FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #268

TWTWT

1. Bollocks, bollocks and thrice bollocks. Are we ever going to win an away game again? If we can’t hold onto a lead in the very final minute of a game against the side who accommodatingly ended our last nightmarishly long run of away failures seven years ago, it’s tough to see us ever succeeding on the road any time soon.

2. It’s tempting to look at what City did wrong, but let’s firstly look at what they did right. Norwich are no mugs – they’d be in the play-offs had they beaten City – but we led for a long time. That was courtesy of a very nice goal that featured a gloriously weighted pass by the much-maligned but also improved Henriksen and a cool finish by Dicko.

3. City also held on for more than half an hour following David Meyler’s sending off, taking the match into the very final minute. A bit of luck was ridden, but a fair few sleeves were also rolled up and the lads competed well in challenging circumstances. As frustrated as we all are, it’s also possible to feel for them a bit. Twice now, at Reading and Norwich, we’d led in the final stages and fallen short. It hurts.

4. But…that equalising goal. Firstly, the throw was obviously foul. But it didn’t have a great bearing on the goal itself, which was heartbreakingly soft. A long throw, a flick, a late runner sweeps it home. It’d be a crap one to concede in the 17th minute; in the 96th, it’s going to dismay us all week long.

5. By common consent, Mr Stroud didn’t have a great afternoon with the whistle. By far the most contentious and significant decision came with the dismissal of David Meyler, which probably stymied any hopes we had of adding to the lead and left us holding on for over a third of the game. It’s possible to understand his thinking though. Meyler clumsily bundled a player over (in his view), and with Norwich breaking dangerously, the caution that followed was almost automatic. It looked soft. A few replays don’t alter that perception, but Meyler himself didn’t quarrel with the official’s verdict and it’s hard not to conclude that we’ll see greater injustices (for and against) this season.

6. This away thing. It now stretches over 13 months, and it’s becoming a serious handicap in a season already hobbled by Ehab Allam’s summer antics. Granted, most of those were in a Premier League relegation season, but we’ve already had six attempts this season and still the run continues. It just has to be a psychological thing now, and combatting that isn’t going to be easy.

7. Which takes us to Barnsley on Saturday. A big following is likely for the first Yorkshire derby in the League this season, and expectations are going to be high – that’s no slight on our hosts, despite their lowly position. However, we really have to be winning this game, simply to regain a little bit of belief on the road. They’ve had a funny sort of season, and won’t represent the stiffest test we’ll encounter. Come on City, send us home happy for once, yeah?

8. Back to David Meyler, who’s certainly in the headlines right now. It was highly enjoyable to see him captain Ireland to qualification to the World Cup play-offs, and we’d love to see him feature at Russia 2018. We’ve always loved Meyler, and it’s great to see him get the recognition he deserves.

9. There will be a tribute to Les Mutrie at the Nottingham Forest home game on 28th October, and quite right too. City fans of a certain age will always remember him with immense fondness, and his passing at the age of 66 was a cause of considerable upset. If you missed it during the international break, here’s our little tribute to Sir Les.

10. Ehab Allam called someone childish when discussing gategate, his family’s latest gift to the community. Still, no-one ever thought he possessed an ounce of self-awareness.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #267

TWTWT

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.

DeanoHat

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!

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #266

TWTWT

1. Being a City fan on the road is always going to have its difficulties, but it feels especially grim at the moment. Reading was the about the closest we’ve come to a first League success outside of Hull in 13 months, and to have it snatched away late in the game feels rather cruel.

2. Cruel, and careless too. It was a scruffy game between two sides with little chance of troubling the top six, but an unhappy season would’ve been briefly lent a little lustre if we’d finally won an away game. Whether we deserved three points isn’t a moot point – we’ll get onto it shortly – but when you’re that close to a win against deeply mediocre opposition, it’s desperately disappointing to let it slip with five minutes left.

3. Reading ‘enjoyed’ 74% of the possession on Saturday, a statistic that is, on the face of it, quite damning for Leonid Slutsky and the Tigers. However it is unlikely that many Royals fans enjoyed it, given that Jaap Stam’s side rarely did anything with the ball: there was no purpose to their passing and remarkably few real goalscoring chances fashioned. Their pointless possession didn’t reflect badly on City, it suited us.

