Things We Think We Think #259


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.


Things We Think We Think #258


1. It wasn’t surprising that Marco Silva elected to leave City following relegation, but it’s still saddening. He’s a manager of obvious talent, was briefly ours…and now he’s gone. We’ll all watch his career with interest, and few would be surprised if he goes a long way in management.

2. All of which made his prompt move to Watford a little odd. This isn’t a slight against Watford – though similar in stature and with a remarkable capacity for burning through managers, they’re still ran more competently than City and achieved Premier League survival with several weeks of the season remaining, something we didn’t manage at all. Swapping City for them does make a degree of sense. But was it really the best move for him? And could have he been given a more prestigious job if City hadn’t collapsed so distressingly in the final three games of the season?

3. Nonetheless, we should wish him well. Though he didn’t achieve his “miracle” of keeping City in the Premier League, his attempts were substantial and not far from successful. We appreciate the effort.

4. Which takes us onto the new managerial appointment. With no firm favourite yet, it’s fairly apparent that the bookmaking fraternity has little clue which way Ehab Allam is going to go. At the time of writing, should you be interested in free sports bets, Nigel Adkins and David Moyes are your joint 5/1 favourites. Pulses in East Yorkshire will remain studiously unquickened by this.

5. A quick note: next manager markets attract a lot of attention, but relatively little actual money. One single wager of £50 on a contender would probably cause their odds to drop rapidly and create a little burst of news. With that in mind, let’s not collectively wet our knickers if someone suddenly becomes a “red hot favourite”…

6. Let’s instead hope that Ehab Allam is properly focussing on the club in the coming months instead. In his mind-warpingly banal in-house interview last week, Ehab conceded that last summer’s clusterfuck was damaging (though naturally it wasn’t his fault). Lessons better have been learned.

7. And if only because it’s clear we’re stuck with other. Ehab’s inability to sell the club in 2016 has left him with a debt-ridden Championship club that few prospective purchasers covet, and it was clear in his comments last week that the club is effectively no longer up for sale. So we have the unhappy situation that owners who are widely and rightly scorned for their dismal comments and conduct cannot sell a club they’re incapable of running properly, when enlightened and positive new owners are the one thing we crave most.

8. It all makes 2017/18 look like a challenging season. Quite a few players who performed admirably in ultimate failure aren’t long for this parish either – Maguire obviously merits more than second tier football, while the rich promise of Robertson, Clucas and Tymon are attracting suitors (and the clunkingly inept way the latter is being dealt with hasn’t helped). Loanees are returning to parent clubs, while Grosicki presumably didn’t come to England to play outside of the top flight. Whoever takes over as the manager will have extensive surgery to perform.

9. Part of us wants to wish Huddersfield well in this afternoon’s Championship play-off final, because their fans were solidly behind us when West Yorkshire Police were acting like a bunch of toytown fascists a few years. However, two more Yorkshire derbies next season wouldn’t hurt, and Reading away is hardly the most appetising fixture.

10. We have a soft spot for the League Cup, with its potential for ground-ticks and shock results – it’s even been kind to us in recent seasons, with a quarter-final and then a semi-final. However, it’s not always the most popular or grand competition – so renaming it the “Carabao Cup” is hardly a step in the right direction…


Things We Think We Think #257


1. What a truly vile, humiliating end to the season. Nobody doubts that Tottenham Hotspur are a fine side, but the way Hull City, a team of professionals supposedly to the end, rolled over and surrendered was utterly unforgivable. It was hard to not be furious with everyone who took part in that sorry, repulsive, cringeworthy shitshow in the immediate aftermath.

2. Upon reflection though…poor David Marshall. Inevitably there will be those who will allot him a large portion of blame for City’s record home defeat, but actually he had a decent enough game and can’t be held responsible for the supine attitude of those in front on him.

3. Hopefully Josh Tymon can put Saturday afternoon behind him. The young lad was given a torrid time against the Premier League’s most potent attack and such a day could have a deleterious mental impact. He is likely to have a large role to play in the Championship.

4. But the picture is always bigger, and that leads us to our foul ownership, a family that has managed to take a successful, admirable, happy football club with a united support and transmogrify it into a murky, immoral, cruel, squalid, estranged and risible outfit that gives no hoots at all to anything except its own ego. People are trampled on, politics rule, strategies are fallacious, communities forgotten or ignored, and at the very top, we have a man of narcissism and incompetence, a cocktail that is hugely dangerous as far as the well-being of the club and those who work for it or invest their feelings in it are concerned.

