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PODCAST: But really, those substitutions…

On a bright and breezy, positive and sanguine podcast, we have:-

* None of the above characteristics
* A chat about the Preston game
* Those substitutions
* Away games at Bristol and Bolton
* Wins over Wests Ham United and Bromwich Albion in 08/09

Here y’are…

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Things We Think We Think #312

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1. It’s been a week of contrasting emotions. The glimmer of hope presented by a doughty draw with Middlesbrough was extinguished in defeat to Leeds, a match that started well but ended pretty pathetically, with City completely unable to lay a glove on their opponents despite trailing only by one.

2. Nigel Adkins’ view of our Tuesday night victors didn’t make any sense. They’re good, quite good in fact, and clearly a mile better than our sorry squad. But the best Championship side in years? They’re not even the best Championship side of this calendar year, and there wasn’t much to suggest that the Hull City class of 2016 wouldn’t overcome them. Mind games to bolster his side’s fragile confidence? Perhaps. But at least make confidence-building remotely grounded in fact, eh Nigel?

3. It was an oddly listless evening. Fewer than 10,000 City fans turned up, and it didn’t feel remotely like any previous City/Leeds fixture at the Circle. When not even the visit of the Champions of Europe can fill seats and clear throats, we know the disease is deep and entrenched. City were alright in the first half, competing well and suggesting that another unlikely point was possible; but the second half response to going behind was abysmal. Sure, City were unlucky to lose Irvine (who is excellent) for Stewart (who is, shall we say, not operating at quite the same level). And they’re better than us. But for pity’s sake, don’t cough up a match like that.

4. If minded towards a charitable disposition, it’s possible to have a degree of sympathy for both players and manager following our latest defeat, this time at Sheffield United. The manager made a courageous (in the Sir Humphrey Appleby sense of the word) decision to shift to 3-5-2 and drop both Bowen and Grosicki; yet he was only 20 minutes and a penalty away from seeing it justified with a surprise point. Meanwhile, the players themselves showed tolerable application, albeit undermined by a familiar lack of quality, but they too were part of an outfit that wasn’t far from a draw against a side now 23 places above us.

5. And if you’re not charitably inclined, and are instead absolutely bastard sick of City losing all the time, then you’ll note yet another defeat, yet another unclean sheet, yet another blank, yet another slide down the table. Which is placing Adkins under considerable pressure. If a takeover is in the offing – which we’ll deal with shortly – then he won’t be sacked now, as any new owners will probably want to decide who they want taking the club forward. There’s also no prospect of the Allams spending another penny on the club they don’t have to by paying him off. So we’re stuck with him for now. And of course, it’s up for debate as to how much of this unbearable shitshow is even his fault anyway. Our view is that he’s a secondary but not inconsequential culprit. Who sometimes does our head in.

6. If Kamil Grosicki is fit and not acting the idiot in the dressing room, he has to play. He is by some distance our best footballer, and dropping him against a side who had eyes on the top of the table, in tandem with our form goalscorer (for what that actually is) in Jarrod Bowen, was a batty decision. Adkins doesn’t have enough league points nor brownie points to be making calls that lend credence to the idea that his ego is getting in the way.

7. We suspect that when Ehab Allam recently  asked the Guardian newspaper “How is this club decaying?” he was being rhetorical, but everyone else but him knows the answer, because they know what recent home attendances have been, and they’ve seen the current league table.

8. It’s takeover gossip season again. Except…are we genuinely close this time to the Allam nightmare ending? The midweek document unearthed on Company’s House, plus seemingly categorical statements about bids, interested consortia together with names and nationalities bodes well. We’ve been here before of course, and a man like Ehab Allam would no doubt regard raising the hopes of a city only to destroy them as a worthwhile use of his time. So, the champagne isn’t yet bought, let alone transferred to ice – but we may begin pricing it up soon.

8a. Of course, if Paul Duffen returns, we may downgrade to just fizzy wine. The former City chairman would return with considerable baggage, much of it decidedly unappealing. His fingerprints were all over the descent into financial doom that brought about the Allams in the first place. Of course, we’d take him over Assem and Ehab, in the same way a particular nasty dose of ‘flu is preferable to a right good Novichoking. But that isn’t to say that his comeback will be a cause for unrestrained celebration. He’d better have learned a thing or two about responsible housekeeping.

