Things We Think We Think #241


1. Marco Silva’s has had his first full week in charge of the Tigers, and whisper it quietly – very quietly indeed – but the opening signs are broadly positive. It’s crazily early to offer any sort of definitive judgement on the new City manager, and we won’t make any attempt to extrapolate beyond the immediate future, but nonetheless we’re impressed.

2. Unfortunately, his second game in charge was one that’s probably seen our faint dreams of League Cup glory and subsequent European exploration ended. Overcoming Manchester United over two legs was always a huge long shot, and while City’s 2-0 defeat at Old Trafford hasn’t absolutely settled the tie, it’s close to impossible to believe we’ll be two goals or more better than them in the return leg.

3. However, if the tie is effectively over and our dreams of major silverware have ended at the semi-final stage, then what remains is the memory of a sterling effort and the encouragement it provides. City defending manfully throughout to restrict a side assembled at preposterous expense to relatively few chances. Not much was created up front, unsurprisingly, but for a squad as thin and inexperienced as ours to keep it to 2-0, and be slightly unfortunate even to suffer that, was a superb achievement.

4. If that was the backs-to-the-wall against-all-odds match, then four days later came an altogether different test for Sr Silva. Bournemouth are an enormously admirable side, and even if they’ve experiencing a tick down in form they’re in a position we can only dream of. Nonetheless, this fell firmly into the “really could to do be winning” category. And we won it, deservedly, with a bit to spare and even the faintest hint of a swagger.

5. And that despite making it hard for ourselves too. Harry Maguire’s boneheaded challenge in the second minute could’ve been fatal for our chances, and had Bournemouth extended themselves properly and got a second while City were still coming to terms with a new formation and an early concession, it’d probably have been yet another defeat. However, as the first half wore on City cleared their heads and fought their way back.

6. Some of the play was far better than you’d expect from a side that started the day at the bottom of the table. We’ve seen that before, of course – the luckless Mike Phelan had City playing some attractive stuff prior to his dismissal, but this time there was a cutting edge. In other words, there was an Abel Hernández. His second goal was exactly the sort of predatory finish you can’t easily teach. Shifting the ball half a yard and instantly swiping it past an unsighted, uncomprehending keeper, it’s instinctive brilliance, and how we’ve missed it.

7. However, the hero of the hour may be Tom Huddlestone. He’s frequently frustrated, and a whiff of underachievement has stalked his time here, but he’s playing the finest football of his City career. He’s involving himself far further forward, his passing is not only sumptuously attractive but defence-splitting and he’s notably upped his workrate. In the past month, he’s become a joy to watch and an essential player. If he can maintain this level of performance, then maybe, just maybe…

8. No! Enough. The odds remain stacked against City, and the strong probability of four defeats from our next four games will quickly provide both a reality check and also a lot of late-season work to avoid relegation. We’re probably still going down. But we’re going down fighting, and that’s better than nothing.

9. Two new players – striker Oumar Niasse and midfielder Evandro – have arrived, and we welcome them warmly. We’re pleased to note that a right back appears to be next on his wish list. The sooner the better please, patrão.

10. Oliver Holt, one of the country’s most respected sports journalists, dedicated his entire Mail On Sunday column at the weekend to the situation at City, paying a visit to the UK City of Culture to talk to supporters. It’s a must-read and, while seeing everything we have to contend with via the toxic Allam regime in black and white isn’t an uplifting read, at least someone truly influential has put it all down for the national footballing consumer to digest. We hope the Allams read it, hang their heads in shame and change their attitudes overnight. But then still sell up very quickly.

17 replies
  1. Ambertigerfan
    Ambertigerfan says:

    Re 10: I noticed in that article in The Mail On Sunday two things: 1 Ehab Allam refused to be interviewed for the piece. What a coward he is. 2 Assem Allam is apparently gravely ill. I understood he got better, but perhaps he’s doing a Castro and he’s never coming back to lead and will die in the near future.

  2. And yet....
    And yet.... says:

    My understanding- from more than one reliable source – is that the info on Allam Snr is correct. His apparent recovery last year was only ever going to be temporary.
    But, ill or not, I sadly hold out no hope on point 10: those people don’t do shame, and in fact it wouldn’t surprise me if we were treated to some new act of petulance – or, at least, a hardening of attitudes – once the Allams have read Holt’s much-needed article. But it’s all water off a duck’s back now.

    On the positive side, though, an excellent performance on Saturday once we finally got going. The other highlight for me was a composed, assured defensive performance against an attack which clearly knows where the net is, despite our two central defenders probably not being fully fit. Nothing to do with the change of personnel between the sticks?

