Things We Think We Think #39

1. City have drawn quite a few lately, and they’ve mainly been undeserved – Friday’s game at Blackpool continued that sequence but with the twist of us being the fortunate party. Credit the lads for staying in the game, but the overall performance was disappointing.

2. That said, Blackpool were very good. Like City, they play an attractive style of football and deserve their elevated position. However, we didn’t see anything to suggest we still can’t finish above them.

3. Seyi Olofinjana’s performance divided opinions. To some he appeared ponderous in possession and generally bypassed in midfield, to others a calming and thoughtful influence. He certainly didn’t do anything Corry Evans can’t, and it’d be a surprise not to see them exchange places on Tuesday night.

4. Cameron Stewart’s performance received a more unanimous review, alas. He’s still obviously a very good player, but the time may have arrived for him to spend a few games out of the side. Young players shouldn’t be whisked from the side at the slightest dip in form or confidence, they should be persevered with where possible – but his recent difficulties may stem more from the lack of match fitness owing to that awful injury. A rest may do him good and allow him to return refreshed for the final run-in.

5. A Leeds United team led by Neil Warnock threatens to be the most cynical side ever to visit the KC when they – dragging along half of Beverley and Driffield – come to the hygienic side of the county on Tuesday night. How it is done is actually irrelevant, but City very simply must win the game. Fair means or foul, fortunately or convincingly (though either of those specific ways would register high on the amusement scale), the three points have to be ours. This is one occasion when it is handy to have a Hull-centric manager, and we’d like to think Nick Barmby will tell the players he hates Leeds as much as the rest of us do, and that victory will simply make them heroes forever.

6. Jimmy Bullard is a toxic, nasty, selfish, narcissistic wastrel whose suspension at a second successive club will, hopefully, open the wider public’s eyes about the real character behind the jolly, cheeky figure that sits on the Soccer AM sofa or advertises shampoo. Hopefully, this latest act of intoxicated idiocy will also aid City’s case as the grotesque man continues to try to force even more cash out of our club.

7. That he’ll be missing from next Saturday’s fixture when Ipswich arrive is both a relief and a shame. A relief, because it’d be Textbook TypicalCity for that detestable specimen to have his game of the year and belt in a 30 yard winner; a shame, because one fancies the Tiger Nation would have some particularly forthright views to impart on his human worth, or absence thereof.

8. As if by contrast, another experienced pro from the Tigers’ spell in the limelight has begun what we expect to be a very long coaching career, due to his natural intelligence and vast experience in the game. One hopes Kevin Kilbane, one of football’s good guys, proves to be a success in charge of City’s reserves and that great achievements await him.

9. It was nice of the BBC to show West Ham again yesterday.

10. Mind you, seeing Cardiff do a passable impression of a side whose league season is collapsing wasn’t an unwelcome sight.

Things We Think We Think #38

1. Cameron Stewart’s call into the England under 21 squad is nothing short of a brilliant achievement. There is oodles of talent available at that level, and for the Tigers winger to make it so soon into his first-team career, and with one bad injury already interrupting those early days of senior football, is something to make us all very proud.

2. Fraizer Campbell’s call-up to the senior squad, meanwhile, took everybody by surprise but when a new gaffer is around, there is traditionally always a radical “new face” within the familiarity of his first squad, and Campbell is the Ricky Hill/Andy Hinchcliffe/Chris Powell of the Stuart Pearce era. With Wayne Rooney and Darren Bent now out of contention with knocks, it means he’s actually likely to play now, too. And yes, he was “only” a loan player with us, but nonetheless we’ll happily cast him as an ex-Tiger in this instance. It’s about time someone finally followed Brian Marwood’s ludicrous nine-minute cameo of 1989 anyway.

2 a. Going by the reaction of City fans online since Campbell’s call up, the Tiger Nation appears to have largely gotten over its seething indignation at his not joining us permanently.  Holding ill will towards a man who was integral to our last promotion campaign will raise the blood pressure and harden the arteries, we should have only gratitude and warm feelings toward Fraizer Lee Campbell.

3. You’d expect the prospect of levelling a century-old record to have been on our minds through Wednesday’s draw with Brighton, yet there never really seemed any doubt we’d secure a sixth successive clean sheet. Testament to both our phenomenal defence and the general dominance enjoyed throughout. Last season saw that record-obliterating run of away games without defeat, this season is 90 minutes from creating its own slice of history – the class of 2011/12 deserves its place in the Hull City record books.

4. It’s impossible not to keep an eye on results elsewhere when you’re not in action. It was a mixed day, with City unsurprisingly falling to 9th. However, we’re the only side in the top half with 15 games left, and it’s still in our hands – plus the three sides below us, Leicester, Leeds and Burnley, all look to have a lot to do to make the top six. Ours remains a strong position.

