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Things We Think We Think #334

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1. It’s been a slightly doleful week in some ways. The funeral of City legend Peter Skipper at the shockingly young age of 61 cast a midweek shadow over the club and city, one that was certainly never going to be banished by an end of season dead rubber. Credit to City though, their matchday tribute to the ex-Tigers captain was fitting. RIP Skip. You entertained and inspired a huge number of your fellow Hull folk.

2. The launch event of Amber Nectar alumni Richard Gardham’s constitutive book ‘The Decade’ was a much needed infusion of ebullience however. What was vividly evident was the deep and authentic love that many people have for Hull City Association Football Club  For some it’s on hold, but undoubtedly still there, and it found joyous expression on Saturday night. City fans and ex-players were in violent agreement that the club will be ours again, and will rise again, after the parasitic infection currently ailing it is finally banished.

3. You don’t own a copy of The Decade? Buy it now!

4. Sunday’s season finale was more entertaining than was expected wasn’t it? City have a historical tendency to be quite accommodating to teams that need a result on the last day, but we bucked the trend and were easily the better side in a game against a team who started the game with play off aspirations. Some of the performances of young players gave us cause for hope that next season might not be the inevitable relegation battle that this season threatened to be for a while. George Long looked assured and quasi-commanding in nets, and Robbie McKenzie looked assured and composed in his preferred full back role.

5. We can’t truthfully say we mourn the failure to make the top six this season. Of course, it’d have been amazing, and there were a couple of times when our customary cynicism found itself wobbling. Ultimately, we didn’t challenge quite seriously enough, never actually made the top six and fell short with a lack of squad depth and real top-level quality. It never felt seriously on, even if it was fun to talk about. And naturally, that atrocious start was always going to hurt – it’s still quite an achievement that this weekend wasn’t spent in a torment of relegation-based anxiety. So, 13th constitutes a real success this season for Adkins and his players, and we salute them for it.

6. However, if we don’t regret a midtable finish, the end of 2018/19 is tinged with sadness for players we won’t see in black and amber again. Jarrod Bowen is destined for bigger and better things, and we wish him well (and hope that his eight-figure sale fee is reinvested into the club, rather than funnelled elsewhere). Fraizer Campbell enhanced his reputation during his second spell at the club, and will forever command a considerable mention in the Hull City story. He hopefully has another very good move left in his career, and let us hope that he remembers us as fondly as we will him.

7. Kamil Grosicki has been divisive for much of his time here, but his best form has undoubtedly been this season, a time when he’s also looked more integrated into the group than before. It’s possible he’ll stay, though clearly unlikely. This is the last chance City will have to get a couple of million pounds for him, and his wages wouldn’t sit comfortably with an ambitious Championship club, let alone Hull City. If/when he goes, his legacy will probably the subject of debate, because his application has been so erratic. At least he saved the best until last, and his talent is a rare one at this level. We’ll miss that, if nothing else.

7a. If his final notable contribution to Hull City’s cause is flicking the ear lobe of an opponent he felt wronged by, well that’s just serendipitously beautiful.

8. It looks as though we may soon be missing Nigel Adkins, too. When City were tussling with Ipswich for possession of 24th last autumn, there was no guarantee he’d survive 2018, and little chance that the following summer he’d have the upper hand in new contract negotiations with City. Yet here we are. Adkins is able to (partly) dictate terms and demand guarantees of investment, safe in the knowledge that his overachievement with City has rehabilitated his reputation. He no longer has so few career options that staying amid the slow-motion car-crash of City is his only route to employment. It’s a remarkable turnaround, and one we suspect Ehab Allam is yet to properly appreciate.

9. The EFL’s justification to us about their decision to highlight City’s “family excellence” was something to cherish. There’s the hugely patronising assertion that capering mascots, pre-match antics and concourse adornments are why families go to football – sometimes, it really is because of a shared love of football, the atmosphere, the occasion, rather than generically identikit McEntertainment. But even if we overlook that arrant nonsense, the idea that ANY quantity or quality of extracurricular gadding about is relevant if families can’t afford to get in because the owners refuse to offer concessions is ridiculous. The EFL is a seething nest of simpletons.

9a. And what happened to the announcement about “family” discounts anyway? In its presently degenerate condition, this is a club with a lengthy history of broken promises, so another one isn’t going to spoil the summer. But it’s a reminder that the club needs an extensive clean-out off the pitch.

10. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that for TWTWT in 2018/19. We’ll have a last match/end of season review podcast at 7pm tomorrow night; then pop back later in the week for a bit of news about the site and podcast. Thank you for being with us throughout another characteristically turbulent, eventful and sometimes even enjoyable season of Hull City AFC. Have a bloody brilliant summer…

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Things We Think We Think #333

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1. Four-fifths of the way through the 2-2 draw at Swansea, the most popular refrain among frustrated City fans was surely “on the beach”. City were labouring their way to a routine loss in South Wales – not an uncommon experience for those of a certain age – while the home side were enjoying a win that wouldn’t extend their season given results elsewhere, but was still a satisfactory cuffing of the English.

