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Things We Think We Think #316

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1. What on earth to make of Saturday’s frenetic affair at Birmingham? Both sides will be left somewhat ruing the outcome – Birmingham for losing a two-goal lead, City for conceding a late equaliser. On balance, the result was probably about right. But what a remarkable afternoon.

2. It’s impossible to let much of City’s defending go uncommented upon. After praise had been forthcoming for the notable tightening of things at the back of late, Saturday felt like September again. The two goals gifted to Birmingham before half-time were ridiculous, and had the match drifted to the sort of comfortable defeat that seemed likely at the break, it’d have been self-harm that’d have done it. No side at any level can do that sort of thing. It didn’t look or feel very secure all day.

3. Right at the very end too, City’s defending was again pretty hopeless. An air-kick presented an easy chance for Birmingham’s late leveller, and cost us two points. And goodness knows we’ve coughed up enough late goals already this season.

4. But…wasn’t the stuff inbetween quite exhilarating? Doubly so for being wholly unexpected. Campbell’s predatory brace and Grosicki’s blockbusting free-kick completely transformed the match and it looked as though a side with a long unbeaten record at home were about to lose it. It wasn’t to be, but to even come close was quite stunning.

5. It is a point gained, all considered. Most City fans would probably have taken it on Saturday morning, and definitely at 4pm. It does suggest that the players are playing for Nigel Adkins at the moment too. We’ve taken 7 points from the last 9 available, which is a very good run of form at this end of the table. It hasn’t lifted us out of the bottom three, but we’re level on points with 20th and only a result away from escaping the bottom three for the first time in a while. That there’s even hope of doing that when we were recently four points adrift is no little achievement.

6. It’s also interesting in terms of the longer-term management of the club. If we do assume for a moment that the Allam nightmare is coming to an end, a month ago many would have assumed that Adkins would have been an automatic casualty of a takeover. Now, with his side visibly improving, he can present a case for being allowed to keep control of the team and be allowed to spend whatever funds are available in January. Whether that case is a strong one or a weak one depends upon personal taste – he still isn’t quite to ours – but at least it’s a plausible one.

7. Isn’t it great to see Fraizer Campbell playing the way he is? Four goals in three games, and a constantly buzzing presence up front. He’s a different player to the one that scorched through his first period with City a decade ago, which is understandable given the passing of time. His runs are now more thoughful than just jet-heeled, for instance. But he’s in the best form of his second spell here, particular now that he’s poaching goals, and an automatic choice up front. More, please.

8. There’s an international break now, so another fortnight in which to take stock. Then City have two home games in three days. They’re both against promotion hopefuls in Nottingham Forest and Norwich, but City have to take heart from the surprising but thoroughly merited win against West Brom nine days ago. We probably have to take something, because as difficult as those games are, the two after that are on the road.

9. With regards to the takeover, no news is at least not bad news. Like a house move, it probably grinds on quietly for quite some time, before excitingly all coming together at the end. At least, that’s what we’re hoping.

10. Let’s daydream: it’s Saturday 22nd December, Father Christmas is coming soon and City have picked enough form to have escaped the bottom three. Swansea at home, and it’s a late kick-off so there’s more scope for pre-match pubbage. The Allams have just slithered away from the club, and a bright new dawn may be about to break. Investment is promised, supporter relationships are being repaired, the club feels as though it’s being mended. The biggest crowd of the season has gathered – expectant, united, optimistic, over the drink-drive limit – and the team that once again properly and unbegrudgingly calls itself Hull City AFC takes to the field, to raucous acclaim…

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Things We Think We Think #315

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1. Well! Haven’t things changed? Two successive 1-0 wins, and all of a sudden this grotty season has been lent a faint but unmistakeable (and not misplaced) sense of hope. The single goal victory at Bolton was decent, but beating a West Brom side with automatic promotion hopes was authentically impressive. And not just for the result.

2. City deserved this. They absolutely did. It wasn’t a streaky backs-to-the-wall-and-pinch-one-on-the-break kind of win over a top side. City created chances, and while the lingering impression remains that we don’t convert them often enough, we did at least take one. Best of all, City then controlled the remainder of the game with rarely seen assurance and conviction. The defence and keeper will get the plaudits for another clean sheet, and rightly so. Successive shut-outs have capped off a run of seven games in which no side has beaten David Marshall twice in a game, and this defensive improvement has been vital. To stay up, a side often needs little more than to be tough to beat. Well, we’re looking a trickier assignment for opposing sides than we did six weeks ago. It could just be enough.

3. However, the whole side warrants praise for the way West Brom were repelled. Never mind that they clearly had an off-day – even at 50% effectiveness they’d have comfortably rolled us over in September. Now, we can see growing organisation and confidence throughout the side. From Fraizer Campbell’s tireless efforts up front, Dan Batty’s remarkable composure in midfield right through to a defence that is seeing inexperienced players begin to rise to the challenge – well, frankly we didn’t see it coming.

