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Things We Think We Think #322

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1. Our minds continue to boggle at what’s happening. A season that seemed certain to feature a grim battle against relegation, whose ultimate outcome was unguessable, has transformed in the space of a few bewildering weeks to a play-off push that looks increasingly plausible. It may be the most stunning turnaround to a season…well, ever.

2. Saturday’s dismissal of Sheffield Wednesday was imperious. From the first minute to the last, City completely dominated. Wednesday’s goalkeeper Keiren Westwood timewasting as early as the fifth minute suggested they were concerned about the afternoon, and those fears were well-founded. Though the opening goal took nearly half the match to arrive, it was yet another peach from Jarrod Bowen, and it was a well-deserved end to an opening 45 that City had much the better of.

3. If the first half was City’s on points, the second was a series of emphatic knockdowns. Wednesday barely featured as an attacking force, becoming the second successive side to leave the Circle without registering a shot on target – a huge compliment to not only a defence that’s gone from porous to miserly, but a midfield that’s also gone from flimsy to all-conquering. 3-0 probably flattered our outclassed visitors, because this was a ruthlessly one-sided match thanks to a display that – dare we say it – closely resembled the sort that top six sides produce.

4. Jarrod Bowen. Surely only promotion is going to see him spend another Christmas in East Yorkshire, and that’s rather how it should be. He’s eviscerating Championship defences on a weekly basis, and deserves a chance to see how he fares in the top division. This transfer window may just be a trifle early to get his move, but a move is surely coming (barring City going up). Let’s enjoy him while we can, because his is a remarkable talent.

5. Kevin Stewart was the sponsors’ man-of-the-match on Saturday. Not an obvious choice perhaps, but that’s only because there was half a dozen strong contenders. It wasn’t exactly undeserved, because he laid a strong foundation in midfield throughout, denying the visitors any kind of toehold in the middle of the pitch. Who’d have thought we’d be in a position of not badly missing Jackson Irvine?

6. Villa next, a side who can’t have expected to find themselves below City at any point this season. There’s no knowing how long this run can continue for, because all good things have to come to an end; but the later it does end, the closer to the top six we’ll get. And if we win again, and go within a few points of the top six…what then? Just how far can City go? Can we really challenge for promotion – or will this amazing run be eventually remembered as a highly enjoyable mid-season spurt that banished relegation fears en route to  a satisfying midtable finish? It’s almost pointless guessing any more, because these are strange, heady days. But we’ll travel with confidence, and who knows…

7. How we’ve missed Club Statements from City! Last Thursday was not one of the genre’s vintage, but it did supply several hostages to fortune that can be revisited when the present transfer window closes next month. That said, the claim that sales aren’t likely was carefully worded – “no intention” is not the same as “will not”. And that still wouldn’t be unacceptable, at least not in normal circumstances. A bid of over £10m for either Bowen or Grosicki would test the best of owners, while a serious Premier League club coming in for Bowen would make it hard for City to stand in his way. The problem is that owners who routinely operate in bad faith will never be trusted on this sort of thing, however much wiggle room they provide in club statements.

8. No-one’s talking about takeovers any more, are they? That wasn’t always a bad thing during the due diligence stage, but with the issue disappearing from view it almost certainly means that the ghastliness of the Allam reign is to continue. And that is emphatically a Very Bad Thing. It cannot be anything else – owners who veer between malice and disinterest are never going to end up providing long-term success for the club and its community, and it would be deeply foolish to soften one’s view of their unpleasantness just because things are improving on the pitch. For that, the manager and team deserve untold credit – it is absolutely nothing to do with Ehab or Assem Allam, whose departures from the club we continue to long for.

9. Instead, Assem resurfaces and Ehab emits a garrulous statement, and it’s hard not to fear the very worst: that these appalling, unpleasant, divisive and spiteful owners are preparing themselves to stay. There’ll be repercussions; there’s been a recent ceasefire while takeovers were discussed, but any confirmation that they’re hanging around is certain to break that. Meanwhile, the club’s death spiral – and don’t for a second let a few wins disguise the slow-motion disaster that’s unfolding – will continue.