2. City did look as though they were slightly phoning it in, too. That isn’t to wholly detract from Swansea, who (as per the Sheff Utd debacle) were highlighting the difference between a side needing it and one not. They were pretty sharp, too much so for a City side that was oddly set up and seemed bewildered by Swansea’s inventive running and passing. But more needed doing to contend with a side we spent much of 2019 above in the table.

3. Then…we scored twice in perplexingly quick succession to burgle a draw. And hey, that’s great. The performance no longer really matters, because this side is going to be broken up, not built upon. It ended Swansea’s season, and while that doesn’t quite atone for either of the final day disgraces of 1998 or 2003, it isn’t a bad thing either. It meant a far chirpier trip home for those who’d made a long journey for a dead rubber. Having coughed up three 2-0 leads this year, it made a nice change to experience the reverse. And it gives us a chance of clinging on to a top half finish, which would still be a remarkable achievement.

4. So, well done City for nicking a point. Again, though Adkins’ tactic of pairing Bowen and Grosicki up front didn’t  work, it’s hard to think it matters now. One game to go. That’s Bristol City at home next Sunday – at lunchtime, for some ridiculous reason. They’ve choked their play-off bid quite heartbreakingly too. One point from their last four games has been an ill-timed collapse for the Robins, and if they don’t win at Millwall tomorrow night, they’ll be arriving here with nothing to play for. But if they do need something, they need only watch the tape of City v Sheff Utd for tips on how to overpower a City side with knack-all to play for…

5. Nigel Adkins is persisting with his ploy of prioritising players who’ll still be here next season. It’s been inconsistently applied – Kane and Campbell missed out on Saturday, but Bowen and Grosicki started. Though perhaps that’s just because we don’t have a normal-sized squad. Anyway, it means we’ve already seen the last of David Marshall in goal, and Kane himself – but will we get to bid farewell to Campbell, Bowen and Grosicki on Sunday? It’d be nice to think so, though Adkins must also be aware that the club’s policy of selling anyone any good is best protected by shielding them from potential injury in meaningless matches.

6. Bowen, clearly, only has a maximum of one City game left. The same probably applies to Grosicki, and certainly to Campbell. We’re just about sentimental enough to want to give Fraizer Campbell a good farewell. The modern Hull City AFC story owes much to him, and he’s only added to his reputation during his second spell at the club.

7. Meanwhile, the three of them have 43 goals League goals this season, a clear majority of those scored by City. All are going, none will be properly replaced. Anyone eyeing up Norwich’s midtable finish of 2017/18 and subsequent promotion this season and thinking we may do the same is badly deluded. We may well exit the Championship in 2019/20, but it won’t be via its upper reaches.

8. Meanwhile, the furore concerning the mishandling of the Sheff Utd game has rumbled on. The Supporters’ Trust has demanded answers, while we’ve submitted a Freedom of Information request to Humberside Police, seeking to ascertain their role. Filming City fans while ignoring Sheff Utd fans isn’t what a proper police force do, while the SMC and Hull City themselves have questions to answer. Not new questions, of course – whatever they actually say, it’s always been club practice to let away fans in the home ends, but the more it becames clear throughout football that you can easily buy tickets for home stands at the Circle, celebrate goals and the worst that’ll happen is that the stewards will accommodatingly assist you into the away end, or just let you enjoy your day where you already are, the more it’ll happen.

9. The EFL, taking time out from its ghastly approach to desperate affairs at Bolton, made us darkly laugh through the week. Hull City, it turns out, practice “Family Excellence”, and were feted for this last week. Family Excellence, eh? From a club that has the most explicitly anti-family policies in all of English football. No wonder the EFL’s reputation lies alongside that of the Allams in a particularly noxious gutter.

9a. City, at their most recent begrudging meeting with fans (except the Trust, natch) promised more details about a “family deal” that’s coming soon. Funny how we still haven’t heard a thing about it. Almost as if they’re waiting for the season to be over before announcing just how pathetically limited it’ll be – members-exclusive, South Stand Upper, available June-July only, that sort of thing.

10. We’ll be podcasting tomorrow, with our special guest Richard Gardham. He’ll be kindly joining us to talk about his (very popular and very large) book The Decade: ten years that transformed Hull City AFC, which you can buy here.

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Things We Think We Think #332

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1. The Wigan match superficially resembled its predecessor in many ways: trailing at the interval to ostensibly inferior opposition, only to emerge the victors. But the parallels are imprecise. City powered their way to an assured victory against Reading, but rather laboured to the same outcome against the Latics. But for a late winner from a set piece, we’d have left the game bewailing two points cheaply dropped, but not really able to contend that City had done enough to deserve the win.

