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Things We Think We Think #311

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #310

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #308

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Anyone missing the animated gifs yet?

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Things We Think We Think #307

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #306

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9b. Oh and it didn’t work.

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

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Things We Think We Think #305

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #304

 

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1) Farewell then, David Meyler. It’s been on the cards for a while, ever since the player himself disclosed that no new contract would be forthcoming. It’s still immensely sad to see him go. He was a mainstay of so many of the good things, and he leaves a sizeable hole not just in the midfield, but in the character of the City squad. An engaging personality on Twitter, a courageous player on the pitch and a (belated) cult hero in the stands, he’s left to join another former fans’ favourite at Reading. Best wishes, David. And thanks for everything.

2) Abel Hernández signing a new contract with City never felt remotely likely, and so it proved. An accomplished goalscorer in the Championship, Premier League and at international level, who cost £10m, leaves on a free transfer. Such colossal ineptitude is par for the course, and we’re largely immune to it now. Again, we must just offer best wishes to a player who often surprised us with his workrate even in unglamorous surroundings. Even if we were going to try to replace him, it’d be difficult and costly. However, we aren’t going to.

3) Also departing is our club captain Michael Dawson. We also won’t be trying to replace him, not when there are plenty of mediocre, parachute-payment-non-disrupting loanees out there. On the field, he might not actually be impossible to replace, for it’s impossible not to have seen his decline this season. If their scouts have seen what we’ve seen, Nottingham Forest cannot possibly hope to still be fielding him in their first team towards the end of his two year contract. Still, it’s a nice story for him to return to his boyhood club in the late-autumn of his career, and who could blame him for wanting to leave us anyway? He’s clearly a model professional, evidenced by the fact that his best football of a decidedly patchy season came after he was declined permission to leave in January. So many players would have sulked; he resolved to improve. We’ll miss his leadership, which was understated but effective, and he leaves us with thanks.

4) On and on the exodus goes. Allan McGregor has rejoined Rangers, where he started his career 20 years ago. A big earner who had a big season, the presumed negatives of the former were always going to outrank the latter with the price-of-everything-value-of-nothing cretins who are befouling our club. And he too leaves with nothing to prove, having amassed a fine body of work while at City. Pointing to his occasional errors is a fool’s errand; all keepers make them. A combative attitude coupled with a capacity for remarkable shot-stopping make him a legitmate contender for City’s finest post-war keeper. We’ll miss him.

4a) It leaves City in need of a keeper, too. At the end of 2016/17 we had three: McGregor, Marshall and Jakupović. The last of these opted to become Leicester’s third choice after an insulting contract offer, while it hasn’t remotely worked out for Marshall here. However, yachts aren’t cheap, so we’ll have to assume that we’re just going to have to make the best of it with Marshall, presumably with a yoof on the bench – and, in the event of injury/suspension, in the first team too.

5) Overall then, summer has gone largely as expected. No attempt has been made to retain senior players, and obviously replacements haven’t arrived. Not only do we presently have a squad a long way from being able to stay up next season, we’re not likely to either. Little wonder City’s odds of relegation have halved in the past few weeks.

6) It won’t get any better, obviously. Grosicki will probably be next, while anyone else with the acute misfortune to have Ehab Allam as their employer must be instructing their representatives to explore other options. It may be cricket and World Cup weather, but a chill wind assails the Tiger Nation. Already, the good times that were bookended by Peter Taylor and Steve Bruce are fading in the memory, like teenage romance a dozen summers ago.

7) Still, City have probably made football history this summer. With the announcement that prices for next season will not be confirmed until October, they have surely become the first club ever to wait until AFTER a season has begun before confirming the cost of going. We’re not laughing, and we’re not crying. We’re just numb.

8) Given the toxic miasma that envelops Hull City, it should come as no surprise when almost everything that is associated with the club is regarded with cynicism and disdain. However, the launch of the 2018/19 primary kit by Umbro was pleasingly free of negativity: it was executed well, the club’s name was used prominently in marketing (even if it is ludicrously absent from the kit itself) and as for the new shirt, shorts and socks, they appear to be widely admired.

9) No wonder. Umbro have delivered another doozy of a kit. Stripes have been retained, but given a modern and fresh look. There’s enough of a field of amber to prevent black raglan sleeves, used in concert with black stripes, from making the shirt and kit overall look dark.