10. There’ll be podcasts aplenty this week – tonight’s will focus on City’s remarkable present, and tomorrow night, to mark our 200th edition, we’ll have a retrospective look back at the Great Escape season of 1998/99, without whose successful conclusion none of what followed may have been possible. There’ll be a very, very special guest joining us too…

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Things We Think We Think #321

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1. City couldn’t quite carry their incredible league form into the FA Cup, with defeat at Millwall condemning us to an instant exit from the tournament. It looked for a while as though a much-weakened City was going to prevail in south London, but it wasn’t to be.

2. It irks. It always irks when the side is hugely changed, unsurprisingly plays less coherently than the more settled Championship side and loses. City may not be alone in treating the FA Cup with ill-disguised contempt, and this isn’t a recent complaint, but it’ll never make a lot of sense – particularly given that our prospects of staying up are now are probably over 95%, so why not have a go of things in the FA Cup? How does losing help?

3. Grumble, moan, complain. We’ll probably make the same carping comments next year as well. At least defeat to Millwall wasn’t wholly without positives. Jon Toral played well, George Long looked a reasonable understudy to David Marshall and David Milinković’s appearance showed greater promise than his timekeeping. The latter has often been touted as the sort of player who could break open a tight game; by spring, as sides up and down the land are wearying from the Championship’s remorseless grind, you’d like to think a player of his ilk could play decisive cameos. We’ll see.

4. It was also nice to see Keane Lewis-Potter make his City debut. Regular stiffs-watchers foresee big things for a boy so young he’s barely older than the Circle, and it can only have been a proud moment for him and his family. Bag some more in the ressies, young man, and if all goes to plan there are bound to be a few Championship dead rubbers when the clocks go forward with your name on them…

5. The FA Cup draw is this evening, and having despaired of our previous tie, we’ll now look forward to Millwall getting <best possible tie imaginable at this stage of the tournament given who’s left in>. Bah. Anyway, by making the Third Round’s scheduling unprecedentedly ridiculous this year, it isn’t as if City are alone in not really caring about the Cup. The FA have done more to undermine the competition this season than the Premier League, Sky Sports, BT Sport and wussy managers put together. Dolts.

6. We return to Championship action on Saturday with the visit of Sheffield Wednesday. They lie below City in the table, offering what appears – on paper – an appetising opportunity to gather yet another three points. And with the Owls leaderless while they await the arrival of their new manager, one Stephen Roger Bruce, it isn’t easy knowing what mindset they’ll possess. Bruce will either be physically present, or at least closely watching his future charges from elsewhere, and they’ll all surely want to impress their future manager. However, they could feel in limbo while experiencing this odd and fairly unusual situation of knowing who their next boss is but waiting for him to take over. It won’t be a gimme, and any sense of complacency from City fans would be appallingly misplaced. But if City do rack up another win…

 7. So what now for City? The play-offs may feel tantalisingly close, but they remain seven places and seven points away. Not many teams in our immediate vicinity will be eyeing them with any more than wistful hope, and just because we’re recent arrivals to the midtable party doesn’t mean we ought to do any different. Sure, “there’s always one team” – hey, eleven years ago it was about to be us. We’re discounting nothing. But what about the club’s owners?

8. Imagine you’re an Allam. No seriously, imagine it; you can take a disinfecting bath later. Is the situation promising enough to make it worth a rare investment in the side? Are you minded to think that with just a million or two judiciously spent, you might – just might – receive a return on your investment dozens of times greater? Or does the current ultra-austerity remain? We don’t know what Ehab will be thinking. In fact, we aren’t sure that cogitation is really his thing at all. But assuming this higher-level brain function is available to him…is he sticking, or maybe just thinking about having a speculative little twist?