2. As it was, the win was notched up, and while it was short on quality, it was at least full of character. Lots of sides in City’s position may have rolled over at half-time, the difficulty of the short-term situation and the implausibility of the longer-term goal of a top-six finish combining to produce an on-the-beach performance. Instead, despite a lack of fluency, City kept going. And still, somehow, entered the second week of April with the play-offs STILL a thing that couldn’t be entirely ruled out.

3. City v Wigan isn’t one to get the pulses racing, but in usual circumstances a crowd well in excess of 8,000 might still be reasonably expected given City’s recent home form. 18,000 would once have rocked up for this. Week by week, whatever Adkins and his admirable charges do, more and more people quietly say their goodbyes to supporting Hull City. And still the club do absolutely nothing about it.

4. Jordy de Wijs. There’s a player in there, and he’s excelled at time this season. That’s encouraging, but to see a hopeless miskick redolent of autumn’s dog days present Nick Powell with Wigan’s goal was disappointing. Consolation comes from the fact you can’t easily teach many of things he can do, but can instil greater concentration and the non-too-difficult practice of successfully kicking a football. More focus, fewer miskicks, and there’ll soon be a player good enough to cheaply sold on and inadequately replaced.

5. Because of that the result, Nigel Adkins was correct to say that City travelled to Middlesbrough with no pressure on them. That wasn’t mind games – that unbearably tedious and overhyped practice thankfully not widely seen in the Championship anyway – but just a statement of the obvious. Middlesbrough were expected to challenge for automatic promotion, and now find themselves hoping to snatch a play-off place, while City were expected to be knee-deep in the quagmire marked “relegation” by now. This shouldn’t have been a sixth-place six-pointer.

6. Sadly, all discussion of the play-offs must now take place in the past tense, for that match ended in a 1-0 win for Middlesbrough that keeps their hopes of sixth alive but irrevocably extinguishes ours. And what a disappointment it was as well. City didn’t get going at all in the first half, and their second half rally perhaps merited a point on the pattern of play but lacked conviction.

7. Middlesbrough has long been a graveyard for our dreams, and this dreary 1-0 defeat was no different. Five points adrift with four games left (five for some) means that it is, finally, irretrievably over. It’s a pity that our hopes for the unlikeliest of play-off qualifications couldn’t have survived into Easter, but then the two forbiddingly difficult fixtures we face over that period may ultimately have done for us anyway.

8. It was a fun ride though, and it’s hard to believe just what a season this has been. From a side that sat level with doomed Ipswich in the early part of the season, looking ill-equipped even for the top 21, City surged clear of the bottom three, then the places near it, then into the top half and now the top ten. This has been an impressive season of overachievement in spite of plunging attendances and off-field malevolence, and great credit goes to Nigel Adkins and his players. We live to fight another season in the second tier.

9. Last week saw the fifth anniversary both of the FA saying – for the first and most important time – No To Hull Tigers. The following day saw the fifth anniversary of Assem Allam promising to sell the club within 24 hours as a result. Now, time-keeping isn’t always easy; we’ve occasionally missed kick-off by thinking there was time for one more pint. But we’ve rarely been out by over 180,000%. It’s almost as though the man who brought us the imaginative claim that 98% of fans backed his name change idea routinely experiences difficulty with numbers. And knowing the difference between a fact and a non-fact.

10. Well done to the lads who marked the second anniversary by displaying an Allam Out flag at Allam Marine. They’ve been extraordinarily fortunate that City fans, so drained from the name-change fiasco, have let them off the hook for so long despite their practices. We wonder if that period of indulgence is coming to an end?

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Things We Think We Think #331

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1. Saturday was all quite enjoyable, wasn’t it? Providing you conveniently overlook the first half, of course. That isn’t easy to do; after a bright opening City didn’t respond at all to falling behind, and the game drifted from that point until the interval in a concerning fashion.

 2. Still, game of two halves and all that – and the second was impressive for City. As soon as Grosicki equalised, a win always felt possible, and in the end it was delivered in far more comfortable a fashion than we could have expected even at 3pm, let alone 4pm.

3. Kamil Grosicki eh? Perhaps the highest praise he could be offered is that he no longer divides opinion among City fans – we all think he’s playing brilliantly and worthy of inclusion in the side every week. His two goals were very well taken, for the second time in a week, and while his fellow winger Bowen had a rare quiet game, he alone was too much for Reading to handle in an exhilarating second half.

4. Marc Pugh is easy to admire. A lively attacking figure who pinched the decisive second goal, his willingness to always look forward is bracing and his late runs were a menace to the Royals all afternoon. Meanwhile, Fraizer Campbell’s standing ovation when going off late was well-earned for yet another tremendously combative and intelligent contribution, and his two assists for Grosicki were transformative. Just think what we could achieve with an attacking quartet of Campbell, Pugh, Grosicki and Bowen next season…oh.