9a) Consider us big fans. Sure, we don’t like what the 1 904 crest represents, and TIGERS on the back of the neck shows that the club are so inept at marketing that they break the branding guidelines they claim to work to. Neither of these things can be laid at the feet of Umbro though, the brand with the double-diamond are doing an exceptional job of making Hull City look good in an aesthetic sense, even if everything appears to be falling apart.

10) Amid the stark contrast of City plumbing sub-subterranean depths and the growing excitement of seeing whether our attempts to navigate the World Cup betting odds were successful, there came an unexpected glimmer of good news. Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, widely criticised for ignoring the obvious appeal of safe standing earlier this year, now appears open to it. Well done to her for having the courage to admit her original stance may have been wrong, which is probably not a common trait among politicians, and of course to the tireless campaigning of the FSF.

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Things We Think We Think #303

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1. Eight days after 2017/18 sidled to its conclusion, the overriding emotion remains relief. It’s a sentiment that’s two-fold. Relief, of course, that the season ended with City avoiding a relegation that (for a time) seemed quite possible. As Nigel Adkins turned Leonid Slutsky’s free-scoring chaos-merchants into grimly dull loss-accumulators, the fate that was befalling Sunderland appeared ours too. It’s scandalous for a side with the distorting benefits of parachute payments to be anywhere near relegation, and this season will be remembered, if at all, as being an atrocious one. But it could have been worse.

2. Therefore, our relief is also for it being over. Never mind the occasional highs – pulverising Birmingham in September, the customary win at Nottingham Forest, the 0-5 and 5-5 insanity of April – this was mostly a season of gruelling inadequacy laced with regular off-field malice. 2017/18, goodbye and good riddance.

3. We said farewell with a 1-1 draw at Brentford that was actually one of the better days of the season. A hot day, a proper terrace, affable surroundings and a non-defeat all made for a better send-off than the campaign as a whole probably deserved. And it was a useful reminder that whatever else the Allam family are stripping away from the club, our fundamental spirit remains. Seeing City fans cavorting on the Griffin Park concrete well after the final whistle was an uplifting experience to take into the summer.

4. Already, the exodus begins. We’re fortunate that in the Allams we have owners who know better than to treat employees correctly and persuade them to sign new contracts; and so, another summer in which the first team – not that great to start with – is dismantled. Nigel Adkins is making brave little noises about doing our business early, but that won’t happen. We’ll sell or release anyone who’s any good or who may have the temerity to request a wage befitting their skill and experience, and stuff the squad half-full of mediocre loanees in late August. There’s no point in pretending anything else will happen – it’s the Ehab Allam way, and just because it’s pathetically failed twice doesn’t mean he’s anywhere near bright enough to have spotted a pattern yet.

5. As we’ve already touched upon, it isn’t a great first team that’s been dismantled, though it’ll probably end up being better than what replaces it. But among those leaving is a genuine star of the past decade, and someone who deserves to be recalled fondly in years to come: David Meyler. Long-term possessor of a few obstinate detractors, he won everyone over towards the end of his time here, and participated in so many of the famous achievements in our recent past. A player of unswerving committment, under-rated ability and unerring courage, he’ll be greatly missed. Thanks for everything David, and best of luck for the future.

6. It isn’t just first teamers going – as always at this time of year, youth team players judged not to have made the grade are being released. That’s always pretty sad, and we hope that as many of them as possible make it elsewhere. However, it was galling to see a common thread running throughout the departing comments of so many early 20s players: that they were never given enough time on the pitch to prove themselves. It’s understandable that opportunities in City’s first team have been limited given our recent Premier League past, but why were so few sent on loan instead of being abandoned in the U23s? Now past the first flush of youth, they’re having to find new clubs with younger prospects already coming up behind them and virtually no first team experience on their CVs. That’s epic, tragic mismanagement.

7. The club is going to meet with the FSF and SD over concessions. We hope those two fine organisations are ready for the full technicolour horror of meeting an Allam, because even though they’ve been extensively warned, there’s nothing like the real thing to make you realise just how unqualified they are to run a football club. Meanwhile, City continue to haemorrhage members and we still no fixed prices for next season.

