1. What a putrid afternoon at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. City’s 1-0 defeat at Sunderland confirms – if you didn’t already know – that City are in grave danger of being relegated for the second season in a row. And worse still, it suggests there isn’t much hope of this fate being avoided.
2. The first half was unutterably supine, with City again showing a frightening lack of urgency in a game of obvious importance. That scares us, hinting as it does at an inadequate mentality among the players. The situation is dire, but the way matches are started is redolent of end-of-season dead rubbers. How is this possible? Why does it keep happening?
3. Nigel Adkins is not impressing us. It’s easy to mock the claim advanced in mitigation that we “warmed up well”, because you can sort of see what he’s getting at: that the preparation is right, and it’s the execution that’s lacking. But he isn’t executing either. Why do the players continue to look so half-arsed at the start of critically important fixtures? Why can’t we play with two strikers? Why do substitutions act to continue unsuccessful formations rather than alter them? And why on earth have we so completely stopped scoring?
4. Okay, we’re trying to tighten up and maybe nick enough 1-0s to scrape 21st. Fair enough. But it obviously isn’t working, and we’ve gone from a fairly free-scoring and even occasionally entertaining side to one that’s almost unwatchable, and actually amassing fewer points per game than under the previous manager. It’s godawful stuff, and even though he hasn’t been here a long time, a few stiff questions need putting to Mr Adkins.
5. That some City fans were still incensed enough to sing “you’re not fit to wear that shirt” is ominous. That’s not necessarily unfair – while the ultimate responsibility lies solely with the Allam family, this also isn’t a side that ought to be plunging towards relegation. It wasn’t a majority, but enough to be heard amid a severely angry full-time reaction, and suggests that the fans/players relationship that’s broadly survived our descent down the table is close to fracturing.
6. With a less kind turn of events following the FA Cup third round, we could have found ourselves bottom of the Championship by this weekend while we’re in fourth round action against Nottingham Forest. Mercifully, neither Sunderland nor Burton Albion are among the eight clubs playing their scheduled Championship fixtures, while Birmingham are in FA Cup action themselves. To be playing Leeds on January 30th as the 24th of 24 would have been a horrendous piece of footballing symbolism. Their fans don’t need much excuse to come to the Circle and take the piss, but to do so while we languished at the very foot of the table would have been unbearable.
7. That FA Cup tie in itself feels insignificant right now, but maybe it’s the sort of break from the lousy, rotten freefall we need. Not that beating Forest will be any kind of cakewalk; they’ve just dumped the FA Cup holders Arsenal out of the competition and have also played us off our own park once this season.
8. Marco Silva has been sacked by Watford. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the Watford hierarchy’s notorious impatience with head coaches in recent years. And it’s true that Silva was on a bad run and seemed to have been distracted fatally by interest shown in him by Everton a few weeks back. Yet we know he is quality. And with two weeks of the transfer window left and 18 games of the season to come, what would we give for him to be parachuted back in and asked basically to repeat the revival he instigated when all seemed to be lost little more than a year ago? Yes, we still got relegated under him, but without him we’d have been relegated in March. Our squad is not without talent, and Silva is not without the charisma and the character to do a persuasion job on Ehab Allam in a way akin to that regularly done by Steve Bruce on Assem. It’s doable in theory, but of course, not in practice. It will remain a mere pipe dream – not only will the Allams not entertain the idea of sacking Adkins so quickly after appointing him, but we can’t imagine they have high regard for Silva after he dared to see greener grass than that which they supplied for him at the beginning of 2017. On top of that, Silva will not have a lot of enthusiasm for coming to a club trying to avoid hurtling through the club’s second tier, and even a man of his self-belief won’t like risking two straight relegations on his CV with the same club, even though neither of them would be his fault. He’s better than us now – or, at least, he’s better than what we represent under the toxic regime of the Allams.
9. It’s not been a good week for ex-City gaffers. Phil Brown is also on the way out of his job, though in a familiar turn of events, is currently on gardening leave while Southend United tries to find a way of reaching settlement with their manager of the last five years. We can’t comment on the wisdom of the decision, of course, although seven defeats in eight does look rather ominous, but we hold plenty of affection for the first manager to take City to the top flight in English football and we wish him well. If we do end up in League One, you can imagine him crawling over broken glass to rescue us. In fact, you can imagine him doing that right now.
10. Our discussion with Sunderland podcast Roker Report last week made it evident, well, more evident, that fans of other clubs are aware of the wilful damage being inflicted on our club by the Allam family. Incredibly though there are some Hull City fans who still defend them, who still support them and attempt to paint them as victims of the actions of supporters determined to thwart their good intentions. It’s a dwindling band for sure, but it’s hard to fathom how they can do it, Stockholm Syndrome maybe, or a Vichy France-esque subservience fueled by self interest, who knows. But let’s say it plainly… if you still support the Allam family, you actively support their wilful damage of Hull City AFC. You can be certain that these people will, when the ghastly Allams eventually move on leaving the club little more than a husk, say “it won’t be long before new owners have ‘so called fans’ at their throats” or similar, in an attempt to deflect from the fact they cheerleaded as the Allams ripped apart the club they claim to support.