9. But hey, it might not be him. Or it may not happen at all. So we’ll just wait, and hope. There’s no point appealing to the Allams’ better nature to sell, because their nature is purely about money and spite. But at least it means there is a language they understand. So come on, someone. Take a punt on a broken club, because the world has seen what we can be, and could be again if handled right. Get kids and old folk back in; treat disabled fans properly, open the Upper West, call us by our bloody name, make Hull proud of its foremost sporting institution again. You won’t regret it.

10. Bit of housekeeping: two thirds of our editorial team are moving house at the moment. Bear with us while posting is light, and excuse the lack of a podcast this week (KCOM are partly to blame here, if you can possibly imagine that). Back after the international break.

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Things We Think We Think #311

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1. A point against Middlesbrough on Saturday was very welcome, and means that City have already exceeded our low expectations for the horrible trio of games that we’re one-third of the way through. We’d have remained outside the bottom three even with a loss, but with an ever-worsening points-per-game ratio, and it really was tough to envisage anything other than a loss – after all, Middlesbrough would be top if they’d won – so we have to be pleased with a draw.

2. City weren’t bad value for it either. It was a decidedly low-quality game, with Middlesbrough weirdly unwilling to shift from their new, direct style of play even when presented with opposition as accommodating as City. That meant that providing City could stand up to Middlesbrough’s unsophisticated style, they could stay in the game – and they did. And that’s to their credit, as City folding under repeated bombardment hardly required a feat of mental gymnastics to imagine.

3. However, stand up to it City did, and on this occasion we didn’t see the sort of pathetic collapse when going behind that scarred the trips to Wigan and Reading, so a slightly less feeble mentality is welcome. And however streaky the leveller, by the end of the match Middlesbrough hadn’t done enough to deserve victory, and City had done enough to argue their case for a draw, particular given the elevated standing of the visitors.

4. Two men emerged with particular credit. Eric Lichaj is quietly becoming the standout purchase of the latest summer of self-harm, partly due to his apparent flexibility at the back. When Jordy de Wijs limped off in the first half, Kingsley replaced him and moved to left-back, requiring Lichaj to move inside. He acquitted himself well, and has done so since joining. He seems to relish a scrap, often looks to move forward when in his regular full-back berth and in a side conspicuously lacking on-field leadership, he doesn’t go missing.

5. The other is David Marshall, probably our player of the season so far. Middlesbrough offered surprisingly little threat to his goal, and but we’d have lost the point at the end if not for a superb low save. Diving to his right, he showed superb reflexes and crucially, a strong hand to deflect a very good header wide of the goal. That sort of header so often finds a way to get past even a keeper who gets a hand to it, and it was a tremendous save. We’d be clamouring to acclaim such an intervention by Myhill/McGregor/etc, and we should do it for Marshall too.

6. This brings us to Leeds. Despite having been presented with the Championship trophy several weeks ago, the fourth time in a row they’ve won the division before the barbecues were put away for the winter, the Champions of Europe have had just the faintest wobble lately, winning only one of their last five. Problem is, they really have looked the real deal at times this season – back in the days when the balance of footballing power in Yorkshire was shifting from West to East, this’d have been a game to relish. The ground would be a sell-out, and we’d have looked forward to it for a while. Perhaps not so much now. There obviously won’t be a sell-out, and if Leeds turn up they could win easily. A queasy notion.

7. It’s up to City to stop that happening. And while that’s easier said than done when there’s an obvious difference in class, if they at least make a tolerably good game of it, we’ll have to make do with that. The same mentality that was on show at the Madejski Stadium could see a massive home defeat inflicting. But the sort of quiet application that existed when grinding out a point on Saturday? And hey, we’re unbeaten in two home games and they haven’t won either of the last two away…

8. Alright, enough. The likeliest outcome is a Leeds win, and then a Sheff Utd win on Saturday, by which time we’d very possibly be back in the bottom three. The problem is that we’re in too much of a predicament to be giving away the hard games and looking at the easier ones, because we’re perfectly capable of losing those too. Give it a go, City.

