March 4, 2015

MATCH REPORT : Hull City AFC 1 Sunderland 1


Ndoye

The significance of this home draw against a relegation rival is not immediately apparent, we can but speculate upon how this game will be viewed when we review City’s full body of work at the close of 2014/15. Steve Bruce sees it (publically at least) as a point gained, and opined that it might just be the pivotal point that keeps us up, but equally when we’re in the thick of a run in that pits us against the Champions elect and four sides with Champions League aspirations, we might just rue the night when we had our boot on Sunderland’s throat, but allowed them to wriggle free.

In a game that was high on incident and low in quality, City were the better side and created the better chances, but were inefficient and profligate with them, causing the scoreboard, an electronic indicator of goalscoring superiority and ignorer of metrics such as possession enjoyed and attempts on goal, to show parity.

Not what Steve Bruce had in mind when he termed the game a Cup Final, ahead of it adopting a somewhat unambitious approach at Stoke on Saturday and increasing the importance of this game. That’s the problem when you put all your eggs in the basket of one game, nothing in this game is guaranteed, but thankfully the manager avoided  having egg all over his face.

With Jelavic’s knee rested and N’Doye de-jetlagged, both started up front, Robertson was favoured ahead of the leg-slashing Figueroa and Brady, bizarrely sidelined by a training ground hole. Bruce carded: McGregor; McShane, Bruce, Dawson; Robertson, Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, Elmohamady; Jelavic and N’Doye.

(more…)

Filed under: Match Reports — Les @ 20:40

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March 2, 2015

PODCAST: TWTWT Podcast 65


This week we idly discuss all sorts of City-related guff. Nick Quantrill, crime writer and City devotee, is our guest star ‘caster.

Right here…

Filed under: Podcasts — Amber Nectar @ 21:57

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Things We Think We Think #176


twtwt

1. Saturday’s defeat at Stoke was thoroughly depressing. Negative tactics and team selection and a total non-performance – the opposite of what we hoped for and anticipated after the progress of recent weeks.

2. Absences through injury are something the manager has no control over, of course. But having being dealt an unexpectedly weak hand by enforced absences, Steve Bruce didn’t play it awfully weak, abandoning all thoughts of trying to win the game in favour of going for a 0-0 draw. At Stoke. That’s grimly unadventurous stuff, made all the worse by not even achieving that meagre ambition.

3. So, brickbats this week for the manager. But he was hardly helped by his players, who turned in a rotten performance. Even the most cautious tactics should not prevent them for mustering up a pathetic one shot on goal, which wasn’t even on target.

4. It places a lot of pressure on the Sunderland game, pressure that even a single point would not have piled on it. Victory tomorrow night will be another significant stride towards safety, though we’ll still rue City’s unwillingness to attempt such a stride on Saturday. However, if we lose tomorrow night, we’ll have totally undone all of the good work in February.

5. It’s clear that Nikica Jelavić is absolutely indispensable. One gets the feeling that City are desperately nursing him along in terms of fitness, and hopefully that’ll be sufficient to keep us up and get him fully fit in the summer. That is, assuming there isn’t interest in his services from elsewhere. He’s good enough to be playing at European contenders.

6. Contract talks are being delayed for the moment for Stephen Quinn, Alex Bruce, Liam Rosenior and Paul McShane. Frankly, we’d make sure all four are signed up as soon as possible, irrespective of which division we find ourselves in next season. You can never have too many players who can combine talent for their job with a sense of belonging and responsibility around the club.

7. So, why have the Allams asked for the FA to delay announcing their findings over the club’s procedural appeal? Initially, the card-carrying cynic (we know quite a few of these) presumed that Assem Allam had been denied his second go at changing the name, something he would’ve not held back from crowing about instantly had it been the other way round. So he was saving face.

8. But now, partially thanks to some naughty tweeting from the Britannia press box at the weekend, a complex is threatening to envelop the “No” campaign, who suddenly fear the decision going in the owner’s favour, and he has asked the FA to muzzle themselves for the moment. In public, this would be to make sure there are no distractions from the campaign against relegation; in private, he knows that a decision in his favour being revealed too early will see him lose an awful lot of season ticket money. It’s the FA’s responsibility now, more than ever, to tell us exactly what they’ve decided and to do so pronto. It’s not as if they can grant the name change anyway, as Allam was only appealing the validity and fairness of the process, not the final decision it reached. We should bear that in mind each time we consider panicking.

