Things We Think We Think #49

1. Phil Brown told Radio 5 Live that he’d love to come back to Hull City but has not yet been approached. This had some Tiger Nationals squealing with delight, but would a return really be wise? He’ll always be the man who took us to Wembley and the Premier League, but the tail end of his reign was a mess, he seemed more interested in boozing, boosting his own profile and attending horse races than putting right wrongs on the pitch. Let the past stay the past.

2. Of course Phil Brown hasn’t yet been approached, the manager’s position isn’t vacant. Speculation about the next manager, when the current manager’s fate hasn’t been resolved almost a week after his startling suspension, just adds to the conviction that this is a sorry mess that could and should have been avoided.

3. Though the Allams have said money was available in the January transfer window, they’ve been relatively vague about what money is there to spend in the summer. Received wisdom is that summer is the time to do your main spending and that the winter window is for the desperate, when fees get inflated to take advantage of that desperation, but apparently our owners think differently. This reinforces the perception that they have little understanding of the game and that knowledge of what works in marine engineering isn’t particularly transferable to nuanced world of professional sport.

4. Reading [City]* passholders proclaiming vehemently on messageboards that they won’t renew this year is quite saddening.

5. We know that pass prices are going up, but we still don’t know when fans will actually get to pay for a season ticket. Given the constantly stated mantra of running the club on sound business principles, stating that the club doesn’t really need the money now seems a little strange, given that there is no other money coming into the club in the close-season.

6. Speaking of strange statements; “Who puts £50M in and then scrimps and saves on £30,000 to £40,000 a week to get you promotion?” That seemed out of kilter on Wednesday and it still does now, it is contrary to every noise the club has made about money in the last year.

7. The idea that a £17M wage bill should equate to a top 6 finish wilfully ignores that a significant chunk of that amount is Premier League legacy wages. Daily Mirror football journalist James Nursey said that Barmby was told not to pick Olofinjana, McShane, Simpson* and Harper* as the club didn’t want to activate pay-rise clauses. League position expectations should be reassessed with those player’s wages not counting if they’re not available for selection.  (*these two, obviously, aren’t on Premier League era wages)

8. The BBC’s Late Kick Off show tweeted that the Allams have said they won’t go before the cameras for an interview. That comes as little surprise, interviews with the Hull Daily Mail can be conducted with a press officer on hand to deflect tricky questions, respond to others with a pre-established soundbite and generally vet what gets published, whereas in a televised interview Assem Allam could to go off on an ill-advised tangent that once recorded, stays recorded.

9. Sheffield Wednesday’s promotion is welcome, giving us another local derby next season. It’s a shame Nick Barmby is no longer playing as he always has a blinder at Hillsborough.

10. We’ve been critical of Radio Humberside and Hull Daily Mail correspondents in the past, but we’ve no complaints about their current incumbents. Dave Burns and Phil Buckingham have done an exceptional job keeping fans informed during #Barmbygeddon, enduring unwarranted flak from people who blame the messenger when the message is gloomy. Good work sirs.

*Edit.

Things We Think We Think #48

1. The Allams alleviating the club’s debt concerns when they bought Hull City was an act for which they deserve, and have received total gratitude. However, they should still be judged on how they run the club over the duration of their ownership rather than just on the initial purchase. David Lloyd, you’ll remember, saved the club when he bought it from Christopher Needler, but he’s remembered for what came later, the naiveté, the petulance, the rash decision making.

The respective amounts paid by Lloyd and the Allams to clear inherited debts differ massively of course, £51m is a huge sum. Nonetheless, goodwill accrued from a benevolent act can dissipate rapidly when subsequent acts are damaging to the club. The events that have led to the departures of manager Nick Barmby and director of football Adam Pearson, two men whose work has improved the lot of Hull City to an unquantifiable degree, are to say the least, damaging to the club.

2. We understand, and support, the Allams’ stance that the club must be run on a secure financial footing, but the club still has to compete. That doesn’t mean you have to spend millions, before he left (and scuttlebutt is he couldn’t work with the Allams and felt the club wasn’t run as a club should be) Nigel Pearson put together a motivated, talented side that fell just short of play off contention for £NotMuch.