5. If City can start pre-season with a threadbare senior squad after a promotion, what’s going to happen after relegation and the likely loss of the entire coaching staff? There is  deep sense of foreboding about the summer ahead.

6. Consequently, the removal of the Allam family remains the most important thing on the Tiger Nation’s agenda. However, despite near-universal disapproval of them and their contemptible methods, the appetite for a sustained campaign against them isn’t easy to detect. At present, we feel a weary and disillusioned set of supporters – not beaten, because we will never be beaten by their ilk, but in need of a serious summer re-energising.

7. To accomplish that will require proper organisation. All ideas are welcome…

8. Marco Silva remains the favourite for the vacant Watford job. However, if their owners (and others) were watching City’s last three games, might he now find a return to the Premier League as easy as it’d have seemed just three weeks ago? We wonder.

9. Before we finish, we ought to make room to wish well a proper professional and a fine servant to Hull City on the announcement of his retirement from football this week. Richard Garcia was an underrated player during his five seasons with City – sometimes devastating down the right flank, scorer and provider of important and great goals during the 2007/08 promotion campaign and a hardy contributor during more difficult and less glorified times afterwards. Hopefully he’ll find cause to fly over for the Wembley Day tenth anniversary celebrations (which we suspect the club won’t acknowledge, as they don’t like history) next year.

10. Bradford cocked it up over the weekend, but next season will be a season filled with Yorkshireness – both Sheffield clubs (with the blue half no doubt clogging the M18 with their six billion fans), Leeds, Barnsley and possibly Huddersfield, depending on the outcome of the play-off final. We’ve got some great days out ahead in 2017/18, and they will remain great days out irrespective of who owns, coaches or plays for our club. A club is and should always be defined by its supporters, and we’ve got supporters who make us immensely proud. Times may be volatile and uncertain right now, but come August, we’ll be ready to do it again, because that’s who we are and what we do. It’s in the blood, isn’t it?


Things We Think We Think #256


1. City have been relegated, and no matter how much we may dislike plenty about modern football and its ultimate manifestation the Premier League, it hurts. It hurts to see (R) decisively affixed to our name in the table, it hurts to be regarded throughout the game as having failed, it hurts that the magnificent City of Culture celebrations no longer include having a top flight football team, and it hurts to see so much hard work undone. This is going to distress and dismay the Tiger Nation throughout the unhappy summer that awaits, and there’s no point in pretending otherwise.

2. City were abysmal at Crystal Palace, playing with the intensity of a pre-season friendly and the intelligence of a hungover Sunday League team. The ultimate responsibility for this ghastly season lies elsewhere, but there’s no doubt that the players have grossly underperformed in these last two critical games – from a nervy, uncomposed display against the worst team in the division to an absolutely disgraceful non-performance in the game that represented our very last chance. They’ve been appallingly let down by others, but on these two occasions they’ve let themselves (and us) down very badly.

3. Unfortunately, it has to be conceded that Marco Silva has also seen just the faintest dulling of his lustrous reputation during these two calamitous games. Selections have surprised, and while unexpected XIs have been a (broadly positive) feature of his tenure, the decision not to restore Tom Huddlestone to the side following suspension has always jarred. Moreover, he failed to calm his side against Sunderland, and inspire them in the slightest against Crystal Palace.

3a. However, he remains this single best thing about this season and, given the epic handicap of our owners, to have even left us in with a plausible chance of survival going into the final weeks was a colossal achievement. He’s a fine manager, an assured speaker, an innovative tactician and he’s going places far loftier than the Championship.

4. And if that sounds like we’re already saying farewell to Marco Silva…well, would you want to work in the second tier for an odious owner with no money, no players, a ground partly closed and decline evident everywhere?

5. Only simpletons and people who are financially rewarded by the Allams will place the blame for this train wreck anywhere else than at their feet. It was Ehab who drove out the club’s most successful manager ever, who let us start the season with barely enough senior players to play a five-a-side game and then waited until January before taking action to give us any hope of at least trying to fight relegation. Playing in the Championship isn’t the worst part of relegation, no, the worst part is the decrease in likelihood of the club being sold, leaving us with the dreadful Ehab, a man with no love of the club or football, no integrity, no ability to see beyond his own ego and avarice, who is content to carry on his father’s work of transforming a beloved community enterprise into a soulless husk, a generator of revenue streams, a player trading exchange, a content provider.