4. Seb Larsson’s City career has had a patchy start, but he was involved in most of City’s best chances at the Madejski Stadium. His through ball for Fraizer Campbell’s goal was sublime, perfectly weighted and taking two Reading players out of play, and he was unlucky not to score himself from two direct free kicks. The first struck the crossbar, and the second caused Vito Mannone some difficulty when it deflected off the wall. One game doesn’t make a season, but there are signs that Larsson can make a meaningful contribution this year.

5. As for Campbell, it was gratifying to see him notch his first City goal in 9 years, 4 months and 28 days. He showed great awareness in anticipating Larsson’s through ball and carefully placing his shot beyond both the ‘keeper and covering defender.

6. This week sees a pair of home fixtures, and a chance to speedily add to our worryingly thin points tally. Preston visit on Tuesday, and will do so lying in an unexpectedly elevated position. They certainly weren’t among the pre-season favourites, but they’ve started well – a match that may, two months ago, have seemed among autumn’s less testing assignments doesn’t feel that way right now.

7. Then it’s Birmingham. They’ve just raised a smile by ending Harry Redknapp’s career, but that does mean they could well have a new manager by the time they travel to the Circle in five days. Having picked up a handy point at Derby on Saturday, their present position of 23rd is possibly a false one.

8. But never mind all that…it’s two home games, and although you’d have to be either overburdened with optimism or untroubled by rationality to envisage City as automatic promotion candidates, even a side aspiring for a respectable and stabilising top half finish needs to be amassing no fewer than four points from these two games. Right?

9. Saturday sees what may potentially be an escalation in the attempts to rid ourselves of the Allam scourge. A new group named “Hull City Action For Change” (HCAFC – geddit?) are holding a public event on Saturday before the Birmingham match in the William Gemmell on Anlaby Road. We look forward to seeing what they have to say and their learning their plans to bring about a fresh start for the club.

10. It was interesting to see the Football League’s response to AFC Wimbledon referring to MK Dons as just MK on the scoreboard and not at all on the matchday programme this weekend. A League statement read: “The failure to recognise MK Dons in the correct manner causes reputational issues for the EFL as well as creating the potential for unrest amongst MK Dons supporters and, as such, is of concern for the EFL.” Strange that the League have said nothing about our club’s repeated failures to recognise the name Hull City, nor the unrest among supporters created by inconsistent branding, since both cause reputational issues for the EFL, right?

DeanoHat

If you missed out last year, our friends at Football Bobbles are re-releasing ‘The Deano’ bobble hat (based on the famous/infamous 1992/93 home shirt) this Friday at 7pm.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #265

TWTWT

1. Another poor week on the field for City, for whom little is going right. Defeat at Fulham wasn’t shameful, unlike the catastrophe that preceded it, but it extended City’s winless run of away league games to 21. There’s a real psychological issue with the side – it doesn’t look remotely as though it’s confident of winning any fixture outside of East Yorkshire, and this mental timidity is sensed and capitalised upon by streetwise Championship opposition with disheartening ease and regularity.

2. We weren’t bad at Craven Cottage. Just ordinary, and prone to fatal lapses of concentration at the back. And though City roused themselves well from the first concession, there was rarely a sense that the second could be repaired. Again, it’s mental frailty. We don’t do adversity well on the pitch, which is particularly unfortunate given that we’re a club beset by it right now.

3. Sunderland followed an approximately similar pattern, though with a moderately happier outcome. When we conceded (miserably cheaply), heads plunged and took a long time to recover. And look, it’s hard when things are going bad and you concede. Footballers are human and they experience human emotions. But there also needs to be a greater resilience at times. Some of the stuff City played in the first half after Sunderland scored was frankly shocking.

4. Much of that came from a midfield that was really quite pathetically weak. Henriksen and Larsson must surely have attributes that have propelled them a long way in the professional game, but it was difficult to discern what these were at times. Neither seemed awfully interested in tracking runners, making a tackle, receiving or using possession, and as a result we were overrun by a deeply mediocre Sunderland side. You cannot hope to prosper with such a flimsy central midfield, and it’s hard not to wonder what on earth Leonid Slutsky was thinking by deploying it.

5. Whenever City played the ball out of defence in the first half it was invariably to one of the wide men, where momentum stalled. The formation took Bowen and Grosicki out of the game as Sunderland were able to contain the wide player with the ball and still have both Bowen and Grosicki tightly marked.

