his effort straight at the still-British keeper.

Jelavić was similarly guilty when steering a shot straight at Krul after excellent wingplay by Robertson…and that was about it. The final fifteen minutes of the half made for tough watching as fluency wholly deserted both sides – Newcastle had more possession but did little with it, while City began to sit back and look to counter attack rather than dictate the pace. It made for an unspectacular affair, disappointing given the bustling starts both teams had made. Half-time, 0-0.

Neither side made a change at the break, and just three minutes into the second half the game unexpectedly exploded. Diamé fed Elmohamady on the right, whose cross picked out Jelavić, and he volleyed home in front of the City fans.

Except that dry description doesn’t come close to doing it justice. The ball was just a little behind the Croat and awkwardly at hip height, meaning he had to swivel and contort himself with remarkable fluidity and connect sweetly to divert the ball past Krul. A glorious goal, celebrated as urgently by Jelavić as by the Tiger Nation.

Cabella nearly equalised immediately for Newcastle, with only a terrific save by McGregor retaining City’s lead, but that was the only response from the home side, who looked positively winded by their early concession. The mood in the stadium remained, strangely, one of sullen displeasure rather than outrage, and City began to control the game for the first time.

Aluko replaced the obviously knackered Hernández on 56 (don’t expect to see the Uruguayan at the Hawthorns on Wednesday), and soon after Quinn ought to have made it 2-0 when Huddlestone’s free-kick hit a home player and fell kindly to him – his shot screwed badly wide.

On 68 it was 2-0. Robertson collected possession on the left and squared inside to Diamé, negligently left in a yard of space. He steadied himself and fired a left-footed shot that clipped the inside of Krul’s near post and went in. Two-nil – game over?

We actually did think it would be. Newcastle hadn’t seriously threatened in the second half, their fans were pointedly refusing to back their own side and City looked solid. In fact, we were too busy celebrating to notice Cisse coming on for Riviere a minute later. But that confidence would prove regrettably misplaced.

On 75 it was 2-1, Cisse fastening on to Tiote’s neat pass to coolly steer the ball past the exposed McGregor. That provoked anxiety but not panic, as City’s goal was not exactly laid siege to. Meyler replaced Jelavić for the Tigers and Ameobi took the place of Tiote for Newcastle, but with time running out we began to think we’d see it through.

But no.

On 87 a deep cross was headed back across goal for Cisse to poke home an equaliser. Some neat play in the build-up, though City wasted two opportunities to clear the danger. They didn’t and we were punished.

Rosenior replaced Robertson on 88 and Newcastle threw on Perez for Gouffran on 90, yet the nearest either side came to pinching an injury time winner was when the ball sat up for Davies, of all people, on the edge of the box. Volleys from distance aren’t what City pay their captain for, and while his effort was far from awful it went a yard or two wide. And that was that.

Point gained, or two dropped? A bit of both really. We’re getting goals, but we’re also not really stopping them. Davies is a little below last season’s stellar form, Dawson is steady but yet to really click into gear for City, meaning that James Chester is currently unlucky to be out of the side. Might he be restored to the side shortly?

Nonetheless, it’s clear that we’re onto a good thing at the moment. There’s more of a cutting edge to the side than we saw last season, meaning that enterprising play is more likely to get its reward. Some tweaking is required, mainly in defence, but that’s about it. And when City do finally get it completely right, points will arrive. Let’s hope that this time next week we’re into the Fourth Round of the League Cup and can report upon having given the English Champions a good game. We’re enjoying this season, on the pitch at least – more of the same please, City.

Filed under: Match Reports — Andy @ 2:22 pm

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September 18, 2014

NEWS: City to appeal on basis of supporter consultation


HullCityAN

Today’s Hull Daily Mail purports to contain the grounds for Assem Allam’s desperate appeal against the Football Association’s decision to deny him permission to rename the club on April 9th – and rather extraordinary they are too.

