City fans are currently crossing their fingers, legs and hearts as well as offering prayers to the god of transfers, in the hope that City’s prized asset Michael Turner will not be sold on deadline day, Tuesday.
Manager Phil Brown, rather than categorically stating Turner is not for sale as he should have, has said the club would listen to ‘mammoth’ bids for the frankly superb centre-back, hinting that chairman Paul Duffen is quite open to the idea of flogging the finest player in the club’s history. Such statements invite bids from other clubs, and though we’ve said no to Liverpool, Sunderland now look poised to break the Tiger Nation’s collective heart by taking Turner, a player unanimously loved, to the Stadium of Light.
That we would even consider selling Turner raises many questions, first of Phil Brown, but mostly of chairman Paul Duffen…
Why would we even consider selling our best player, thus drastically weakening our team and making another team who, regardless of ambition, just lost to Stoke and therefore could be a side not too many points from the drop zone, significantly better?
If we have money to spend, after all we are meant to have bid £12-15M on Real Madrid’s Alvaro Negredo, then why are we so bothered about cashing in on Turner, who we supposedly value at £12M, but would probably accept £6-8M for? Do we need the money? That question, while unanswered, not only casts doubt over our fiscal health, but also raises the nauseating possibility that perhaps we weren’t entirely serious about signing Negredo, and given Duffen’s love of appearing in the media, could just have been done so he and the club are seen negotiating with Real Madrid. Ugh, just the thought of that is shudder inducing.
It can’t be argued that Duffen loves appearing in the media, and I mean LOVES IT. Watch the video of the Altidore/Olofinjana signing press conference and see how many times, after already having mic time, he interjects when questions are put, not to him, but to the two players.
DuffMan has enjoyed a remarkably long honeymoon period since he took over the reigns from Adam Pearson, courtesy of the clubs’ promotion to the Premier League in his first year in charge. Because we’ve enjoyed unprecedented success on his watch many questions have gone unasked. Questions about the ownership structure of the club for instance.
We still don’t know anything about the people behind Duffen, property developers Russell Bartlett and Martin Walker, two years after the takeover. What is their day to day role in club affairs or do they leave everything in DuffMan’s hands?
In the summer our list of vice-presidents swelled from a couple to 14 people, here are the names… Ian Blakey, Jack Brignall, Mike Whitehead, Peter Chapman, Kristen Chapman, Jonathan Leafe, June Ann Carson Leafe, Eric Silver, Neil Hudgell, Ehab Allam, Tony Webster, Paul Robinson, Dave Wood and Armando Sanchez.
Do you know who any of these people (except familiar name Ian Blakey) are? Did you even know they are now VP’s? Now, there is of course nothing wrong with increasing the size of the board, but wouldn’t you like to know about such a change? Given our turbulent past in the boardroom the de facto stance of City’s fans is to not invest complete trust in those who run our club. Adam Pearson was an exception and trusted, wholly, but he earned that trust, and trust must be earned, not given freely like toys in packets of Corn Flakes.
Such trust must be held back when you read that the club have failed to submit accounts for the 2007-2008 season, these were due in May but have not yet been filed, and failure to submit accounts is a criminal offence.
Perhaps more worrying is the knowledge that Tiger Holdings, the parent company, have failed to supply accounts that were due in February. Why is this? Furthermore why is this information published by Private Eye magazine and not once even hinted at by the Hull Daily Mail, who’d rather print Peter Swan’s bullshit about making the KC Stadium a fortress, an article that gets rinsed every year about this time.
Questions about the non-submission of accounts would previously have been asked by the Fans Liaison Committee, a group taken seriously by Adam Pearson but disbanded by Paul Duffen, who no longer has to face such questioning.
On a personal level, does Duffen really, and I mean really understand the game? He certainly doesn’t appear to possess the same industry nous as his predecessor Adam Pearson, who had his finger on the pulse of every level of the game. This lack of knowledge is never more apparent as when we make bids for players. We bid £6M for Fraizer Campbell, who later joined Sunderland for £3.5M. Now the deal probably has clauses that mean the initial fee could rise to £6M, and we don’t know what those clauses are, but that seems quite a wise approach, paying less now and gladly paying more if it all works splendidly, and if it doesn’t, you’ve saved up to £2.5M. City though bid £6M straight up and then marvelled at their own show of ambition.
You could of course argue that City were just determined to get their man and admirably showed they meant business by making a substantial bid up front, after all deals concluded since then, such as the purchase of the seemingly four-lunged Kamel Ghillas for less than £2M, look very good indeed.
