Things We Think We Think #297


1. Just when you think City are turning the corner, they actually execute a startling U-turn and head back towards the shitheap they’d deftly extricated themselves from with back to back wins. Gah!

2. As a season unfolds, individual games become part of the wider, campaign long context. What to make of the Norwich and Ipswich wins after the abominable snow-game at Birmingham? A week ago we’d been willing to consider that Adkins was finally having some impact, but when he admits after Saturday’s game that he didn’t see it coming and isn’t sure what happened, it’s harder to leave the credit for the wins with him. Could it simply be that the enthusiasm of Abel Hernandez and Harry Wilson, two men just desperate to play some football, positively infected the rest of the side in the games won, rather than it being down to Adkins words and tactics?

3. When he leaves Hull City, the Michael Dawson we’ll remember is the inspirational captain of the 2015/16 side, exultant and holding aloft the Championship play-offs trophy at Wembley. What we are currently witnessing is a pastiche of that man. It’s understandable that the 2018 version of Michael Dawson won’t have the athleticism of the 2016 edition, but what is unfathomable is risible decision making that sees him charging out of position, missing challenges completely and leaving a forward with a largely unhindered route to goal.

4. Not that he was alone in this on Saturday. His partner at the centre of defence, Ondrej Mazuch, was guilty of giving away free kick after free kick at Birmingham. Our centre-backs do not have the pace or technique to attempt playing a high line. The head coach needs to knock this unhelpful trait out of them.

5. While those two were unimpressive, that cannot be said about Allan McGregor, whose performance between the sticks kept the scoreline moderately respectable, and not an aggregate draw after our six goal haul against Birmingham earlier in the season. Not having McGregor already tied down with a new deal is wanton stupidity, but or front office has form in that regard.

6. It felt like a really up-and-down week, as you may expect with a three-nil that goes your way and one that goes against. A gap of six points became nine points, only to revert to six. That’s probably just the nature of a relegation battle. Six points remains a healthy lead, and there aren’t many games left now. Our position is one that a few sides would certainly envy.

7. The problem lies in the nature of the next two fixtures. Easter Eve sees Aston Villa visit the Circle for what’s likely to be a fraught evening. Steve Bruce returns, and the contrast between the unique achievements of arguably our best ever manager and our present predicament is a stark one indeed. Meanwhile, throw in the fact that if results go against us earlier in the day the pressure will really be on, plus the possibility of further protests for the Sky cameras if the club haven’t kept their promises, and a tense affair is easy to foresee.

8. It’ll be interesting to see what reaction Steve Bruce gets. The fans are sure to deliver deserved acclaim, but will City themselves be big enough to offer a warm welcome to the man driven out by Ehab’s incompetence?

9. Then it’s Wolves away. Ew. Even the optimists may struggle to see our six point cushion surviving a very difficult Easter.

10. We just want this season over now. There’ve been flashes of fun, chiefly in Slutsky’s earlier days and occasionally under Adkins. But for the most part it’s been a real chore, with poor football inflicted upon dwindling, disinterested crowds. Let’s just stay up, fuck the Allams off and begin the long process of repairing the fractured soul of this club, in the hope that 2018/19 can offer some enjoyment.


Things We Think We Think #295


1. Tuesday night’s draw with Barnsley illustrated perfectly why City are in serious relegation trouble, and why there’s no guarantee we’ll survive. Just as we followed up an impressive win at Nottingham Forest with a dismal no-show at Middlesbrough, so the encouraging victory over Sheffield United was conspicuously not built upon with a decidedly crummy draw against Barnsley. At no stage this season have City ever threatened to create any momentum or put together a string of good results. It’s precisely what teams who get relegated do.

2. That Barnsley are a poor side was obvious enough when we laboured to victory at Oakwell. They haven’t noticeably improved since, but neither have we. Perhaps it wasn’t a great surprise that the two sides who put together such a dire game in October should do it again – but even so, it was truly dreadful.

3. Granted, it’s a relief that City spawned a point in the end, even if we have little intention of “respecting” a disappointing outcome so disappointingly arrived at. It did at least prevent the blow of City slipping behind Barnsley in the table. But really, it’s hard not to look back at the entire evening wondering quite why City were so utterly sub-par. No intensity, no urgency, inadequate organisation – the whole thing was just utterly bab.

4. There weren’t many positives. Larsson played tolerably well, though it was his least effective match for a while – and he’s been one of the most impressive figures in 2018, so we missed his influence. Irvine looked cold and subdued, while Diomande in particular spent a thoroughly unproductive evening emboldening only his detractors. Meanwhile, if you hadn’t spotted Toral by the time he was hooked in the 53rd minute (of the first half), you may not have been alone – he was almost wilfully anonymous.