6. Why do City look so bereft of purpose and understanding at times? Well, Slutsky’s post match interview revealed that the Russian feels he’s still in pre-season mode, still explaining his philosophy to the players eight games into the season. With that we can sympathise. Remember Ehab saying how transfer business would be concluded early?

7. Slutsky said David Meyler didn’t start the game as he is managing the Irishman’s fitness, an understandable mindset when you consider the players we’ve lost to injury playing them when below peak fitness. Meyler’s introduction changed the game though, and saved City from defeat.

8. Which brings us to that risible chant. Stop that shit.

9. Without garnering much attention, Allan McGregor is making a lot of good saves at the moment. The first goal he conceded at Derby is a reminder that he has his flaws, but he’s also been stopping a lot lately. In these generally unhappy days, it’s a rare bright point.

10. Let’s not go overboard on penaltyspotgate. It’s clear that someone somewhere forget to properly daub a splash of paint twelve yards from each goal, and equally plain that the referee didn’t notice that penalty spots were not visible to the fans. It happens. It was poor timing with the SMC choosing over the weekend to publicly defend their decision to sack the previous groundstaff, but never mind. It’ll make a great Hull City trivia question in years to come.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #264

TWTWT

1. Where on earth to start with the Derby debacle? Oddly enough, it wasn’t that bad for the first half hour or so. City trailed, with Aina and McGregor about equally to blame for Derby’s opener, but we were in the game. Until Larsson missed a penalty. How does a professional footballer, whose actual job it is to direct a football in a particular direction, MISS a penalty? Having one saved is almost understandable, though still unimpressive when there are parts of a goal that a keeper cannot reach available for the taker. But to fail to steer a stationary football with no accompanying opponents into the available 192 square feet from a mere twelve yards…it’s baffling.

2. There are no excuses for what followed. 1-0 down having just missed a penalty isn’t a great situation. 4-0 down at half-time is impossible to salvage, yet that’s what City’s total capitulation following Larsson’s error ensured. It was as appalling a quarter-hour as you could ever wish to see at this level of football.

3. But how? Well, Leonid Slutsky erred with his team selection. Unless David Meyler was either injured or exhausted following international duty, his benching was a decision that’s tough to understand. So is the inclusion of Markus Henriksen, who offers disappointingly little when things are going well and virtually nothing when they aren’t. City were often overrun in the first half, and the team selection needs questioning as much as the application of those who were selected.

4. Kudos to Curtis Davies for not celebrating his goal (though we’re not fragile or juvenile enough to be emotionally scarred forever if an ex-player larges it a bit when putting one over on us) and bigger kudos to Davies and Tom Huddlestone as well for making a point of applauding the 1,054 City fans who made the journey. They never got chance to say goodbye; and neither did we. And they deserved applause back because they were and are excellent footballers and good professionals, and worthy of our continued respect.

5. Two big games this week. Going to Fulham is aesthetically pleasant but seldom easy; playing Sunderland at home is often vociferous and not always pleasant. It’s about time City decided what they are going to be – capable of swatting away distracted opposition at the Circle while grinding out agreeable performances and results on their travels? Currently it’s one and not the other.

6. And the Derby horror show reminded us of just how awful we have actually been away from home for a very long time. It’s not new territory, of course; our first relegation from the Premier League was aided emphatically by a winless season away from home, and there was joy and relief usually associated with last day escapes when that came to an end a few games into the next season at Norwich. But being so dreadful on our travels is embarrassing and must come to an end quickly.

7. We wouldn’t ordinarily concern ourselves with Ehab Allam’s utterances on Friday. They’re as banal, wrongheaded, self-serving and cretinous as you’d expect from him or his father. But…wasn’t it interesting that the club issued them on Friday, a day when the club was being lambasted by two different football authorities. It could be coincidence rather than distraction. Or it could not be.

8. Either way, having already secured for themselves a place in the gutter, it’s clear that the Allam family are now intent on establishing an even more subterranean position for their shattered reputation. Firstly, the club was censured by the Premier League for failing to offer concessions last season. The club misled us when saying concessions still existed, and have now been reprimanded for not doing so. Furthermore, City’s assertion that the rules were “ambiguous” is not true. They’re explicitly clear. City were unaware of them when acting to spite their own fans, and when the magnificent Hull City Supporters’ Trust began their determined campaign to reverse this assault upon our future fanbase, they simply hoped they’d get away with it. That’s evidenced by their refusal to implement concessions even now that their malpractice has been exposed, and as the Upper West Stand lies empty, no-one with an ounce of integrity or intelligence could contend that they’ve had a positive effect.