It apparently revolves around those whom the FA sought to consult with. The first target of the club’s ire is the East Riding County FA, who in February overwhelmingly opposed the renaming to Hull Tigers by 23 votes to 2 (with 5 abstentionts). As the national FA’s local representatives, we look forward to discovering just why they should not have been asked for their views in the consultation process. Perhaps it’s something to do with the aforementioned votes?

This is all somewhat insignificant compared to the second group the FA apparently shouldn’t have asked: Hull City AFC fans. As part of the consultation process, their previous promise of including football fans in football decisions was admirably met. It seems that Assem Allam is now about to go back to the FA and complain that City fans’ views should not have been taken into account.

Quite why that’s a problem when, in his view, a “silent majority” and perhaps even 98% of people support his ludicrous idea is beyond us – if he genuinely believes that, you might suppose it reinforces his argument. What is perfectly clear, and now seemingly a matter of fact, is that Assem Allam thinks that City fans should not have an opinion on the name of their own club, and he is spending our season ticket money on expensive lawyers to force that point home. How thoroughly distasteful.

Filed under: News — Andy @ 1:27 pm

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September 16, 2014

MATCH REPORT: City 2-2 West Ham


brucedespair

NB: This fanzine has a 96% anti-name change opinion poll. The following is aimed at that audience.

What I have enjoyed over the years of reading match reports on this website is that it tells a story of the day, not necessarily just of the game, that story today isn’t going to be pleasant to write.

In what should have been a night of excitement, City took on West Ham United. An eminently winnable fixture, particularly at home and particularly with the squad that City have amassed in the recent weeks. But that excitement was put pay to by a press conference that made Eric Cantona’s seagull analogy look sane. Far from accepting the Premier League’s decision, the East Riding FA’s decision, the Official Supporters’ Club’s decision or the FA’s decision, our owner once again caused a ruckus on a week before a big game on telly. A pattern is emerging here.

Before moving on to the football, there was a match played, I think it is right to discuss one happened at 19:04:

First of all, football stirs emotion in grown men that is generally rare to see, as an example when this writer left the Lokeren home leg; I can honestly say that is the single biggest disappointment I have felt watching City. But Monday was different, what happened at 19:04 didn’t make me angry, it didn’t make me upset, I just felt nothing, like what I had been part of since my fifth birthday was being torn out and that there was no connection left. As the booing ensued (far from drowning out CTID), there was confusion in the North Stand, like what is happening?! How can these people think that is the right thing to do?! There is a core of City fans that are a real community, the rest… I just don’t know what to say anymore.

Purely football now, we’ve all had enough of discussing this nonsense…

City lined up 4-4-2 for the visit of the Hammers: McGregor; Robertson, Dawson, Davies, Elmohamady; Quinn, Livermore, Huddlestone, Diame; Jelavic & Hernandez. Quinn was a surprise inclusion given our new signings but warranted his place in the side. Hernandez starting was a surprise given the late visa and new boys Hatem Ben Arfa and Gaston Ramirez had to make do with places on the bench. Livermore appeared to be playing right midfield (please don’t play him right midfield).

The first five minutes belonged to City, getting at the West Ham full backs and managing to get some balls in the box, not much was happening in the box but promising signs. The first half ebbed and flowed with City attacking, and having to defend set pieces from Big Sam’s boys, they defended well in the first half.

Thirty eight minutes in and the first moment of real magic, Elmohamady found the most perfect cross in from extremely deep, Hernandez somehow placed the most perfect header beyond the despairing Adrian. City led and deserved it. Minutes later and it could have been two, Hernandez again, he received the ball back to goal on the edge of the box, turned onto his left foot and crashed his shot off the bar, Jelavic headed in the rebound, celebrations followed, as did the linesman’s flag. Rightly so, City went into the break with a single goal lead.