9. Have you read Jon Parkin’s autobiography? It’s an extremely graphic tale of football, drinking, legal difficulties and defecation, and not for the easily grossed out. The big revelation in the one chapter on his eventful spell at City is that it was obvious from the moment Phil Brown as an assistant to Phil Parkinson that he was after the top job himself, something which may not surprise us but has never been boldly claimed by anyone before. The chapter does not flatter Brown (the author hates him) nor the first team coach, the unrelated Steve Parkin (the author really, really hates him). The candour shown by Parkin as far as his failings are concerned make us rather like him again, and a most astute observation was that on meeting Phil Parkinson for the first time, he deduced that the new gaffer for the 06/07 season wouldn’t be around for long … because he was holding a clipboard.

10. We won’t be podcasting this evening, but will be aiming for Thursday night instead, taking in both the Middlesbrough and Leeds home fixtures.

FEAT-POD

PODCAST: The clamour for 21st

Two appalling away performances, zero points, yet another new nadir for Hull City. We talk about both games, so you no longer have to…

We also discuss David Meyler’s recent interview and the four points taken off Everton and Arsenal this very week a decade ago.

It’s here…

It’s also in-vision on youtube

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Things We Think We Think #310

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1. Wigan first, if only because a timid and deserved defeat at a newly promoted side was the stand-out highlight of the week. This was a messy and cheap defeat. City started well, failed to capitalise and capitulated when falling behind, being fortunate not to find the game irretrievably lost. Then, when a goal that halved the deficit arrived to stun everyone, our attempts to wrest a point back to East Yorkshire were quite pitiful.

2. Everything about this game worried us. We aren’t going to enjoy many periods of relative dominance this season, and it’s vital we score when they do arrive. However, for all that City started brightly, and for all that Nouha Dicko is a tireless forward runner, neither looked particularly likely to score – and so a strong beginning was wasted.

3. If that was annoying, what followed was disastrous. When Wigan gained the lead, City’s reaction was frankly contemptible. The Tigers’ conspicuously non-leading captain Markus Henriksen bemoaned the stressful nature of this, but any distress the players felt was nothing compared to the ghastliness of watching. Wigan – a good side playing well – were given total freedom to run the game how they saw fit, with no-one in black in amber looking remotely willing or capable of altering anything. It was a dismal response, and it was a miracle we didn’t end up 4-0 down at half-time. Not that it mattered, because when City did pull it back and make the game (theoretically) a contest, Wigan were hardly troubled in a woefully lifeless second half.

4. Questions about Nigel Adkins’ team selections rightly featured in the post-mortem. Five changes from the side that beat Ipswich to give us a degree of hope raised eyebrows. Sure, the Championship’s Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday grind requires squad rotation. But we don’t have a squad, and while that’s the fault of the owners (and we are most definitely not forgetting them today), acting as though we do have one when we don’t isn’t wise.

5. And that, remember, was the highlight of the week. Because if Wigan was poor, the 3-0 kicking at Reading was disgusting. A revoltingly soft goal from a set-piece was gift-wrapped for the Royals – previously pointless at home, remember – and from then on the direction of the match was set. Tackles were routinely shirked, blue shirts were ignored and accommodatingly stood off from, passes were misplaced, runs were half-hearted – it was a gutless offering in the first half.

6. AND IT GOT WORSE. A farcical second half saw City defend like a Hull Sunday League side rueing their midnight decision to go to Piper instead of getting cheesy chips and at least a few hours of sleep. It was a wholesale surrender, the sort of loathsome and deliberate dereliction of duty that costs careers, and deserves to.

7. There’s loads of blame to dole out, and few deserve to escape it. The players may not be good enough for anything but a grim scramble to 21st, but this week still hasn’t been remotely good enough from them. We look an incoherent, disinterested mess, and a huge improvement in their collective endeavour is urgently needed.

8. The manager is probably not good enough either, and though he got us to safety last season, that increasingly looks more down to Harry Wilson and Abel Hernández than his managerial acumen. In the aftermath of the Reading debacle, his future is being questioned too. Deservedly so; we didn’t expect a great deal this season, but the manner of the defeats is as worrying as the increasing frequency of them.