9. Friday didn’t get much better for City, when the Independent Football Ombudsman issued scathing criticism of the club for having chosen “not to co-operate” with an investigation into alleged mis-selling of these godforsaken memberships. It was, in their view, “unacceptable and unprecedented” for a club to not co-operate. Just think about that. It is literally without precedent that a professional football club in this country should choose not to assist into an investigation launched for the benefit of one of their own fans. It’s a squalid new low.

10. But it’s explicitly the wishes of Hull City AFC. The owners enact policies that intentionally harm the supporters of the club, which are then carried out (with varying enthusiasm) by employees at all levels. Be in no doubt: our owners viscerally loathe City supporters, and haven’t bothered hiding it for some time. Well, it’s mutual. But don’t for a second think you’re going to win, because you aren’t.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #263

TWTWT

1. The Hull City soap opera took plenty more turns during the past week, and not exclusively awful ones either. Defeat at Doncaster eight days ago – a comfortable loss to a side we were three divisions above last season – won’t have looked too clever to the uninitiated, but the mitigating circumstances were so substantial as to render this immediate League Cup loss oddly uplifting.

2. To see so many youth teamers eagerly snatching their chance of first team football, and playing with such determination and skill, made us feel a peculiarly paternal sort of pride. They were simply terrific, applying themselves with courage and enthusiasm. It appeared, briefly, that Doncaster’s much more experienced side may inflict a cruelly sizeable defeat when they took a 2-0 lead; to avoid that was impressive.

3. The City fans that night were magnificent too – loud, angry and passionate. There have been plenty of grumbles about the supposedly cowed nature of the Tiger Nation in recent times, which has always struck us as an exaggerated complaint – there was none of that in South Yorkshire, as we bellowed defiance to the Allams and their serial misdeeds. There’s loads of life left in us yet.

4. Not quite as vigorous was Leonid Slutsky. While not quite the suicidal-sounding incarnation that greeted radio listeners after the defeat at QPR, he continued to cut a forlorn figure after the League Cup. So it was impossible not to be delighted as much for him as for ourselves when City paggered Bolton three nights later.

5. City plundered four but could have had far more on Friday night. Kamil Grosicki’s performance was his most effective since he joined the club, setting up two goals and scoring himself. It’s a shame that such a display comes in the last game before the closure of the transfer window, as it makes it hard to shake the notion that the Pole is playing for a move away rather than for the City cause.

6. He wasn’t the only one to impress of course. Jarrod Bowen is looking like the real deal and is carpe-ing the shit out of the diem. Seb Larrson is proving to be a useful  acquisition, always offering a passing option for colleagues and using the ball wisely.

7. Whatever fears City fans hold about not being able to compete for promotion this season, the Bolton game demonstrated that any fears about relegation are unjustifiable. Bolton were staggeringly bad, playing like an easy level video game opponent that offer no threat going forwards, surrender possession as soon as they go over the half way line and don’t even put up that much of a fight to contain attacks.

8. Welcome to Nouha Dicko, who joins from Wolverhampton Wanderers. A mixture of injuries and a Portuguese influx seems to have limited Dicko’s recent opportunities in the West Midlands, but he’ll have plenty here with Abel Hernandez out for 8 months. City songsmiths, you have a unique opportunity to craft a chant with dicks and sluts in it, have fun.

9. Inevitable that two games for Leicester City would prove sufficient to persuade Gareth Southgate that Harry Maguire was good enough for an England call-up, when he played last season for City just as convincingly and was evidently better than Ben Gibson, the Middlesbrough defender whose uncle gave Southgate his break as a manager. We’re aware that we’ll be easily accused of bitterness, and we’re also aware that Southgate, a decent man, has stated Maguire would have been summoned last season but for ill-timed injury, but even so, his call-up just after the ink dries on his Leicester contract feels as Typical City as it’s possible to be. That doesn’t mean we don’t wish the big man well, of course, and we hope beyond all hope that he is picked for at least one of the two qualifiers for next summer’s World Cup which England have to negotiate over the next week or so. His arrival at England HQ clutching a bin bag, like an undergraduate arriving home for the weekend with a sack of dirty washing, endeared him to the country in a way that he endeared himself to us over the last couple of years.