3. The Allams stated publicly that there would be money to spend in January, it wasn’t and at the time Barmby went along with that. Recently though he has spoken openly about his ambition and desire to strengthen the squad with a barely hidden sourness that implies a burgeoning disillusionment with what he has/had to work with, having secured assurances before taking the job that appear to not have been fulfilled.

If you don’t want to spend money, don’t make grand, playing-to-the-gallery statements that you will. Don’t expect the man you have effectively lied to in public, a man who ended his playing career to commit to a job at your behest, to not show his discontent, and don’t then shit all over a bona fide local hero who everyone knows loves the club out of childlike toys-out-of-pram petulance. That £51m worth of goodwill? A lot of it was pissed away in one crazy day.

4. The Allams immediate, make that initial response to the suspension of Barmby and departure of Pearson was to say that the club must be run on sound business principles, as if Barmby’s requests for players somehow went against that policy. In today’s HDM interview they say they offered to pay £40,000 a week to a striker and that Nick Barmby and Adam Pearson said thanks but no thanks, that’s too expensive and would cause dressing room unrest. That shows Barmby and Pearson have/had no problem whatsoever with the club being run on sound business principles, and that they had the club’s financial health very much in mind. The club don’t need to be paying that kind of money to one player, and shouldn’t, so why is our owner saying he is fine with that while saying the club must be run without waste. The two statements are incompatible, and the ‘we’d pay £40,000 a week’ line isn’t believable.

5.  If you want to appoint a manager who doesn’t complain if he’s given nothing to work with, Billy Davies is not that man.

6. Some people castigated the local Council, but they were absolutely correct to rebuff the Allams when they tried to get the KC Stadium for gratis or near to it. Their ‘gift’ to the city, a sports complex paid for by borrowing on the stadium, would have been a threat to Hull City’s home had the Council been bullied into giving it up, thankfully they stood up to the Allams and stood firm. Incredibly some people suggested City should move to Melton to spite the Council, these people are utter cretins. Speaking of Melton, does anybody still seriously believe that the Allams were serious about funding a stadium if they didn’t get their way and the KC?

7. No ifs and buts, Robert Koren is absolutely irreplaceable – as are quite a few of City’s others players. One thing the Allams have delivered upon, so far, is a refusal to countenance selling our best players. For Assam and Ehab the road back to public acclaim is lengthy, but maintaining this stance would be a useful first step.

8. However, two steps backwards will be made if season tickets really are to rise 10%-15%, as today’s Hull Daily Mail suggests. The club has already erred badly with the lateness of renewal forms being issued – plenty will have spent their money elsewhere, while the débâcle earlier in the week will have persuaded many more to join them. It’s hard not to envisage a serious fall in season ticket sales if existing mistakes are compounded by a price rise.

9. We’d stop a long way short of suggesting the Allam family are not fit to run City, as others have. They’ve made mistakes – bad, preventable mistakes, then made things worse with contradictory and ill-judged communications to a bewildered Tiger Nation. However, this week’s events leaves them needing to demonstrate their suitability to own our football club. Their success in business demonstrates they’re no fools, but running a Championship football club on which the hopes of an entire city rest requires a different skillset – perhaps acknowledging that fact and spending the summer listening and learning would a good start. If only they had someone like Adam Pearson from whom to learn…

10. It’s not entirely relevant here, but worth noting anyway – Paul Duffen’s crowing on Twitter is quite revealing, and perhaps not in the way he intended it.

Things We Think We Think #47

1. Eighth place is a very respectable finish for City, and one we should be proud of. With an unwanted change of manager in November, a young side, no money to spend and an untried replacement boss, lesser outfits would have folded. Not City: to stay in the play-off race until the very end of the season speaks volumes for the determination of team and management, and we salute them.

2. The defeat at West Ham will have been a valuable learning exercise. Rarely will we come up against such a physically strong side playing such ugly football, but its effectiveness was undeniable and a couple of City’s side let themselves be bullied a bit in the first half. Standing up to such agricultural football isn’t always easy, but it is important.

3. Nonetheless, it was a fairly enjoyable outing. The atmosphere is always better when everyone is stood, and Upton Park is one of those grounds where this always seems to happen. Even a defeat, an early kick-off and the grimness of East London didn’t prevent a fine send-off to the season and rightful appreciation of the players’ efforts.