The second half started and City looked a little bit sluggish, and when Enner Valencia (another South American debutant) picked up the ball on the left wing, all seemed fine, but he moved inside, and further inside, being given far too much space. What followed however was pure class, from twenty five yards he crashed in a shot that dropped in off the cross bar, it was brilliant, but I bet Michael Dawson doesn’t think so…

City brought on Brady as a response, who looked like he might be getting back to his old self, he might need a run in the team, but that’s going to be hard to come by. Almost immediately a sloppy throw in from West Ham Diame pinched the ball, he drove at the back four, one step over and curled it into the far post, think Olofinjana vs. Stoke, City led again but it wasn’t to last. Sakho cut in from the right wing and shot at McGregor whose save rebounded on to the unfortunate Davies’ heel before being bundled over the line, it was very messy but the game was level again.

Ten minute cameos from Ben Arfa and Ramirez got some excitement going but it was West Ham who very nearly went on to win it as a deflected header was tipped on to the bar by Michael Dawson’s chest, a point a piece then.

As it stands Pardew is still the Newcastle manager, we go there on Saturday and must be looking for the three points given there slump at the start of this season.

To put a bit of perspective to this, on Monday night I witnessed the following: Hull City’s record £9m striker score on his debut, one world class strike from a Ecuardian World Cup star, another City debutant score against his former club, the introduction of two players that have been branded ‘wonderkids’ on Football Manager (that really should excite me).

Yet I still came away from the game devastated, and it was nothing to do with the football.

Joe Oldroyd

Filed under: Match Reports — Amber Nectar @ 11:59 pm

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September 15, 2014

Things We Think We Think #153


twtwt

1. Last week, when rumours began to circulate that Hull City AFC were to call a press conference at which the owner was to outline his plans for the future, we began planning. It’s nice to have articles largely ready to upload in advance, with a few details added as they emerge. The rumours suggested that City’s 75 year old owner, Assem Allam, was putting the club up for sale and bowing out, perhaps giving his son Ehab temporary control and making the de facto situation official, maybe even handing over to Ehab permanently. So we started to conceive an Assam Allam Legacy article. It was positive, too. The name change unavoidably featured, as did his prickly remarks during the affair, but its tone and content was sunnier than expected. He’d have enjoyed reading it. We’d have enjoying publishing it, and saying  fond farewell. But now we don’t need it. We may never need it.

2. Assem Allam’s revisitation of the name change is a supremely squalid act. No evidence was advanced that it’ll benefit City. No evidence has EVER been advanced, for none exists. Assam Allam claims this is not about Hull City Council, but this is simply not true. Somehow, in his mind, a vast, seething obsession with our local council has festered, embittering him to the point at which he is perfectly happy to inflict permanent disfigurement upon our identity, undermine Steve Bruce and reignite quarrels between the despairing majority and the handful of “itshisclubhecandowhathewants” diehards. All to put one over Hull City Council. It’d be funny, if it wasn’t so tragic.

3. The press conference itself was deeply worrying, if not lacking in dark humour. Allam was rambling, incoherent, mildly hysterical and incapable of understanding even the most basic facts. To suggest we’ve been called Hull City Tigers for 110 years is simply wrong. Not a matter of opinion, or a shade of grey, he is wrong. And if he really is that ignorant about the club, or that willing to recite an untruth simply because he wants it to be true, what on earth else is going on in his head? Some of the presser was just horrible to watch. KFC? Pilots licence? Dead bodies? Perhaps he fancies this is colourful metaphor. It isn’t. We can cope with Assem Allam embarrassing himself, that’s an inevitable consequence of him opening a mouth that so many at the club strive to keep quiet. We’d rather he stopped embarrassing our club, however.

4. It’s understandable that people want to be respectful towards and thankful to Assem Allam given the great things he has done for our club, we feel that way too, but we’re confounded when some show they are content to believe anything the man says, even when it’s patently nonsense. Many of the things said at Thursday’s press conference were word for word repeats of what he said to CTWD last year; He wants to make us a top five club and feels he’s prevented from unlocking revenue tied up in the stadium by the Council. His examples of revenue generation from grounds are a Waitrose at Reading, a KFC at Derby and a Jaguar showroom at Coventry. Sure, extra revenue from renting stadium units wouldn’t go amiss, but none of the cited teams play in the Premier League, so the revenue from their stadia certainly isn’t enough to make them a ‘top five’ club. The idea that we’d be propelled up the league if only we had a KFC at the KC Stadium is just ridiculous, and Dr. Allam seems blissfully unaware that Coventry have only just returned to the Ricoh Stadium after time spent playing in Northampton. We were stunned he didn’t know that last year, how does he not know now that a stadium based car showroom has benefited Coventry City NOT ONE BIT? Has nobody in our owner’s inner circle got the nerve to put him straight when he says things obviously incorrect so that he doesn’t look silly saying them in public? Or is he just incapable of listening?