10. Maybe we’ll see Sam Clucas in an England shirt before long too? Certainly now that he has joined Swansea City it seems instantly more likely, just because, well, they’re not us. But beyond that, he’s another player whom we don’t blame for leaving and who can look back at his time in City colours with nothing but great pride and satisfaction. For all the poison at the very top of our club, we do seem to have employed some upstanding, agreeable young men in our first team squad in recent times.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #262

TWTWT

1. What a dismal week. There’s no shame in defeat against Wolves, though it starkly illustrated why we aren’t likely to serious challenge for automatic promotion. They were excellent, aided by City’s hesitancy both on and off the ball, and looked comfortably better than us throughout a sobering evening. Fair enough. We didn’t really expect to be competing for the top two anyway.

2. However, an unhappy result was lent a disastrous air by the news that Abel Hernández will now be out for most of the rest of the season. He’d already plundered a hat-trick against Burton and barring injury or the club cashing in, he’d almost certainly have ended the season as our leading scorer. He’d be extremely difficult to replace even if we tried; however, we probably won’t.

3. That sent a thin XI to QPR, with negligible support on the bench. Now, QPR are a fairly rotten side, much likelier to depart the division via its trapdoor than its ladder. To feebly lose to them really does not bode well for this season, and the early promise of Aston Villa and Burton feels quite distant.

4. And more injuries too. Campbell and Stewart will be unavailable for the foreseeable future, with Leonid Slutsky grimly forecasting more as he’s forced to call upon half-fit players. It’s a disgusting state of affairs to have the new manager so constrained by his employers, who’ve very clearly sold him down the river. Barring a very considerable change in policy from Ehab Allam, we are certain to be hopelessly unprepared for the long season ahead.

5. That isn’t likely to improve with the sale of Sam Clucas this week. £12m is a lot of money for a player who cost barely a tenth of that, but he can’t be replaced either, and it makes a mockery of the manager’s insistence that the supermarket was closed (that not his fault, obviously). We wish him well, as he’s grown to be an authentic Premier League player and his back story is an inspiring one.

5a. If Clucas, awaiting a move away, had really refused to play at QPR, why was he dressed in City apparel watching the game? It doesn’t compute and the player himself has denied it. It seems more plausible that he was made unavailable in order to protect the impending transfer fee.

6. Leonid Slutsky’s crestfallen post-match interview with a sparky David Burns was a tough listen. Well done to the BBC man for asking some tough questions, even though the man who should be answering them doesn’t have the guts or the decency to do so. Slutsky sounded thoroughly deflated and disillusioned, as all football managers who worked for that wretched family seem to become. His foray into the English game, for which he worked so hard, is not going how it should be. On a human level, we feel for him and the betrayal he’s experiencing. City fans: among the entirely justified loathing for his employers, let’s show him a bit of love this week, yeah?

7. To Doncaster, and it seems many are making this unglamorous journey with dissent on their mind. Bollocks to any equivocating this “get behind the team” and “it doesn’t help the players” drivel. What doesn’t help the team is having half of it sold every summer and not replaced. We’re going the way of Leyton Orient, Coventry, Blackpool et al, and while on-field success has helped to mask some of this, that’s no longer the case. It’s time for the protests to be ramped up and for the Allam family to know that their intentional mishandling of the city of Hull’s football team is not acceptable to the people who live in it.

8. Ola Aina. Already he’s causing a mild division of opinion. It’s clear that he’s a strong player, comfortable in possession and inclined towards attacking. But, the naysayers cry, what about the defending? Well, it’s a valid point. The (very early) evidence suggests that it isn’t his strongest point. We may just need to get used to that. The specialist full-back who rarely ventures beyond the halfway line is a dying breed, harking back to a time of greater specialisation but less flexibility – and of fewer players being capable of attacking. Like the specialist wicketkeeper, the out-and-out full-back may soon be only a memory of football from a different, slower and less versatile age – and Aina appears to embody this evolution in the game.