5. Wigan on Wednesday, and another winnable home game that’ll hopefully have the same outcome. They looked for a while like they’d have a decent season, but Saturday’s creditable draw against Bristol City still leaves them perilously close to the bottom three. However, we’ve seen that they can be handy: their 2-1 defeat of City in September was a chastening, one-sided affair despite the oddly close scoreline. It’d be nice to get a home win to partially ease the still-sore memory of that grim evening on the wrong side of the Pennines.

6. After that, it gets hard. Seriously hard. Middlesbrough look like they’re going to blow their top six hopes, but by the time City travel there on Saturday there could still be enough time and enough points available for them to made a late recovery and nick sixth. Other than Stoke, the pre-season title favourites who now languish in the bottom half and perma-bottlers Derby (who at least had Cup fun), few would be more disappointed at not making the play-offs. They haven’t even missed out in style, grinding along at a goal-a-game under a particularly grisly form of Pulisball. Watch them beat us 6-0 now…

7. Then it’s West Bromwich Albion away, and Sheffield United at home. All of which makes getting six points from Reading and Wigan essential if the most improbable of dreams is to stay alive for another few days.

8. Another week, another reputational evisceration for Ehab Allam. This time it came from the Football Supporters’ Federation, the redoubtable body that was a fine friend to City fans during West Yorkshire Police’s infamous bubble and Assem Allam’s name change farce. So irked were they by the club’s incorrect assertion that the FSF somehow endorsed their vile ticketing policy that they felt obliged to correct them. The club’s own minutes of the meeting, at which this erroneous suggestion was made, hasn’t been altered (or an acknowledgement of their mistake made), so we can only assume the club doesn’t mind misrepresenting the FSF and isn’t concerned about misleading City fans.

9. Which, of course, rings entirely true based upon past experience. We feel for the fans who give up a lot of time to be given inaccurate statements that the club doesn’t feel the need to correct or acknowledge. But that’s all a part of dealing with the Allams. Not that it makes any difference anyway: if you still give them the benefit of the doubt, chances are that you either haven’t been paying attention or have to rely upon them for a job. If you don’t, this is just the latest in a very, very long list of reasons to abhor them.

10. Tomorrow marks five years since City fans were successful in repelling their spiteful name change idea, incidentally. They’ve caused untold damage in revenge; but we should still be very proud of one of the finest fans’ campaigns in English football history.

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Things We Think We Think #330

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1. City’s 2-0 win at Ipswich on Saturday may constitute the single most unTypicalCity thing ever. Away to a side destined for relegation with only three wins all season? Who among us didn’t expect a routine home win? However, City won comfortably themselves, and elevated themselves back into the top half

2. It was nice to see that awful run of form on the road come to an end. These may have been the calmest of waters in which to get the good ship Away Form back onto an even keel, but it still got done. Perhaps it wasn’t the most flamboyant performance, but City did keep a clean sheet and take a couple of chances. Just what decent sides do away from home really.

3. Both of Kamil Grosicki’s goals were enjoyable ones. The first, a rare left-footed effort that had the Pole beaming with self-deprecatory delight, the second a fine low finish on his favoured right. He was only a header away from the perfect hat-trick, but he’ll nonetheless reflect upon a handsome afternoon’s work.

4. City now have two home games in rapid succession: Reading next Saturday, and Wigan the following Wednesday. The 3-0 cuffing at Reading earlier in the season wasn’t quite the nadir of the season, but it wasn’t far off. City were wretched that day, looking every bit a side on the way to relegation. Porous defence, toothless up front, it was awful. And hey, we can’t claim that every problem has been fixed – but enough have been so that only of us is still in relegation bother. Reading haven’t looked up to much all season and it appears they’ll be looking over their shoulder for little while yet. This is one we’d be disappointed not to win.

5. In fact, many will expect six points from those two games, and not without justification. For all of City recent difficulties on the road, we’ve continued to look good at home, and the arrival of two weaker sides (even if both beat us earlier in the season) does look like a very good opportunity to secure a top half position.

6. And if we get six points – does that keep play-off hopes flickering? Perhaps it does. With seven games left, City need to win pretty much all of them, though six wins might sneak us in. Given that two of those games are trips to Middlesbrough and West Brom, it’s an extremely tall order. But the fact that this can still be discussed, albeit as a highly improbable outcome, in the month of April is remarkable.

7. It’s interesting that despite the domestic football season being close to its end, Keane Lewis-Potter and Adam Curry have both been sent out on loan – to Bradford Park Avenue and Alfreton respectively. That isn’t a vauntingly high level of football, but it should mean a few first team minutes for both. With the usual summer cull approaching, those minutes could prove useful next season.

8. Nigel Adkins has been offered a contract! And, err, conspicuously declined to confirm whether he’ll be signing it. Quite sensible too. He’s unlikely to trouble the list of top-earning managers in the Championship, but more importantly, he’s going to want to know just how meagre his resources will be for 2019/20. He seems to be enjoying things at City despite the headwinds his boss routinely provides, and he’s established an unlikely rapport with City fans. That he’s not jumped at the offer suggests it isn’t the foregone conclusion Ehab probably thought it was, and suggests that we may need yet another new manager next season.