6. After relegation in 2015, we were still able to be competitive in the Championship because several key sales, fees perhaps inflated by a new TV deal which made Premier League clubs feel flush, allowed us to keep some experienced players. Doesn’t seem likely this time round, as most of our current first team are on short term loan or out of contract. Great if you like seeing academy products given a crack at first team football, not so great if you’re hoping for a quick return to the top flight.

7. Congratulations to the players who won one or more of the awards on offer at the midweek end-of-season bash. What a pity the prizes themselves sport the name of a football club that doesn’t exist; we’d like to think at least some of them are aware of the upset this causes among supporters as the Allams continue to ride roughshod over popular opinion, club tradition and FA decree in still pursuing the Hull City Tigers nonsense, even though “it is not club policy not to use Hull City”. Also notable is that, post-Palace, Andy Robertson was swift to put much of the blame for our trials this season at the hands of those responsible for not allowing any player recruitment last summer – one imagines that the Scotsman knows he’s on his way to pastures new this summer and has nothing to lose.

8. Meanwhile, Marco Silva himself has also talked about the mishandling of the situation by the hierarchy at Hull City back in the summer as a key reason why, ultimately, he found himself falling just short in his rescue mission. It feels like, even if it’s just in a roundabout way, that he’s blaming the Allams for the mess. Astute man. Now, in 2013, Nick Barmby made similar comments in a far less toxic environment and was still sacked  – would the Allams do the same to Silva? If Silva leaves of his own accord he would do so with our best wishes and deep thanks, but if he were to go against his will then it’s close to impossible to imagine just how ferocious yet another backlash against the Allams would be.

9. Whatever the inquest records over the next few days, next Sunday’s dead rubber with Tottenham is an opportunity to begin the forcible ejection of the Allam family’s death grip on this club. There’s nothing to play for, and none of the whiny excuses about not distracting the players can hold water (they never do anyway). We should appreciate the players, who were betrayed by their employer, and fête Marco Silva, if he’s still around (and more so if he isn’t), as we’ll never have another opportunity. But an afternoon of revulsion at what Assem and Ehab Allam are doing is essential. They cannot be left in any doubt that they are not wanted and must sell at the first opportunity to suitable owners. Bring every poster, banner and flag that’s ever been used against either them or their ridiculous, spiteful name change idea, and let’s get these appalling people out of our football club.

10. But there is a positive! Really, there is. And it’s usual, it’s all of us. The City fans at Palace were magnificent, as we’ve been all season. Amid the burning wreckage, we remain defiant and unbowed, the proud people of Hull, the loyal supporters of its foremost sporting institution and this essential part of Hull’s civic fabric. Very soon, we’re going to be all that’s left, so it’s a good job we’re so bloody brilliant.


Things We Think We Think #255


1. Oof! That hurt. What’s more, it felt depressingly like City v Burnley in 2009/10 and City v Burnley again in 2014/15, where we entered into a game against a team with an (R) next to their name on the table, with a chance to keep our fate in our own hands in the battle to avoid the drop, only to fail miserably. It goes beyond an afternoon to forget, because it will likely have repercussions far beyond the scope of one afternoon.

2. City seemed to suffer a collective mental paralysis against Sunderland. We’re used to City using the first half to merely suss the opposition under Marco Silva, but we’re not used to Silva’s City lacking purpose and conviction in the second half, and nerves appeared to get the best of players who have won games from being a goal down or with ten men of late. Against a side that have already lost Premier League status so had nothing else to lose, the importance of the game got to us.

3. It wasn’t an absolute stinker of a performance, and City were the better side for much of the game. However, a chronic lack of composure undid the side. As half-time neared, it was impossible to miss the nerves in the crowd starting to be reflected by things on the pitch. Sadly, for once, Marco Silva didn’t manage to focus minds at the interval.

4. Ahmed Elmohamady’s substitution was greeted by a chorus of boos in some parts of the ground, unquestionably aimed at the player himself. He’s had a poor season for sure, and he is perhaps the only player that hasn’t responded to Marco Silva’s appointment with an infusion of spirit and purpose, but boos still seemed an excessive reaction.

5. He certainly wasn’t the only person who stunk up the place. Alfred N’Diaye, pivotal in recent wins with his simple and effective game of breaking up opponent possession and moving City forwards, was sadly anonymous, his replacement by Tom Huddlestone was welcome, but overdue. We needed a driving force long before the 65th minute, and though Huddlestone was effective after his introduction, we needed more than his drop back and pass ‘quarterback’ style. Oumar Niasse may as well have been suspended after all, he offered little. Hell even Harry Maguire, lauded for his slightly terrifying but nonetheless exhilarating forays upfield, had a quiet afternoon.