9. It’s temporary pleasure, but we did enjoy Ehab falling for the “give us a wave” trick at Loftus Road. The man really is devoid of self-awareness or shame. Still, from the brief joy of being able to call him deservedly rude names in response we then clock the mysterious besuited figures sitting beside him and wonder, hope, implore, beg even, that he is about to relinquish his responsibilities. Not that he has discharged these responsibilities with any element of, er, responsibility, obviously.

10. Harry Maguire played a blinder and scored a goal on his home debut for Leicester on Saturday while Andy Robertson turned in a fine display on his bow for Liverpool. We got £25m for those two, players who were then analysed at length by Match Of The Day, leading Gary Lineker to ask how we got relegated last season. Well Gal, it’s a hell of a story, so pour yourself a strong one and settle back…

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #261

TWTWT
1. Satisfying stuff on Saturday from City. Circumstances assisted in the 4-1 win – Burton’s limitations, red card and submissive willingness to back off in the second half – but there was some truly terrific football played and we looked utterly comfortable.

2. Abel Hernández missed the easiest chance of the game in the first half – we don’t count any of the flurry of opportunities somehow blocked by Steven Bywater after the break – but nonetheless took his three goals with aplomb. Given the unrelenting departures of the summer, it’s a slight surprise that the Uruguayan is still with us, but with displays like that, we can be most grateful for it.

3. Other notable displays – Jarrod Bowen looks like he belongs at this level and his confidence is only going to grow, while Max Clark looked less of a square peg as an attacking left back, and actually crossed the ball on the overlap accurately and fiendishly on a good few occasions. Michael Hector’s assured and slightly cocky display at the back also hints at a performer of real class who could stroll through this division with a fat cigar on.

4. There was a moment in the first half when Ola Aina got a bit too complacent and lost the ball. City got away with it, just, but the terrific dressing down he took from Michael Dawson evidently had an effect because in the second half he defended stoutly and, as interest in attacking from our opponents dwindled more, he showed what a supreme athlete he is with shinpad-exposed runs with and without the ball that further burnt out the overworked Burton left side. This boy can play – and clearly he is capable of learning too.

5. Fraizer Campbell’s not fully at it yet, is he? Just like last week at Aston Villa, he didn’t look sharp enough, but only perseverance and hard minutes on the pitch will assuage that. We don’t recall him having a chance to score on Saturday but he put in an unselfish shift while his strike partner took the glory, and his time will come.

6. Maybe it’ll be when Wolves to come to town on Tuesday night. Leonid Slutsky removed Hernàndez, Kamil Grosicki (nice headed goal) and Sam Clucas against Burton, suggesting he wanted them as fresh as possible for hardier tests coming this week. A trip to QPR, rarely something that fills City fans with lipsmacking anticipation, then awaits at the weekend.

7. Slutsky told the press after the win over Burton that his highlight of the game was being asked to wave by the City fans. We could easily be in love with this guy already.

8. Doncaster away in the League Cup. Nearby, eminently winnable, and the prospect of big numbers travelling on a (hopefully) sultry mid-summer’s evening. And whatever number of Hull City supporters is announced that night, at least we know it’ll be accurate, eh?

*SOAPBOX TIME*

9a. If you find the actions of the Allams repulsive, and after careful consideration cannot in good conscience put money in coffers administered by them, so do not attend home games, then good on you.  Understandable.

9b. If you find the actions of the Allams repulsive, but after careful consideration have decided that you’re still going to attend games to cheer on the team (because you were a City fan long before they came along and you’ll be a City fan long after they’ve sold up) and you’ll be damned if those two are driving you away, then good on you.  Understandable.

10. If however, you’ve decided that your decision is the only decision that can be made and elect to berate other City fans on social media or in person, then to quote a colloquialism, ‘give your head a wobble’. The Allams and their dwindling cult of apologists are the enemy, not people who broadly agree that a pair of perfidious egotists must go quickly for the good of Hull City AFC. Divisiveness is clearly their goal, so don’t fall for it.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #260

TWTWT

1. Football is back! And if it was possible to be decidedly underwhelmed at the prospect of another season labouring under the ghastly Allams on Saturday morning, events in the early evening in Birmingham did at least make it feel less daunting.