9. But really, what would sacking him accomplish? With the Allams openly running the club into the ground, the idea that they’d pay the necessary severance fee and then spend enough money to secure a suitable replacement is nonsense. Let us never, ever forget: THEY are the reason this club is in a death spiral, not the players or the manager. The Allams are murdering the club, they are the ones responsible for all of this.

10. It isn’t likely to get any better. Upcoming fixtures against Middlesbrough (2nd), Leeds (1st) and Sheff Utd (4th) don’t have a points-laden feel to them. If we lose all three, we’d be on seven points from 12 games. Avoiding relegation after such a start would be a tall order. At the moment, it’d be a surprise if we aren’t in the Checkatrade Trophy next season.

FEAT-POD

PODCAST: Dizzy heights

Our podcast returns after the international break and the seldom felt experience of a home win.

Under discussion:-

* Beating Ipswich and climbing to 17th
* Attendances unofficially drop to four figures
* The newly-released club accounts
* Jon Parkin’s memoir
* Newcastle away, ten years ago this week

It’s right here…

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Things We Think We Think #308

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1. In a week uninterrupted by City playing, Ehab took it upon himself to provide the entertainment, with a comically self-pitying self-justifying soft-soap interview with The Guardian. We won’t waste much time on it; it was vacuous drivel for the most part from a man whose separation from reality is almost certainly irreversible.

2. The most interesting thing was the scornful reaction from City fans. With few exceptions, the attempt to pacify us with talk of a possible takeover was ignored. The club is perhaps up for sale, but only in a purely theoretical sense. Ehab’s here, he’s clearly enjoying his stranglehold on a community asset, and the idea that he’d sell before the final parachute payment arrives is preposterous anyway.

3. Still, Harry Maguire’s new long-term contract at Leicester means there’s less chance of a £10m+ sell-on fee arriving at City. Ordinarily we’d be salivating at the prospect of an eight-figure sum heading our way, but that seems pointless under the current regime. The reduction in the prospects of that occurring at least removes an incentive to cling beyond the final parachute payments arriving.

4. Meanwhile, the takeover rumours seem even more far-fetched and desperate than ever. We remain acute admirers of Adam Pearson, but it really is time to let it go now – he left a long time ago, his commitment to one of the local eggchasing franchises is a puzzle but appears quite sincere, and he isn’t coming back. Which leaves what? Paul Duffen and mystery consortia, other eggchasers…let’s face it, we’re stuck with the Allams for the foreseeable future. Whatever division they end up depositing us into.

5. It’s been quiet on the protest front this season, with apathy yet to sublime into anger. What could change that? Things on the pitch have been poor without quite being ruinous, though City’s home form has been shocking. Ehab’s latest interview is merely reaffirmation of his low-wattage nature rather than especially infuriating. What is it going to take?

6. City’s latest act of dopiness won’t tip anyone over the edge, but will certainly have created plenty of furrowed brows in East Yorkshire: you now need a Match Card to attend U23 games. A Match Card that costs £12, and was offered free for less than two days in the summer. U23 attendances are obviously modest and few will be affected, but this is just another pointless, petty little aggravation.

7. This is one of many issues the club is refusing to discuss with supporters, with all structured dialogue with fans’ groups apparently severed, despite dishonest contentions to the contrary – though we did very much enjoy the recent assertion that the Official Supporters’ Club is “independent”. Yet still the FA and EFL refuse to act. The former did at least intervene decisively on the name change idiocy; the latter have been pathetic throughout – and not just with us either, as the despairing fans at Blackpool, Charlton et al will testify.

8. Alright, football. After the international break, it feels like a pivotal week or so coming up for City, with games against two of the sides actually below us in the table sandwiching a trip to midtable Wigan. We really had better get something fairly decent from those three games, because the three that follow are against the current top three.

9. City always seem to do well at home to Ipswich (providing Danny Coles isn’t playing), and terming it a must-win match isn’t a hopeless mis-application of the phrase. Something has to give on Saturday: we haven’t got a point at home yet, they haven’t got a point away. A win would put City back to a point a game average, which will always give you a good chance of staying up. The prospect of slipping three points behind that run rate isn’t a happy one, however.

