1. A 2-0 home win. It’s such a satisfying scoreline, isn’t it? It speaks of a calm assertion of superiority, firm yet unflashy, understated and efficient. Well, it may be a stretch to apply those lofty terms to this incarnation of Hull City, but this was still a deserved win, however you wish to describe it.
2. That Ipswich are dreadful is a fact we cannot avoid. They’re bottom, and it’s easy to see why. The post-McCarthy era was supposed to invigorate a club now into its 17th successive season in the second tier, however on this evidence it appears their exit from the Championship could be via the less preferred route. Ipswich, together with Rotherham, offer genuine hope that however negligent our preparations for 2018/19 were, there may still be three sides worse than us this season.
3. And we put them away fairly well. An early goal is always nice, and it’s good to see Bowen scoring too. Much was expected from him this season, but it hasn’t really happened so far. Sides are now aware of his threat and contain him more effectively, while the downgrading of his team-mates’ collective quality hasn’t helped either. However, it was a tidy finish from a player we’re relying on for a dozen or so goals this season, and we can only hope it sees him return to those 2017/18 highs.
4. After that strong start, City pressed on too – again, cause for encouragement. The intent was there, if not the application, but we can’t have everything. A swift second may have made for a more fun afternoon, but it wasn’t to be Of course, better sides than Ipswich would have punished us for not getting a second when they eventually rallied. But they’re poor, probably worse than us, and we saw it out and even added a second (helped by some amateur defending), and hey, in these bleak times you take what you can get. A 2-0 win that restores the point-a-game ratio that gives you a decent chance of survival coupled with a rare clean sheet – well, it’s probably the best it’s been all season.
5. It represents a tiny bit of breathing space too. We fretted last week that we had three alright fixtures and then three awful ones, and that the consequence of entering the awful ones without a win would have been grim. We’ve got that win, and the pressure is very slightly off for the trips this week to Wigan (11th, doing well) and Reading (22nd, worse than us). We could still do with more than nothing from them, as you suspect we’re never going to be far from the relegation places this season, but we travel to the wrong side of the Pennines on Tuesday in reasonable heart. Take a point…?
6. 11,650 were officially declared by the club on Saturday. We know gates are over-inflated by around 20%, which means there were actually around 9,500-9,800 there. That’s not just the lowest League gate at the Circle, it’s also the first four figure attendance for a non-Cup match at the stadium. It’s heartbreaking.
7. City’s accounts were not laden with surprises, though they weren’t without interest. Rather like City’s debt, in fact. That debt now stands at a sobering £63m, a reduction caused by a drastic reduction in expenditure. Now look – this isn’t wholly bad. In a division notorious for foolish overspending, that charge cannot be levelled at City. And no-one in East Yorkshire would have expected, or even wanted, anything but a sensible approach to life back in the second tier. In some regards we have that: debt is falling, and as a club with a lengthy history of recurring financial crises we should always be alert to our fiscal health. The problem is both the scale, and the methods.
8. The scale, firstly. Relegation to the Championship imposes an obvious need to adjust your spending. Player wages are the highest cost, and should be covered to an extent by relegation clauses in contracts. The Allams have always – to their credit – imposed these. But it didn’t stop there, with the obvious determination to rid the club of ALL high-earners and replace them with cheap, short-term loanees. That may look good on an accountant’s spreadsheet, but it has real impacts upon the “product”, to briefly use their dreadful terminology, and that’s suffering grievously. Cost-cutting is fine, even welcome, but if it’s so harsh that it chokes off demand for your product, it risks being counterproductive. As we have seen.
9. But even worse is the methods. Removing concessions from the young, old and disabled isn’t merely counterproductive, it’s contrary to basic standards of decency. Even many of those not directly affected have been so nauseated that they’ve turned their backs on the club, causing tumbling gates and further inhibiting turnover – and the long-term consequences that we’ll still be grappling with a decade from now promise to be horrendous. It’s this that informs the view that this isn’t just cost-cutting, prudence, footballing austerity, or whatever you want to call it, but pure malice.
10. It was also nice to see confirmation of the true extent of City’s falling attendances. We proved last year that the club was over-stating gates by around 20%, and the accounts legally cannot repeat the willfully inaccurate figures given on a Saturday afternoon. They show the stadium, on average, half-empty every week. A halving of gates in just a few years. If the Allams were the great businessman they pretend to be, they’d act right now, because crowds are still falling by the month really is no telling how far there’s left to go.