6. What of the penalty claims during the game? The handball at the North Stand would have been harsh – it definitely struck an unwisely positioned Sunderland hand, but the proximity was such that intention cannot be divined with certainty. As for Maguire’s tug ‘n’ tumble, that was a classic deception tactic that players with large arses try regularly, and the referee was rightly not fooled. We’ve had quarrels with referees lately, but there are no legitimate grievances here.

7. Swansea, the admirable bastards, did not wilt as City upped up their game under Silva, and now go into the final two games in the driving seat, having come out of their supposedly tough games versus Manchester United and Everton with 4 points. Tottenham’s defeat at West Ham may have lanced their title aspirations, but beating them on the final day is still going to be difficult (and now the “Marco doesn’t lose at home” mystique has gone), and our away form doesn’t bode well for the trip to Palace. Meanwhile, Swansea take on Sunderland away and West Brom at home, ostensibly easier games. The single point lead Swansea now have on us can, of course, evaporate quickly, but somehow it feels mountainous.

8. There’ll be no shortage of recriminations if the worst comes to pass, most of which will be rightly be directed towards Ehab Allam’s 2016 summer of malice. For now, it’s hard not to fear the consequences. Silva will surely leave, leaving us managerless once more and quality applicants to work for Ehab in the Championship seem unlikely. The decision to soldier on with loanees means the squad will necessarily thin out, though even the City vice-chairman can probably work out which players will be staying in the Premier League with another club. Meanwhile, the epic lunacy of the membership scheme will see gates fall even more steeply, and so on and so forth. Argh.

9. Dispensing with volunteer groundstaff on Saturday with no notice? Classy stuff.

10. On Friday, the club released some minutes from its recent meeting with fans. We’re told by attendees that the content is roughly accurate, though the attendees’ hostility towards the club’s dopier antics has been underplayed. However, City’s contention that “it is not the policy of the Club to not use Hull City” is very puzzling. Unless obliged to in order to meet League and FA requirements (League tables, fixtures etc), it’s been a very long time since it was voluntarily used even once, with agonisingly convoluted means of avoiding it frequently employed. So either there has been an astonishingly lengthy and vastly improbable sequence of accidental non-use of “Hull City” stretching over a couple of years and many thousands of club utterances both large and small; or such a policy does exist and an alternative fact was presented to the supporters.


Things We Think We Think #253


1. You’d be forgiven for considering not turning up to home games till half time at the moment. First, you’d avoid the queues for the turnstiles, which are worse now than at any time since the stadium opened (slow hand clap for Ehab), and secondly, because for the time being City home first halves tend to be insipid, uninspiring affairs where the Tigers seem stuck in first gear, lacking any real purpose, beyond waiting till halftime when Marco Silva imparts a deliciously meticulous plan to sex up the second half.

2. And that second half was sexy. It was top shelf in its sexiness. It was so sexy, it made a 21 year old Sophia Loren look like Deirdre Barlow in comparison. It was footballing Viagra. Cock stiffening, pussy widening, nip tingling, fluid generating sexiness.

2a. We’ll be good to go in a minute, just let us catch our breath…

2b. Okay, the second half. City’s courage in overcoming both the referee (of whom more in a moment) and a numerically advantaged Watford side felt vitally important. To win when a man light for well over an hour in the Premier League is extremely impressive, and testament to City’s resiliance and belief at home. The reaction when City scored that first goal was, at the risk of lapsing back into graphic imagery, semi-orgasmic. And from there, the will of the players and the fervour of the City fans did the rest. It was magnificent and uplifting.

3. It can be all too easy to pile into match officials: fans are tacitly encouraged to do so by broadcasters and pundits who’d rather pore over a contentious refereeing decision (making glib remarks such as ‘well you’ve seen them given’ or ‘he’s given the ref a decision to make’) because it’s easier to do that than to really earn corn by offering thoughtful tactical insight. As partisans, it’s convenient and painless for fans to blame referees in defeat, as it avoids the cognitive dissonance of acknowledging flaws in the abilities of players we are fond of and the team we love. When you’re still cursing the man in the middle hours after a win, however, then it’s quite likely that the reason is no more complex than shite refereeing. Step forward Robert Madley.