8. A new crest! That we get a say in! You can see why this looks superficially good. However, the mechanism for selecting it is ridiculous. Phase 1 (yes, there are phases) requires fans to choose other fans, who’ll then sit alongside “community voices” and “influencers”. The issues are so widespread here we’re staggered (or perhaps not) that no-one’s thought of them. But just in case they haven’t: “community voices” doesn’t even require one to be a City fan. Therefore, some Leeds or rugby supporting bell-end could actually end up having a say on our future crest. And that won’t end well. As for “influencers”, the club has managed to alienate pretty much all of them anyway, from ex-players to local media. So, that’s phase 1, with fan nominations, non-City fans and uninfluential influencers, all to be revealed on (naturally) an unspecified date. So far, so shit.

9. Phase 2. Another sodding vote, on “crest elements”. Presumably they’ll be shortlisted by either Ehab or whichever stooge is doing his bidding at the moment, in order to avoid anything remotely good. Then we can choose a tiger (seriously). Then the “creative panel” will meet twice with the club to decide things, which appears to arm Ehab with a right of veto anyway in case the whole pointlessly torturous process has resulted in anything non-terrible someone sneaking through. And good designs don’t happen by committee anyway. Then there’ll be a BIG REVEAL at another unspecified date next year…all announced on a page that finishes up by calling us Hull City Tigers. What a joke.

10. That’s us done for a bit. We’ll pop up occasionally during the summer, chiefly to despair about whatever idiocy that family inflicts upon us next, but like you, we need a break from the whole circus. Enjoy the World Cup, the summer’s cricket and whatever else it is you do away from City, thanks for the comments/criticism/insults/reading/listening to our exasperated output, and we’ll see you in August.

10a. Allam Out.

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Things We Think We Think #302

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1. Thank God it’s almost over. A season of wretchedness on the field and malice off it had a fitting finale on Saturday, as City crumpled to a characteristically scruffy 2-0 defeat to a dour but organised and motivated side. It had everything that’s made 2017/18 an ordeal: flickers of promise, a pathetically cheap goal conceded and a pitiful response thereafter. City were crap, and got exactly what they deserved from the game.

2. A dead rubber at Brentford aside for those of an especially masochistic bent, the ghastliness is at a close. We’ve hated this season, and while a summer without City is usually a cause for sadness, we’re frankly glad we don’t have to put up with them for a few blessed months.

3. The class of 2017/18 has been deeply uninspiring, and even if its major deficiency has been quality rather than application, it’s been hard to warm to them. That’s part of the problem with mediocre loanees signed in a panic at the end of the transfer window – apart from not being especially good, their transient nature makes the fan-player bond harder to establish. And sure, there are exceptions, but generally speaking a player who’s only here for a short, defined period can’t create the same supporter relationship as one whose service spans years rather than months.

4. That didn’t make the “lap of honour” any less tragic. Barely 3,000 can have stayed to witness the limpest of mutual appreciations, and on one level we feel a bit for the players – it must have been quite embarrassing for them, and goodness knows they aren’t the real reason the club is a total mess. Players like David Meyler, Abel Hernández, Allan McGregor and Michael Dawson, sturdy servants of the club, probably deserved a heartier send-off than this.

5. But how can anyone blame City fans? After a dismal defeat at the end of a rotten season, why on earth stick around to insincerely acclaim those who are, in part, responsible? We’d like to think that the near-empty stadium for the post-match trudge would worry those in charge. But we know they aren’t listening, and don’t care anyway, so to them and the despicable handful of remaining apologists it’ll just be our fault anyway.

6. Which leads us nicely onto the latest sham ballot. It’s causing considerable consternation inside the club, with no-one knowing what on earth to do about it. Needless to say, turnout was reduced from the previous vote, with City fans rightly boycotting a poll when the previous one had been disregarded on account of an inconvenient result. That Ehab is completely clueless about how to proceed will surprise no-one, but his subordinates are suffering equal paralysis and the mood is not good.

7. It means that at the time of writing, City aren’t especially close to even announcing whatever the result of the second ballot is, and don’t expect them to announce the turnout either (or at least truthfully announce it – though there’ve been enough complaints raised to the Supporters’ Trust to render the whole enterprise highly suspicious anyway). Which means that on the final day of April, no-one has a clue what a 2018/19 season ticket/membership will cost or whether concessions will be reintroduced. The rest of the Championship is eagerly imploring its fans to sign up; City can’t even tell their fans the basics about next season’s costs. It’s a joke, and those responsible should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

8. Brentford next. It means nothing, to both clubs. Let’s just stand on a terrace (which worked out alright last time, and, Sports Minister, no-one got hurt), drink some beer and try to remember that while the club is presently stricken with a particularly vicious disease, it won’t last forever.

