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Things We Think We Think #262

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #261

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*SOAPBOX TIME*

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #260

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #259

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #258

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #257

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #256

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #255

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #253

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #252

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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