5. We enjoyed the claim that 14,000 were in attendance though. It’s so far from the truth as to be comical.

6. With Ipswich falling victim to the weather, we’re now halfway through four successive home games, rather freakishly following on from four successive away games. Next up are Millwall and Norwich, both treading water in the impossibly distant glory-soaked promised land of midtable. City are still labouring at under a point a game, which won’t often be enough for survival. Setting points targets from a brace of games in March is a little artificial, but if City haven’t moved to more than a point per game by 5pm on Saturday, that would be very bad news indeed.

7. David Meyler said a while ago on Twitter that his future at City beyond this season was in doubt, but now he has willingly and wilfully let the cat out of the bag. He’s off this summer, with the club choosing not to take up their option on a further year, and he’s evidently not happy about it. Neither are we. Yes he has limitations and bad games, and he is called out for them when they occur. He also has experience, an apparent affection for the club, a natural affinity with how supporters feel and unquestionably a sensible awareness of his own contribution over the years, and it’s quite obvious that personality issues have prompted his exit beyond any footballing decision. And isn’t it remarkable how the club can decide in ample time to not take up a further year on a player’s expiring contract, but leave it far too late when they decide to offer a player a fresh deal? Meyler did well out of City and we hope he leaves with more sweet memories than pangs of bitterness.

8. The Allam family state, in absentia, at the rearranged Supporters’ Committee meeting following the one they stroppily cancelled while issuing false claims about the Supporters’ Trust making threats, that things may be about to change. Hull City will start calling themselves Hull City again, while concessions and a proper club crest will be consulted upon. Now, we’ll believe this when we see it. Anyone familiar with the Allam family knows to judge actions, not words. It’s good news if so, but them selling the club “for a pound”, “within 24 hours”, “consulting fans before changing the name” was also good news, so forgive us for not celebrating just yet.

8a. And isn’t it pathetic that they didn’t dare face up to the Supporters’ Committee in person with this? They left others to issue what they probably regard as a humiliating climbdown for them.

9. If you disagreed with the protests on the grounds of their effectiveness, events have not validated your argument. Protests against Nottingham Forest last year brought the Allams to the table, and the prospect of them continuing and escalating achieved these promises. That’s a vindication for those who took a stand during matches. And what else could have been done? They won’t listen, so there’s no point in politely speaking. And they’re unreasonable, so what’s the point in using reason? Well done to anyone who’s raised their voice against the Allams during games.

10. Even if they do implement everything they’ve promised, we’re still Allam Out.


Things We Think We Think #293


1. Defeat and – eventually – little disgrace at Chelsea. City didn’t help themselves, but Chelsea have spent hundreds of millions of pounds to ensure that contests such as this are acutely unequal. And the first half was as unequal as you could hope to not see. For all of City’s brave talk, the first half precisely resembled a poor Championship side away to Champions League participants. It was tough to watch.

2. Perhaps we should allow limited credit to City for ensuring that a hammering didn’t become a record-breaking rout. Chelsea, aware that Barcelona visit next, didn’t seem too bothered about adding any more goals but City did also smarten themselves up a little, and while drawing a half isn’t an achievement, it was at least an improvement. It was a desperately poor tie to have been given anyway.

3. Elsewhere, our absence from league duty didn’t cause undue harm. Four of the bottom six were in action on Saturday, and none won. City remain outside the bottom three, with a home game in hand on most of them. We may be out of the Cup, but in terms of the Championship it wasn’t a bad weekend.

4. It’d be great to build upon this by taking something from Middlesbrough tomorrow evening. The pre-season title favourites have underachieved this season, but with only five points separating them from sixth place, they won’t have given up just yet. It won’t be easy. But the assured performance at Nottingham Forest nine days ago suggests that we haven’t given up just yet. A point would do just fine, even though unwanted results elsewhere could still see us draw and drop back into the bottom three. But imagine the transformative effect that a second successive win could have…

5. Then it’s Sheffield United. The match first, then the rest. Since cuffing City 4-1 in November their season has gone a little awry, and while we’d gladly swap places with a side in eighth, they must have hoped for more at this stage. It’s therefore a presentable opportunity for three points, three we’re sure to need whatever happens at the Riverside tomorrow. City’s heads may just be above the water at the time of writing, but they’re deep and choppy waters. It’s going to be a big week on the pitch, and by 10pm on Friday we’ll have a good idea of our likely fate.

6. It’s going to be fascinating to see what happens off the pitch as well. Anger at the mismanagement of the club continues to swell, and rumours about serious and sustained protests in the forthcoming Sheffield United fixture have grown. Ehab Allam claimed to be in possession of intelligence (yes, we know…) pointing towards a whistle protest during the game, akin to the one Brighton implemented at the Goldstone Ground when City visited in the late 1990s. It’s a cracking idea from a man few ordinarily associate with understanding football fans, and it’d certainly be effective.