9. We should also remember that it’s now two whole years since this wholy rebranding farce began, with the club slyly changing the crest and way it called itself, firstly in private, then cautiously and carefully at selected public occasions. Two years. Now that’s a distraction.

10. The Premier League whining about fixtures being affected by the World Cup in 2022 is quite amusing. That’s the Premier League (who routinely change dates and times at a few weeks’ notice) bellyaching about the World Cup (eight years away). Just shut up and count your five zillion quid.

Filed under: Opinion — Amber Nectar @ 07:09

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March 1, 2015

MATCH REPORT: Stoke 1-0 City


brucedespair

In the twentieth minute of Stoke v City, Sone Aluko gathered possession, adroitly turned his man but, from a tight angle, dragged his shot wide.

This, remarkably, was the highlight of this entire wretched afternoon. It was to be our only – yes, only – shot of the entire match. It wasn’t on target. It wasn’t even close to being on target, though a serviceable piece of skill had fashioned its opening. But this one moment, this screwed shot wide of the post with under a quarter of the game gone, was as good as it got in the whole day.

We could probably finish there – and in truth with the sun shining outside and a Sunday full of promise ahead, the motivation to tackle this ghastly game in any detail is as absent as City’s attacking ambition yesterday. Expect brevity.

Despite our recent good form, the pre-match omens were disquieting, from a prominent local journalist tweeting opaquely about the name change to the news that Jelavić and Brady were both injured. Dame N’Doye was relegated to the bench, apparently for reasons of travel-induced tiredness. That meant promotion to the starting XI for Figueroa, Ramírez and Aluko as the Tigers lined up: McGregor; Bruce, McShane, Dawson; Elmohamady, Livermore, Meyler, Huddlestone, Figueroa; Ramírez; Aluko.

(more…)

Filed under: Match Reports — Andy @ 10:23

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February 24, 2015

PODCAST: TWTWT Podcast 64


It mentions football. And Dangermouse. And exotic dancers in Lancashire coastal towns.

Fill your boots…

Filed under: Podcasts — Amber Nectar @ 12:08

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February 23, 2015

Things We Think We Think #175


twtwt

1. A hugely important victory against QPR on Saturday. Suddenly, City have hit a little run of form, and just when time was beginning to run out for it arrive. It wasn’t wholly convincing, but City were the better side even before Joey Barton’s latest act of self-indulgent stupidity and deserved the points.

2. Credit to plenty, but firstly to the manager (and his evidently influential assistant). Rather than letting the game drift, City were proactive in trying to instil greater attacking potency and urgency with the substitutes, eventually having so many forwards on the pitch QPR had no choice but to completely retreat into their own half. That enabled City to attack with impunity, and they eventually wore QPR down. Well done Messrs Bruce and Phelan.

3. Well done to Jelavić and N’Doye too – a goal apiece, but much more to their games than that. They relentlessly harried QPR’s defence, and when your forwards work hard for the team, it can set a positive example that floods through the side. Recent criticism had focussed on a lack of energy and workrate among the side – that seems to have been largely repaired in recent weeks. Long may it continue.

4. A tip of the hat to Tom Huddlestone too. He’s frequently failed to convince us this season, with performances that’d veered more towards the indolent than merely languid; but there was a better pace to his display on Saturday, and a greater willingness to move forward into more threatening areas.

5. Steve Bruce generally comes across well when he’s interviewed by the media, his ‘we’ll dust worselves off’ catchphrase after a poor result can be both amusing and disarming. However, we confidently predict that during the rest of his tenure he’ll never again say anything as genuinely mirth-inducing as ’You can’t go punching people in the knackers, can you?’

5a. Charlie Austin’s knee-knack simulating goal celebration was quite amusing too, but it also suggests that the highest scoring English striker in the Premier League is genuinely narked that he didn’t get to join City. That’s oddly gratifying.