4. The decision to produce a straight red for Niasse’s supposed foul on Niang felt contemptible in realtime, and further contempt was liberally applied after seeing replays of the incident. Madley compounded the error when he elected to let off Niang for a dive on the stroke of half time that was in turns impressively balletic, dramatically hammy and unfathomably twatty.  Thus a pattern was set of City transgressions being jumped on while Watford indiscretions were ignored.

5. Can you imagine how deflating it must have been for Swansea, who recorded their first Premier League win since February on Saturday, to find out that 10 men City had beaten Watford 2-0? It must have made them feel their efforts in besting Stoke were all for naught, as they are no nearer to overhauling our two point advantage and now have one less game to do it in. Psychology is a massive part of football, and it’s hard to believe that Swansea’s sense of hope and self-belief wasn’t damaged by the weekend’s dénouement..

6. Andrea Ranocchia was named man of the match, and he was as he’s been since joining us on loan from Inter highly competent, but we’d have handed the accolade to another man. Alfred N’Diaye was tremendous in both breaking up Watford possession and in confidently maintaining possession for us. Sam Clucas is another on the shortlist.

7. Though perhaps it’s better to consider Sam Clucas for player of the year rather than just man of the match on Saturday. A game award against Watford would have neatly illustrated his growth as a player, juxtaposing the performance with the last one against Watford, when the lad endured a torrid afternoon unfairly deployed at left back, but his exponential rise to prominence since joining City from Chesterfield in the summer of 2015 would be better acknowledged by the 2016/17 player of the year award.

8. He might just take goal of the season too, after that beautiful and composed strike that sealed three points against Watford.

9. Southampton next, then. That’s an away game, and therefore impossible to contemplate without a sense of fatalist dread. Surely this extraordinary pattern of win-at-home/lose-away cannot remain for the whole of the season? We wouldn’t complain if so, as we’d be very likely to stay up if so, however the prize for even a point at St Mary’s is huge. With Swansea not playing until the next day, if they were to prepare for a fixture at Manchester United three points (or more!) behind, their task would appear formidable. Come on City, let’s summon the spirit of Saturday and sort this away thing out.

10. We enjoyed the match report in the Sunday Times pointing out, as a casual but pertinent aside in parentheses, that the referee was barracked off the pitch by a stadium that was “not full (largely because of comical ownership)”. Sadly, we suspect Ehab Allam will take that to mean he’s some kind of charismatic raconteur with the timing of Eric Morecambe, and not a manifestly inept autocrat who hates his clientele.


Things We Think We Think #252


1. City’s 3-1 defeat at Stoke followed a depressingly unaltered template. Play well for long periods against beatable opposition, miss chances, concede softly a few times, go home with zero points.

2. The bad bits first. City defended hopelessly in the early stages of the match, and although they became less awful once the game was about a quarter through, a cheap concession always felt likely – particularly with City looking wide open on both wings. We wondered partway through the first half whether at least two goals were going to be needed just for a point. In the end, even that wouldn’t have done.

3. Harry Maguire on the right? Well, he’s surprised a lot of people this season, but this was an assignment too far. Stoke sensibly targetted the flank he was patrolling, and enjoyed success throughout. With Omar Elabdellaoui absent through injury and Ahmed Elmohamady’s sad decline showing no little prospect of being arrested, you can perhaps see what the manager was thinking. However, round pegs, square holes…

3a. Moses Odubajo: how we have missed you.

4. The good-ish. After a horrible start, City controlled the game from about 25 minutes until Stoke brought on Crouch and Walters, which unnerved Silva’s men to a ridiculously disproportionate extent. It’s a City we often see on the road: calm, capable, able to dictate the game (even if only at a modest tempo) and able to create chances. This is a team with plenty of talent and an underrated capacity for attractive football. For that half-hour either side of the break, we were very enjoyable to watch, and well worth the equaliser when it came.

5. However, too many chances weren’t taken, again. Niasse has broadly impressed since his arrival, and he’s taken some sharp opportunities during that time, but he was disappointing in front of goal at Stoke. Hernández, benched for the day, would surely have fared better.

6.  It isn’t an ambitious way of looking at things, but it feels like the rest of City’s season could come down to matching Swansea’s results. Viewed through that prism, their defeat at West Ham made for a successful weekend, despite our frustrations in the Potteries.

7. City seem determined to salvage their Premier League status through home games alone, and with Tottenham now a fully fledged title contender, the prior home games against Watford and Sunderland, while both eminently winnable, are going to be tense affairs indeed.