2. Not that we can easily gloss over the first half. For much of it, City looked worryingly frail and disorganised. A side sharper than Aston Villa could easily have settled the game in the first third, and that really would have left us shuddering at the prospect of another 45 games. As it was, we’re back in the Championship, and spells like this are going to be ridden out more frequently. To keep it at 1-0, with a late flurry in the first half, always gave us a chance.

3. So it proved, as the second half was filled with encouragement. The previously lethargic Grosicki grew into the game, service to the hard working pair of Campbell and Hernández gradually improved and Aston Villa ceased being able to torment our full backs. This all made it possible for City to advance with authority rather than trepidation, and the equaliser – when it arrived – was fully deserved.

4. What a finish and what a moment for Jarrod Bowen. When Grosicki darted into the sort of space we were routinely denied last season and floated one over, it’d have been all too easy for a young, inexperienced player to wildly lash the ball high and wide when presented with the whites of the goalkeeper’s eyes. Instead, he demonstrated that his stunning matchwinning goal against Benfica last month was no fluke with a finish of steely composure. Well done that man (and what a great celebration too; elbowing a steward out of the way to get to the supporters will endear him further to the City fans for many a year). Well done also City for recovering a point from – according to the pre-season odds – the hardest game we’ll have in 2017/18.

5. Grosicki seems much better suited to playing down the right doesn’t he? Not only does it lessen the impact of a failure to adequately track back on our stand-in left back, it allows him to finish moves with his right foot. Despite being ambipedal, Grosicki’s end product was woeful last year when he was deployed on the left. His right footed cross for Bowen’s strike suggests we’re best starting him on that side.

6. Isn’t Leonid Slutsky a thoroughly affable individual too? His infectious personality makes it hard not to warm to him. In a club beset by difficulties, his radiant happiness stands out even more starkly. Lets just hope that grin remains intact.

7. After all, he works for Ehab Allam, who is clearly incapable of learning from, or even tacitly admitting his mistakes. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” goes the axiom, in that people with too much power succumb to arrogance, believing their judgments always correct, and their wisdom infallible, despite evidence to the contrary. The summer of 2016 was evidence enough, when City’s preparation for a new season wasn’t just inadequate, it felt like an act of self-harm. That wouldn’t be repeated in the summer of 2017 would it? Of course it would, Ehab doesn’t learn, perhaps he just doesn’t care about anything other than the money we get from the Premier League even after relegation. What must Slutsky make of a summer where both left backs have, left? Robertson’s sale was understandable from all perspectives, but allowing the first player to ‘graduate’ from our relatively new academy set up to go, a local lad who was shamefully still on a scholarship deal earning £150 a week after making Premier League appearances, seems more than just careless. “The supermarket is closed” was Slutsky’s terse public response to the seemingly unending departures. He deserves better owners, and we wish him luck.

8. The signings he has made will obviously take a while to settle and gel. They also need to get to know the club, with one notable exception: Fraizer Campbell. At Villa Park, he made his second debut for City, two months short of ten years since his first. Reaction to his acquisition on a free transfer from Crystal Palace has been principally positive, which is a relief given that he has taken some unwarranted stick from City fans on the handful of occasions he has lined up against us in the two highest levels of the game. Campbell is now an experienced player, an England international, not completely proven thanks to a mixture of injuries and hefty competition for places, but if anyone knows how devastating a presence he can be at this level of the game, especially with a good supply behind and outside him, it’s us.

9. While there will always be reservations about local commercial radio’s effectiveness to deliver good football coverage when, unlike the oxygenated BBC, it lives and dies instantaneously by its audience figures and revenues, there is nothing in the Viking 2 deal to blame the radio station for, even going as far as the non-appearance of the much publicised first commentary of the season on Saturday due to a technical fault (they do happen, even to the BBC). But the decision by Ehab Allam to not renew terms with BBC Radio Humberside because he disapproves of their awkward, irritating knack of questioning his regime (which they generally did fairly, and with balance) is yet another example of his over-inflated sense of worth, a man of incompetence and spite who thinks he is the bees’ knees, and woe betide anyone, such as an experienced local journalist steeped in the objectivity that the BBC always strives to show, who dares to think everything Ehab does is not necessarily flawless nor open to close examination. Dave Burns is clearly upset, judging by his tweets on the subject. He is right to be – even his detractors have been able to admit that they would rather he and his station were there on matchdays than not. We wish Viking 2 well but can’t help but fear they are in cahoots with a truly poisonous client who will prove deleterious to their reputation, and Saturday’s no-show, irrespective of the true reasons for it, felt somehow symbolic of the deal itself.

