1. City are relegated. There were to be no final day heroics, and in truth it rarely felt as though there would be. The requirements were simply too great – beat a top-four side while hoping for help elsewhere. That sort of thing CAN happen, but it rarely does. The bookies’ prohibitively short odds on a City relegation were not unjustified.
2. That’s not to say that City didn’t acquit themselves tolerably well against Manchester United, because they did. Granted, the visitors were visibly half-arsed at best, however City played with determination and a little skill, and still felt short. In a way, it was almost a microcosm of the season as a whole: some good stuff, but ultimate underachievement.
3. This was not a relegation that should have happened. City absolutely did not have one of the three worst sides in the Premier League. But it has happened, and we’re going to spend an unhappy summer apportioning blame. It’s all very different to last summer, when we had the heroic FA Cup Final failure to look back on, European football to look forward to and the prospect of Premier League consolidation and improvement. The contrast is stark and depressing.
4. The blame can be widely spread. Steve Bruce brought disappointingly, motivated indifferently, selected erratically and ultimately failed to break the cycle that’s blighted his career: a bright beginning with a new club, big spending, underachievement. He can cite injuries, but that doesn’t really wash. Many millions were spent, all to go backwards. To not try to compete in the League Cup. To not even take our first and probably last adventure in Europe seriously. That is straightforward failure, most of it having no excuse other than poor judgement, and he’s extremely lucky that he has such understanding bosses and supporters at his back.
5. His players were also gravely culpable. The stars of last season almost without exception failed to reproduce the same form, while new signings did not perform to an acceptable standard. Most damningly, we have to question the application on too many occasions. Burnley away was particularly horrendous, when Bruce rightly labelled his “big time Charlies” – the relationship between fans and players fractured for the first time in its aftermath and the suspicion that too many players had an overinflated sense of self-worth never really left us after that match.
6. The owners’ unceasing determination to provoke the fans didn’t help, though it was not quite as considerable a factor in our eventual failure. A house divided always falls, and our house is certainly divided – needlessly so, for no reason other than to spite the people of Hull. It’s horrible and unforgiveable – but while they haven’t helped, with rancour in the stadium entirely their responsibility, they haven’t ambled around a football field or frittered millions on Abel Hernandez.
7. Where next? The Championship, and you don’t need to look far to see people relishing that. We’re certainly looking forward to less preposterous ticket prices, more 3pm Saturday kick-offs and a more honest XI, but we won’t celebrate the fact that the city of Hull has lost its representation in one of the best leagues in the world. It saddens us considerably – it took us a century to get there, and there’s no guarantee we’ll be back any time soon.
8. But we are where we are, and there plenty of virtues to the second tier. For one thing, the bookies’ installation of City as title favourites is nice, and suggests we’ll win more games than we lose, something extremely difficult to imagine in the Premier League. There’ll be plenty of enjoyable away games, some Yorkshire derbies, and hopefully a decent promotion push.
9. A brighter note: the City fans were absolutely outstanding on Sunday. With all hope of survival gone, the noise levels and pride in the club was magnificent. A club is nothing without its fans, and however much we’re all bickered over the stupid name change, who’s plastic and who isn’t, etc – we have some marvellous fans. Hopefully the club are noticing this and thinking how to work with us, and not against us. Just imagine if the name change was shelved, a discount on season tickets was implemented and more ways of working together established – the goodwill alone generated would sustain us through the summer and get our 2015/16 promotion campaign off to a flier.
10. We’ll naturally be more quiet during the summer, though Monday morning TWTWTs will continue. Thank you to everyone who’s read the reports, previews, opinion pieces, commented on the site, contributed to the forum or listened to the podcasts this season. Next season will be our 18th, and by August we’ll be looking forward to it as much as any.