7. The big question is whether it should happen. It’s proven predictably divisive. And we absolutely understand why some City fans don’t really fancy it. It’s a bit confrontational, it could interrupt the night’s football – or potentially even terminate it, it’s just all a bit too much. But we’d urge those wavering supporters to look at the paucity of options now open to City fans. Talking to the Allams doesn’t work, because they refuse to listen. For years they’ve been told what we want, and they haven’t acted. You cannot reason with fundamentally unreasonable men. We can’t even trust their promises to begin a process of meaningful change, because Assem Allam repeatedly promised not to try to change City’s name without consultation, only to renege upon this pledge within days. However, we know that protests affect them. The stress balls against Forest earlier in the season dragged them to the table. So why not?

7a. There are two arguments you can summon against it, and neither really stack up. Firstly, it affects the team. Except that no evidence exists for that. Lack of investment in players affects the team; fans driven to desperation by negligent owners does not. And the second argument is that City will be harshly punished for a disrupted game. And again, that isn’t supported by facts. Coventry City, Leyton Orient, Blackpool, Blackburn Rovers and Charlton Athletic have all staged in-game protests in recent times. Can anyone remember the sanctions handed down to them? Exactly. Ehab’s suggestion of points deductions and/or games being played behind closed doors is ridiculous scaremongering designed to suppress dissent, because no precedent exists for such drastic punishments.

8. So on balance, we have no issue with protests on Friday. Something needs doing – we cannot simply let the Allam family drive this club to the wall. Those planning the protests should still tread carefully, if only for their own sake. But if they want to proceed, then so be it.

9. It’s truly astonishing that the mere prospect of supporter protest led to Ehab seriously considering not selling tickets for the game, and only yielded seven days before the fixture itself. What the hell kind of dysfunctional football club genuinely ponders not selling tickets for its own fixtures? The Allams have done a lot of incredibly stupid things, but this could have been right up there.

10. There’ll be no Amber Nectar podcast tonight – we’re going to leave it until Wednesday to incorporate the Middlesbrough fixture instead. Meanwhile, we’ve a bit of an anniversary coming up on that day as well – stand by for a trip down memory lane…


Things We Think We Think #292


1. Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Nottingham Forest was acutely unexpected. Hardly any of those travelling can have done so with anything but trepidation. Yet here we are, basking in the glow of an exceedingly rare away win and with our foray into the bottom three already ended.

2. That climb into the top 21 may prove to be temporary rather than permanent, for City obviously remain in serious trouble of relegation. It’s just heartening to see something finally being done about it. In much the same way as Sunderland were recently rewarded against us for picking a young side, so Nigel Adkins was at the City Ground.

3. Even the most reality-averse Forest fans (and we’ve been surprised at the quantity of those in 2018) cannot begrudge City the win. Apart from the striking of McGregor’s post, they didn’t threaten City once and during a second half that was a professional exercise in calm containment, they were frankly terrible. But citing their tepid awfulness as the reason for victory does a disservice to Adkins and his players – the former changed things in search of inspiration, the latter made it work.

4. 2-0 didn’t flatter us either. It was close to the complete away performance, raiding with purpose and skill when in possession and retaining a disciplined shape without it. It’s worth noting again that this was hard to see coming, but now we know City do still have it in them, hopes and expectations will naturally rise. Perhaps, despite the best efforts of the Allam family, this season is not lost after all.

4a. That’s now five wins in a row at the City Ground. It’s a freakish sequence for which similar runs in the past don’t readily occur. Four in a row at Halifax were racked up between 1999-2002, but we trust the Shaymen will not be unduly offended if we suggest that rather pales in comparison.

5. Chelsea on Friday. Even with their much-discussed troubles at the moment, a Cup shock of vast proportions continues to feel incredibly unlikely. A gutsy, creditable defeat that doesn’t dent our post-Forest confidence and incurs no injuries feels the best we can hope for.

6. Matty Fryatt retired this week at the age of 31, unable to shake off an Achilles injury after years of surgery and abortive comebacks. For City, he was a reliable and predatory goalscorer with an excellent record and to see him score in the Premier League and especially our historic FA Cup run after spending a year out with another injury was immensely gratifying. We wish him great success in his future endeavours and assure him that his efforts in black and amber will always be appreciated, a fact proved by the throaty singing of his name by City fans at the City Ground at the weekend.

7.  If you organise meetings with supporter groups with the explicit intent of heading off protests, then it isn’t out of order to note that protests remain a possibility when after several meetings there has been no action and only words. Supporters aren’t giving up their free time for the privilege of chatting with Ehab, they attend to effect change, and those changes are not difficult and could have already been implemented. We’ve heard enough unfulfilled promises from the Allams to know that their talk is cheap

8. To end a meeting as it begins, wasting people’s time, and spuriously claiming threats have been made, is frankly pathetic and shamelessly manipulative, and further reinforces the belief that the Allams are disingenuous, merely box ticking and creating the illusion of fan consultation that doesn’t exist in reality.