Oh and speaking of the inner circle, where was Ehab Allam during this press conference? The solitary chair put out for his father to face the massed ranks of the media would suggest Ehab wanted no part in proceedings. Now Ehab is just as capable of insulting City fans as his father, he said on Radio Humberside that fans wanting the club to keep its name are selfish, but he at least seems comfortable talking to the press, whereas his father cuts a rather pitiable figure when the script in front of him doesn’t cover on the spot questioning. Back to the point of people accepting every utterance Dr. Allam makes, Ehab Allam told Radio Humberside listeners days before the FA’s decision was made that there was no offer from potential sponsors based on the name Hull Tigers, but on Thursday Assem said a million pounds was lost when a sponsor pulled out at the instant the FA rejected Hull Tigers. Take your pick which of them said something they know not to be true, but one of those statements is a brazen falsehood.

This press conference was ostensibly ‘to clear the air’, but it generated yet more fog (many journalists assumed the appeal was to CAS in Switzerland till the club later said arbitration was between club and FA), and makes it even harder to trust the veracity of anything that comes out of the mouths of the club’s owners. We would love to be able to trust statements from the club, but how is that possible? Yet some people are clearly capable of swallowing vast amounts of bullshit before asking for more, we just can’t bring ourselves to do it, can’t maintain the blissful thought that everything is hunky dory just because the team is doing so well.  It brings to mind this Sunshine Room comic strip…

5. What next? Several more months of bitter argument and uncertainty, for which Assem Allam is entirely to blame. Tonight’s match against West Ham is certain to see lengthy vocal protests against this latest bout of madness, as will all future games. Allam and his apologists probably think they can bludgeon City fans into submission, but that just isn’t going to happen. We’ll instead see City Till We Die return to prominence – and a huge tip of the hat to them for remaining so restrained in the face of Allam’s provocation and the lies regularly aimed their way by the Premier League-obsessed. There’ll be flags. Banners. Arguments. Ill-feeling. And for what?

6. It’s back with the FA. Quite why Assem Allam thinks they will reverse their own decision simply is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile, season ticket holders money is being frittered on expensive lawyers who seem quite content to feed him the fantasy that this is still winnable. We can all see how badly that first defeat hurt. Goodness only knows how he will incorporate a second into his personal God complex.

7. And then what? Premier League clubs aren’t easy to sell, particularly not ones laden with debt and without their own stadium. It could take months. Perhaps a couple of years. All the time during which Assem Allam will remain in charge, loathing the fans, obsessed by the council, ranting and raving and blaming everyone. How can that possibly end well?

8. We’re cross, as can be seen. But we’re also sad. What did we do to cause Assem Allam to hate us so much? He was welcomed to Hull decades ago, and rightly hailed as a saviour of our club. But now he clearly despises us. He has no respect whatsoever. The hooligans slur was close to unforgiveable, but his ongoing refusal to listen, to be straight with us, all points to a man who hates his own customers. Again, how can that possibly end well?

9. It’s now 4½ months since Hull City AFC first promised us full details of the deeply flawed ballot that apparently forms part of Allam’s strange self-justification for continuing this sorry saga. We still haven’t heard anything. Perhaps we ought to contact some of those people the club said they were waiting for replies from? Just to be helpful.

10. West Ham tonight. Give the lads a cheer, and give the club an earful on 19’04″.

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

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September 12, 2014

NEWS: City up for sale if name change “appeal” fails


assemallam

The FA having rejected his dotty scheme to rename Hull City AFC on April 9th, Assem Allam yesterday gave a bizarre press conference promising to appeal the decision, or sell the club.