4. Vito Mannone and Richard Garcia were given the ovation their unceasing application merited at full-time – sadly it seems likely we won’t see either next season. There was a definite note of farewell at the end.

5. It’s none of our direct business, but West Ham look a good bet for the play-offs. Their football may be next to unwatchable, but they’re on form, scoring goals and do have genuine Premier League class in several areas. Allardyce is a tedious clown, but he does get results for his sides and they’ll be rightful favourites. It’s irritating to see Ricardo Vaz Te look like a useful footballer, considering how spectacularly abysmal he was during his brief loan spell with the Tigers five seasons ago.

6. Once Carlton Cole went off, mercifully early in the match, Liam Cooper was able to defend a bit more freely and confidently. It’s a pity for Cooper especially that the season has ended as he was starting to get into a comfortable routine. Cole is a Premier League attacker in the Championship and most weeks a fit and confident Cooper, given a mandate by his manager, should be fine at this level. The manager may well look for another centre back in the summer, especially as Jack Hobbs is out until October at the earliest, but Cooper should feel pleased with himself.

7. Talking of centre backs who should be pleased with themselves, congratulations to James Chester, who has topped the Amber Nectar player ratings for the season with an average of precisely 7 for the campaign. We’ll list, explain and analyse the ratings in full in the next couple of days.

8. It’s a long time until football restarts – August 18th is the scheduled start of the 2012/13 Championship season, owing to the Olympics. That’ll be our latest start since 1990, and with next season’s play-off final dates already published and looking similar to this, means a season being compressed by two weeks. So, more midweek games to look forward to. Lovely…

9. Bransholme’s Number One has retired after a 22 year career. Good luck Willo.

10. This tweet from the HDM’s Phil Buckingham amused: “owner Assem Allam worth £417m according to ST Rich List, up by £130m in the last year. Nick Barmby makes note ahead of meetings.”

Things We Think We Think #46

1: Seventh, eighth or ninth is where City will end the season. Considering the youth of the squad, the managerial upheaval, the general unpredictability of the divisions and the strain of Mad March, this is pretty satisfying.

2: And yet, and yet, and yet… the goalless draws that should have been wins, the defeats snatched from the jaws of victory, the profligacy in front of goal… if we’re not careful, it will still feel principally like a season of regrets.

3: The Forest game wasn’t up to much but nevertheless it was good to see City have the appetite to go on and win it, and there’s little to be sniffed at in winning the final three home matches of the campaign. Matt Fryatt’s hat-trick against Barnsley in the previous victory was, meanwhile, a timely reminder that we do have a very good goalscorer at this level. If City let him go because of his familial issues, then he will be very, very hard to replace.

4: Richard Garcia has tweeted that he has “possibly” played his last game at the KC. The use of that word might just be an act of typical conscientiousness from a player not wanting to let any cats out of the bag until the club officially announces its retained list, but if the alternative is true – ie, the decision on Garcia’s future has yet to be made – then one hopes the Aussie’s form and attitude in recent weeks has shown the paymasters that he’s more than worth keeping.

5: If West Ham beat Leicester tonight, then City’s finale at Upton Park next week becomes an “active” game. It’d be fantastic to be the club that prevents the execrable, ludicrously indulged Hammers from getting automatic promotion – and pretty much everybody, including West Ham fans themselves, know they are likely to flunk the play-offs.

6: Paul Anderson, formerly a youth of this parish, was barely noticeable for Forest yesterday. Wonder if his dad is regretting his insistence that City let his lad go to Liverpool, whereupon his devlopment promptly stalled?

7: The decision to host the Player of the Year awards on the pitch at full-time on Saturday wasn’t a bad one, but it needed doing more promptly. A thirty minute wait for the players to re-emerge was just a bit long.

8: Robert Koren is a deserving winner of the Player of the Season award. We’d argue that James Chester has been 2011/12’s star performer, but Koren’s worth is so much more than simply conducting his own personal goal of the season contest – rarely can a City player have looked so serenely assured in possession, so skilful with the weighting of his passing and more visionary in what he sees before anyone else. It’s a pleasure to be able to watch him doing his thing for the Tigers, and we desperately hope he’s here next season.