8. There was an odd story over the weekend in the national Daily Mail about Marco Silva potentially being appointed last summer, but not being recruited for fear of “antagonising” fans. The proposition in this argument is patently false – the lamentable Allam family have never worried about antagonising City fans, and as their present actions demonstrate, they appear to actively relish it. However, although it carries no supporting quotes for this fantasy, it’s fairly specific in its contentions, which chiefly suggest that Ehab Allam is a man of both rare vision and acute sensitivity. He’s obviously neither, and it appears to us that this tall tale was fed to the media by someone at the club, in a fairly transparent and unsubtle manner. Ehab, or a lackey of Ehab’s? We’d love to know.

9. If managerial decisions are actually being turned over to the fans… the fans have been saying for a few weeks that Silva should be tied to a new deal now, not when he’s a free agent coveted by a string of other Premier League clubs.

10. Congratulations to Brighton & Hove Albion on their long overdue promotion to the Premier League. Like us, they had to hit the very bottom before they could start their rise to the top, with unscrupulous owners, ridiculous stadium politics and a community that seemed to be apathetic at best, especially when it came to getting their current stadium okayed. We remember Brighton fans, despite their own troubles, dropping change into buckets when we needed it, and for that alone we salute them heartily on their day of celebration. Our fingers are crossed that we’ll be meeting each other next season.


Things We Think We Think #251


1. There was nothing unsurprising about City’s non-attentive performance at the Etihad on Saturday. Manchester City may have been off form prior to us popping across the Pennines, but we have a fetid smell seemingly following us around the country right now, and we should be grateful that many of the hardest away games of the campaign came at times when seasons weren’t going to be defined.

2. There were dabs of light in the City display, but ultimately better players beat us. That we managed a late consolation, thereby ever so slightly reducing the impact on our execrable goal difference, pays a small tribute to our team’s perseverance (though more likely Marco Silva’s insistence we play a proper 90 minutes, whatever is going on) while also making Pep Guardiola entertainingly tetchy in his post-match interviews.

3. Michael Dawson is a fine player, a consummate defender and a great example to young players everywhere. But he isn’t among our best two centre backs any more (as isn’t Curtis Davies), and the absence in Manchester of the injured Harry Maguire, and the buckles he tends to conclusively swash in games, was truly notable.

4. Maguire was colossal, again, as City beat Middlesbrough on Wednesday night and to finally see him notch up his first Premier League goal in what was a thoroughly engaging game, and display, was marvellous. The result itself was significant, as the spirit of Middlesbrough seemed to go that night at the Circle, and now it feels like City only have one relegation place to avoid.

5. Maguire’s header against Middlesbrough understandably made the highlights reel, but we could watch THAT pass for the third goal without ever growing tired of it. If Andrés Iniesta or Paul Scholes had picked that out, the world would coo. Well, it damn well should over that, because it wasn’t a diminutive midfield schemer managing it, but a colossus of a centre-back.

6. A fascinating aspect to that victory was that even Middlesbrough’s opening goal didn’t visibly dent the confidence in the team, or the stadium. City’s remarkable home form is not merely a happenstance of statistics, it’s increasingly a matter of belief.

7. Meanwhile, the peculiar hell that is Sunderland’s 2016/17 season shows no signs of improving, and they’re now a distant ten points behind City and from safety. What impact – if any – could them being relegated before they even play us next month have? Perhaps it could go either way. They’ll either be so deflated by their pitiful relegation they’ll accommodatingly capitulate, or may finally show up and play as soon as it no longer matters. The former would be preferable, obviously.

8. As for the earlier part of what is now officially (according to Sky Sports, anyway) the run-in, we have Stoke away, Watford at home and Southampton away, prior to that game against the doomed Mackems. The home game is eminently winnable; the away games, yet again, are where we should have enough about us to compete for at least a point, even if our away record in recent months is something on the imperfect side. Imagine what seven points from nine would do prior to Sunderland making their reluctant trip down the A19.

9. It’s hard to know what to make of the lack of progress towards a new contract for Marco Silva. The Allam family are not renowned for valuing valuable employees, however his impact has guaranteed Silva options aplenty should there be a parting of the ways in summer. It’s understandable that all parties may wish to wait for the determination of our “divisional status”, as the club’s semi-literate membership brochure would call it – but it’s abundantly clear that there’s something special about this manager. Given that, we should be making the first move.