9. Sunderland, of League One and also very much of the north, have just been taken over. It’s almost as though the notion that non-Premier League clubs who aren’t near Heathrow Airport don’t attract buyers is a total fucking lie, isn’t it?

10. City are off to Kenya, which is all very exciting. But with a familiar tin ear for the requirements of fans, a match that would require a significant outlay, very short notice travel to the southern hemisphere, time off work and so on hasn’t even seen City confirm whether tickets are going to be made available. Come on City, this sort of thing really isn’t difficult.

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Things We Think We Think #301

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1. What an utterly preposterous football club we support. Not for us the usual pattern of sublime-to-ridiculous that lesser claimants to ludicrosity may submit; in the last three games we’ve gone sublime-to-shit-to-ridiculous. 5-0, 0-1, 5-5. It’s the kind of scoring sequence you’d associate with pre-war Division Three (North), not the ultra-professional 21st century Championship.

2. Days after the biggest away win in a century, City served up utter dross against Sheffield Wednesday and followed that up by sharing ten goals in Bristol. Our first ever 5-5 draw; the first time both sides have scored more than 4 in a City game, and so on. It was a crazy afternoon of football.

3. It didn’t look as though that’d be the case until the end. 2-1 at half-time rarely begats 5-5, and for long spells of the game City looked set to offer up another dispiritingly slovenly defeat. Some of the defending – in fact, almost all of it – was farcical, genuine pub team stuff, and that was before the goals started raining in. If Nottingham Forest are still preparing to offer Michael Dawson a contract in the summer, he’d better hope their scouts were elsewhere on Saturday; while he was offered scant support as City were wide open in midfield, on the flanks and indeed practically everywhere. Given the way the first half ended, it wasn’t a massive surprise that City ended up shipping five goals.

4. It was far less predictable that we’d score another four, but with Harry Wilson and a point-to-prove Abel Hernández, we do have a goal or two in us. We have throughout this grim season in fact, with 69 and counting, something no side outside the top four is likely to match. However, those two are clearly far too good for this level, and it’s really shown in recent weeks.

5. Wilson in particular has raced through the grades of appreciation, from promising loanee to highly effective loanee, and he’s probably now entering the “just enjoy him while we have him” stage. He won’t be here next season, and that isn’t even necessarily a slight on City – if Liverpool decide he isn’t quite ready for their matchday squads then he clearly merits a season-long loan in the Premier League instead. He’s got two more games with us. Best to make the most of them, and spend the next decade telling anyone who’ll listen that his time with City is what made him what he’ll become – which is clearly outstanding.

6. Those two games are now dead rubbers, with safety mathematically assured by Saturday’s draw at Ashton Gate. Credit to Nigel Adkins: for a long time survival itself looked far from certain, so to have it officially determined with two matches to go (and, effectively, with four remaining) is more than we’d hoped for. He isn’t a stellar name, and he doesn’t inspire us, but his overall work with City has exceeded our modest expectations, and he’s sure to be here next season. So be it.

7. With survival now guaranteed, we now have the opportunity to knack things up a bit for clubs with loftier goals. We’d ordinarily applaud what Cardiff have done this season, but Colin is their manager and he’s every bit as detestable as ever, so while we wish the Bluebirds no particular harm it’d be fantastic to ruin things for him. It’d also be nice to beat a side in the top six this season, and end the home season with a decent performance and result – goodness knows we deserve it.

8. Then it’s Brentford, who could need a result to pinch sixth place, and the chance for another terrace – and then that’s it.

9. Thank God. Summer beckons, and exhaustion racks the Tiger Nation. The bitter feud with the rotten Allam family won’t end until their reign is over, while gates fall, membership votes are the subject of untruths and pathetic bribes, and the club remains as hopelessly fractured as ever.

10. There’s no point in hoping for anything but big talk about our close-season plans followed by a clear out and hasty loans in late August, all as a precursor to another season of struggle. The future is bleak for now, and there’s no point pretending otherwise. All we can do is enjoy a few more goals before the torrid 2017/18 finally ends, and we can look forward to the World Cup, an interesting Test series with India and the chance to half-forget what’s been done to our club.

R.I.P Edwin Huitson “Eddie” Blackburn, former City apprentice who made 75 appearances in goal for the Tigers between March 1975 and January 1980.