9. Having spent much of the season grouching, then begrudging, we’re enjoying the recent feting of Nigel Adkins. Why not – this turnaround is one of the most startling anyone can remember. City have won relegation battles before, but the way we’ve gone from desperate strugglers to midtable fancy-dans constitutes arguably the most stunningly unexpected transformation of our fortunes in a very long time. Adkins’ job is clearly secure for the remainder of the season, barring a cataclysm that even the vast cosmic force that is TypicalCity may not be capable of wreaking. And he’ll be starting the 2019/20 season with us as well. Capitalise on this, Mr Adkins: you probably have a period of grace in which to plan that isn’t often available to managers in the febrile Championship rat race…

10. There’ll be no AN podcast this evening, but back to normal next Monday. We’ve got a very special guest lined up for a future podcast as well, of which more soon…

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Things We Think We Think #320

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1. It wasn’t pretty to watch, and a -5 windchill rendered it a physically uncomfortable afternoon for the hardy souls in attendance, but there was a soul satisfyingly warm glow deep inside those fans filing away from the Circle after seeing City record a routine (for City anyway) victory that stretched the unbeaten run to four games and catapulted us to SEVENTEENTH in the Championship.

2. There wasn’t much finesse to Kamil Grosicki’s assist or to Fraizer Campbell’s bundled finish for the first goal, but the ball that precipitated those actions, an on the swivel, arcing pass into the path of the Polish winger by Markus ‘Superbus’ Henriksen, was a flash of loin-stirring sexball.

3. Fraizer Campbell was in the right place at the right time for his and City’s second goal too, slotting home after Brentford keeper Bentley could only parry Grosicki’s shot. With eight goals to his name this season, Campbell seems to have become a bonafide ‘fox in the box’.

4. It’s not unusual for a goalscorer to take the man of the match award, and Campbell netted twice, so we don’t begrudge him the block of vinyl or whatever it is that men of the matches get now, but Tommy Elphick’s performance was more deserving of recognition.

5. It is, at the moment, time to pause the praise-qualifiers on the job Nigel Adkins has done of late. City were very recently four points adrift of safety; we’re now five clear of the bottom three. That’s an incredible turnaround that we simply didn’t see happening. City are in a terrific run of form, one that’s transformed the season. We remain in obvious danger and there are sure to be bad spells later in the season that may imperil us, however recent weeks give us genuine cause to believe that it could be okay. Well done Nigel Adkins.

6. As City find some form, the gate figures are getting smaller. 10,530 represents the the lowest attendance for a league game at our current home, and we know that in reality the actual attendance was in four figures. The televised visit of Swansea offers the possibility of an even smaller number and it’s dispiriting stuff.

7. City have acknowledged the problem by announcing further discounts for match card holders, but the club still stubbornly refuse to re-introduce concessions despite criticism from the Premier League, the Independent Football Ombudsman, the Football Supporters Federation, and of course fans of Hull City. The membership scheme is an unmitigated failure and must follow the Allams into the dustbin of club history.

8. People have the right to lawfully express themselves how they like at a football match, and if people wished to boo Moses Odubajo on his return to Hull then so be it. Does he deserve it though? We’re not convinced. He wanted away? Well so did Kamil Grosicki on the last transfer deadline day, spending it in Turkey trying to secure a move, and yet some of those scolding Odubajo were in the next breath cheering Grosicki. Sure, we paid Odubajo’s wages while he was injured, but that’s merely fulfilling a contractual obligation, not doing someone who suffered an industrial injury a favour. Oh and if you’re going to shout the pejorative ‘greedy bastard’ at Odubajo, then it’s time to give up shouting the same thing at Fraizer Campbell in the pretence that it is hilariously ironic and somehow honorific.

9. All we want for Christmas is new owners, but it’s looking increasingly likely that we’ll still have the gruesome incumbents in place when the calendar says 2019. Ugh.

