You’re probably expecting a “W passed to X, who laid it off to Y, who crossed for Z to head home “ kind of report. Well, although some of the more mundane stuff will be ticked off in due course, that’s not what you are going to get today, I fear. The reasons for that are twofold: firstly, despite 90 plus minutes of what might generously be described as honest endeavour from the men in amber and black, one would honestly be struggling badly to find much incident of note about which to write; secondly, and in the scheme of things more importantly, it is a very long time indeed since there was so much cause to fear for the future of our beloved Club as there is now. And that is more important at this juncture than the matter of who passed to whom.
The loan window may change things (although we all know it won’t) but otherwise the expression “long, hard season” comes very much to mind.
The indisputable fact is that, quite simply, there’s nothing there, or at least not enough in terms of quality, to enable us to come anywhere near holding our own. This situation is exacerbated by the Club’s owners having no objective or ambition other than to amass enough bodies to ensure that we fulfil our fixtures for the season and keep the Club functioning, and specifically to spend no more money than is necessary to achieve that, despite receiving considerable wealth in the form of parachute payments.
Now, of course, the gruesome twosome will doubtless aver that they are simply trousering the money in order to offset the loans that they say that they made to the Club. Whether a forensic accountant with access to the books would disagree with that proposition I do not know. But what is beyond doubt is that our football club is being wilfully, systematically and ruthlessly sabotaged. And for what?
Should you still, after all that has happened in the last four or so years, doubt that, then it’s a damn bloody shame that you weren’t at the Circle yesterday, because that would have convinced you.
The manager and team were roundly booed at the end of yesterday’s woeful display. Whilst the frustration of the long-suffering City support (official attendance 12.233, reports on social media say a shade over 10,000, with probably just over 1,000 Lancashire folk inside the ground: up to you which you believe, but check out photos and footage of the game if you weren’t there and then decide) is entirely understandable and justified, the ire of the Tiger Nation actually attached itself to the wrong target. One can try to identify the positives – young, fit enthusiastic squad, still time to coalesce (“gel” has become too hackneyed to use, and is even more irritating when spelled, “gell”), will probably improve as the season goes on if they don’t have the spirit thrashed out of them first – and you immediately have to concede that this is a blend of wishful thinking and straw-clutching. It is, sadly, an inescapable truism that we have a squad of players who, through no fault of their own or, once suspects, that of the manager, look completely ill–prepared for a Championship season.
This was made even more stark when you looked at our visitors yesterday. They’ve had as rough a ride as pretty much anyone in recent years but you would scarcely have known it. Maybe that’s a reflection on us as much as anything because these things are all relative, but whilst not looking likely to pull up any trees they were organised, enterprising and did the simple things well. And that was enough to see us off at a canter.
It’s often the case that, after a Saturday defeat, the mood of gloom still lingers on Sunday and then, to use an expression beloved of a former manager, we “dust worsels doon and go again”. We can usually all sympathise with that, too. But this all feels very, very different. In my 52nd year of Tigerwatching I am genuinely struggling to remember a time that ever felt so bleak. Even in the darkest days of the Dolan/Fish era, or during the travails of the malign, kleptocratic stewardship of the Sheffield Stealers, there was always that feeling, buried deep in some remote recess of the mind, that things would not always be that bad, that there would be some kind of modest recovery (far more modest than it actually turned out to be, of course) from the dire straits in which we found ourselves.
Not now, though.. For whilst you always thought that Needler would eventually see sense, or that Buchliffe would sling their hooks once they had stripped the Club of everything they could lay their hands on, there is no such prospect where the Allams are concerned. Some City fans still exclaim. “they’ve got to sell”, as though they have had some kind of Eureka moment, and we needn’t concern ourselves here with such naivety. Other more thoughtful types opine that the Allams will be off once the parachute payments have all been milked. Whilst this is a credible scenario, ask yourself two things. Firstly, where is the evidence that the Allams are actually capable of seeing a sale through, or that a buyer will be found with the energy and persistence to withstand the strain of dealing with them and the inevitable hardballing.. re-valuations, renegotiations and endgames? Secondly, if that’s what you think will happen, have you factored in their now well-documented petulance and malevolence? They could string this along for the next ten years and more if they wanted, just because they can, and there’s no evidence that they are minded to do anything but exactly that, assuming that you are not taken in by the press stories about movement on the sale front that appear every few months, Groundhog Day-style.