9. HCST’s decision to present scarves on behalf of a group not in attendance was unwise, and cedes a tiny portion of the moral high ground that the Trust has worked hard to justifiably inhabit. However, given that Ehab said in a statement on the official website that he too is ‘ALLAM OUT’ (capitals his), and that meetings have taken place since the scarf offering, it simply isn’t  a big deal.

10. We discussed Ehab’s psychological gymnastics to maintain the self image of competence and credibility last week, and he gave a great example in the Radio Humberside interview, stating “I always try to blame myself first before someone else” before shifting the blame for a failure to sell the club and the club’s league position on the fans. Uh-huh.


Things We Think We Think #291


1. Another Saturday, another defeat. 2-1 to Preston this time, all with a demoralising air of inevitability about it. Even when City surprised us, and themselves, by taking a first half lead. In the same way that Ehab Allam’s fucktarded approach to transfers is easy to work out in advance, so Hull City’s capacity for finding a way to lose a winnable fixture counts second only to the sun rising in the east for predictability.

2. Preston aren’t especially good. You don’t need to be any good to beat City any more – in fact, as Sunderland showed recently, you can be really rather terrible and still expect to collect something at full time. We’re the ultimate easy-beats.

3. As much as the club’s death spiral ultimately rests with the despicable Allam family, there’s a degree of culpability also lying with the players – who are better than 22nd – and the manager, whose abilities are completely escaping us at the time. It may sound harsh, but it isn’t easy to feel a great deal of sympathy for Nigel Adkins. His post-match utterances are already beginning to significantly grate, his cathartine loitering in Leonid Slutsky’s tortured final days was quite unsettling, he knows (or should know) that the Allams are irresponsible owners and he has no evident plan for survival.

4. Not that there’s any point whatsoever in dispensing with him. Hiring someone with the capability of keeping this doomed side up would cost money, and yachts cost money too, so we can forget that. Instead, our flimsy hopes rest with the players themselves. They’re capable of finishing in the top 21, after all. Unfortunately, the principal leader has had his head turned, but it’s probably now with McGregor, Meyler, Larsson and Campbell – notionally the senior pros – to chart and then traverse a route to safety.

5. It feels unlikely though. It’s tough to find a City fan who doesn’t think we’re doomed to successive relegations. The club feels broken, and repair will not come until its current owners go. And that cannot happen too soon. Let’s assume for a moment that this season is already lost. Let’s not pretend that we’re suddenly going to prosper in League One next season, because under this parasitic regime we won’t. There’s no limit to how far we can fall. Others have fallen further than we’re about to. The longer they stay, the further we fall – it’s absolutely that simple.

6. So, we must protest, and protest hard. It may be in vain, but let’s not have to explain to City fans yet to come that we sat back and did fuck all while the club was deliberately shovelled back into the lower leagues we worked so hard to rise from. Sheffield United on Friday 23rd February is on Sky Sports. Let’s do it.

7. The mental gymnastics Ehab Allam has to perform to maintain the delusion he is a good steward of the club would have Louis Smith’s psyche gasping in approval. His latest psychological somersault, performed in the Yorkshire Post, is to use the analogy of the housing market a few years ago, with people not selling because they expect the price of their asset to rise in the near future, as an excuse for City being less ambitious in the winter transfer window than bottom club Burton Albion.

8. “When you are only outside the bottom three on goal difference, it is a hard job to bring players in.” Hmm. The two clubs below us brought in nine players between them. Maybe the problem stems with you Ehab, and even if you deflect the blame onto Lee Darnborough, well who was responsible for his appointment?

9. Pathological lying is described as a habituation of lying, when the individual lies even when there is nothing to be gained from it. Nobody believes Ehab any more, the Yorkshire Post are content to publish his words without question, but then they just need to fill space to make it look like they don’t only care about Leeds, so even then belief isn’t an issue. Ehab could just tell the truth, that his family are bleeding every penny out of the club possible while still keeping it functioning, and when the parachute payments have gone they’ll discard the club like a mattress in a lay-by, but he just doesn’t seem capable of it. The truth would shatter his best run club in the League delusional construct.

10. Everybody wants job security, and being well paid doesn’t create an exemption, especially when your career is relatively short and your earnings will need to finance the rest of your life. So when you’re in the last knockings of that career, out of contract in the summer, able to field offers from other employers from January, having no certainty that your current employer will exercise the one year extension option they have but won’t activate till May when the employer’s status is known, and that employer is notorious for taking a Victorian mill owner’s approach to employee relations, you grasp that offer of security like a drowning man grasps a rope. We don’t blame Michael Dawson for wanting to move to Nottingham Forest on deadline day.