9. City, Ehab Allam included, met a delegation of City fans on Wednesday night. The Hull City Supporters’ Trust, comfortably the largest and most representative organisation in existence, were again excluded, because the club is run by people with the maturity of toddlers. Their ongoing exclusion is ridiculous, contrary to government guidelines and in violation of the best practice suggested by multiple national fans’ bodies.

10. But we are we are. The meeting itself saw warm words aplenty in the aftermath, and we know ourselves prior to our own exclusion that the club can actually listen to concerns, even if it has no intention of acting upon them. It does seem that Ehab and Vicki Beercock have listened. But little in the subsequent minutes suggested that the owners have understood, or are prepared to act, as shown by the ongoing refusal to restore concessions next season. Nothing else – including a conditions-laden “family” ticket that’s been the source of much internal wrangling at the club this year – will suffice. Concessions. Nothing else is acceptable.

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Things We Think We Think #329

TWTWT1. There’s much speculation about Nigel Adkins being made to wait for a new contract from the characteristically inept Allams. But isn’t there a possibility that even if he is eventually offered one, he opts against staying? His public utterances thus far indicate a willingness to stay, but frustration is clearly mounting. He must know he’ll have a reduced budget to work with and a squad once again stripped of everyone saleable. The Allams set City up for a relegation battle this season, and it’s only because of the efforts of the manager and his players that we thrillingly pulled clear of it. But for a long time, that looked unlikely.

2. Next season will be worse. Bowen will be off to the Premier League, while Grosicki will once again want to leave. Fraizer Campbell is making dissatisfied noises about the club’s lack of interest in his retention, while David Marshall is out of contract. It’s clear that anyone of quality who may have the temerity to earn a wage commensurate with that ability is going. So we ask again: the Allams aren’t busting a gut to keep Adkins, or retain any of the tools he’ll need. Why would he even want to stay?

3. Let’s continue our thought experiment and suppose that Adkins does opt against staying. What then? There’s always, ALWAYS someone who’ll want the job, no matter how wretched the owners are and how unpromising the circumstances may be. But that isn’t a prospectus for attracting the brightest and the best. Adkins has proven us wrong when we thought he was something of a bargain basement appointment, and we hold our hands up to that. But next time we go manager shopping, it’s hard to imagine us getting anything close to his quality. It’ll be League two cast-offs, in charge of League one players. And that isn’t how you avoid bottom place. It’s almost as if the Allams’ primary concern is with driving the club into the ground, isn’t it?

4. Markus Henriksen sounds very much like a man weighing up his future options, doesn’t he? Let’s face it, Ligue 1 Bordeaux or preparing-for-a-relegation-battle-to-the-third-tier Hull City? It isn’t an impossibly tough choice to make, and the fact that City opted to extend his contract suggests the club know which way the captain is leaning. We’d certainly miss him if he went.

5. Ipswich at the weekend. They’ve won three times all season, lie an impossibly distant 13 points from safety and will be in League One next season. Even overhauling a stricken Bolton to finish in the top 23 looks a tall order for the Championship’s longest serving occupants. Do we need to brace ourselves for some world-class TypicalCity, or are we finally about to reverse this patch of poor form away from home? Hmm.

6. That leads us into two extremely winnable home matches, Reading then Wigan – 21st and 19th as we speak. They’ll both have plenty to play for, with the final relegation place still open to quite a few teams. At least it’s none of our concern any more.

7. The accounts are out! And they reveal that Allamhouse – City’s parent company owned by the Allams – has seen its profits fall markedly. That’s interesting, but not wholly unexpected. There were no major player sales, parachute payments are coming to an end and club policy is to deter supporters from attending games, so it isn’t a surprise that City’s contribution has fallen. It’ll only get worse. It was interesting to see the engineering division showing reduced turnover, however. Wonder what’s happening at Allam Marine?

8. Tomorrow is the first fans’ meeting with the club of the year, and the first in quite a long time. As usual, plenty of those with the ability to represent fans have been excluded, most notably the Hull City Supporters’ Trust. The club’s infantile approach towards the largest fans’ group is absolutely pathetic, and their attempts to spin this as somehow not their fault last week were pitiful. Until the club invites supporters and supporters’ groups who can genuinely collate concerns and feed back to the fanbase, everyone will rightly conclude that this is a pointless box-ticking exercise.

9. One side City seem certain to finish ahead of is Birmingham. They were deducted nine points last week for breaching new sustainability guidelines, which has taken from the fringes of the play-offs to the fringes of the relegation places – though in truth, they’ll probably do what they were always going to do, and stay in the division. There are also no future penalties – no transfer embargo, or fines, so they’ll start next season with a clean slate. So is that enough? Nine points sounds a lot, and many Championship clubs would suffer their loss considerably. But if you’re stuck in midtable with the season approaching its end, losing them is no big deal. It isn’t clear quite how Birmingham have been punished here.