10. Yesterday marked three years to the day that the FA rejected Assem Allam’s imbecilic name change idea. Think it’s irrelevant? The club still refuse to use their own name on anything unless obliged to by the FA/PL, the fans’ Twitter hashtag remains unused and the YouTube channel still alludes to a fiction of his feverish imagination. It’s as relevant as ever. Now, and forever, No To Hull Tigers.


Things We Think We Think #250


1. City’s win over West Ham on Saturday was streaky, improbable and accomplished late. None of that can detract from a result of serious consequence. We’re halfway through a brace of home fixtures from which the absolute minimum requirement, given our ongoing difficulties on the road, was probably four points. Three are already banked. And the season remains alive.

2. It felt in grave danger at half-time against the Hammers. City trailed after a wretched concession and had done little to suggest that even a draw could be salvaged. It’s tempting to let the euphoria of the eventual result mask the first half, but it was low-grade stuff. Worst of all, it was puzzlingly short of urgency, as though the desperation of the situation was somehow being missed by everyone on the pitch.

3. Still, if we’re to scorn the first half, let’s celebrate the second. A half-time substitution and a tactical switch saw a major improvement, quickly culminating in a sumptuous leveller, one of those goals we’ll never tire of watching. It set us up to lay siege to West Ham, a modest team playing modestly…but that didn’t really happen. When Grosicki directed his shot wide after we had struck the post, it felt like a rare and perhaps final opportunity to pinch the win.

4. Sometimes, luck goes your way. When West Ham inexplicably switched off at a late set-piece, Andrea Ranocchia capitalised with a fine header. But for the visitors’ sudden inattention, we’d have had to settle for a draw. It’d have been costly, as we were well aware that Crystal Palace were unexpectedly leading, but it’d have had to do. Fortunately, the sloppiness City had shown with West Ham’s goal was reciprocated, and the celebrations were long and loud.

4a. Apropos the second goal, we loved the poor steward’s unsuccessful attempts to douse the flare. Crash course in sand deployment for our fluorescent-jacketed friends, please.

5. Predictably, a lot of the pre-match discussion centred upon Robert Snodgrass. That he’s been almost entirely excluded from the post-match debate is testament to what a completely anonymous afternoon he had. That isn’t a trait you’d ordinarily associate with such a fiery character, but it’s true of his display on Saturday.

6. Results elsewhere this weekend were an odd bunch. Sunderland are surely done for after their latest defeat, while a draw in South Wales was a significant missed opportunity for both Swansea and Middlesbrough – the latter are in serious trouble, while the former have gained just one point in games against M’bro, City and Bournemouth and are heading quickly back into danger. Just a shame about Palace. The neutral observer may think that two are already as good as down, and it’s a straight fight between City and Swansea for the promised land of 17th. Such an observer would have a point.

7. With the exception of Manchester City next weekend and Spurs on the last day, the run-in is decidedly kindly, on paper at least, which was something we wryly noted last summer when the fixture list was first released. The principal games marked down as clichéd “must-wins” will be those against Watford, Sunderland and, of course, that seriously troubled Middlesbrough side in just 48 hours at the Circle. They can’t score goals at the moment, have just sacked their manager and replaced him with our own former assistant manager, and are set to come up against a City side close to invincible on its own soil with a head coach who hasn’t lost a home game with any of his last three clubs since Abba split up, or something. That fighting goalless draw at Swansea, while not massively helping either side, should serve as notice to City that our midweek opponents will journey down from Teesside at least determined to scrap like mad for something.

8. So what to make of the brochure sent out to current patrons of the membership scheme? Well, the first thing to jump out is the illiteracy of whoever wrote it (and Ehab Allam’s name is on it, so perhaps he is the author). Indefinitely is ‘ indefinately’, eighth is ‘eigth’, and the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ is misunderstood, as both are used. Incorrectly. When a Premier League football club can’t be bothered to get a document proof-read, or at least run through a spell checker, it’s clear they have utter disdain for the intended audience.  The timing of the brochure’s distribution is suspect too,  there were 14 days between games and this brochure arrived (and  was inevitably picked up by local press) the day before an important game.

9. March 2016: Ehab Allam tells the Yorkshire Post that “Clubs should be encouraged by a penalty system to ensure crowds are close to capacity. At Hull, it would put the onus on us to get things exactly right…to fine-tune efforts.”

April 2017: The latest fine tuning of efforts? To claim memberships are increasing, then announce the closure of the West Stand Upper. Every day is April Fools’ day when you’re Ehab Allam.