If you’ve been affected by the topics discussed in TWTWT, you can call the Samaritans free any time, from any phone on 116 123.


Things We Think We Think #290


1. That wasn’t expected. Before Saturday’s Cup tie, it was easy envisage another morose gathering at the Circle quietly suffering as 4,000 Nottingham Forest fans loudly enjoyed their victory. It required considerable optimism to expect the Midlanders to be the ones suffering as City’s unexpectedly effective display took us to a deserved win. But that’s what happened.

2. Ignore the scoreline. City 2-1 Nottingham Forest was more emphatic than that. Multiple opportunities were missed to score a third goal, and City were all over Forest for pretty much the whole game. It was a terrific performance, coupled with a really spirited attitude. And that’s the most encouraging thing: from the first minute to the last, there was a battling mentality in the side. We’ve wondered aloud if this side is up for a scrap. We know now that they can be. Replicating that in the League is now essential.

3. But let’s enjoy this win a little longer. There were many fine individual performances. Max Clark looked mature and assured at left-back, Aina continued to look a threat on the right, while the way in which Bowen has maintained his fine form throughout the season suggests he is the real deal (and his suitors grow in number). Dicko was tireless up front and a constant nuisance, capping it off with a goal, but the star was arguably Jackson Irvine. He’s taken a little time to really embed himself in the side, but his was a buccaneering midfield performance. Full of energy, he tracked back tenaciously, ran forward determinedly and used possession intelligently. More, please.

4. It was a treat to leave a match feeling uplifted at what had gone before. City’s combative approach – aided by an indulgent refereeing performance that Forest should have mimicked instead of whining about – genuinely elevated the spirits. It’s just nice to see goals and victory again. It’s been a rare feeling for too long.

4a. Rarer still must be the same post being struck five times in one game – twice en route to City goals, then acting to deny Forest twice and City once. Bizarre stuff.

5. We’d like to feel sorry for Nottingham Forest fans, who cannot have enjoyed Saturday’s events. However, the way too many of them acted as though they were the first football team in history to take a large following anywhere and so cockily predicted an easy win means we’ll swerve the pity.

6. So, we’re in the Football Association Challenge Cup Fifth Round. This is nothing to be sniffed at – especially when we consider that repeating the achievement next season may require winning four ties if things don’t improve in the League. The draw is this evening, and there are enough non-elite sides left in the competition for us to think a way to the Sixth Round isn’t out of the question. Whether it brings a tie that City are favourites to win or a mission impossible, it’s exciting to be involved.

7. It goes without saying that this now transferring to the League, where the situation remains grim. One of the major issues in recent fixtures has been starting games so weakly. Well, if Nigel Adkins can’t get his side up for the visit of Leeds tomorrow, three days after a stirring victory that owed much to a fast start and an emboldened approach, we have a problem. It’s perhaps pushing it to describe this game as “must-win”…but then again, we need at least seven wins from just 18 games to have a chance of surviving, and this is a home match against a side in 9th. If not now, then when?

8. We are not remotely surprised that City haven’t done a single thing during the transfer window so far. The approach was easy to deduce in December: sign no-one of note and spend no money, then get someone, anyone, into the squad in desperation on the final day, preferably on loan. Not that Ehab Allam’s mismanagement being predictable needs to stop us despairing at this wilfully damaging approach.

9. With two televised fixtures approaching, home matches against Sheff Utd and Aston Villa in February and March respectively, there’s no doubt that failure from Ehab to act in three major areas will see significant and justified protests. Those areas are easy to identify, and equally easy to rectify: strengthen a paper-thin squad, reintroduce concessions, and start calling Hull City Hull City. Otherwise, the protests will restart, and quite rightly so.

10. A spot of housekeeping: we’ll be podcasting on Wednesday evening this week, recapping the Cup win and tonight’s draw, plus Leeds and whatever City have (or more pertinently, have not) done in the transfer window.


Things We Think We Think #289


1. What a putrid afternoon at the Stadium of Light on Saturday. City’s 1-0 defeat at Sunderland confirms – if you didn’t already know – that City are in grave danger of being relegated for the second season in a row. And worse still, it suggests there isn’t much hope of this fate being avoided.

2. The first half was unutterably supine, with City again showing a frightening lack of urgency in a game of obvious importance. That scares us, hinting as it does at an inadequate mentality among the players. The situation is dire, but the way matches are started is redolent of end-of-season dead rubbers. How is this possible? Why does it keep happening?

3. Nigel Adkins is not impressing us. It’s easy to mock the claim advanced in mitigation that we “warmed up well”, because you can sort of see what he’s getting at: that the preparation is right, and it’s the execution that’s lacking. But he isn’t executing either. Why do the players continue to look so half-arsed at the start of critically important fixtures? Why can’t we play with two strikers? Why do substitutions act to continue unsuccessful formations rather than alter them? And why on earth have we so completely stopped scoring?