10. No City at the weekend, so no podcast this evening. Back next Monday to review the Ipswich game.

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Things We Think We Think #328

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1. In many ways, Norwich was a lot of fun. A shot to nothing that ended up with City gamely contributing two of the night’s five goals (while never seriously looking like taking anything from the game), in a vibrant stadium that always looks grand under lights. Norwich is a good trip, and a narrow defeat didn’t harm our enjoyment of it.

2. The gulf between City and the very top of the league was pretty stark, however. Norwich looked a cut above City in every way, with their movement out wide mesmerising a City defence that never looked in control, while we were routinely overwhelmed in midfield. They were good, very good in fact – but there’s a lingering regret that in a game we only lost by a single goal that things weren’t made just a bit harder for Norwich.

3. Most galling was the feel of Carrow Road though. The stadium was fully and noisy, the home support was engaged and enthused and everything felt together. Of course, much of this is the consequence of being in the thick of a promotion battle. But lots of it isn’t. It was impossible not to contrast the upbeat, unified approach of the Norwich fans with ourselves on Saturday – those who aren’t boycotting sullenly trudging to a one-third full stadium that’s had the life and colour drained from it. Norwich are what we were, what we want to be once more, and what we will never be again without a change of ownership.

4. Even if we accept that the season’s probably over and we’re only playing a succession of dead rubbers until we can finally focus fully on an Ashes summer, it’s about time this dip in away form was sorted, because people are still going to spend lots of money following the team in the final few weeks. We’ve lost five in a row on the road, and while some of them were pretty stiff tasks, the fact we’ve only got close-ish in one is a worry. If those five games had yielded even one win, we’d have entered the QPR game knowing that a positive result could’ve seen City breach the top six. It’s all ifs and buts, however it’s definitely been a costly and frustrating sequence of results outside of East Yorkshire.

5. Messing up 2-0 leads is even more costly however. To do it once or twice over a whole season is exasperating, but to do it three times in three months is pretty remarkable. The 2-2 draw at Aston Villa is the most excusable, as City were away and Villa are a handy side. Doing it against Rotherham and QPR is rather less understandable.

6. Villa, incidentally, have quietly crept into the top six. We were ahead of them very recently; one team was always going to make a little run into serious play-off contention as the last six weeks of the season approached, and it’s frustrating that it isn’t us.

7. Jarrod Bowen is now on 21 goals, a truly exceptional return for a player who isn’t even an orthodox centre-forward. He’s up to 35 in two seasons, which has emphatically demonstrated that he isn’t a one-season wonder. His Hull City career surely only has a maximum of eight games left. We’d better enjoy him while we can, and hope that his summer move is a wise one that keeps him at the top-flight level he deserves for years to come.

8. An international break now beckons, followed up by three very winnable matches. It’d have been fun to have spent this interlude discussing what Nigel Adkins needs to tweak in order to make the play-offs, but that wasn’t to be. However, the plausible range of finishing positions for City this season is still quite wide, perhaps as many as eight. A top half finish would still represent an outstanding season.

9. The manager cut a thoroughly exasperated figure after the QPR match, and as the match report speculates, it may not all be down to tossing away another two goal lead. That a manager who’s considerably overperformed this season is entering the second half of March not knowing whether he’s even wanted for next season is totally unacceptable. If he walked away from City in protest at the shabby treatment he’s received, and will continue to receive, he’d probably find that his reputation has been restored enough to get a decent job offer in the summer. And who could blame him?

10. Our hearts hurt at the plight of North Ferriby United, forced out of existence on Friday after 85 proud years. Many City fans down the years will have spent enjoyable afternoons and evenings at Church Road, home of our nearest neighbours of note, and the annual playing of the Billy Bly Trophy was an enduring part of the late-summer ritual for so long. To see them fold is devastating, and however modest their support is and always was, a lot of people will be distraught. We wish their fans well in trying to create a footballing resurrection in North Ferriby, and note with foreboding the appalling consequences that terrible owners can have on a club.

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Things We Think We Think #327

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1. After the pretty wretched affair at Brentford, it was quite a relief to get back on track so quickly against Millwall. It certainly wasn’t a game that’ll live long in the memory. For the most part, it looked very much like a game between a side still recovering from a weekend pasting and one with every chance of slipping into a lower division. But as we’ve noted plenty of times before, this was a game we’d have lost in October, so a decent parcel of credit is owed to the manager and players for eking out a narrow win.

2. Happily, it proved to be the springboard for even better things. For if Millwall was tense and cagey, the 2-0 win over Birmingham was fluent and assured. City completely outplayed a side who remain above them in the table, creating numerous opportunities to score and restricting the visitors with ruthless efficiency.