6. Stoke are next, and suddenly the pressure is relieved a little. A point would do quite nicely, though there’s no harm in going for all three. A defeat would represent an unfortunate end to this nice little burst of form but wouldn’t be a disaster; anything better than that and we can look to really attack the Sunderland home fixture aiming to take our points tally into the 30s. Funny how swiftly the  mood has shifted following the Newcastle calamity, isn’t it?

7. That even Chelsea, who typify Premier League excess better than almost anyone, feel it necessary to subsidise their fans’ trip to Hull City next month tells us everything we need to know about City’s grotesque levying of £50 on tickets. It means that they’ll now “only” be paying £40 for the game, any City fan without a season ticket will be expected to hand over fifty pounds. There are a few more of these type of games coming up, for which the club is bracing itself for plenty of criticism (and empty seats). Quite right too.

8. There are too many people who lament that professional football clubs continue to become less representative of their communities and more the possessions and ostentatious bling of wealthy individuals, while doing absolutely nothing about it, figuring nothing can be done. Thankfully the Hull City Supporters Trust do not share that view, and continue to work to achieve the goal of all supporters trusts: a financial stake in the club and true representation of fans in the boardroom. The German model of 51% fan ownership of all but two Bundesliga clubs might be beyond us given the recently agreed broadcasting deal, but Swansea (a club of similar stature to City and one that like us, has risen from the bottom tier to the top) being over 20% fan owned, shows that it isn’t just a pipe dream. HCST held their first AGM on Saturday, they’ve achieved some impressive things during their brief existence and have impressive plans. There is no quicker way to lose power than to presume that you don’t have any. If you want the club you support to be more than just a business, a player trading exchange or TV content provider, then join fellow supporters in working towards making it so.

9. Nearly time for “Hull Tigers” to be put out of its misery. We can’t wait. Apropos of which…

10.  hugo

If the idea being referred to in this picture is Hull Tigers, then it’s the most laughably inappropriate and delusion packed use of any famous quote ever. With apologies to Victor Hugo: There is nothing more feeble than one man’s idea, motivated solely by an egocentric squabble with a local council, unrelentingly pushed in the face of public opposition from supporters, the wider football community and its governing body, and backed up not by evidence of worth but by ‘my way or the highway’ threats from a supposed ‘community fan’.

Filed under: Opinion — Amber Nectar @ 07:30

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February 22, 2015

MATCH REPORT: City 2-1 QPR


brucelaugh

Matches pivot on certain moments, and seasons pivot on certain matches. Did we see one of those yesterday? In fact, we may have seen two moments inside just 15 seconds.

You know the two. Rob Green’s outstanding save from Dame N’Doye, followed quickly by the latter eventually besting the former. If the season ends in survival, there’ll be a lot of moments we cite. The restoration of pride at Man C, followed quickly by the efficient despatching of Aston Villa will rightly be recalled. But few things stick in the mind more clearly than a late winner against doughty but limited relegation rivals. It felt huge. It IS huge.

It was a game whose importance was obvious. Providing the opportunity for City to put together their first proper run of form of the season, it’ll also have been identified by QPR as a winnable fixture, one to aid their own hopes of staying up.

With City’s injury crisis of January improving, Steve Bruce had the rare luxury of selecting an unchanged side, the first in several months. City therefore fielded: McGregor; Dawson, McShane, Bruce; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler, Brady; Jelavić, N’Doye.

(more…)

Filed under: Match Reports — Andy @ 14:38

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February 20, 2015

PREVIEW: City v QPR


elliott20067

The performance at Man City, and the result against Aston Villa went together like beer and curry, gin and tonic, Brown and Duffen. No, wait, scratch that last one. But you see the point, from a really difficult to watch period for City, whisper it quietly but a corner seems to have been turned.

QPR, what can you say about QPR? There’s not an awful lot to like about QPR is there? From the list of dislikeable managers… Colin, ‘Arry and even stretching back to John Gregory to name but three. Taarabt, Barton, Rio Ferdinand…they don’t have very likeable players either.