10. “Looking at alternative options” [to the Duffen fronted bid] was how the Hull Daily Mail described the Allams approach to leaving. One option that hasn’t been talked about much since it was first announced is the crypto-currency funded initiative backed by the Supporters Trust. Geoff Bielby of the HCST joins us on the broadcast-live Amber Nectar podcast this evening to tell us more about that approach and what unclassified information he has on the Duffen deal. We’re aiming for a 7pm start, you can watch live on Periscope via a Twitter link, or later on YouTube, with the audio only version available to download on Tuesday morning.

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Things We Think We Think #319

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1. Another away game, another addition to our points haul. The 2-2 draw at Millwall wasn’t as impressive as the previous weekend’s 3-2 win at QPR – not even close, really, either in terms of the outcome or the result. But it’s another point, gleaned in trying conditions to deny relegation rivals what would have been a painful victory. We have to be glad about that.

2. It all looked so promising early in the game. City started rapidly and took a deserved lead, and at that stage it looked as though another win in the capital was on the cards. It’s a real pity City didn’t score what could have been a decisive second during this period.

3. However, when Millwall levelled, we ended up hanging on for half-time, and the third quarter of the game was frankly awful. That Millwall didn’t make the game safe explains why they’re also in trouble, because they had ample opportunity to do so. City were probably as poor as at any time this season between the 46th and 70th minute, and the sheer extent to which we were second best was frightening.

4. Then an equaliser was burgled, and after that neither side really showed enough conviction to suggest they’d end up winning. Overall, City’s claim to deserve a point is a little optimistic, but we’re not too bothered about that. We got the draw, even if troublingly lengthy spells of the game saw us chasing shadows.

4a. Millwall playing music after their goals was quite something. It’s like discovering that Gripper Stebson used Roland’s stolen dinner money to buy a flower press.

5. What a valuable point it is. We’re now a useful three ahead of the bottom three, and that equaliser ensured that Millwall are kept at bay rather than overtaking us. 21 points from 21 games and 19th is probably about as good as this appallingly depleted squad can do at the moment; if we have a decent return over Christmas, it’s possible that we’ll start 2019 in a handy position to avoid relegation. And if the Allam nightmare is finally curtailed and some investment made in the squad…

6. Brandon Fleming made his first League start for City on Saturday, and it must have been a day to remember for the young man. Being outjumped for Millwall’s equaliser must have been a chastening moment, but he didn’t let that unduly unsettle him. He can be proud of his afternoon’s work, and can probably look forward to more first-team action this season.

7. What a deeply dispiriting FA Cup draw. While we always crave a tick ground, at least playing someone from a different division – be it lower or higher – makes for an interesting occasion. Having a second trip to Millwall inside a month is the direct opposite of good. We can’t even pretend it’s good from the standpoint of progressing in the tournament, as home advantage alone will ensure Millwall are favourites to make Round 4. Bah, bah and thrice bah.

8. Nigel Adkins made it to a year in charge through the week. It hasn’t been a year of limitless glory, but instead has seen one relegation battle (successful) segue inevitably into another (barely surviving). Not much of that is his fault, and City’s recent run of good form has helped to establish a sneaking regard for him. He isn’t what we want in the long term. However, he’s giving himself a chance of extending that spell. Par for this season is probably 21st, given the appalling handicap his bosses are inflicting upon him. That City have a good chance of making that is no mean feat. A begrudging tip of the cap.

9. There’s been a lot of conjecture about City’s attendances this season. It’s universally believed that we’ve already had a first ever sub-10,000 League gate at the Circle this season, though the club continue to publish figures that claim we are yet to dip below 11,420 this season. Well, courtesy of a Freedom of Information request to the local authorities, we’ve been passed an official attendance for this season.

10. On 20th October 2018, 9,837 attended City v Preston. A four-figure attendance. City preposterously claimed 12,066 that afternoon, an inflation of the true figure by some 22%. That’s consistent with last season, where the club routinely added a fifth to the true attendances. And that wasn’t even our lowest this season. 11,420 allegedly made it to City v Norwich. Except, they clearly didn’t. Take off a fifth, then perhaps a few hundred more because of the shocking weather, and we’re possibly into the 8,000s. We’re not far from the ground being one-third full. For second tier League matches. What a depressing state of affairs.