  3. HempholmeTigers
    HempholmeTigers says:

    10 – a good article but even if the Allam’s did by any chance read it would it make a blind bit of difference? I fear we’re stuck with them/Ehab anyway for the long haul while they satiate their sheer greed and wallow in their bile.
    Anyone know anything about the ‘altercation’ on the M62? Wish I’d seen him on our travels!

  4. John from Brid
    John from Brid says:

    Read the article by Holt yesterday, at the end he says that Allams where asked to put their point of view across but politely refused, I think that tells us more than enough.
    As for Saturday I was a bit twitchy the first 20 minutes and thought we would get stuffed, but the last 60 minutes were very enjoyable, as for Marco Silva just wearing a suit with a shirt open necked on a day like that I hope his mother has a word we don’t want him poorly.

  5. Jimmy Weekly
    Jimmy Weekly says:

    #6 Spot on about Hernandez. His goal against Swansea last week was exactly what we have not been able to do for months, snap up chances. We have missed his predatory instinct no end, and the two on Saturday were beautiful. What a cross from Robertson for the first. Phelan’s insistence on playing him as the lone striker was crazy, especially after the great start he made v Leicester in sunny August. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Silva’s time in charge has coincided with Hernandez re-born.

  6. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    A couple of points; Firstly is it allowable to say that Marco Silva’s appointment appears to be a master stroke on the part of the owners? Not sure how he was even on their radar but once there how they managed to get him to agree to the job. Sure the fight against relegation is going to be very tough, but there is renewed hope amongst the supporters and more importantly the players. Best decision the club has made in a long time.
    Secondly, it was pointed out to me over the weekend that it would be very difficult to see one of the top 6 teams face each other in 4 consecutive games. Can you imagine Spurs for example having to play Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester Utd. one after another? My guess would be that there would be uproar with the fixture planner.
    But it’s ok for Hull City to have a fixture list like this. Well I don’t think it is, and in fact is just unfair. Winning and losing are contagious habits, and have an enormous impact on player’s attitude and motivation. What’s more we could easily be cut adrift at the bottom of the table at the end of this run of games, just making life that little bit harder. Yes, I understand that we have to play these fixtures some time during the season, and so does everybody else, but does anybody else have to play them consecutively.
    It is acknowledged that the Premier League is an uneven playing field, just seems to have got a bit more uneven.

  7. Dr Seuss
    Dr Seuss says:

    I feel a bit of a fraud these days making comments on this site as I haven’t attended any games this season due to owner malfeasance. As such I can’t comment on the football played only on point 10. After reading the article above I was forced to check out the Holt article on the Mail website – shame on you AN for making me go there. It was a good article, points fairly made and probably a bit more muted than it could have been in its assessment of the Allam’s regime. That Ehab dared not to contribute to the article perhaps gives an insight into his courage ( or lack of it) but also that in the face of the HCST poster series of Ask Ehab the regime are getting a bit wary of making flimsy claims and lying promises as they keep getting thrown back in their faces. In this “post-truth” world where Donald Trump can be elected I’m starting to believe that City are ahead of the pack here in that we have had a post-truth owner for a few years. And, as we see with The Trump, shame is not something such people feel so unfortunately I think AN is going to wait a hell of a while for that emotion to make them sell up. Doesn’t stop us all from hoping it could happen though does it?

  8. Les
    Les says:

    Of course you can say it JohnK. Silva may well be a master stroke ‘by the owners’, I’m just skeptical about it being their idea. The appointment of Steve Bruce was considered a master stroke by Assem after the shoddy treatment of Barmby, though it later emerged that appointment was made on the back of Peter Chapman’s hard work and the Allams rubber stamped it. I suspect the same thing has happened here, the idea that Ehab researched and head hunted Silva feels laughable. The rubber stanping is important of course, but I’d love to know who suggested Silva.

    As for reading the Daily Mail goes Dr Seuss, it’s odd that the political leanings of newspapers never reaches down as far as the sports section, and there are many decent football journos who’ve done good work for what would otherwise be deemed a hateful rag.

  9. Officer Crabtree
    Officer Crabtree says:

    RE: The Mail on Sunday. It should be added that the Mail on Sunday isn’t The Mail. Different editors, different staff, different viewpoints (the MoS backed Remain, for example, though I’m not sure of The Mail’s standpoint on the EU). While the MoS isn’t without its shameful aspects – Piers Morgan writes for it for a start – Geordie Greig isn’t Paul Dacre and the MoS isn’t quite as hateful as its weekday namesake.

    All of that’s irrelevant, however, as good journalism is good journalism and Oliver Holt should be lauded for the piece that he wrote irrespective of where he wrote it.