4. But let’s not get too carried away. City are still second bottom after all; these two wins have only stopped us from being hopelessly cut adrift. We’re still progressing than less a point a game and that needs fixing if we’re to survive. The key thing is that we can now start to see a way towards safety. New owners, a few new players in January to augment an improving but still desperately thin squad, and 21st could be ours. We didn’t think that a fortnight ago.

5. It also means we needn’t desperately fear Birmingham next week. They’re having a good season, just three points from the play-offs, and will start as favourites. But a match they thought was a gimme isn’t now. We hope. Any positive result will be very welcome, and may even lift us out of the bottom three. And considering that we were four points adrift of safety a very short time ago, that’d be some turnaround.

6. There was a meeting of the new Supporters’ Committee on Monday. No, we didn’t know about it either. The fall-out has been predictable though, with the club violating guidelines on club-fan consultation by barring the Hull City Supporters’ Trust after their failed – and really quite distasteful – attempts to strong-arm a fans’ group into changing its personnel. That ensured a few days of bad headlines and robust censure from the Football Supporters’ Federation, who are referring to the club to various authorities. How utterly pathetic our club is.

7. The strangest thing (beating even the comical suggestion that the OSC is “independent”) was the claim by the club on Tuesday that some of the “reps” at the meeting “prefer not to be widely publicised”. Now, we would really prefer not to be querying fellow City fans, but you can’t help wondering what the point in putting oneself forward as a “fans’ representative” is if you don’t want fans to know that you’re representing them.

8. But as usual, the real cause of the issue is Hull City AFC themselves, who bar fans from groups and organisations that DO possess a constituency and thus a mandate to represent other fans, and are also willing to do so. And of course, it’s all so short-termist. A hallmark of the Allams’ regime is how the club merely survive from one day to the next, never willing (or perhaps able) to think of anything beyond simply stumbling through whatever self-wrought crisis they’re presently experiencing. But one day, the club will be owned by adults again, who want to engage meaningfully with the fans, and some tough questions will be heading the way of those who helped the Allams spread their poison.

9. Apropos the takeover, the relative silence on that front isn’t particularly concerning. This sort of thing takes time, and much of it occurs quietly, behind the scenes. But…why was there a very slightly discordant note about the news being reported last Wednesday about the Allams “saying farewells”? That would be awfully premature if we’re still at the due diligence scale, and without a preferred bidder even been decisively identified. Coming so very conveniently at a time when the club was copping flak for their ridiculous antics with the Supporters’ Committee is interesting too. We aren’t buying it. And never forget: the Allams may love money, but they already have enough of the stuff, and also have the motivation to inflict even greater ruination of the club if they want to while planting stories about sales and takeovers to amuse themselves in the meantime. Price up the champagne if you wish; but don’t part with your hard-earned just yet.

10. Above all, we ache for the optimism and unity we’ve had before. Watching old clips of City home games at the Circle is hard when you see stands full of City fans all pulling in the same direction as the club. It’s been so long now – last week saw the fifth anniversary of the meeting Assem Allam called with City fans over the name change at which he promised not to proceed with Hull Tigers without consulting the fans (a promise he almost immediately broke). Since then, nothing has felt right. We yearn for City to be mended.

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Things We Think We Think #314

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1. A week that began with City in the bottom three ended with City still in the bottom three – yet, courtesy of the victory at Bolton, feels a little less hopeless than before. What a pity our brace of away fixtures began with defeat at Bristol City, with a second successive 93rd minute concession wrecking the result. City didn’t play too badly, creating enough good-quality opportunities to have taken the lead. The problem is that while last season, under both Slutsky and Adkins, City always looked like scoring, this season that sharpness in front of goal has fled.

2. Couple that with regular defensive lapses, and we’re always prone to a sucker punch. And so it proved, conceding again in injury time. The team and manager can persuasively argue that this was a harsh result, but that’s the sort of thing that happens when chances aren’t taken and clean sheets are rarities.

3. In some respects, Saturday’s match at Bolton looked quite similar – City played some decent stuff, made chances and for the most part kept the opposition at bay. But it’s all such fine margins sometimes, isn’t it? This time, we took a chance, and came up against a side who couldn’t take any of theirs. And while the 1-0 win at the poetically-named University of Bolton Stadium may not live long in the memory, there’s no disputing its value – or that City deserved a break after conceding twice in injury time within a week.

4. So, we’re still 23rd. But at least not cut adrift. Having kicked off in Lancashire a daunting four points adrift of safety, that deficit has been halved; it is – depending upon how optimistically you view the visit of West Brom on Saturday – possible to escape the bottom three with a single win. Contrast that with Ipswich, whose position of 24th may only be one worse than City, but they’re already five points from the promised land of 21st. That feels pretty ominous when you’re scuffing along at less than a point a game.