10. The 2017/18 home kit is quite nice, good work Umbro. Shame it doesn’t have the club’s name on it.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #259

TWTWT

1. So, welcome Leonid Slutsky, and brace yourself for a glut of headlines from our classy tabloid media which you will barely understand but will make City fans the world over cringe uncontrollably. We hope you settle in our neighbourhood quickly and have an enjoyable and fruitful time as our manager.

2. Look at us, appointing English football’s first ever Russian manager. John Bradley, the former Viking FM sports editor who now commentates on Russian football, told us on Twitter: “He’s a good man. Has a fine record in Russia. Gets the best out of players. Improves players. Conducts himself well at all times. Negatives: could be accused of being a little tactically naive and a little stuck in his ways by playing the same way all the time.” So, mainly good notices from someone who has viewed his teams on a professional level on many an occasion. And Slutsky has spent the whole year learning English, too.

3. But yeah, our footballing nation’s first ever Russian gaffer, and he’s ours. As for City, the only manager not from the British Isles we’d ever appointed before 2017 began was Jan Mølby, who’d been in the English game as player and manager for nearly 20 years and had a more pronounced Scouse accent than large swathes of Birkenhead. Now we’ve had a brooding, telegenic, highly-rated Portuguese quickly followed by a Russian chap who was managing his country as recently as last year’s European Championships. Oh, how Paul Merson must disapprove.

4. We hope our new leader has made it abundantly clear to Ehab Allam that huge numbers of players need to be recruited to make us a viable competitor in the Championship come August. The money that needs to be spent is kind of incidental, really; we need bodies. Whether they are gifted freebies, unknowns from Russophile clubs, youthful loanees or big names, get them in, in quantities. The threadbare squad we had this time last year has now passed into footballing folklore and became a symbol of why ultimately, as per most predictions and previews, we were unable to maintain our Premier League place, and that deplorable situation will not be tolerated again.

5. And the defence is obviously the first port of call. Alex Bruce (who really would have been so useful this season, but obviously accident of birth rendered him persona non grata with the Allams – and imagine being reliant on your father for your career, eh Ehab?) has gone. Curtis Davies has also gone, joining Derby County in an improperly cheap £500,000 deal. Two defenders with a wealth of experience, out with barely a backwards glance.

6. And now, Harry Maguire. We may have struggled to keep hold of this exceptional young defender even if we’d stayed up, but it’s unarguable that there was no chance of his staying once our fate was sealed. Maguire is a fine top flight defender who will get finer and will be even more on the international radar now that he has joined Leicester City for £17m. We think he’ll do well there. We think he’ll play for England next season. And while we can point to all sorts of shameful stuff behind the scenes that ultimately leads to us accepting the first bid we receive for our best footballer, we can’t blame Maguire for going, and nor should we. He seems a decent sort and his popularity on an individual level last season, as a player with whom we could properly identify, means that many a City fan will follow his career for a many a year to come.

7. Is Eldin Jakupović going the same way? Reports say so, but City say no. Mind you, they denied Derby County had bid for Davies meagre hours before Davies signed for, er, Derby County. We’re jaundiced enough to know that when the Allams say it’s freezing outside we look for shades and flip flops, so if they say no-one wants our free spirit of a keeper, we should expect to see him brandishing a blue and white scarf anytime now.

8. Jakupović was terrific once he got the nod last season and he was an endearing character; however, if he goes we’d not suggest his departure is as worrying as others that have either already happened or seem imminent. We have two Scotland international goalkeepers on our books, and whatever misgivings there have been about Messrs Marshall and McGregor, they are experienced and have terrific reputations and either would be more than adequate as a first choice custodian next season if our Bosni-Swiss stopper does follow Maguire to Leicester. And if Gospodin Slutsky happens to know the parents of the next Rinat Dasayev, then all the better.

9. Andy Robertson seems certain to go, too. It does seem nothing official has happened as far as the impending exit of our nippy Scottish full back is concerned but it does only feel like a question of time. West Ham and Liverpool have previously been interested, and there will be others.

10. Marco Silva goes to Watford. A week later, Southampton dismiss their manager. We suspect he’s kicking himself a little bit.