9: Come on City, let’s do a pre-season tour somewhere interesting in the summer. Norway, for instance.

10: Where the bloody hell are the season ticket renewal forms?

Things We Think We Think #45

1. So, 2011/12 is effectively over. It’s a shame we didn’t take it to the final week, or at least something near to it – to fall from the play-offs places in January to the season having three meaningless fixtures at the end is a pretty stark illustration of our fall from contention.

2. The draw at Watford summed the season up perfectly – so much good stuff undone by all-too-familiar failings in the final third. It’s doubtful that any side in the division has played better football than City, but equally true to say that few sides can have had a worse possession to goals ratio.

3. We all know what the problems are, but they probably need money to be solved. Mr Allam has suggested there won’t be much available; Nick Barmby has rather unsubtly appealed in public for it anyway. We’d rather the owner and the manager conducted their discussions about summer  spending in private, for the risk of an unedifying public quarrel benefits no-one.

4. Although he played no part in City’s rise or subsequent fall in 2012, it was something of a relief to see Péter Gulácsi depart East Yorkshire in order to sit on a bench at Wembley for an afternoon. Perhaps Nigel Pearson’s worst signing, his continued presence in kit and gloves represented a minor worry for where we would end up should Vito Mannone pick up an injury. That display at Leeds and (what became) his last act for the Tigers in conceding a ludicrously soft goal at Burnley will be the long-term images we recall of his time at the Circle, and they’re not ever going to be pleasant.

5. On a similar tack, what must it be like to be Mark Oxley? He could be our most enigmatic player ever; he’s been at the club for almost four years, he’s approaching 22 and still he has yet to play a senior game for the Tigers. Stats don’t keep tabs on non-playing sub appearances – and Matt Duke and Nicky Featherstone probably have the monopoly on those for many a year to come – but even so the young keeper must be wondering if he’ll ever be a professional footballer in any way other than technically. He’s now on the bench, possibly for the remainder of the season, and he’s one kick on an Italian shin or a foul on a striker away from getting his go. He must feel he can almost touch his debut.

6. Along with the boys at CI, we carried the results of the Safe Standing survey last week. The results were better than we dared hope – 100% in favour of its introduction at the Circle represents an overwhelming mandate. We hope the club is paying attention to this. While it’s unlikely to represent a magic bullet for the lousy atmosphere at home games, it’d be a huge step in the right direction, as well as improving matchdays for both frustrated would-be standers and view-obstructed sitters.

7. The club has opened the voting for this year’s Player Of The Year award and have sensibly provided a non-negotiable shortlist of 11, preventing a potential sabotage campaign to give Kamel Ghilas the award. If you’re unsure of who to vote for and need a mature, well-adjusted guide to the quality of individuals in the squad, then humbly we suggest the Amber Nectar ratings may assist you (though interestingly, one of our current top five hasn’t made the club’s shortlist at all).

You can also vote for Goal of the Season, for which the nominees number just five. All fine goals, but it simply has to be the fifth of the options on offer. But don’t let us influence you in any way. Really, don’t.

8. How City will react on Tuesday to the end of our season is anyone’s guess. Demob happy and a thrashing of lowly but unthreatened opposition is our preferred option, and perfectly plausible too – City tend to do well at home to Barnsley and we’re miles better than them, which helps. Nick Barmby’s post-Watford comments about insisting upon high standards at the end of the season sounded a little more forceful than merely saying the right thing for appearance’s sake. It’d be a terrible pity to put at risk a top-half finish.

9. Whatever does happen on Tuesday, we can look forward to one thing: whoever pens the match report for Barnsley’s official website will spend much of it whining about Paul Tierney, who’ll be our referee. They have form for chip-on-their-shoulder paranoia about referees against City – here’s one enjoyable example from a recent Barnsley/City game, while one was so absurdly deranged it got Barnsley into trouble and was removed from their website – let’s hope Barnsley haven’t spoiled the fun by appointing an adult to do them.

10. Apropos of South Yorkshire clubs, cheerio Doncaster. You won’t be missed.

Things We Think We Think #44

1. What a corking game against Middlesbrough, and what a relief to see City win a game again. To come from a goal down against dangerous (if considerably off-form) opponents when our own run of zero in 15 was evidently haunting everyone associated with the club was absolutely terrific.