4. Okay, we’re trying to tighten up and maybe nick enough 1-0s to scrape 21st. Fair enough. But it obviously isn’t working, and we’ve gone from a fairly free-scoring and even occasionally entertaining side to one that’s almost unwatchable, and actually amassing fewer points per game than under the previous manager. It’s godawful stuff, and even though he hasn’t been here a long time, a few stiff questions need putting to Mr Adkins.

5. That some City fans were still incensed enough to sing “you’re not fit to wear that shirt” is ominous. That’s not necessarily unfair – while the ultimate responsibility lies solely with the Allam family, this also isn’t a side that ought to be plunging towards relegation. It wasn’t a majority, but enough to be heard amid a severely angry full-time reaction, and suggests that the fans/players relationship that’s broadly survived our descent down the table is close to fracturing.

6. With a less kind turn of events following the FA Cup third round, we could have found ourselves bottom of the Championship by this weekend while we’re in fourth round action against Nottingham Forest. Mercifully, neither Sunderland nor Burton Albion are among the eight clubs playing their scheduled Championship fixtures, while Birmingham are in FA Cup action themselves. To be playing Leeds on January 30th as the 24th of 24 would have been a horrendous piece of footballing symbolism. Their fans don’t need much excuse to come to the Circle and take the piss, but to do so while we languished at the very foot of the table would have been unbearable.

7. That FA Cup tie in itself feels insignificant right now, but maybe it’s the sort of break from the lousy, rotten freefall we need. Not that beating Forest will be any kind of cakewalk; they’ve just dumped the FA Cup holders Arsenal out of the competition and have also played us off our own park once this season.

8. Marco Silva has been sacked by Watford. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the Watford hierarchy’s notorious impatience with head coaches in recent years. And it’s true that Silva was on a bad run and seemed to have been distracted fatally by interest shown in him by Everton a few weeks back. Yet we know he is quality. And with two weeks of the transfer window left and 18 games of the season to come, what would we give for him to be parachuted back in and asked basically to repeat the revival he instigated when all seemed to be lost little more than a year ago? Yes, we still got relegated under him, but without him we’d have been relegated in March. Our squad is not without talent, and Silva is not without the charisma and the character to do a persuasion job on Ehab Allam in a way akin to that regularly done by Steve Bruce on Assem. It’s doable in theory, but of course, not in practice. It will remain a mere pipe dream – not only will the Allams not entertain the idea of sacking Adkins so quickly after appointing him, but we can’t imagine they have high regard for Silva after he dared to see greener grass than that which they supplied for him at the beginning of 2017. On top of that, Silva will not have a lot of enthusiasm for coming to a club trying to avoid hurtling through the club’s second tier, and even a man of his self-belief won’t like risking two straight relegations on his CV with the same club, even though neither of them would be his fault. He’s better than us now – or, at least, he’s better than what we represent under the toxic regime of the Allams.

9. It’s not been a good week for ex-City gaffers. Phil Brown is also on the way out of his job, though in a familiar turn of events, is currently on gardening leave while Southend United tries to find a way of reaching settlement with their manager of the last five years. We can’t comment on the wisdom of the decision, of course, although seven defeats in eight does look rather ominous, but we hold plenty of affection for the first manager to take City to the top flight in English football and we wish him well. If we do end up in League One, you can imagine him crawling over broken glass to rescue us. In fact, you can imagine him doing that right now.

10. Our discussion with Sunderland podcast Roker Report last week made it evident, well, more evident, that fans of other clubs are aware of the wilful damage being inflicted on our club by the Allam family. Incredibly though there are some Hull City fans who still defend them, who still support them and attempt to paint them as victims of the actions of supporters determined to thwart their good intentions. It’s a dwindling band for sure, but it’s hard to fathom how they can do it, Stockholm Syndrome maybe, or a Vichy France-esque subservience fueled by self interest, who knows. But let’s say it plainly… if you still support the Allam family, you actively support their wilful damage of Hull City AFC. You can be certain that these people will, when the ghastly Allams eventually move on leaving the club little more than a husk,  say “it won’t be long before new owners have ‘so called fans’ at their throats” or similar, in an attempt to deflect from the fact they cheerleaded as the Allams ripped apart the club they claim to support.


Things We Think We Think #288


1. Where on earth to start with Saturday’s appalling spectacle? City and Reading served up about us dismally tepid a fixture as you could ever want not to see. If we’ve seen a worse game of football in the past decade, then mercifully our minds have erased it. It was truly, almost memorably awful.