Giving him the benefit of the doubt on that score then, is there anything else about Paul Duffen that raises ire? Some may see his mixing with the supporting hoi polloi in the stands before games as a good thing, but others detect a whiff of Ridsdale-ism about it, it can be interpreted as the act of a man who enjoys the limelight and adulation while the team exceeds expectations just a little too much and perhaps he should be more concerned with the serious business of being a chairman, like submitting the clubs accounts in a timely manner for example.
Then there are accusations that he’s too pally with the manager. While it’s undoubtedly important for a chairman and manager to have a good working relationship, it sometimes feels that Duffen and Phil Brown are a little too close. The reason most chairmen maintain a professional distance from the manager and don’t get too chummy is because they know that down the line they might have to issue them a P45. Phil Brown has met his objectives every season he’s been here, he kept us up in the Championship soon after arriving, took us up via the play offs in his second year and maintained our Premier League status in our inaugural top tier campaign.
Talk of sacking him right now is therefore foolish and only suggested by the ignoramii who have their opinions formulated for them by hyperbole spouting tabloid hacks.
But lets talk hypothetically for a moment, say that this year City have a run of form akin to the one that saw us just stay up courtesy of other teams ineptitude and such form sees us rooted within the bottom three come New Years Day. At that point, the question of whether we need a new man at the helm would be a valid one to ask (and I sincerely hope it’s one that won‘t need asking as even considering Phil Brown‘s flaws, I like the man, and he‘s done many, many good things for Hull City). However, can you imagine Paul Duffen sacking him in such a happenstance? I find it hard to envisage at this point, because the two of them appear bezzy mates.
No manager needs to permanently have the sword of Damocles hanging over his head, it’s not conducive to stability at a football club, but there should always be the unspoken possibility that if things go very, very wrong, then the Chairman will put the clubs interests over friendship with the manager and make a change. As things stand, I just can’t see Brown being ejected even if we get relegated. I’ll say it again, at this point I firmly want Brown to remain as manager, he has earned some security, but no manager should be immune from responsibility if things go disastrously wrong.
As well as the chumminess factor, another reason I can’t see him sacking Brown in the event of catastrophic failure, is that I don’t think Duffen would relish having to appoint another manager. I’m not convinced he’d know where to even begin a search for a new boss.
Brown was appointed by Adam Pearson, albeit with Duffen’s blessing, and if it was needed, would you trust Duffen to make a good choice if he had to recruit later this year? He might attract a big name, but that doesn‘t equate to a good manager, does it Tony Adams, Bryan Robson or Roy Keane?
These nagging doubts, are as stated, all hypothetical, and perhaps exist only in my head. We should concentrate more on reality than intangibles, but the reality is we appear ready to cash in on our most valuable asset, Michael Turner.
The signing of Paul McShane on a permanent contract looks to address our needs at right back, but by selling Turner we would create a huge gaping hole in our central defence that an erratic Kamil Zayatte and Mouyokolo, a player with second division experience in France, would struggle to fill. True, Turner was a lower league player before entering the Premier League with City, but he had the comfort of time to establish himself in our first XI before making the step up. The excellent Anthony Gardner’s less than stellar fitness record further compounds the problem you’d face should you sell a player who didn’t miss any part of our first Premier League campaign.
What’s more, Turner has never expressed any desire to leave Hull City, and if he’s considering it now then that’s because the manager has publicly mulled over the possibility of us moving him on, rather than making the player feel 100% loved by saying we are not selling him, instead unconvincingly voicing that we hope he won’t go.
That statement will seem very hollow if we sign a replacement for Turner on deadline day, as any such move will not have just been engineered on deadline day. For a team tipped by many pundits to be facing the drop, the entirely avoidable sale of Michael Turner is potentially transfer assisted suicide. If Brown is prepared to let him go, then such a move would have to be sanctioned by the man in charge of the purse strings, Paul Duffen
I’m aware that this article may come across as the paranoid rantings of a hopelessly cynical fan who should be grateful for City’s current standing in football’s pantheon and to the men who‘ve manufactured the elevation. There is no doubt that we have much to be thankful to Paul Duffen for, and he gets unreserved thanks for those things from me, but that does not exempt him from criticism entirely, either now or in the future.
Right now, there is little criticism, only questions that remain as yet unanswered, but if we sell our most valued asset for a few quid and several Sunderland reserves, then DuffMan opens himself up to a whole heap of criticism if the needlessly risky gambit fails and we find ourselves back in the Championship this time next year, and the questioning will grow ever louder.