1. We’re now 11 league games into 2017/18, a season so far characterised by periods of melancholy and negative outlook, passing into euphoric episodes of hypomania. This iteration of Hull City it seems, are bipolar.
2. There’s little positive to take from the Preston game. The visitors looked alarmingly better than City throughout, and though we had a decent period in the second half following the equaliser, we can’t really claim to have deserved anything. Preston aren’t a bad side, but they’re also not a strikingly good one (certainly not a patch on Wolves), and to lose rather feebly to them was pretty rotten.
3. There was an acutely disjointed feel to City six days ago. The players seemed to have little idea of their roles, the formation was either unclear or not implemented and the side drifted in aimless confusion. Preston harried well, and because no-one seemed quite sure what they were supposed to be doing there was no answer to it. Subsequent events may have restored a little faith, but for the first time it was easy to find City fans questioning the manager.
4. Birmingham were astoundingly bad, but that’s no reason to not marvel at City’s attacking purpose, fluid movement and ever so pleasing ruthlessness. Great performances were legion: Fraizer Campbell’s early drive and intent set the tone, Jarrod Bowen’s hunger was sated and Kamil Grosicki’s motivation rekindled by a freedom granting formation and submissive opponents. Jon Toral put in his finest shift to date, acting as a conduit between wide men and front men, and even those who have been maligned of late impressed in a complementary formation, goals for Seb Larsson and Markus Henriksen should do wonders for their confidence.
4a. That fifth goal, just how pornographic was it? We’ll tell you. It was so sexually explicit that Tigers TV ought to put an 18 rating on the highlights video. It’s a good job Channel 5’s Championship highlights show is aired post watershed. Sexball.
5. Billy Dickinson, Arthur Cunliffe, Cliff Hubbard, Dai Davies, Charles Robinson, George Richardson – finally, after 78 years and nine months, the pressure is off you guys. Finally, another Hull City game has yielded six different goalscorers. Mind you, it may be a while before a City side equals the 11-1 win that you lot managed over Carlisle in 1939…
6. Given that the switch to 4-4-2 against Birmingham was less of a choice and more of a necessity after Stephen Kingsley went off injured against Preston, it will be interesting to see what formation Slutsky goes with when Kingsley is available again. Three central defenders and wing backs is clearly the Russian’s favoured set up, but the personnel brought in of late (with seemingly little input from Slutsky) are a bad fit for that system, one that reduces the potency of Kamil Grosicky and Jarrod Bowen, isolates the lone front man and befuddles everyone else. The difference between the Preston and Birmingham games was stark, and the formation was undoubtedly the biggest factor. Slutsky has been dealt a bad hand, but he still has choices about how he plays it.
7. It’s hard to imagine this season culminating in any great drama. City are 17th, but look to have more than enough to avoid a serious relegation scrap. Nonetheless, the top six feels an even more distant prospect. It’s possible that the January transfer window could shake things up (and if the Allams’ chokehold remains in place, that won’t be in a good way), but a quick check of the odds from all the best bookmakers makes for sobering reading: 22/1 for promotion, 25/1 for relegation. Midtable mediocrity, here we come.
8. City claimed two attendances in excess of 15,000 for the two home games last week. We appreciate that the reporting of crowds needn’t reflect the actual number of people in the ground, and it’s a fairly standard practice throughout football. Nonetheless, the official figures don’t remotely indicate just how much the Allam family’s spiteful policies are driving people away. It would be fascinating to have the actual attendances.
9. Saturday saw the first public meeting of a new group, Hull City Action For Change. They did well too, attracting a healthy turnout in the William Gemmell Club. Speakers from Supporters’ Direct and the admirable Hull City Supporters’ Trust turned up, multi-award-winning journalist David Burns was on hand to witness the group’s efforts and the whole event passed off successfully. We will wait with interest their detailed plans to hasten the exit of the lamentable Allam family, and support their endeavours wholeheartedly.
10. Also on Saturday, three plaques commemorating the lives and contributions to Hull of City icons Raich Carter, Billy Bly and Andy Davidson were unveiled at the Tiger Rags exhibition at the Streetlife Museum. Overall, other cities do a better job of honouring their footballing legends, but our fair burgh is cottoning on. Hopefully this sort of enshrinement and public acknowledgement of the importance of Hull City to the city of Hull will become the new standard, and not just a singular spectacle.
If you missed out last year, our friends at Football Bobbles have re-released ‘The Deano’ bobble hat (based on the famous/infamous 1992/93 home shirt). Available now!