10. Anyone missing the animated gifs yet?

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PODCAST: Positive and porous

Here is the latest podcast. In it, we talk about…

* Defeat to Derby
* Loanees arriving on deadline day
* Fixtures after the international break
* Andy Robertson’s new role

Hear it:

https://soundcloud.com/amber_nectar/podcast-186-positive-and-porous

See it (and hear it!): https://youtu.be/B4mMquK5eWU

 

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Things We Think We Think #307

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1. After a midweek pummelling in the League Cup, losing “only” 2-1 in the League match that immediately followed almost felt like a moral victory. And it wasn’t bad, at least not by the hugely reduced standards that now apply to this ravaged squad. After the pitiful non-performance against Blackburn that garnered a crop of boos at full-time, the defeated Tigers were at least applauded from the field this time. Straw-clutching maybe, but everything more valuable than a straw has been sold, so we’ll take what we can.

2. City started the game well against Derby, so to concede yet another absurdly cheap goal was maddening. From the off, we looked a yard sharper than at almost any time this season, and we were just beginning to wonder if a rare home win might be ours when Jordy de Wijs continued his rotten start to life in England with another witless episode. Hanging out a leg with no imminent danger is just ridiculous, and he absolutely must sharpen up if he’s to remain in the side.

3. It wasn’t an enormous surprise that City wilted afterwards, with a flurry of shots raining down on the (once again very good) David Marshall. Had we gone 0-2 down it could’ve got as ugly as last Tuesday. As it was, the equaliser was a surprise, but also the result of an elegant and sweeping piece of play.

4. What a pity it couldn’t be held onto. Derby’s winner hadn’t really looked like coming, but City are always a side capable of coughing up a cheap concession, and this was yet another example. It’s impossible to imagine any team that defends as ineptly as ours staying up. If you need a couple of goals every week just to get a point, no way are you surviving.

5. We’re largely unmoved by the arrival of two last minute loanees on Friday. Those who did arrive are actually better than we expected, and they’ll bolster the side and the squad. But it’s too little, and as usual, too late. That the latest summer transfer window would be a calamity carries the same surprise as the sun rising in the east. It’s a faithful implementation of club policy as directed by the Allam family, and while the annual ritual of managers publicly railing against it illustrates its folly, it hasn’t changed this year, and we can expect this to continue until a change of owners occurs.

6. Are City now equipped for this relegation battle? Maybe. We’ll need a bit of luck with availability, because the chastening 4-0 ragging by Derby in the League Cup illustrates that however commendable our young Tigers are, they’re best off accompanying established players rather than replacing them. A biting injury crisis and/or a rash of suspensions will make the long hard winter that looms even harder. Add to that the sale of anyone good in January, and we could be done for. But we aren’t gone yet, and we have to just hope that enough breaks for us between now and May to ensure it’s a second tier club the Allams pretend to sell.

7. Following the bizarre breakdown of his proposed move to Bursaspor, Kamil Grosicki must now put up with us until the New Year; and we must put up with him. A player with abundant talent but cursed with a foul attitude, it’s hard to see him being an asset between now and the next transfer window. No-one is happy with his continuing employment at City – and while it’s plainly daft to say he’s City worst ever player (there are scores of strong candidates for this non-accolade) there can’t be many whose natural ability and actual achievements are so far apart.

8.  Is it fair to say that Adkins doesn’t fancy David Milinković much?

9. We now have an international break. On our return, and it’s faintly ludicrous to say this, we have a game against bottom side Ipswich at the Circle on September 15th that actually has a six-pointer feel to it. Yep, ludicrous.

10. We certainly daren’t lose any more home games. City have lost their last six matches at the Circle, a dreadful record that isn’t greatly alleviated by being split over two seasons. Being easybeats in your home matches is a good way to ensure relegation before May, and while we sympathise with the manager and players for having to play in a three-fifths empty stadium in front of balefully unhappy fans, that’s the fault of the Allams, not us, and they’re somehow going to have to get used to it and start getting some points at home.