His hopes rest with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, who he evidently believes have the authority or inclination to overturn the FA’s decision, a decision made after widespread consultation throughout the game and greeted with delight by a thumping majority of City fans.

Allam claims to have already launched this appeal, though both the FA and Court have said they are unaware of it. The owner further said that should it prove unsuccessful, he will then sell City.

Reaction to the press conference was swift. On Twitter, David Conn dismantled some of Allam’s odder claims. Hull City Council again denied that an offer had ever been made to buy the football stadium. It was a strange, incoherent affair that did neither the owner nor the office of Hull City chairman any great credit.

There is next to no chance of an appeal being successful, so a sale seems imminent. Quite when that will be is unclear. Selling a Premier League football club is no easy task, particularly not one freighted with a debt approaching £100m. Nonetheless, the direction of travel is clear. A shame that it’s ending with the owner consumed by anger, and still refusing to listen to or respect the supporters.

Filed under: News — Andy @ 6:24 am

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September 8, 2014

Things We Think We Think #152


twtwt

1. A week after the nonsense that is transfer deadline day, and we’re still excited over the on-field aspects of it. The expense is concerning, but it’s been fun to watch the forums and social media attempt to crowbar such a talented squad into a regular XI.

2. We also can’t wait to see how Steve Bruce keeps everyone happy. Or whether he can. Not only are City’s new signings laden with talent, there are also some players with a high estimation of their own abilities who won’t taken kindly to not starting most weeks. It isn’t the worst problem to have, but it’s a consideration.

3. Might it all prompt a few deparatures? Stephen Quinn, David Meyler, Paul McShane and Alex Bruce are likely to experience a sharp drop down the pecking order. They’re a quartet of proper professionals for whom we have high regard and they’re characters who’ll prefer fighting for a place over public sulking…but like any player, they’ll also prefer playing games to not.

4. Of course, with significant outlay and high-profile recruits comes increased expectation. Last season, we’d have all taken 17th. This time, wouldn’t that represent a slight disappointment? We think it may do. Quite what is a fair expectation is difficult to assess, but it’d a shame to see the Allams’ investment result in anything other than a higher finish than last season. And a decent crack in one of the Cups.

5. So, West Ham at home next. Every game matters in every division/competition, but this’d be a nasty one to lose. Four points from four games, all against sides unlikely to trouble the top seven, would be a below-par beginning. Conversely, seven from four is a solid opening.

6. Good to see the club pro-actively trying to drum up support for this game by taking out adverts in the local press, something we’ve wanted for a little time – this was not the first regime to have taken their support in the city of Hull for granted, but at least their are now signs of improvement. Literal signs too, as posters on buses and in shopping centres are now visible. A shame that they still struggle to use the club’s name, but never mind. More of this please, City.

7. Tickets for Hull City v Manchester City are now on sale. At £50 each. That’s fifty pounds. For one City game.

8. Europe is gone, and after the initial anger, all that’s left is sadness. Please take the League Cup seriously, City. There’s a wrong that needs righting.

9. Rumours about the club’s ownership abound. Friday saw an apparent false alarm on Twitter, with whispers about an imminent sale suddenly appearing, and while that came to nothing, plenty seem to expect a statement this week about the future of the Allams at Hull City AFC. Our view is largely unchanged: they’ve done a lot of good, a little bad…and no to Hull Tigers.

10. Apropos of the owners, and rather overshadowed by Europe this, but the micro-spat between City and Hull City Council was fascinating – and for a change, we find ourselves in agreement with Ehab Allam. Councillor Terry Geraghty’s comments about a fans’ park for European fixtures were dismally small-minded (“Hull City are going to get a decent gate for the match so I think it should be up to them to do something.”). Few people have ever mistaken Councillor Geragthy for a man of open-mindedness or vision, and we know he’ll not be reading as we fancy that Gerrumonsard Weekly is more his scene than digital media, but it is deeply worrying as inhabitants of this marvellous city to think of him having any responsibility for Hull 2017. We also know that the club’s hierarchy has little time for him. Might the council usefully find someone better to deal with the club?