5. And 21st is probably still about the summit of our ambition this season. We’re in this position for a reason – the squad and the manager who leads it just aren’t good enough for anything substantially better. Saturday’s match report summed it up: if this season culminates with City ended fourth-bottom with new owners in charge, it will be a success.

6. Meanwhile…is that a marginally improving defence that we see? City are still conceding regularly, but not prolifically any more. Since the appalling loss at Reading over a month ago, City haven’t conceded more than one goal in a game, a spell that included all of the current top three. And yes, there’s a bit of straw-clutching going on here, particularly when we only kept one clean sheet in those half-dozen games…but if things are just tighening up a little at the back, perhaps that’ll just produce enough points over the rest of the season to keep us at least in with a chance.

7. It was a pleasure to see Robbie McKenzie make his first start in the Championship on Saturday. A player who is a full seven months younger than Amber Nectar, he’s been in the squad a lot this season and hadn’t disappointed when introduced from the bench. Forget that injuries and a gruel-thin squad may have accelerated his promotion: he hasn’t let anyone down this season, did well on Saturday, and provides the simple, enduring satisfaction of seeing a promising local lad breaking into the game. Well done young man.

8. West Brom next. They’re proper promotion contenders and are scoring loads this season, so our defensive capabilities are certain to be examined by them. Even though it would keep us in the relegation zone, a point would be very handy. Then again, they’ve haven’t won in three games or kept a clean sheet in six…

9. Away from City, it wasn’t a happy weekend for the national sport. Condolences to the friends and families of the three men and two women who lost their lives in a helicopter crash at Leicester; to the Brighton supporter who passed away after falling ill at their game against Wolves; and best wishes to former England manager Glenn Hoddle, who is gravely unwell following a heart attack.

10. Lastly, best wishes too to North Ferriby United supporters, who are facing a very familiar situation to one that blighted our recent past and whose consequences remain with us to this date. Their owners are apparently set upon renaming the club East Hull FC, and moving it ten miles to Dunswell. It isn’t a situation we’d relish, and as our nearest neighbours of consequence we feel a certain affinity to them. A petition has already attracted over 3,700 signatures – it can be signed here. Meanwhile, when considering this application, we trust that the FA will be guided by the very clear precedent it set when refusing Assem Allam’s odious attempt to foist Hull Tigers upon us.

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Things We Think We Think #312

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #311

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #310

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #308

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Anyone missing the animated gifs yet?

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Things We Think We Think #307

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #306

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1. A weekend horror show can often render an earlier midweek fixture oddly distant in the memory. The Blackburn débâcle means that the penalty shoot-out victory at Sheffield United just six ago feels an event a month behind us. But it happened, and though we won’t be wasting energy on straw clutching any more, when viewed in isolation it wasn’t a bad night. A very young side acquitted itself well, and kept its nerve during the (admittedly low-pressure) series of spot-kicks at full time. A successful evening.

2. Not that Derby at home is a just reward for it. But that fixture itself ties into the calamity against Blackburn. Just what sort of attendance can we expect for that?

3. We’ll take Oliver Norwood’s comments about signing for Sheffield United with a pinch of salt. He’s hardly going to express sadness at having signed for his new employers, and anyway, if he wasn’t keen on joining a club that didn’t value him highly enough to meet his valuation and that’s notorious in professional football for being a complete basket case…who can blame him?

4. Not that his decisive penalty miss didn’t elicit a small chuckle, however. Though it does raise the probability of him scoring the winner in a League game this season to something approaching 99%…

5. Blackburn. Oh dear, Blackburn. A pitiful non-performance from a side that isn’t good enough to survive at this level, managed by a man who knows that and has realised (too late) that desperately-needed support will not be forthcoming.

6. City were abject. The goal was another comically soft concession from a defence that no more looks like keeping a clean sheet than a 14 year old boy who’s just prised open the parental lock on the domestic wi-fi. Even more alarming was the response, which was hopeless. And yes, we know this side isn’t good enough, and that the bench offers little, but even taking all of those allowances into account, it still wasn’t acceptable. Not by a distance.

7. To have Nigel Adkins starting to ponder his own future before August is even through is quite something. A man of garrulous optimism whose cathartine rubbernecking of Leonid Slutsky’s ill-fated spell will always grate now wonders if it was all worth it. He’ll almost certainly be back to normal very soon, posting on social media about wholesome breakfasts, but frustration at the owners’ negligence is breaking through more often.

