1. A week to remember, though not entirely to savour. The nature of the defeat to Manchester United was incredibly tough to stomach but the manner of the performance was little more than sensational. The attitude, the commitment, the energy – all of it proved just how much this reduced squad of professionals feel it right now.
2. You’d almost rather be 4-0 down at half time and all hope extinguished than having a fully deserved point snatched away in second half added time. There was a grim inevitability to our being breached late on after gallantly repelling an expensively assembled team that lay siege to our goal for most of the second half. We were however, agonisingly close to our finest result against Manchester United in the Premier League era (because let’s face it the 0-0 at the end of 2014/15 was nothing to cheer as that game confirmed relegation and a win for the visitors couldn’t improve their league standing so they were on the beach, all but Marouane Fellaini who performed knee surgery on Paul McShane using his studs, but we digress) but as in 2008/09 (away) and 2013/14 (home) we had to make do with heroic defeat. Bah! Football is a cruel game sometimes.
3. Our heroes in defeat are led by a man who, at almost 53, has now made it clearer than ever that he has done his time as a second-in-command picking up the cones from the training ground and is ready to be the main man picking the players instead. And, frankly, Mike Phelan could have done little more to prove his case so far this season.
4. Whether he gets it, of course, is still in the lap of the gods. A takeover, according to Ehab Allam’s programme notes at the weekend, has been agreed. The new owners have a huge decision to make and, with the transfer deadline approaching and the squad pleading for reinforcements, will need to make it quickly. Phelan’s healthy, mutually respectful relationship with the players makes him the obvious candidate right now. And you can’t argue with results, even if one of those results was a 1-0 defeat cruelly snatched from the jaws of a miraculous goalless draw.
5. We enjoyed Exeter very much. A westcountry summer’s evening in a pleasant city, a good match, a terrace to stand on, a result in 90 minutes, a decent run-out for some promising young players, a return to action for the mighty Harry Maguire. It’s just a pity that the draw for round three – Stoke City away – couldn’t match the appeal, or even hang on to its coat-tails.
6. There are those who would take the £14-20m that Aston Villa are purported to have offered City for Abel Hernández, but they seem to be ignoring the lesson learnt when we sold Shane Long to Southampton: a goalscorer in the hand is worth £12m in the bush. Or something. While it sounds like a staggering amount of money for Hernández, how much would it cost to buy even a comparable forward, let alone a better one, in today’s market where every new TV deal adds several noughts to already inflated contracts? Are there even any available this close to the window’s closure anyway?
7. There’s a goalkeeper incoming, whether or not we bolster the striking corps, as David Marshall signs from Cardiff for £5m. Those of an overly sentimental bent feel this is unfair on Eldin Jakupović, who has made a highly competent start to 2016/17, but he should be judged on his body of work, not just on recent performance. Then there is the wider picture to consider: there is doubt over Allan McGregor’s long term availability, and Dušan Kuciak doesn’t seem to be taken seriously as a contender for first choice. Marshall’s signing seems prudent, and good value.
8. City have struck a deal with Viking to get full match commentary on to commercial radio in the locality for the first time in many, many years. Now, bear with us on this, because it’s an odd one. Viking’s parent company, like most of the nation’s local commercial radio, has not been interested in live football for a long time because they rightly see it as not sound business (Viking has heritage sister stations in the whole of the north west and north east, Premier League hotbed areas, and none do football commentary, which is eye-watering in its cost), and by putting the games on their Viking 2 service (formerly Great Yorkshire Gold/Magic), listeners will either need to tolerate a muffled, passé AM frequency or purchase a DAB device which, as any digital radio owner who lives along the A63 corridor between North Ferriby and North Cave knows, provides a signal that is intermittent at best, while rights issues presumably mean neither City nor Viking can broadcast commentary online. BBC Radio Humberside isn’t perfect, to many, but it is available on FM, has an established set of good individual broadcasters working on the football coverage and provides adequate pre-match and post-match output (something it seems Viking won’t be doing, commencing their programme at the weekend just before kick off and ending it shortly after the final whistle). It isn’t a fool who wonders, without malice, whether this arrangement was suggested by the club as a riposte to recent BBC efforts to defy their ludicrously imposed rules on what they can say, what they can film and who they can interview and generally not act as mouthpieces for an autocratic, discredited regime. And no radio station, nor its parent group, would instigate a deal when a season has already begun – the lack of fanfare about the deal from Viking is notable (it’ll be interesting also to see if they pull the plug if City are relegated). It is presumably good business on this occasion for Viking, otherwise they wouldn’t have done it, but it just feels like an enterprise concocted entirely by the club, for entirely its own reasons, that has entirely nothing to do with City supporters or making new corporate partnerships, and entirely everything to do with pursuing petty private vendettas.
9. Sam Allardyce has, we hear, been unable to persuade John Terry out of retirement and rejoin the England squad. The national side took only three central defenders to the European Championships and such is the dearth of quality English centre backs, the new England boss has felt compelled to turn, fruitlessly, to a nigh-on 36 year old of baggage and dubious character. Having watched Curtis Davies repel everyone in the Premier League who has dared share a blade of grass with him this season, we feel there is an obvious solution right here in Hull. Nobody should think we’re joking either – it’s supposed to be a new dawn of picking players in form, and it’s about bloody time City had a serving England international. There isn’t a sensible reason for not calling him up to the squad this weekend, especially as Chris Smalling is currently unable to get into the Manchester United team and John Stones had to go off early in Manchester City’s game at the weekend. Allardyce has instead gone for 35 year old Phil Jagielka, which is just baffling. We do, however, think his decision to not call up overhyped ex-City loanee Mark Noble, a player he knows extremely well and relied upon heavily when he was manager at West Ham, is very funny indeed, not to mention correct. Maybe all the obsessives in the media about a very ordinary midfielder will shut up now.
10. One final note for the departing Allams: good riddance. You took over full of wild promises about community, philanthropy and togetherness; you blew it with your self-importance, dictatorial nonsense, spite, inadequacy and hatred of the Hull and East Yorkshire people whom you had cajoled into investing so much of their hopes in you. We want your spectacular failure to haunt you to the end because your wretched and tyrannical reign will never be forgotten, nor forgiven, by Hull City supporters.