1: Is there anything our club can do that’s right at the moment? Everything on and off the pitch seems to stink to high heaven, and there is a sense that the rest of the Premier League can’t wait to see the back of us. Our owner is derided, our manager ridiculed, our players lambasted for not trying or patronised for not being good enough. It’s starting to feel almost like we should be embarrassed by association.
2: We’re not of course. We’re proud. Of ourselves, and our association with Hull City AFC. The club aren’t proud of us, of course, but that’s only as a result of some toxic individuals controlling the coffers and the flow of information who have no inkling of what we represent, and what importance we hold. We’ll always be here.
3: Jake Livermore, however, is unlikely to be here much longer, assuming he hasn’t already been privately told his City career is already over. What a grim business this is: a lad of peak fitness and considerable earning power, not to mention a decent future in the game, will now forever be tainted by an association with illegal, hard drugs. The circumstances may point to a troubled life for Livermore, of course, but taking cocaine has no place in professional, elite sport, irrespective of the circumstances, and if ultimately proven guilty he must be stoutly punished – and then helped, if help is required.
4: Meanwhile, the team-mates he has left behind went to Tottenham and, while the performance wasn’t lamentable, the basic lack of quality for a side that contains pushing £42m worth of signings since the summer was. Spurs barely broke sweat in beating us, and City had to rue poor final balls and poor finishing. The difference was stark throughout. For Tottenham, read also Swansea. And Southampton. And Stoke. And any number of games this season in which City have travelled to difficult but not unbeatable opposition, and slid to a cheap defeat against anyway. As much as being doubled by Burnley was crucial, it’s been the incessant inability to get anything on the road against mid-table opposition that’s killed us.
5: Relegation isn’t set in stone, but it feels like it’s inevitable, doesn’t it? Oddly, an awful lot of pundits think that we’ll somehow sneak a win against Manchester United – a team we’ve never beaten in the top tier, and whom Steve Bruce has never defeated in his managerial career – while Newcastle flop against West Ham and go down. We appreciate their faith in us, but it feels misplaced. And if Sunderland take themselves out of the relegation picture with something from their game at Arsenal in midweek, then our opponents will see a glimmer of hope for third place, and avoiding a European Cup preliminary tie. This scenario will make an already onerous task pretty much impossible. And even if we do beat them, it’s still reliant wholly on others. If we win and Newcastle do too, we will still go down, and we’ll damn well deserve it.
6: Are you ready to turn on Steve Bruce yet? It’s a tough one, as the City manager remains an affable fellow, and his first two seasons delivered a quadruple whammy – promotion, a highest ever finish, an FA Cup final and European football. Those achievements bought him time and goodwill when the cracks began to appear, but if we are relegated under him, and even if we are not, he now needs to be properly scrutinised. His decision-making, overspending on players, awful attitude to the cup competitions, tactical negativity, risible criticism of justified fan protests and general shoulder-shrugging, soundbite-riddled reactions to inept displays and awful results have all gone against him this season, and have intensified in recent weeks. His national image is that of a dinosaur manager – we don’t go that far, but he has questions to answer and, assuming he is big enough to return to Championship football with us (as the club won’t fire him), a spot of redemption to find.
7: In the event of relegation, it’s imperative that the real men of professional virtue – Chester, McShane, Bruce junior, Elmohamady, Brady, Quinn, Meyler, Rosenior – are kept on. These guys have our club in their hearts and will be hurting at returning to a division they strived so much to exit in 2013. One or two are out of contract this summer and, miracles this weekend notwithstanding, need to be retained urgently. In the second tier they’d be among the best in the division, again, and we can only imagine Elmohamady and Chester being courted by any of the clubs we leave behind. Also, the financial meltdown some predict for City in the Championship should not be pre-empted by any kind of massive fire sale, even though we’d expect the likes of Jelavić and Robertson to fetch some decent money, while others like Huddlestone, Davies and Hernández could be offloaded just for the sake of the wage bill. And that’s even after the pay cuts we all know about have kicked in – after all, none of us can imagine Huddlestone wanting to play in the Championship on half his current colossal salary, even though he hasn’t looked remotely like a Premier League player for months.
8: We were close to saying the club itself hasn’t done anything provocative or boneheaded this week, but then we got the spectacle of cheap scarves being doled out at Tottenham with that awful, nameless logo on it. Visual reminders of the Allams’ vandalism of our heritage aren’t terribly welcome at the moment.
9: David Conn is bloody good at his job. When he gets involved in your club’s travails, you know more than ever you are in the right.
10: On a lighter note, mercifully, we are thrilled to bits that Phil Brown is going to have another crack at leading a team to play-off victory at Wembley. This coming Sunday, the day we play Manchester United and likely exit the Premier League, is the seventh anniversary of the day we first reached the top division, and we still remain grateful for that mesmerising season, that wonderful day at the home of English football and the man who masterminded it. We wish our ex-gaffer and his Southend side the best of luck when they take to the Wembley field against Wycombe on Saturday.