8. We have around a dozen days to perform emergency surgery on this squad. It probably depends on finding someone willing to spend lots of money on Kamil Grosicki, and even in the present day market there’s no guarantee anyone’s going to be that unwise. And even then the manager may not see any meaningful assistance. We’ll probably cobble together a loan or two from Premier League sides for players they haven’t yet managed to offload – but as usual, it’s all too little, all too late.

9. The club no longer has the guts to announce its inflated attendances during the game, but it emerged after the match that it was officially 12,233. We know they are usually around 20% fewer people there than claimed, which gives us 10,200; and a rumour that it was 10,002 has been widely spread. Both of these figures feel about right. It’s only a matter of time before the first sub-10,000 actual attendance, and we wouldn’t rule out the club having to announce one even with the 20% addition. Three-fifths of the stadium lie empty, and the club refuses to change the despicable policies that are ensuring that. It’s a disgrace, and a tragedy.

9a. Facilitating contactless payment at stadium food and drink kiosks would be a low level plus point at a normal club, but while City persist with a concession free membership scheme (that if a Tweet this weekend is to be believed, sees the deceased threatened with legal action) and a policy of weakening the squad one transfer window at a time, it’s all a bit ‘polishing the brass on the Titanic’.

9b. Oh and it didn’t work.

10. So let us be absolutely clear: this club is in severe difficulty, but it isn’t dying, it’s being killed. Assem and Ehab Allam are the killers, and they have brought shame upon their family name. They probably don’t give a toss – for too long we’ve believed the old man’s pious claims to regard his legacy as important, but we don’t believe that any more. The only – ONLY – explanation for any of this is revenge. Pure, callous revenge. And we despise them for it.

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Things We Think We Think #305

 

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1.  The only surprise about the final day of the summer transfer window is that some people were surprised by Hull City’s lack of activity. It should be obvious to everyone by now that beyond merely ensuring that there are enough flesh units to fulfill fixtures, the owners don’t care about the quality of  the squad, because doing so would impact how much money can be taken out of the club.

2. Nigel Adkins may be one of the surprised ones though… his quotes about signings went from reiterating the need to do more business (“We are not as strong as we need to be” and “We’re trying to make permanent signings if we can”), to being sanguine about failing to bring relatively inexpensive players in such as  Brighton’s Oliver Norwood who had a £1.5m valuation (“They have a fee they don’t want to move on, there’s not a big gulf”), to convincing himself that the loan market might save us and that’s just fine (“We talk about the transfer window finishing, the permanent one, but the loan window is still open for the rest of the month”). Perhaps we should feel for him, but it’s hard to believe he didn’t know what he was letting himself in for.

3. Some people may have groaned when Nigel Adkins said Jordy de Wijs and David Marshall, poor on opening night against Aston Villa, would start at Hillsborough, but there is little value in throwing a new signing adapting to his surroundings and our most experienced goalkeeper under the bus. The votes of confidence paid off too, as both played well at Sheffield Wednesday.

4. City themselves did, well, alright at Hillsborough. When it came, the lead felt meritted, and there were opportunities to extend it. There were good spells against Villa too – only one point may have been taken so far, but in general play we haven’t disgraced ourselves. Now, playing well outside both penalty areas only gets you so far, but in these desperate times, it’s a straw to clutch at.

5. Alas, the lead wasn’t capitalised upon with a second goal. Carrying on from last season’s comical capacity for conceding penalties was maddening (and it was a penalty), and as soon as we coughed up an equaliser then – as per Aston Villa seven days ago – it felt as though there was only one side likely to win it.

6. We just don’t feel as though we’re going to keep many clean sheets this season. That was the case last season, though City’s leakiness was matched with uncommonly effective goalscoring. It’s hard to imagine us scoring enough to combat an equally poor goals-against column this season, so if we don’t tighten up, we’re in trouble. But that takes us to the Allams’ refusal to assemble a proper squad…

7. Sheffield United in the League Cup tomorrow night; there is little imagination in such a draw, but we do have a history (and quite a long one) of some fair old ding-dongs at Bramall Lane. In this more sanitised age, it’s nice to think a match so far back in the chain of importance will still produce an atmosphere and a fine game of football.

8. And we follow that with a home game in the Championship against Blackburn Rovers, who are starting to respect themselves again after a few difficult years, and have a proven manager at this level in Tony Mowbray. A first league win should be more than doable against a side who were in League One last term and have started this campaign with a brace of draws, but there’s only one team evidently on the up in that fixture, and it ain’t us.

9. It’s hard to know if the Head of Marketing and Communication was being hopelessly naive or was wilfully antagonising supporters when they boldly proclaimed the business side of the Club had been ‘Hull City Tigers’ since 2001 on Twitter. We’re hoping it’s the former.

10.  They have overseen the reversal of the pointless ‘Hull Tigers Academy’ rebranding on Social Media after all, so hurrah for that.