5. Dare we hope that Cardiff’s distressing penalty shoot-out defeat at Wembley yesterday will cast a shadow over the rest of their season?

6. A common utterance ahead of Mad March is “they’re professional footballers, they should be able to play that many games”. They doubtless can. The question is not whether City’s first XI, plus a few others, can between them get through nine games in a month, because they obviously will. They could probably manage twenty. The issue is the extent to which tiredness will creep in and potentially affect performances and results. At this level of the game, even a slight decrease in standards will be punished, and the division is too tight for there to be many. Remarkably fit though a 20 year old footballer is and as enviable as their wealth and lifestyle may be, they’re still going to have to work bloody hard to get us close to contention and there’s no harm in acknowledging that.

7. City fans haven’t tended to have a very high opinion of the local media’s coverage of the Tigers, with both Radio Humberside and the Hull Daily Mail coming in for plenty of criticism. Going all the way back to the late 90s we tended to side with that view – see here and here for two particularly lurid examples. So maybe we should be equally willing to offer praise for the improvement of both in recent years.

8. Once upon a time, things were so bad that the HDM was widely reviled and Kempton would made vivid allegations about the onanistic tendencies of BBC Radio Humberside’s David Gibbins. Hard to imagine that happening now. While Humberside’s still not entirely to our taste it’s audibly improved, while the HDM of yesteryear was never capable of this sort of excellence by Philip Buckingham. The local media can never really hope to properly tap in to the supporters’ culture, but it’s trying, and it’s improved, and in a quiet period that too is worth acknowledging.

9. Seeing Birmingham win the competition last season and Cardiff make its final yesterday illustrates that silverware and European competition via the League Cup is possible for any of English football’s top 30 clubs. Let’s hope City take it seriously next season, some 2013/14 trips to unpronounceable places thousands of miles from home would be rather fun.

10. Sympathy for Anthony Gerrard on the above, of course. Mind you, the penalty he took was absolutely shocking.

10 a. Though not as bad as Charlie Adam’s, which had inhabitants of the International Space Station frantically firing retro-thrusters to avoid a collision with a size-5 Mitre.

Things We Think We Think #37

1. Tuesday’s point at Birmingham was a very useful one, even if it means City are going to spend a period outside the top six. We’d have taken a draw before kick-off.

2. It was encouraging that this didn’t represent the limit of City’s ambitions, however. Amid the formidable ball retention and impenetrable defence we’ve become accustomed to, there were genuine attempts to push forward for a winner.

3. Sadly another thing we’ve become accustomed to is City’s inability to convert possession and chances into goals. We’d be top of the league if we could.

4. One of the mysteries of Birmingham was hearing “bit crap last night, wasn’t it?” from those who couldn’t make it the following morning. This seems to have come from dullard pundits on both radio and television, for whom a match can only be entertaining or worthwhile if laden with goals from famous people. The acclaim the side received from the away end at full time provides a more informed verdict than anything Tony Cottee could hope to come up with.

5. Players and managers are surely fibbing when they say they don’t take much notice of others teams’ results – so they’ll presumably have watched with satisfaction as Brighton’s big day out in the Cup ended with a heavy defeat. Gus Poyet is an admirable manager and this is certain to be a difficult game on a lousy surface, but there are few things a Sussex side would want less than a night match in Yorkshire three days after being battered in Liverpool.

6. It’s a game we could really do to win, however. Come Wednesday night we could be unable to reclaim a top six place without a very big win, and another weekend off could put us half a dozen points adrift if things go badly. Games in hand or not, that’s a lot to make up.

7. Robert Koren’s retirement from international football does City a great service and also acts as a huge gesture of respect from player to his club. We need him more than ever as the games pile up and our thin squad is pushed to its limit. It’d have been profoundly irritating if we’d lost him for Mad March because of some limited Scottish hobbledehoy severing a ligament of choice in next week’s friendly.

8. Dean Windass begins his 26 days of rehab today. We know he will emerge a stronger man at peace with himself, and he will always be our Deano.

9. Colin and Ken, together at last. Truly this is the end of days.

10. Amber Nectar is 14 years old this week. Crikey.

Things We Think We Think #36

1. What a welcome relief to get all three points against Bristol City without too much strife and in some degree of comfort. The early 2-0 margin wasn’t insurmountable – think about how Burnley responded to an identical deficit at the Circle earlier this season – but nonetheless City were clever enough and professional enough to exploit the many weaknesses of what was a most listless Bristol City team. Victories like these, against the teams we “ought” to be beating, will be key to our ambitions for the remainder of the season.