3. Pugh’s a heck of a player. His impact is not quite Wilson-in-2018 yet, but he’s definitely making us tick better in midfield. It’s a shame his performance didn’t include the goal it deserved, but otherwise he was a joy to watch.

4. Then again, so were many of his team-mates. Henriksen’s transformation into an inspirational leader continues to astound and delight in roughly equal measure, Bowen is clearly playing his last dozen or so Championship games, Grosicki worked backwards as well as forwards (yes he did), even the much-maligned Chris Martin played solidly well as a target man. It didn’t match the gaudy heights of the 6-0 against Bolton or the epic magnificence of cuffing the Champions of Europe on their own patch, but it was a very satisfying afternoon of football.

5. What now for Nigel Adkins? It was striking that the North Stand sang his name as soon as the match began on Saturday, a loud show of support for the latest victim of Ehabbian contractual idiocy. However this season ends, it isn’t in the relegation that was possible, or even the relegation battle that seemed inevitable. He’s doing a brilliant job, and deserves better than the pathetic prevarication from his bosses.

5a. Just no-one mention the play-offs, yeah?

6. Tuesday night’s attendance against Millwall was officially 10,191. Which works out to around 8,500 when you deduct the customary 20% gate inflation. Except even that figure felt too high. Did even eight thousand souls make it to the Circle last Tuesday? It’s unlikely. The KCOM Stadium, which only a few years ago was the subject of genuine discussion about extension, now stands barely one-third full. One third. One fucking third.

6a. That’s led to some speculation that further stand closures are possible for next season. It already feels like a long time since the Upper West was needed, and with the ground less than half full even when that closed area is taken into account you can see why this would appeal to Ehab Allam. The thought of saving money by closing the ground and saving on stewards will obviously appeal to him, particularly with the added bonus of aggravating City fans. Because the simple answers – restore concessions, sell the club, etc – work only if you’re a man of reason.

7. Of course, that’s only speculation. But what’s becoming clear is that a slow-motion boycott of the club is underway. Boycotting home games until the repulsive Allam family go has long been advocated by many, though (we felt) prematurely. But what was once noisily called for is now de facto happening anyway. Membership cancellations continue to leak into the club, with anyone having acted last week avoiding summer payments. With those cancellations, the possibility of a series of dead rubbers ahead and ongoing distaste at putting money into their pockets, gates will continue falling. The boycott is already happening, and it’s gathering pace.

8. Really, what else can an agonised fanbase such as ours do? Protests haven’t worked – in truth, they could have been better, but when the owners don’t show and don’t care anyway, even a 1990s style insurrection may not have mattered. As we’ve seen from Blackpool recently, this sort of battle can be won, but starving them out may be the only route to success. That isn’t to say you’re wrong to still go to City (we do), but increasingly a wholesale desertion of home matches is going to happen. Who knows, perhaps that’s best?

9. And yes, that isn’t fair on Nigel Adkins and his team, who’ve overachieved admirably this season. But as Adkins himself knows, his employers are an utter disgrace and need flushing from this club as quickly as possible – because the challenge of rebuilding this club from the Allam arson is going to be a long, arduous one; and like every long, difficult chore, it’s best started sooner rather than later.

10. One last time: our condolences to the friends and family of ex-Tiger Bobby Doyle, who passed away last week. If you haven’t yet read our tribute to the elegant Scot, it’s here. RIP Bobby.

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Things We Think We Think #326

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1. That really is that. Let’s not mention the play-offs again this season, and pretend that we never did in the first place.

2. Brentford was chastening. An early lead collapsing into a 5-1 defeat was redolent of the autumn’s dark days, not the bright promise of midwinter. Sad to say, City were awful, and gave this one up long before the end – all the more galling considering that Brentford barely featured in the opening quarter of the game.

3. What’s happened to City away from home? Three defeats in a row, shipping ten goals and not really featuring in any of those games. It’s been such a disappointment after the glittering form of December and January, and a real pity to see things go backwards so rapidly.

4. Pretty much no-one emerged with any credit, with the possible exception of the tireless Fraizer Campbell. You could lengthily dissect this shambles – as the match report starkly did – but suffice it to say, Nigel Adkins needs to give deeper thought to his midfield selections, and his side need to remember that even though the season’s ultimate outcome (a lower-midtable finish) is in no real doubt, people are still paying good money to watch them.

5. Wasn’t the terrace at Brenford great though? We make no apologies for being shameless nostalgics: proper standing terraces are just so much better than all other ways of watching football. Safe Standing is an idea whose time has come, and perhaps one day it’ll make a very welcome appearance at the Circle – but we still like old fashioned terraces, and mourn their increasing scarcity.

6. This being the Championship, there’s no time to rest. Two home games quickly follow Brentford, with the visit of Millwall tomorrow. It’d be understandable if they’re already dreaming of FA Cup glory, with a winnable quarter final awaiting them next month. However, despite their impressive win at Derby five days ago they’re only four points above the relegation zone, so they’d be unwise to neglect League duties in the meantime.