Filed under: Opinion — Amber Nectar @ 7:29 am

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September 4, 2014

PODCAST: TWTWT Podcast 44


Here we go again. Nattering on about City as if somehow people might be interested. After all, a wimpish exit from Europe, a rotten defeat at Aston Villa and some stunning business on deadline day hardly makes for good podcastery, does it? Hmmm…

We’ve obviously got plenty to say on each of the above, plus we look back at the most memorable individuals ever to be seconded into the City first team, for both good and bad reasons.

Filed under: Podcasts — Amber Nectar @ 11:35 am

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September 2, 2014

Things We Think We Think #151


twtwt

1: It’s been a truly awful week on the pitch for Hull City, and Steve Bruce has to front up and shoulder the responsibility. The noises he made before the home game against KSC Lokeren suggested he was all prepared to set up some famous European nights at the KC Stadium, declaring his love for continental competition and his understanding of how much it meant to the supporters. Then he picked a team missing its most creative midfielder and proven striker, changed the formation and, although City very nearly pulled it off at the death, saw a disorganised, unmotivated team fail to break down a Lokeren side who were limited, if very industrious. Frustrating, yes; infuriating, definitely. This was an adventure we never thought we’d see, and yet when it happened, the obsession with Premier League points contributed to it being chucked away before it had barely started.

2: And that brings us to the next point. The numerous apologists for the policy, unofficial or not, of discarding or marginalising the Europa League campaign have always used the importance of the Premier League at the expense of all else as the crux of their argument. Yet in picking weakened sides against KSC Lokeren, it only helped City to one point from six in winnable fixtures against Stoke City and Aston Villa. It’s one thing to underperform in a competition seen – wrongly, in our view – as the lesser being, it’s another to then do so in the competition that the club hierarchy have down as the be-all and end-all. ‘Resting’ players has proved counter-productive; the exit from Europe could have just as easily demotivated them, or robbed them of momentum, as it could have kept them fresh for allegedly more ‘important’ fixtures.

3: It is only just September, as well. We’ve played just three Premier League games, hence there are 35 to go, and we now have an international break, and yet somehow there is this misguided belief that relegation will be inevitable if we pursue other dreams that don’t involve finishing 15th in the table. We need to establish a few facts here: firstly, we got to an FA Cup final last season while in total comfort in the Premier League. Secondly, nobody has ever been relegated in the same season that they’ve contested the Europa League. Thirdly, nobody gets relegated in August, even teams docked 20 points for going into administration. Fourthly, playing Thursday-Sunday is the same as playing Saturday-Tuesday, which some people genuinely don’t appear to have grasped. And on top of that, those in suits who run the club’s affairs seemed incredibly primed for a proper tilt at Europe once they’d seen the queues heading round the block for tickets to attend the home game with AS Trenčín and the subsequent trip to KSC Lokeren. Perhaps they should have asked the manager whether they should have bothered.

4: KSC Lokeren were great, mind. Their team was full of endeavour, their fans were bloody loud, they looked after us well in Belgium (that ambush from their knuckleheaded splinter group notwithstanding) and they held up a ‘No To Hull Tigers’ banner. Oh, and they sat down in the middle of Anlaby Road to sing a song during their walk from Admiral Of The Humber to the Circle, which amused us all. Even some Humberside Police officers were able to crack a smile at that, though that may have had something to do with the overtime they were getting for doing nothing too arduous. The menacing presence of the constabulary helicopter after the game was typical overkill from a police force who simply cannot help defaming City fans. KSC Lokeren now have trips to Poland, Turkey and – yes – Ukraine to look forward to. We couldn’t have got that draw if we’d won as we’d have been placed in a different pot, but boy are their fans going to have some fun now while we look on enviously, and dense people around us drone on that Crystal Palace at home is far more important.