2. When Matt Fryatt stays up front, gets good service and deliberately aims for nets with every run, he’s a very dangerous centre forward. He has taken some flak from many supporters lately so it’s time to offer credit where it’s due, as against Bristol City he was excellent and his goal was a cracker.

3. Fewer dropped players in recent memory have been unluckier than Aaron Mclean, statistically the Amber Nectar player of the season thus far. But Nick Barmby called it right.

4. Another correct call was the inclusion of Robbie Brady. He’s improved markedly in recent weeks – gone is the maddeningly selfish play and bouts of petulance, replaced by a greater team ethic and a focus on the simple things. His assist for Koren’s goal was exactly what he should be doing, using his skill to create a yard of space to send in a dangerous cross. More of this, please.

5. Barmby, meanwhile, has stated the loan market isn’t something he will seek to exploit over the days and weeks. He is being very optimistic, however, if he thinks the 12 or 13 main performers are all going to keep form and fitness over the next 11 games – nine of which occur in a mental March – and also quite ambitious if he thinks that the array of back-up players currently at his disposal will prove adequate.

6. Birmingham, then. The pressure on City to get a result has been greatly reduced by Saturday’s victory, so a defeat wouldn’t be a disaster – unless you’re one of those who thinks the top two is still on, of course. Victory would indeed make automatic promotion a genuine possibility, if still fairly improbable.

7. You’d think City were 13th, judging by the amount of media attention we’ve received. This isn’t a bad thing, quite the reverse – it’s allowing this young side to go about its business without unwanted distractions from outside the club. One does wonder at point we’ll be noticed though – halfway through the play-off final itself, perhaps?

8. Congratulations to all involved in bringing the FSF’s Safe Standing roadshow to Hull on Saturday. Mentions must go to the official supporters’ club, City themselves, the FSF, the boys at City Independent, WHCR and everyone who took the time on a numbingly cold day to take a look at what safe standing is and could do for The Circle. We remain optimistic that this will eventually become a reality.

9. Let’s throw you a curveball; in the event of Paul McKenna becoming unavailable, is it worth offering a short-term deal to Ian Ashbee as back-up?

10. An impeccable silence was observed prior to the Bristol City game, rightly requested by the benevolent owners of Hull City as the latest footballing tragedy occurred in their Egyptian homeland. But why didn’t the club see it fit to acknowledge similarly the passing of Paul Feasey and Bob Chapman? One was a player for 12 years and distinguished skipper, the other a well-respected chairman. Whatever other marks of respect did occur – black armbands, pieces in the programme – the silence (or applause) is the only way supporters can collectively proffer their own respect.

Things We Think We Think #35

1. Most City fans travelling from Hull were well south of Leicester when the Portsmouth match was postponed. To be allowed to travel more than halfway for a game that had no prospect of being played is a complete disgrace.

2. Quite who’s culpable is presently unclear. The rumours about Portsmouth not even troubling to print a programme, such was their certainty of a postponement have been debunked – yet finding a Portsmouth fan who didnt know the game wouldn’t be played is a difficult task. It seems to have been common knowledge in that part of the world. So why were we allowed to set off?

3. Some Portsmouth supporters identify the officials as the guilty party for not holding an inspection until after we’d all left. So why did Bournemouth, just 50 miles away, manage to declare their pitch unplayable 24 hours before kick-off? The answer may lie in Portsmouth’s desperate financial state – so keen were they to get the cash from a home match they were willing to let us waste a journey in the hope that the weather forecast ended up being totally wrong.

4. These may seem minor trifles grievances comparison to what the Portsmouth fans are going through, to which we can of course relate. But the fact remains that time and money has been unnecessarily wasted. Not much of either, but more than was necessary given even a moment’s consideration. That’s not good enough. It contrasts starkly with City’s own conduct – from 10.15am the club began calling people whom they knew had bought tickets to advise them to turn around. Well done City, that’s classy stuff.

5. Also not good enough is the fact the game wasn’t on anyway. The technology has existed for many  years that allows pitches to be rendered playable even in the depths of winter – and this is a club on the southern coast of a country with a stable and moderate climate. Extreme weather just doesn’t happen in England. That technology, which is admittedly not cheap, nonetheless costs a fraction of the money Portsmouth recouped from their Premier League years, Cup win and European adventure. The FA needs to adopt a tougher stance: from 2014, any club in the top two tiers that cannot prepare a football pitch should be deducted three points. This’d focus a few minds and prevent a repeat of Saturday’s farce.

6. That postponement does little for City’s hopes of making the top six. While Saturday’s results weren’t unhelpful, the appalling fixture backlog we’ll have in March and April is going to be a severe test of a young side and a thin squad – while having three of our four longest away trips of 2011/12 on Tuesday nights is a severe test of supporters’ stamina and holiday entitlement.