2. We heard stories of season ticket holders not attending on Monday. What a shame, but their loss.

3. The two Easter games have been pivotal for Nick Barmby. Hurt and vengeful after the catastrophe at Millwall, he put his own future into question by using the word “whoever” when talking about the manager’s role in the near future, while also laying into his players rather than choosing the glare of publicity to defend them. Buoyed and galvanised by his own bravado, Barmby promptly rung the changes in both personnel and tactics for Middlesbrough and was handsomely rewarded. That’s the Barmby we want.

4. The “whoever” moment might have just been Barmby letting off steam after a wretched afternoon, but if not, then clearly there are still issues to be resolved by both club and gaffer over whether he will stay and under what circumstances. Perhaps the improvement against Middlesbrough will offer Barmby some hope that he can make this work; the remaining four games will undoubtedly tell him – and us – a lot more.

5. Seeing James Chester and Robert Koren back in the team, a week ahead of schedule, was most gratifying. Koren’s fitness was clearly being risked judging by his pedestrian-esque status in the second half against Boro, but his influence was huge just by dint of being there. Chester, despite his own occasional lack of sharpness, was not only crucial by himself but also as a guiding hand for Liam Cooper, whose performance in the second half was very good.

6. Richard Garcia is a fine wide midfielder but not more than an adequate emergency right back, yet there’s something comforting about seeing him on the pitch again, even out of position, especially as a major issue surrounding City’s recent woes was with the attitude of individual players. Whatever verbal slurry some dense individuals choose to throw at Garcia, they could never argue about his dedication to the cause.

7. With Paul McKenna suspended against Middlesbrough, Tom Cairney needed to raise his game, and he did. For all his slick, patient passing, he can be an onlooker when we don’t have the ball. That charge couldn’t be levelled at him on Monday, he was excellent.

8. Football, combined with arithmetic, is a sod. We’re probably going to end up nowhere near the play-offs but the gap between us and sixth, combined with 12 juicy points still up for grabs, means that we have to remain hopeful, just in case, as it’s the human thing to do. Bah.

9. “You are receiving this e-mail because you have previously submitted your e-mail address to Hull FC.” Err, no, we didn’t. We wonder how many City fans took up the offer of a free sausage sandwich and Derbygeddon after receiving an email about it.

10. One of the silliest rumours we’ve heard in a while suggests the Allams are planning to do away with season tickets. That has to be codswallop.  Who starts these things?

Things We Think We Think #43

1. The collapse of City’s season is as unexpected as it’s been sudden. Four games ago the play-offs were still very much on, now even a top half finish is touch and go. It’s a great shame to see a season that’s produced some fine victories and marvellous football ending this way.

2. Hull’s unique nature means it’s a city in which rumours swirl with never-ending regularity, and most are very much of the “this taxi-driver’s brother heard that…” ilk – but a few troubling ones have surfaced in recent days. If something did indeed occur at the club in the first part of last week it’d certainly help to explain the Portsmouth debacle, which was not just a rotten performance but a complete non-effort.

3. An explanation is very different to an excuse, however. Accusing any professional footballer of not trying is a grievous charge usually issued by the terminally oafish and incorrectly made. Not so for the shambles at Fratton Park. Even if something did take place at the club we don’t know about, the few hundred who made the long, tiring, expensive journey deserved a hell of a lot better.

4. More understanding souls may point to tiredness. There’s no doubt that Mad March has taken a toll upon the players and broken rather than made the season. City have certainly been unlucky with their fixtures of late – again, whether this is a valid excuse for the two rotten offerings in the past seven days depends upon the kindliness of the observer.

5. It’d be a courageous City fan who backed us to finish with the division’s best defence now. With both centre-backs missing, we cannot realistically hope to shut sides out with Bradley and Cooper, however good their future prospects may be. Luckily we have a week until the next game, which is going to require some serious thinking about how to patch up a defence to at least make us competitive for the remainder of the season.