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Things We Think We Think #318

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1. The point against Norwich was both surprising and welcome. Just three days after an emphatic home defeat, the chances of anything good happening against the free-scoring lead leaders appeared remote. Yet with a performance of honest endeavour (and a bit of fortune arriving via an off-colour Norwich and the levelling effect of the shocking weather) City churned out a point that their efforts deserved. The quality was low, but we’ve come to expect that. So diminished are our hopes that simply grinding out a goalless draw at home constituted a good evening.

2. A good evening in particular was enjoyed by Kevin Stewart. His City career has been a huge disappointment, and his enduring underachievement has produced justified despair – certainly too much for one game to wipe away its memory. But, for one match alone, credit where it’s due: Stewart produced a flinty midfield performance, with jagged interventions that made life hard for his Norwich adversaries. He did little on the ball, but then again he (in common with his teammates) didn’t see it often. But he shored up a midfield that was comically lightweight three days earlier. More, please. A lot more.

3. The atmosphere against Norwich was a surreal one. Even allowing for their lofty league position, the visitors brought an impressive contingent, but they ended up being as subdued as their team. With surely fewer than 9,000 souls in attendance on the bleakest of late-autumn evenings, it left the occasion feeling like a tie in the early stages of the League Cup. Sure, as City’s prospects of gaining an unlikely point increased, a defiant throatiness began to develop as the previously cold, wet and fed-up City fans become more engaged in their side’s dogged effort. But the vast swathes of empty seats in a ground barely one-third full spoke loudest of all.

4. But hey, QPR! That wasn’t remotely anticipated. To travel to one of the division’s more on-form sides, snaffle three goals and three points – well, we’d be despairing if a relegation rival unexpectedly did that. For City to do it was deliciously surprising. And well-deserved too. City were an authentic attacking threat all afternoon, gamely survived something of a first-half onslaught when it became 2-1, controlled things nicely when it was 3-1 and didn’t panic (err, too much) when QPR pulled a late one back. Well done lads.

5. And yes, well done Nigel Adkins too. Four points from those two games is a superb return, probably three more than we could have realistically hoped for. With 11 points from 6 games, this is actually a legitimate run of form (even if the Forest match was so awful it’s rather tainted things). We don’t have the size or the squad to maintain this automatic promotion form, but the fact we’ve fleetingly achieved it is quite something. Adkins will probably never be our cup of Darjeeling, but if he gets brickbats when we’re 23rd, he needs acknowledgement when we aren’t.

6. Like astronauts peering through the windows of the International Space Station upon the turning globe below, we marvel at the dizzy heights of NINETEENTH place in the Championship. It’s a position that hardly felt likely after the Forest faux-pas, and we know that we are but two points from 23rd and could slip back into the relegation zone soon, but for now let us take time to acclimatise and gaze upwards: A win next week and defeats elsewhere could see us in 16th place. Stellar stuff!

7. What – if anything – are to make of the disparity between City’s home and away form? Over half of our points have now arrived on the road, and if only away points were counted City would be nestled nicely in 15th. However, only two sides have obtained fewer points at home, and only two other sides join us in having more points away than at home. It may be that the ghastly experience that is a Hull City home match in late-2018 is dragging the side down, and they’re happier on the road. Or it could just be a small statistical quirk that’ll correct itself.

8. Millwall next. Its importance is obvious from the League table. The losers of this will endure a blow that could easily endure until Christmas, while the winners will enter the festive period confident that the worst may be behind them. It won’t be easy – it never seems to be there – but we have to hope that we don’t return north empty-handed, especially as they’re struggling for form. That may be made easier for Saturday’s result, which has alleviated some of the (immediate) pressure. So we’ll travel in reasonable heart. Probably best not to expect a classic though.