  10. Rottenborough
    Rottenborough says:

    Whilst he didn’t talk to the Mail on Sunday Ehab has gone blubbing to the Yorkshire Post.

    Apparently its’ the fans’ fault that the sale of the club hasn’t gone through. Something about us giving the wrong impression to prospective owners.

    Talk about refusing to accept the consequences of your own actions. The Allams take the biscuit.

    What a load of bollocks.

  11. Cunning Linguist
    Cunning Linguist says:

    Re the Yorkshire Post interview thingy, this quote from Ehab particularly stood out for me.
    “I don’t see any point in trying to engage with people who I don’t really think want to listen or understand.”
    If the whole situation wasn’t so bloody sad, the bloke could be a comedian.

  12. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    I agree with your reply Les. It is baffling and I guess just for interest purposes I would love to know how it all came about. When you consider that Marco has a significant track record in Europe for such a young coach and holds the record for the number of consecutive wins in a top flight European league, Olympiacos 17 wins, how is it he wasn’t on the radar of other strugglers.
    Swansea must be kicking themselves (again), after making such a naïve appointment like Bob Bradley they then follow it up with Paul Clement, just the man you don’t need for a relegation fight I would say.
    As baffling is the interview in the Yorkshire Post with Ehab Allam. It would appear that the penny has just dropped that the only way they will realise a significant valuation for the club is to remain in the PL. Shock, horror, who knew???
    Finally we will see some investment in the team (I hope) and a new energy in coaching, ideas and impetus. The next 2 weeks will be interesting to see who comes and as important who goes and for how much.
    I think that Ehab’s remarks re the supporter protests putting potential buyers off from purchasing is actually a very good thing. A new owner will come into the club (whenever that will be) knowing that the supporters have a voice and will use it. Whether an owner considers it to be a frustration or a threat will depend on who it is, but at least the supporters know that their frustrations are front and centre.

  13. Rottenborough
    Rottenborough says:


    Well, I suppose being front and centre is better than being irrelevant.

    Then again, I don’t for one moment believe Ehab has had a change of mind about the importance of supporters’ behaviour or opinions. He’s just trying to pin the blame for,the current mess on us, just like papa did for the City Council’s refusal to sell him the stadium and for the FA’s refusal to allow the name change.

    “Please Miss. It’s not me Miss. It’s them. This is SO unfair Miss”.

  14. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    Early days but Marco’s appointment does look like a master stroke so credit where it’s due (wherever that may be).
    Whatever our feels regarding our owners, I’m sure we all hope Assem Allam recovers his health.
    As for Ehab, I think he inherited a role he never wanted.
    If foreign “investors” really have to ask what’s the problem with the fans, then clearly they are clueless, haven’t done their due diligence and therefore are not the type of people we want in charge.
    If I took over I could fill the stadium instantly by reinstating concessions, by communicating clearly with the fans, by treating them fairly and as though they are valued (I.e. Stop moving them at every whim).

  15. ann guy
    ann guy says:

    Well said Bill Carson, we are desperate to come back. it’s so simple Mr Allam, just say, we got it wrong and we are reinstating concessions, respect might follow, you never know! The team and manager deserve our support in front of a packed stadium. Time to sort it out, soon as.

  16. gjhdurham
    gjhdurham says:

    Re Man U…concerned we’d ship a load of goals when I saw the team, but the boys done good! Could have done without the last goal though! Poor marking at the back post again, but to me the bog brush was offside for 99% of the time the ball was in the air. Couldn’t be bothered to rerun to see when it was kicked, but I’ll bet the linesman had no clue, so more likely to flag than for the first…which TV agree was offside. When are we going to get some luck…
    Re Bouremth…Jak in goal and 3 goals. Much needed result putting us in a decent position to kick on…BUT…we really need some points from the next few games against the top clubs. What a test for Silva now!
    Plus…the next week or so in the Transfer Market will be interesting to say the least! As I type this Livermore’s gone it seems…will the cash be reinvested…and will Snodgrass be next? In two minds over Livermore. Would have liked more than £10mil! He proved how useful he could be at CB, and Dawson looks to be fading I’d say. On balance I’d rather have kept him. Certainly wouldn’t let Snodgrass go purely on his attacking threat. Have we got the bite of Livermore available in MF now?
    Twt. We live in interesting times…COYH!

  17. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    Re: Livermore, £10M is on the cheap side, I’d have thought £13+ based on Ryan Mason.
    Great asset and wish Jake well.
    If he is the only first team player to go and we sign 5+ decent players, fair enough.
    If we lose Snodgrass or any other key players then I’ll think otherwise.

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