1. The last few months of being a City fan have been awful (and if you care about more than just games and results, there has been a slow, drip feed of awfulness for the last few years) but Saturday was a huge tonic, an infusion of spirit and hope, and a reward for those fans who have wearily endured the machinations of owners driven only by ego and self regard, and maintained love for Hull City AFC.
2. There have been more important games in terms of on-pitch achievement than the season opener against the champions at the weekend, but emotionally and spiritually, that win over Leicester feels like the biggest win in many a year, akin to the day we secured our league status under Warren Joyce a moon or two ago. The much misunderstood or doubted connection between team and supporters was self-evident; the fans gave full throat to the players, themselves victimised and entirely blameless, and in response they grafted, sweated and performed to the very maximum of their ability. When the two most important groups in professional football join forces like that, it is very special indeed. We heartily thank and congratulate every one of the eleven players involved.
3. We also offer our thanks and congratulations to Mike Phelan. Working for a misanthropic regime hell bent on destroying the club, he has sturdily taken the few resources available to him and found a team, a gameplan and a sense of optimism, however momentary it all may prove to be. He may not be the right man long term, even though he has voiced his desire for the job full-time, but he is the right man right now, because right now it is a crisis that needs someone wise, experienced and composed. He has proved to be all three in the last week, and more.
4. Tactically, Phelan excelled. Sam Clucas guarded the defence with a maturity and composure befitting a man with several years of Premier League experience, rarely letting Leicester target the out-of-position Jake Livermore. It was an unexpected but inspired move, and an honest player such as Clucas clearly revelled in both the responsibility and the opportunity for an afternoon of unremitting graft.
5. Also noticeable was City’s preference for transferring the ball into advanced positions at the earliest opportunity – or “long ball”, if you fancy. Without the giant presence of Robert Huth and struggling to cope with the tenacious Adama Diomande, plus City eagerly scooping up loose balls, Leicester consistently struggled throughout.
6. It was mostly about attitude, though. We wondered last Monday whether City would at least have a sense of togetherness, brought about by a turbulent summer. That was firmly answered on Saturday. That was a team that fought fanatically for each other, typified by Livermore’s thunderous block to deny a certain Leicester goal shortly before we took the lead. It galvanised the fans, and the way in which supporters and team were feeding off each other in the those frantic final minutes was beautiful. The odds remain hugely stacked against us; but maybe, after a season of high expectations and demands, a spell as battling underdogs may suit us.
7. What next? Saturday will have been draining, with a full ninety minutes required of every starter. We’ve a week until Swansea, when an identical XI will doubtless be chosen. We’ll need that attitude again, because Swansea are no dopes and they may exploit our weaknesses and improvised formation better than a weirdly tepid Leicester.
8. Exeter in the League Cup, eh? Regionalising a competition jars with the purists, and we don’t much care for it – but that’s a fair old trip isn’t it? Still, there’s a terrace and a chance to revisit a familiar venue of yesteryear, it’ll be a tick ground for some and it should see us into the next round – right?
9. Who knows what is in store with the next owners? With our track record of governance it’s hard not to be a little cynical, but with such an overt appearance by the Chinese/Hong Kong group at the game on Saturday, it seems the end of the Allam era is in sight and that generates a tidal wave of hope. We hope the new owners will not only inspire success on the pitch, but also be sensitive to fan feeling, and make sure that they, club staff, the fans and the wider local community can together proudly feel that Hull City AFC is OUR club.
10. Only when the Allams are truly gone will they no longer be able be able to insert flies into the ointment. The pitchside electronic boards mention of the non existent entity of ‘Hull Tigers’ is a wilful act of spite and a feeble attempt at showing who is in control, by exposed dictators who haven’t even got the nerve to show up to see a reminder of their twice failing to impose their will on us. Let’s hope they take a few with them too, there’s a rotten culture at the club and the whole thing needs a clear out.