6. We don’t wish to sound like a broken record, so we’ll not say again that Richard Garcia deserves to be back in the team (oops, seems we just did). However, the complete omission of Jay Simpson against Coventry, when his 35 minutes or so at Portsmouth was the one – that is, the one – remotely bright thing to emerge from Fratton Park, was actually staggering. Simpson, with just a modicum of commitment around him, could have led the comeback at Portsmouth. Mark Cullen, by contrast, isn’t going to turn anything round against any opponent at any stage of a game but Nick Barmby preferred him to Simpson at the weekend.

7. Barmby needs to be careful about apologising for performances in the future. Offering fulsome public apologies isn’t a trick you can pull off very often without either aggravating the dressing room or losing the effect of doing so. Leicester was a disappointment but hardly an outrage; Portsmouth was the pefect example of a once-a-season disaster that required immediate contrition, but its currency was slightly devalued by us having already heard one that week.

8. Sadly, the manager’s confusing tactics and shirty post-match interviews mean his 7/10 rating on the right must be considered to be on a negative outlook.

9. Still, on the plus side, at least the pitch is looking a bit better now…

10. And, as a considerable consolation to City’s current woes, Aaron Wilbraham’s first Premier League goal at the age of 32 is something to celebrate, isn’t it? Well done to him on a feat few would ever have envisaged.

Things We Think We Think #42

1. It’s not been a good week for City. Little shame in being outclassed by Southampton, but the nature of the defeat at Leicester was worrying. It’s always bad to lose having led, but City had three-quarters of the match to rescue something, much of it against ten men, and rarely looked like doing so.

2. Southampton are a brilliant Championship team, it causes no shame or hurt to say it. Cracking team, positive attitude, really good manager who threatens to actually become great (and this is an ex-Scunthorpe boss with a bit of foot-in-mouth history round our way, so that’s some renaissance) and, actually, a rather sporting and generous set of fans too.

3. Without Robert Koren, there is a lack of proper x-factor in the Tigers team. Koren doesn’t always fully show up when on the teamsheet, and it’s both unfair and unrealistic to expect him to deliver something dramatic and spectacular every single time, but good gracious, you miss him when he’s not there. But let’s get used to it, as Koren is out for at least three weeks. The timing of his hamstring injury is appalling. The lack of Koren clones ready to step in is stark.

4. What should be changed for Portsmouth? The decision(s) ahead of Nick Barmby are crucial; luckily, results elsewhere generally were favourable and City will go sixth – and even fifth with simultaneous defeat for Middlesbrough – if three points can be attained at Fratton Park. The performance at the King Power Stadium may have been bleak and listless, but give it a couple of days and suddenly the bigger picture will begin to take over again as we begin to fuel up the cars for Tuesday’s long trip south.

5. On the subject of the Tigers, Nigel Pearson said in a post-match interview: “I don’t think I was particularly popular when I was there anyway.” Really? Let’s think back. His name was chanted frequently enough, his input into making us nigh on impossible to beat away from home last season was acclaimed regularly, and a vast majority of supporters saw the progress he was making when he – that’s he, not the club, and certainly not the fans – decided to loosen his association with City and head back to the Midlands.

He claims that what the Tiger Nation thinks of him doesn’t bother him, but it all feels a bit disingenuous – firstly, he clearly does care what the fans think, and that legendary dourness is a smokescreen; and secondly, what he believes the Tiger Nation thought of him is, with the vast majority, totally false. Who would – without any benefit of hindsight – have been unhappy if he had chosen not to request permission to speak to Leicester and continued his work at the Circle? Not many at all. Let’s not forget that we have many boorish clots turning up at games dressed in black and amber week by week, the types who hated Peter Taylor even after two promotions and were loudly adamant, after saving us from relegation in 2007, that Phil Brown was not going to be much cop.

Pearson was a very good manager, one who could quite easily have taken us back to the Premier League, whose only real shortcoming was his rather standoffish personality, and anyone who considers that to be as important a trait as tactical acumen or leadership quality is a fool. Pearson’s comment refers only to the fools, and caring what they think. He isn’t necessarily missed now, of course, but that’s purely in retrospect, and has got nothing to do with his own standing at the club when he was in charge. On the day it became obvious he was off, the vast majority of City fans would have been very disappointed indeed.