And then, something new came into the mix post-match, in the guise of Adkins’ extraordinary interview with David Burns. Our manager has acquired a reputation for positivity so unrelenting as to be profoundly irritating, and to hear him so downbeat after the game was certainly a new and unexpected development. Adkins in fairness to him was at pains to point out that he was speaking in the heat of the moment. but nevertheless the comments he made were startling. Time will tell whether he becomes the second City manager in succession to have his positive spirit broken by the Allams, but this is not sounding good. Some fans are unsympathetic towards Adkins because of his allegedly naked coveting of the job while Slutsky was still in post, but, whatever the truth of that, nobody can fairly say that he has not given the job his all and, whilst he was clearly naive in thinking that he could make the Club prosper on the field in spite of the constraints under which he would be expected to work, he deserves better. A failure by the Club to fund any decent loan signings might well push Adkins over the edge, but far from this bringing the chickens home to roost, there’ll be a queue of sufficiently desperate, over-confident or irrepressibly-optimistic candidates outside Ehab’s office bursting to step into his shoes.
Casting the slough of despond yesterday at the Circle were the following:-
Lichaj MacDonald De Wijs Kingsley
Bowen Henriksen Irvine Kane
Subs: Toral (for Kingsley, 29 min), Dicko (for Campbell, 72 min), Milinkovic (for Bowen 72 min)
As already promised, I’m not going to dwell on the detail of the match: it’s of secondary importance.. Blackburn had the better of the first half, with a succession of efforts on Marshall’s goal. The warning bells were starting to ring as early as a quarter of an hour in, when Armstrong, who had already forced Marshall into one save and headed over, missed an absolute sitter. Marshall was called into further action to defy Armstrong again and then Dack, before Kingsley had to leave the field following a nasty-looking clash of heads with Palmer.
We had threatened only sporadically, with MacDonald’s angled effort being pouched by Raya early on, a Bowen (what on earth has happened to him?) effort being blocked and Henriksen firing wide just after the half-hour.
The first half seemed to be drifting towards a goalless conclusion when we duly conceded. Rovers worked the ball quickly out to the right and Bennett’s pinpoint cross was swept home by Dack from close range with the City defence looking on in admiration.
After half time we passed the ball around nicely for spells, but without conviction, intensity or putting the visitors under any kind of pressure. We actually managed a shot on target about ten minutes in when Irvine (about the only City man who deserved to be exempted from criticism) saw his effort saved by Raya.
Dack went off after an hour to be replaced by Danny Graham, and the fact that he looked quite a handful while he was on is very telling. Rovers – and Bennett in particular – ought to have made the game safe with twenty to go when he pokes wide with the goal at his mercy after Marshall spilled an Armstrong effort.
We press, after a fashion. Evandro (twice) and Dicko have efforts blocked, and then the inevitable one good chance to rescue the game comes in the 87th minute, but Raya’s flying save keeps out De Wijs’ header from an Evandro cross.
That same curious lack of urgency persists into injury time (six minutes flagged, seven played) and the away side, who had had chances themselves to make the game safe in the last fifteen minutes (maybe I was too generous about Graham) , see the game out with apparent ease.
And that’s it. An afternoon of going through the motions, aptly reflective of the management of Hull City off the field. One really does wonder where this is going to end, and absent a significant improvement at Rotherham on Tuesday we might well be a significant step nearer to having that question answered, for this season at least.
Ian Thomson (via Tiger-Chat)