2. City did show at least a modicum of attacking intent, unlike Reading. They should be absolutely ashamed of turning up to a side as poor and off-form as ours and sitting back for a draw – and no, two first-half injuries aren’t an excuse for that. They were pathetic, and if that negativity comes back to bite them on the arse in May, good. It deserves to.

3. That City couldn’t break down a side – a poor side – with no particular interest in moving forward is damning. Nigel Adkins may have sorted out the defence, as two successive clean sheets indicates, but it’s coming at a high price. We need wins, quite a few of them, and rather quickly; but this cautious approach doesn’t suggest they’re coming any time soon.

4. We go to Sunderland this weekend, and if they beat us, we could end the day joint bottom of the Championship, spared the immeasurable ignominy of 24th place only by our deceptively superior goal difference. This is a worst case scenario, as both Burton and Birmingham have to visit sides in the top ten of the Championship, but let’s not rely alone on City to actively avoid it – after all, Sunderland were bottom of the table when they all too comfortably beat us twice in the Premier League last season and for all their troubles, are equipped enough to do it again.

5. Meanwhile, there were almost certainly fewer than 12,000 in attendance on Saturday. How long before our first 11,000 crowd? And relegation or not, could 2018 see the Circle’s first four-figure home attendance for a League game?

6. Sky Sports – who may be regretting this decision in light of the Reading non-event – have chosen to televise our home game with Sheffield United next month. The Nottingham Forest fixture earlier this season saw many take the opportunity to broadcast our distaste for the Allams’ abysmal behaviour to the nation. If they refuse to act properly during the present transfer window and refuse to restore the club’s name and concessions, it’s easy to imagine a repeat, and very possibly on a larger scale. Their move.

7. City have tabled a bid for Aberdeen’s Scott McKenna to the tune of £800,000, which the Scottish side has turned down. Reports now say that City’s follow-up offer is valued at, er, £800,000. Presumably while stifling laughter and shrugging shoulders, Aberdeen have not surprisingly rejected this too. In what world does Ehab Allam live in whereby he thinks he can persuade any party to give him what he wants without actually spending the requisite cash? Aberdeen must think we’re run by an idiot. And maybe, just maybe…

8. What odds on him offering one final bid of £400,000? How long before Nigel Adkins realises he’s been taken for a mug?

9. Forest at home in the FA Cup. It’s often the case that an unexciting draw leaves one scrabbling for positives. And here’s ours: it’s winnable, and means we’ve a chance of making the fifth round. That’s about it though.

10. Have you seen the state of the ‘branding guidelines‘ supplied to HCST by the club? One page of hopelessly amateurish nonsense dated 2014/15, that has taken them months to provide. It does confirm a few things we already suspected though: 1) The now departed Tom Rowell’s assertion that there was no standing directive to not use Hull City AFC was a flat out lie. 2) The current round of fan consultation is an exercise in futility. 3) Ehab Allam’s self image does not correspond to reality. He clearly thinks he’s a brilliant, leftfield thinker, yet has no insight into how stupid he looks with each action or utterance.  When you acknowledge that the ‘Governing Bodies and Media’ don’t use your inconsistent preferred branding, you’re acknowledging your own failure and lack of business nous.


Things We Think We Think #277


1. A weekend of positives! Sure, the magnitude of those positives depends upon the value you assign to the ailing FA Cup, and the significance of beating lower league opposition. But even the churls among us would struggle to pinpoint a bad side to the weekend – and how often have we been able to say that lately?

2. A 1-0 win at Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup has only limited pulse-quickening properties – but look at that sheet of perfect cleanliness! Marvel at that win in a place not called Kingston-upon-Hull! Rejoice at not leaving a game beset by despair. Clutch those straws, Tiger Nation. There’s little else to do.

3. In these grim times, we need something to hold on to. The players do, too. We cannot hope that this solitary victory transforms a wretched season, but it isn’t too much to wish for at least a modest uptick in our fortunes as a consequence – and that may be just enough to see us survive relegation.

4. It was a bold move by Nigel Adkins to field a fairly strong XI. He must have been tempted to card a lesser eleven, and protect his miserably thin squad for upcoming League fixtures. The calculation must have been that a strongish side would have enough to beat Blackburn, and lift its own morale – and so it proved. An interesting, and vindicated, roll of the dice by the manager. Well done to him.

5. Not that it was entirely straightforward. A dour first half and unconvincing late desperation sandwiched City’s best spell of the game, which brought Ola Aina’s first senior goal, and if you do fancy a bit of churlishness, its the difficulty we made in overcoming League One opposition.

6. But we are in the hat! Round Four beckons, which isn’t something we’ve always been able to say, and if Ehab Allam’s calamitous misrule does culminate in successive relegations then it’ll appear a distant prospect in 2018/19. But however diminished the Cup is these days, there’ll still be a frisson of excitement this evening when the draw is made and we dream of a tie away to FC Tick Ground. And at least Arsenal are out.