10. We were as stunned as anyone when Jake Livermore was picked in England’s starting XI against Germany – we had gone on record both here and in our podcast that he would be on the bench for both games – but kudos to our recently exited midfielder for not only playing, but playing well, and making the more cutting, condescending doubters admit that he might have something to offer his country after all. It’s one of those occasions where we couldn’t be more pleased to be wrong – we just wish he was still playing for us at the time Gareth Southgate decided to include him.


Things We Think We Think #249


1. Another away game, another defeat. The sharp-eyed will have noticed a pattern: City play a game outside of East Yorkshire, they lose, they come home promising to do better, and the whole dismal thing repeats. Look – there’s no shame in losing at Everton, who are very firmly in the second tier of Premier League sides. The problem is that previous failures on the road have left us needing results in this type of fixture. And we didn’t really get close.

2. Sure, it was only 1-0 for most of the game, and the scoreline was given an unfair tilt late in the game. But that argument falls apart when the shocking lack of shots on target is taken into account. We pose next to no threat to opposing sides on their own turf, meaning they can attack with little fear of the consequences. And, eventually, we concede.

3. The early goal was a killer. It’s always a relief to rapidly lead in a game you’re expected to win, and it soothed any nerves any Everton fans who hadn’t studied the “Away” section of the table may have felt. It wasn’t a notably brilliant move, but it was far too good for City, whose leadenfooted response was alarming.

4. That red card, eh? It’s a wrong decision, but it also has to be filed under “can maybe see why it was given”. That probably means that an appeal is doomed to fail; however, we’re doomed to fail whether Tom Huddlestone misses three games or four, should it be extended if the FA view an appeal as vexatious, so it’s worth a try.

5. Let’s try for at least one positive. After falling behind, we didn’t let the game run away from us (even if that event was deferred rather than postponed). City rarely looked like levelling, but it only takes an instant to equalise, so…oh sod it, we’re really clutching at straws here. You know it and we know it.

6. Results elsewhere were a funny lot. Palace’s streaky win was a cause for Saturday afternoon despair, but Swansea, Middlesbrough and Sunderland all remain accommodatingly toss as well. We aren’t cut off, and with two extremely winnable (and in truth, must-win) home games approaching, even this grim situation isn’t quite yet terminal. Even if the echoes of 2009/2010 are growing by the week.

7. Harry Maguire had a lot of columnists and pundits talking up his case for a place in the England squad, but unsurprisingly, he didn’t get the call from Gareth Southgate. Intriguing that Jake Livermore, of this parish until January, is back in the squad for the first time in five years, however. Notwithstanding the further propagation of the long-held belief that players, irrespective of their form, only get into major international squads after they’ve left City (36 league appearances for Spurs, one cap; seven for West Brom, one call-up; 90 for City in between, sod all), it does look an odd choice. We like Jake. We rate him as a very good midfielder, a good guy, a team player and obviously this return to the international fold takes him back to the top of a sport where he had very recently hit a horribly personal rock bottom. But we just don’t think he’s good enough.

8. If he plays in either of the games, he’ll become the first footballer to play for England after leaving City since Brian Marwood’s notorious nine-minute cameo against Saudi Arabia in 1988. If you want to fly a flag for Fraizer Campbell at this point, you carry on, but he was never ours so we don’t think he counts. We’d like Livermore to achieve this feat for his own personal redemption reasons, but sentimentality has no place in the international game and we suspect he’ll watch both matches from the bench.

9. Throughout the week, the club have been calling fans to ask if they’re interested in ongoing membership. Harmless, even proactive you may think, even if no information was divulged about the prospect of concessions for 2017/18 – except that they’ve been introducing themselves as calling from “Hull City Tigers”. Whoever’s bright idea it was to seek to pointlessly antagonise fans in this way should be sacked (or encouraged to remind his father that his promise to sell the club within 24 hours of being told to piss off by the FA is close to three years old).

10. “Crisis clubs” are nothing new in football – we’ve been one and seen plenty of others down the years (and no, you pathetic snivelling wretches at Arsenal, you aren’t even close to being one, however earnestly the self-pitying mantle of victimhood is claimed). However, they don’t get much closer to the brink than Leyton Orient, who may actually go under today. They’re already as good as relegated from the League, but their very existence is authentically threatened. We’ve long since forgiven them for the play-offs in 2001, and prefer to remember recent Cup wins there, victory in 1999 that gave impetus to the Great Escape, and for the generation before ours, that ridiculous 5-4 win in 1984. They’re an affable, inviting London club with a decent history, were screwed over by West Ham’s stadium move and appear to deserve better – we wish them well today.