Although we’ve had some pretty enjoyable games against them in recent years, party poopers in 2011, Stuart Elliott’s last gasp brace in 2007 and the opening game of this season when Allan McGregor continued his 100% record of saving penalties for Hull City, not a bad stat after two seasons.

City are expected to be unchanged from the Villa game, with Mo Diamé not quite making a full recovery, while QPR are expecting to be able to name Charlie Austin in their starting XI, not our medical department’s finest hour in deciding his knee wasn’t up to scratch.

City are evens for the victory while QPR come in at 14/5, the draw at 23/10. I’d be an awful lot more nervy about this game if QPR hadn’t won at Sunderland last week, the ‘no away points’ monkey that was on their back has gone now so no need for any TypicalCity.

It’s another must-win fixture, with Stoke, Sunderland and Leicester to follow, the next three weeks will give us a massive hint as to which division City will be plying their trade in next season. C’mon City!

Joseph Oldroyd

Filed under: Match Previews — Amber Nectar @ 18:22

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February 18, 2015

PODCAST: TWTWT Podcast 63


It’s that time you’ve almost been waiting for! Podcast up again. We talk about the Villa result, this weekend’s big game against QPR, Phil Parkinson’s exploits, Assem Allam’s latest interview and we remember a former City manager who represented a totally different world…

Here you are. There’s a quiz question on it too.

Filed under: Podcasts — Amber Nectar @ 09:43

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February 16, 2015

Things We Think We Think #174


twtwt

1. No game this weekend just passed, though memories of the Villa game kept us warm throughout it. While perhaps not as stellar as the convincing defeat of Everton or as thrilling as the victory at Sunderland, it was nonetheless a pretty convincing win over relegation rivals of the like we haven’t seen often enough this season.

2. It cannot be avoided that Aston Villa were astonishingly poor, of course. That isn’t necessarily to diminish City’s achievement in winning well, but they were so remarkably abject that one suspects Villa’s previous intention of keeping Lambert for the rest of the season simply had to be torn up. Tim Sherwood is in place there now, but we doubt their side is up for a real relegation fight. Excellent.

3. But for City, the fight has (hopefully) returned. Abysmal ourselves against Newcastle, City were much more spirited in drawing against Manchester Hunter and flawlessly committed against Villa. There’s no doubt we have the personnel to avoid relegation, it’s always been a question of organisation and effort. That’s been erratic this season, to say the least; but if it’s available to us between now and May, disaster can still be averted.

4. At least it removes the issue of Steve Bruce, if it was ever really an issue. There’s just no point in changing manager, and there was only ever a small minority in favour of it anyway – the last two results have ensured that the distraction of managerial speculation is over.

5. QPR next up for City, and the opportunity to complete a double over a relegation rival. The four points taken from the previous two games have arguably taken this fixture from must-win to almost-must-win. City followed up their bonus point at the Etihad with a good win; now’s a superb opportunity to put together a real run of form.

6. We will say two things in favour of Assem Allam’s interview yesterday morning: it was not done disruptively on the eve of a match, and he used it to commit to increased spending on the club’s youth set up. The former was perhaps inadvertent, perhaps not; the latter is something his family do deserve sincere credit for, and would probably receive if they talked about youth investment more and idiotic name changes less. Still, it’s welcome.

7. The rest of it was sadly the usual incoherent nonsense. The astonishing Premier League riches that will hopefully flow City’s way in coming years won’t be used to cut the prices that are keeping seats empty; instead, Mr Allam wishes to prioritise building more empty seats. Quite what business sense that makes escapes us.

8. There was the customary rubbish about “shortening the name” from Hull City (eight letters) to Hull Tigers (ten letters), all delivered with a slightly resigned air.

9. Most puzzlingly, an assertion that he sponsors most youth football in Hull. You need only a cursory knowledge of junior football in this city to know that statement is not close to being correct. It will be fascinating to see whether anyone seriously picks him up on this.

10. To end on a positive note, huge congratulations to the Hull City Supporters’ Trust on securing the status of Asset of Community Value for the KC Stadium. To achieve this so early into their existence is a real achievement, and we look forward to seeing what they can accomplish next.

Filed under: Opinion — Amber Nectar @ 07:00

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