6. What’s happened to Richard Garcia, then? It needs to be asked. Unsurprisingly, the squad is lacking in freshness now, the two wingers of choice – Robbie Brady and Cameron Stewart – have evident form and fatigue issues, and at this moment a spot of experience and aptitude to play within a team ethic is really needed. Garcia fits all bills here. He’s done it before. Is he still being punished for not playing well in the FA Cup against Crawley? Have he and the manager had a tiff?

7. “We should have bought a striker in the January transfer window” is a sentiment many of the Tiger Nation have expressed in the last week. Not bolstering our attacking corps. is being viewed as the first failure of Nick Barmby’s management career, after all he had money to spend didn’t he? In November Assem Allam was quoted as saying “We said… that money would be available to Nigel [Pearson] – a million pounds in January for the transfer window, that same amount is still available for Nick.” and just before the transfer window opened Barmby said “If the right player comes along then we will go for him and hopefully get him.” By the end of January though Barmby stated he was happy with his squad and despite some loan additions no money would be spent.

Odd then that when discussing the possibility of signing Vito Mannone permanently from Arsenal, the manager said “I was told in the press conference when I first got the job there’d be money to spend so we’ll see.” The wording of that could imply that Barmby rues not having the money he thought he had to spend in January, that available funds haven’t even been discussed since he took the job permanently. Then again it could just be a throwaway remark with no hidden meaning, it’s hard to glean context from words printed but not heard first hand. In any case, the manager is reminding everyone that the Allams have publically pledged transfer funds, it just seems strange that he felt the need to do so.

8. Openly discussing the option of signing other goalkeepers, such as Swiss trialist Eldin Jakupovic, is a savvy move by Barmby. He wants to buy Mannone who seems very keen on making his stay in Hull a long one,  but won’t pay over the odds for the Italian. Checking out alternatives lets Arsenal know we won’t bend over a barrel.

9. If all that’s required to be regarded as a big club is for your supporters to deem it so, then Leicester boasts a rival to Manchester United and Real Madrid.

10. It’s troubling to hear a few City waverers in the long-standing and highly commendable contempt for drums held by the Tiger Nation. That, along with music after a goal, is the ultimate manifestation of McFootball, a feeble acquiescence to the transient and shallow nature of Nu Fanz – those who would regard the homogenisation of football as something to celebrate. Let’s try to be a bit better than that.

Things We Think We Think #41

1. The game at Cardiff was probably our finest awayday since the earliest weeks of the Premier League and those planet-trembling successes at Arsenal and Tottenham. Going to the stadium of a genuine contender with intimidating support on a Tuesday night within a relentless month of fixtures and winning by three clear goals is the kind of thing that you almost daren’t feel entitled to.

2. A big test for Nick Barmby within Mad March has been that of deciding when and where to make necessary changes to rest tiring limbs and freshen up the starting XI. So far, only the decision to start Seyi Olofinjana at Blackpool has backfired on him, and even then he had the gumption to see in time that it wasn’t working and alter the personnel. The introduction of Josh King and re-introduction of Aaron Mclean to the side have worked excellently, however.

3. James Chester’s goal at Cardiff was a privilege to witness. Kudos to the club for acting upon our suggestion of treating the thousands of City fans who couldn’t get to Wales to a free look at this amazing team goal via the club’s official Facebook page. If you’re on Facebook, it’s still there – but even if you’re not a Facebook subscriber, you can still see it as the club has not placed heavy restrictions on its content for non-users. So here you are.

4. The game at Crystal Palace was an act of mutual cancellation between two sides proving very difficult to defeat. City would have gone fourth with a win, but there are more than enough games left for that fourth place – and higher – to still be an achievable, realistic goal.

5. Southampton, then. They are quite clearly a terrific side, in possession of the division’s most prolific goalscorer (which helps) and yet we know only too well that this City side can beat anyone in this division. Victory at the Circle on Tuesday night would be seen as a shock and a scalp but to us, anything but an impossibility. We’d have to be on form in front of goal though, which isn’t something we are exactly proficient at, while our impenetrable defence will need to be on its toes more than ever to keep Rickie Lambert quiet, but it’s doable.