7. A marked improvement in City’s corner routines was evident on Saturday, so it wasn’t surprising when Nigel Adkins said post match that set pieces had been worked on in training. We’ve not seen a massive change in league form beyond goals drying up in order to shore a leaky defence so such attention to detail is welcome.

8. The ’15 years at the KCOM’ videos on Social Media are beautifully designed. Tip of the hat to whoever is responsible.

9. It isn’t just first team managers that City are working through at the moment, there’s another vacancy for media and marketing manager. James Mooney’s departure to a lesser club elsewhere in Yorkshire brought in Tom Rowell, for whom supporter liaison wasn’t excessively prioritised – and now he’s leaving for pastures new. Good luck to the new boy or girl who has to present the Allams’ dopey ideas to the Tiger Nation – you’ll need it.

10. Meanwhile, with wearying predictability, rumours now surface that the Allams may be close to selling the club – which is a far more reliable indicator that the transfer window is now open than any mere calendar could hope to provide.


Things We Think We Think #276


1. On the face of it, a 1-0 loss at second placed Cardiff isn’t a calamity. A side that’s closer to a relegation battle than it cares to admit away to a team challenging for automatic promotion would probably be expected to lose this sort of game, and so it proved.

2. The match was settled by a single goal – offside, if you scrutinise the television replays closely enough, but such a close decision we’ve no real right to furiously rail against it. In real time it was almost impossible to be sure, and it must be correct that attacking players receive the benefit of any doubt in such situations. It’s understandable that the City manager and players are frustrated to lose to a goal that could’ve been chalked off, but if you need slow motion replays to be certain, it’s clearly a tight call.

3. After the (relative) excitement of winning by the odd goal in five against Brentford in Nigel Adkins’ first game in charge, this was a far dourer approach. We hope it was done with the quality of the opposition in mind, and not an indication of the way the new manager hopes to avoid relegation. It was a dreadful match, low on creativity and invention, played at a weirdly consistent half-pace throughout.

4. Positives. Er, well, City looked a little more assured defensively than of late. There was a degree of compact coherency to the performance, even if it came at the expense of any creativity. We weren’t blown away, and given that our ambitions have shrivelled from advancement to mere survival, that sort of approach could be enough to see us stumble into a safe high-teens position. But it’d be godawful to watch us do it this way.

5. But maybe it was just for Cardiff. For all of the faults that this weakened, imbalanced squad possesses, the ability to score a few goals isn’t one of them. It’d be a mistake if Nigel Adkins sacrificed one of his side’s few qualities for greater defensive stability – besides which, Adkins arrives with a reputation for coaching, so with luck he can fix the defensive issues without unduly hampering the goals. There’s also a lengthy injury list, which would have challenged a properly assembled squad. It could be that we must wait until the New Year before discerning the Adkins master plan.

6. Blackburn away in the FA Cup. It’s a chance for a trip out to a ground we wouldn’t have expected to visit this season, and as they’re also blighted by abysmal owners, might there be the opportunity for the two sets of supporters to get their heads together and make a bit of noise about our predicaments?

7. The Christmas fixtures now loom, with an air of menace. Leeds away isn’t a match you could reliably expect City to get much from, while the visit of fourth-placed Derby on Boxing Day – who’ve already smashed us 5-0 this season – feels uninviting. Still, there’s there the visit of midtable Fulham and a New Years Day trip to bottom placed Bolton, so there are chances for points too. With only 22 gained from 22 matches, we’re only just up with the overall run-rate for survival.

8. It was disappointing though completely unsurprising to hear from the redoubtable Hull City Supporters’ Trust that no progress has been made from their latest meeting with the Allam family. It didn’t bode well that the club had reneged upon its promise to share their brand guidelines before the meeting, the ones that fans have previously been assured do not exclude use of the never-used term “Hull City”. And so nothing was resolved, save for an Allam promise – not the world’s most valuable currency – to look again at the badge. Which is pointless anyway, when the previous one was popular.

9. Ehab’s drivel about adults misusing concessionary tickets was again produced. It’s been rebutted often enough, but he clings to it as a defence of the malicious and ruinous membership scheme. Perhaps he even believes it. It does make one wonder how every single other professional sporting club in the country manages. Had he ever thought of doing even a bit of perfunctory research? Or was the temptation to wreck the club’s future as well as its present simply too attractive?

10. The one interesting detail to emerge was that if no buyer is found for the club by the summer, then it will managed by a third party. We can’t wait for Paul Duffen’s return. Honest. In the meantime, it’s clear the Allams aren’t interested in resolving any of the issues the club faces. Mostly because they’ve caused them, but the lack of willingness to budge an inch on anything proves they’re not bothered, and that these meetings are probably just a box-ticking exercise to placate disinterested authorities.