9. Millwall is the first of four successive games against sides in the bottom half. Granted, Swansea and Brentford’s positions may be unexpectedly lowly, but it shows they aren’t the formidable opponents they may have been earlier in the season. While City are doing well, and with plenty of tough assignments left this season, it’s important we take plenty more points this month. It’d lift us a bit clear of the relegation zone and boost morale (as well as making the club more attractive to new signings in January), and we’ll need those points if (okay, when) things get sticky again.

10. The draw for Round 3 of the Football Association Challenge Cup takes place this evening, probably at the same time as the AN podcast will be going out live. Tune in to see our disappointment at drawing Wigan at home instead of Ground Tick FC away.

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Things We Think We Think #317

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1. After the encouragement offered before the international break, City provided a chastening reminder that we aren’t very good and are in serious relegation trouble on Saturday. There was nothing streaky about the 2-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest – we were comprehensively outplayed for pretty much the entire game.

2. It started badly and never really improved. Forest looked a cut above from the very beginning, while City looked wholly ill at ease and didn’t figure in the match at all. Perhaps it was a formation thing (more on that shortly), or a personnel thing, but whatever it was, the gulf in class between City and a side that isn’t even in the top six was dismaying.

3. There is a popular trope among some City fans to decry playing one up front as too defensive and lacking ambition while championing the classic 4-4-2 line-up. Saturday’s game probably won’t change their rigid tactical thinking, but it should. Playing two up front got us nowhere, it simply meant that whenever Forest had the ball (and they did for 61% of the game), 20% of City’s outfield players were not involved in play. Neither Fraizer Campbell or Chris Martin are as mobile as they once were, and they don’t have the engines to be behind the ball when we’re not in possession and ahead of it when we are.  One up front is not lacking in ambition, as five goals in the previous three games demonstrated.

4. Chris Martin, eh? He hasn’t impressed at all this season, but Saturday appeared to be a new low for a player whose loan spell with City is proving unsatisfactory for both player and club. He’s slow, has a ropey first touch and seems to have next to no understanding with any his teammates – particularly his notional strike partner Fraizer Campbell. None of this can be any fun for him, but it’s sure as hell not fun watching him a latter day Robbie Turner forlornly harrumphing his way through yet another non-scoring game.

5. Not that he’s alone. We’ll probably never understand what Kevin Stewart does, but even usually semi-reliable performers conspicuously failed to show up on Saturday. Marshall made a few good saves and was blameless with either goal – and that’s about it. Both full-backs looked uncomfortable all afternoon, Bowen was easily shackled, Campbell looked lost without any meaningful support while Grosicki – who did try to make things happen and was even spotted tracking back on occasion – failed to inspire. It was a sullen, miserable afternoon, typified by the grim scenes at the end as stadium was 99% empty by the time the final City player departed. Torrential rain was favoured over staying behind. Sad stuff.

6. It was better for the KCOM rafters hawk though, who again spent a City game skilfully de-feathering a pigeon (sending said feathers spinning onto fans in the North Stand) before feasting on entrails. Impressive stuff.

7. Though we remain a single victory from (perhaps) edging out of the bottom three, the Championship table continues to make bleak viewing. We remain on a points-per-game ratio low enough to probably send us down in May, and there’s little in upcoming games to take much comfort from either.

8. Norwich, tomorrow’s participants in what could be a record-breakingly low gate at the Circle, are in blistering form. The leaders have scored four goals in each of their last three games and won all of their last six. They obviously won’t retain that sort of form forever, and such glorious runs always do come to an end. It’d be a very courageous City fan who backs us being the ones to curtail it, however.

9. We’ve previously not been alarmed by takeover talk falling silent, but disquieting rumours have bubbled up in recent days suggesting that the deal’s in trouble. The reason is unknown, and the source of the rumours is unclear, but a low hum of concern is clearly audible.

10. This matters, because without a takeover and January investment, we’ll probably be a League One side next season. Some clarity would be very welcome.

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Things We Think We Think #316

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #315

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #314

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #312

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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