6. Tom Cairney deserves to start against Southampton.

7. And after the leaders, the alleged sworn enemies. Many members of the various singing splinter groups that attend City away matches are still insistent on hollering unflattering ditties about Nigel Pearson and Leicester. However, the whole Pearson thing just feels like an awful long time ago now, and the best way to put it to bed once and for all is on Saturday to go complete a double over the club he felt were a better option for his career than us. The thought of still singing anti-Pearson or anti-Leicester songs at the end of the season, or even the start of next, is not an especially warming one.

8. Andy Dawson has just made his 300th appearance for Hull City and this is worthy of raucous congratulation. The way he’s playing, he could add another ton to that total yet.

9. In the days of hyper-wealthy professional footballers, testimonial fixtures are largely redundant. However, Dawson is approaching the decade of service traditionally required for one. Who would it be against? Forest, the club he and brothers Michael and Kevin also appeared for, is one option. Tottenham, where Michael currently plays, is the most attractive. Whatever. Dawson has been an outstanding player for City, and the huge respect held by the Tiger Nation is hopefully a reward in itself.

10. We do, of course, offer our best wishes to Fabrice Muamba and hope for his speedy and complete recovery.

Things We Think We Think #40

1. We’ve gone from hardly ever drawing to being able to do nothing but, and the promotion aspirations fade a little with each two points dropped.  Recording 0-0s in winnable games is quite frustrating, but that frustration is squared watching a 2-0 lead vanish when scoring goals has been troublesome.

2. We seem to dislike Leeds less now than in previous years. Tuesday’s game was not a full house and the atmosphere was hardly hostile, the occasional ‘We all hate Leeds’ chants weren’t sung any real zeal.  Have Leeds totally lost their mystique? They’re no less loathsome now than they’ve always been but it seems that much harder to get worked up about them as it once did.

This is a shame only in that we seem to lack a defining local rival. Identity is as much about who you are not as who you are, and –  first – our scuttling about in the basement division (1996-2004) and – second – our rapid ascent through the divisions (2004-2008) has left us without a permanent local rival. Leeds fans noting their hatred of Chelsea was highly amusing, given how much they’ve said how little they care about us. It’s hard to imagine that Leeds have been in the consciousness of any Chelsea fans for a few years.

3. Radio Humberside reported on Saturday that Jimmy Bullard has lost his appeal against dismissal and will receive no payout from City. That’s great news, the scraggy-haired waster has taken enough cash from Hull City and gave very little in return. He was sublime in November 2009, but that is pretty much the extent of his useful contribution to the cause. Who knows when the club will get round to making an official statement, and when it comes it will be short and vague, but wouldn’t it be something if the true nature of his dismissal were made public?

4. We really need to sort the pitch out.

5. Is it out of the question for Nick Barmby to temporarily renounce his retirement from playing? His experience, skill and propensity for high-tempo activity would be invaluable at the moment. Granted, it risks putting a few players’ noses out of joint if the recent-retired boss decides he can do a better job than some of them, but if Barmby wasn’t the manager there’s no doubt he’d be playing some part in games.

6. One of the positives from Saturday was the crowd’s refusal to turn on Cameron Stewart, even though he was having a bit of a ‘mare. Or a lot of a ‘mare, if truth be told. Young players deserve to be cut more slack than their older colleagues, and it was heartening to see that being recognised amid the general frustration.

7. However, him being rested for a while is surely a matter of time, barring a sizeable improvement in form. If that happens, surely Richard Garcia is his natural replacement. The Aussie international is calm, experienced and a bloody good team player who’s very unlucky to have seen so little involvement lately.

8. By the time you read this, Stuart Parnaby’s trial with the club may be over. However, the fact that he’s an experienced and well-regarded right back – the one position on the park for which we lack specialist, senior cover – means that if there is an opportunity to sign him in the short term, we should probably take it. The last thing we need is for Liam Rosenior to get an injury or a red card and for Barmby’s only option in his absence to be to split up a centre back pairing that has, remarkably, not missed a single second of Championship football this season.

9. Cardiff is a big(ger) game now. City have, astoundingly, won just 1 of 14 night matches this season. A victory away to play-off rivals would be precisely the fillip we need at this stage of the season.

10. We’re back to the old Fans Liaison Committee days with this (and with it, you can tell we can only think of nine football-related subjects to comment on this week) but £3.70 for a can – note, a can, and one that doesn’t quite fill a pint glass – of Guinness from the KC kiosks is a total disgrace.