7. Millwall’s proximity to danger underlines the opportunity tomorrow: a side that the table suggests are weaker, with the potential for a wandering mind or two. Pre-Brentford, we’d have been moderately confident about this one; now, on the back of a 5-1 kicking and with our disappointing Cup exit at their hands fresh in the memory, we’re rather less so now.

8. Then it’s Birmingham on Saturday. A side whose play-off aspirations lasted longer than ours, they’ll rightly target a match against opposition who may already have little to play for. But we can rightly hope to bloody a contender’s nose. We shared six goals earlier this season, and given that both sides will probably attack from the off, we’re optimistic for goals.

9. Will the “official” – by which we mean wholly dishonest – attendance for either game drop below 10,000?

10. Holidays for some of the team this week, so no podcast tonight. Back next Monday with much to discuss…

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Things We Think We Think #325

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1. If you were inclined to believe that City had a chance of the play-offs, well done on your indefatigable optimism. But it’s surely gone now; the draw at home to Rotherham – both the result itself and its nature – must have quelled all hope. Teams with authentic top six aspirations don’t really fail to win when 2-0 up and cruising against a side as weak as Rotherham.

2. It all felt so cheaply handed over. City were fizzing with invention in the first half, and deservedly led 2-0 at the break. Perhaps it was premature to expect too many more goals, but the minimum expectation had to be a win. To manage neither was galling. And hey, we can’t get too angry with anyone about it. It’s February, and we may already have enough points to stay up. We’d have been happy to get enough points for survival in May. So the season has already exceeded expectations. But it’d have been nice to capture a win that would have kept us in the top ten.

3. But never mind. It’s been really rather amazing just to get into a situation where discussing the play-offs was a thing. What would be nice now would be for the season to still finish well. A top half finish would be brilliant, a serious success for Nigel Adkins given the sabotage he has to contend with from above. Letting things peter out into (say) 18th would be a shame.

4. On a brighter note, one of the best away trips of the season is approaching: Brentford away. A traditional old ground liberally adorned with friendly public houses and best of all, a terrace. An actual proper terrace. It’s the only one left in the Championship, and it only has another season and a bit of use. Perhaps one day we’ll stand on a proper terrace for the very last time, and we probably won’t even know. Chances are it won’t be this Saturday, as City and Brentford will probably both be in the 2019/20 Championship. But there aren’t many occasions left. Let’s enjoy it while we can.

5. Let’s also sort things out away from home. City have lost a little sloppily in their last two trips out of Hull, shipping five goals and scoring none. Brentford, below City in the table, represent a good opportunity to do something about it. Come on City, give us a goal or two to celebrate on that terrace.

6. A weekend without City always leads to thoughts upon the longer term. Nigel Adkins, together with much of his squad, are out of contract in the summer, and as usual the club’s policy is to do absolutely nothing about any of this.

7. Adkins first. His first season with City saw us stay up, which was the likeliest outcome, but nowhere certain enough for comfort. He met expectations. His second sees City improbably in the top half at the same time as the snowdrops are open, which is quite startling. He clearly deserves to be here for 2019/20, and to be given the opportunity to continue the gradual improvement he’s overseen since joining. That his own future is unclear is simply unacceptable.

8. Plenty of his first team, including plenty who’d be hard to replace, are also out of contract. And nothing’s been done. In this respect, propelling a hotch-potch group of loanees, free transfers and the previously unheralded into the top half makes Adkins a victim of his own success: Ehab Allam, not a man whose time in the football industry has seen him absorb any knowledge of it, will probably think that he can continue to chip away at the quality of the team and the depth of the squad with no ill-effects. He’s wrong. As usual.

9. If the season really is over, with neither relegation or promotion realistic for the final two months, we’re going to see some horrendously low crowds very soon. The cancellation period for membership is two months; if you’re a member, then cancelling now gets you off the hook for the final few dead-rubbery weeks of the season and the whole of the summer – frankly, there’s little reason to not do that. And with precious incentive on the pitch for matchday sales coupled with the retributive policy of removing concessions, it’s inevitable that the club will have to (not) announce a sub-10,000 gate before May.

10. That doesn’t mean anything will happen. Part of being an Allam is cocooning oneself from the real world and refusing to listen to people who know better than you. Crowds could dip into the hundreds and it’d make little difference. However, plenty of their employees at the club are aghast at what’s going on, from the office staff to the players and management. Gradually, distressingly, all of the hard work done between about 2002 to 2015 is being undone. Work that took a decade and more, that united the city of Hull behind its primary sporting institution, that rid our streets and our schools of other towns’ clubs’ shirts, is being destroyed. And this time, we won’t even have the prospect of a couple of promotions back to our natural second tier level or a shiny new stadium to spur a revival. All because of one bitter old man, and his thoughtlessly malevolent son.