5: Steve Bruce’s stock has fallen, but he has proved he has the class and gallantry to acknowledge mistakes. We don’t think there has been a proper explanation for the team he picked and the performance it then put in against KSC Lokeren, and we’re concerned that he wasn’t massively upset by it, but at least he had the balls to declare his contempt for the subsequent display at Villa Park, admitting that he knew fans would want their money back after travelling to Birmingham on a Sunday to watch such painful trash. And it really was, too. The only notable thing about it was that a City player - Nikica Jelavić – finally scored a goal against Aston Villa – the last to manage it was Pat bloody Heard.

6: It’ll be interesting now to see what his attitude is to the League Cup, after City were drawn away at fellow Premier League side West Bromwich Albion. If City had still been in the Europa League, then this third of three domestic prizes would have been low on the agenda; now, however, it now suddenly becomes very important indeed, if only for the way Bruce is seen to handle it. Football may be a business, as someone in a suit with an Egyptian accent is wont to remind us every so often, but when fans have forked out for trips to the continent and then night-time trips to the West Midlands only for their commitment to be not matched by the management or team, that’s when those within the game need to remember there is a sport and community responsibility etched into the reasons for football clubs’ existence. In other words City, don’t piss off the fans again when the Premier League isn’t on the agenda.

7: Deadline day saw City do plenty of business and catch a lot of attention nationally. Mohamed Diamé is a midfielder from whom opponents find it very difficult to steal the ball, and a protective player in the centre of the pitch has been a necessity for some time. His debut for City against the club that sold him to us will be fascinating. The £9.5m Abel Hernandez gives City a striking partner for Jelavić that was much needed, especially as Yannick Sagbo and Sone Aluko simply don’t look at the races any more. Gastón Ramírez, a fellow Uruguayan amusingly born in the town of Fray Bentos, is a sharp midfielder of real international pedigree and will add some proper zip to an engine room that has been a tad lumpen this season.  And just the sight of Hatem Ben Arfa high-fiving City fans at the KC when he arrived for his medical with a rictus grin on his face was enough for us to be pleased at his arrival, let alone his known quality with a ball.

8: This is where Bruce clearly excels – attracting good players while persuading the money men that they are necessary for the squad and sound investments for the club. We don’t want all mention of him to be on a downer this week as he doesn’t deserve that, and these new arrivals are genuinely exciting. The fees are big, but we’ve got £15m for George Boyd and Shane Long and the TV money has doubled – we got about £68m last year from the Premier League, plus a million extra for making the FA Cup final.

9: We’re slightly surprised that more of our players haven’t left the club after yesterday, but the one who has left for pastures new we really wish well. Boyd’s first touch is a delight, his appetite for the game admirable – unsurprising for a chap who has scrapped his way to the top from non-league – and that winning goal at Huddersfield on a day when non-football issues dominated our thinking will always be fresh in the memory. It was a pity he couldn’t command a regular place after promotion but the fact that he’s staying in the Premier League says plenty about the player and the man. And we still don’t think he spat at Joe Hart.

10: Caravan Of Love on the speakers was lovely to hear, though we obviously were a bit put off by the editing. We appreciate the club taking note and acting on our suggestion, but is it possible to simply play the whole song about five minutes or so before the kick off and let the fans join in organically?

Filed under: Opinion — Amber Nectar @ 7:28 am

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August 27, 2014

PODCAST: TWTWT Podcast 43


The latest Amber Nectar podcast is up, with much to discuss. Michael Dawson’s arrival, the fun and games in Lokeren, the Premier League draw with Stoke City, and there’s even time for us to look back at the single most notorious Hull City match of the 1990s.

Filed under: Podcasts — Amber Nectar @ 11:06 pm

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August 26, 2014

Macarena, miskicks and Mierennest: A City in Europe travelogue


NEW KIT

Eventful, eh? Belgian hospitality at its best and worst over three days of following City in the Europa League play-off round. We’ve tried to remember as much as we can…

(more…)

Filed under: Euro Diaries — Matt @ 8:30 pm

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