7. Booing the team off the pitch for a goalless draw against a Doncaster side so much on the bones of its arse it was prepared to resort to ultra-desperate defensive tactics to quell a run of six straight away defeats, was an act of outrageous stupidity and ingratitude. Where do we find these cretins?

8. What is the problem with our set-pieces? It’s not as if we keep coming close to scoring from them; either the delivery is poor or the attempt to make contact with a better effort is inept. Robert Koren and Andy Dawson can put in wicked centres and Jack Hobbs and James Chester are hardly difficult to see in a crowd of bodies, but it just isn’t happening. Nick Barmby clumsily and naively expressed his preference to score from open play as a way of defending our awfulness from dead balls, but he must see the problem. One hopes more and more priority is being given to them, especially as a starkly obvious aerial threat in Seyi Olofinjana has now returned to the squad. All good sides have a reasonable success rate from free kicks and corners and just because we aim for a pretty, flowing, open game it doesn’t mean our ineptitude from set-pieces should be labelled as unimportant.

9. Against Crawley and particularly Doncaster, the KC greensward looked in poor condition. It’s a difficult time of year to keep football pitches in pristine condition, but it’s no coincidence that its sudden deterioration has begun at the time when eggchasing has recommenced. Now, we appreciate that both sports cause damage and sadly it’s not possible to evict the rugby franchise or stop them playing “Super” League games, but it really isn’t acceptable for friendlies to be played on the pitch in January, as has happened twice in recent weeks.

10. Nor is it acceptable for Hull KR to be allowed to play at the Circle, as recently mooted.

Things We Think We Think #34

1. The defeat against Crawley Town was absolutely abject – not the result itself, embarrassing though it was, but the nature of it. One part poor team selection, three parts woeful application. That’s what is difficult to take.

2. Crawley have drawn Stoke City at home in the next round. You’d fancy City at home to Stoke – and from there, you’re suddenly in the quarter-finals. It’s galling to see other clubs enjoying the FA Cup when it appears to bring us nothing but disappointment.

3. Anyway, onwards and upwards. Doncaster Rovers, Portsmouth and Bristol City are our next three opponents, and they’re all beatable. Six points or more will keep us nicely in the top six, but with Southampton wobbling, suddenly quite a few clubs must see second place opening up as a possibility. Why not us? Nine points from those games would certainly see the Tigers edging ever closer to the top two, and would atone for Crawley.

4. City’s scheduled fixtures at home to Brighton & Hove Albion and away at Cardiff City in February both now need rearranging as those sides have each taken the cup competitions seriously and find themselves both involved in money-spinning, headline-making games against Liverpool on the days they were supposed to play the Tigers. It’s an unfortunate coincidence that these two City games would have been in successive weeks, but it does mean that unless one can be allocated a February midweek slot, we could have a period of 17 days without a match – from Birmingham City away on February 14th to Blackpool away on March 2nd. That’s a long time to be not playing football, and while it may have benefits for the health of the team, it will do nothing for any momentum they may have achieved. It also, incidentally, creates an extraordinary 24-day gap between games at the KC – from Bristol City on February 11th to Leeds United on March 6th.

5. Quite clearly, the dreadful car crash against Crawley has proved that we have a poor secondary set of players backing up our fine starting XI. Maybe 14 or 15 outfield players in total, as a semi-generous figure, could state their genuine worth to the squad but there’s clearly a stack of dross also around which, irrespective of our division next season, need to be handed their sticks and handkerchiefs in the summer, a process begun this week with Will Atkinson’s departure to Bradford City.

6. It won’t happen, but it’d be great if City could use the final 48 hours of the transfer window to make a proper bid for Vito Mannone and see what Arsenal say. You never know. It’d just be nice to have a goalkeeper of our own – one who is young, gifted, ambitious and of long-term benefit to the team. Mannone himself has made noises about potentially joining up permanently in the summer, so it’s not as if the player’s own ego or sense of entitlement makes it impractical.

7. That said, a quiet transfer window may not be a bad thing, mainly because it’d mean City have managed to keep hold of everyone.

8. He mucked us around good and proper but it was only the stoniest of human hearts that didn’t melt a little when Fraizer Campbell scored in the FA Cup for Sunderland at the weekend. As the telly commentator pointed out, it had been exactly 500 days since his last taste of senior football, with horrific injuries in the interim period threatening to end the career of a young player who was just a total superstar up front for the Tigers when we got promoted. Some ex-players are unforgivable, but Campbell represents a period of total Tiger euphoria and time can heal, so of course we should join in with his joy. And the goal, a divine side-footed finish from the edge of the box, was reminiscent of the fearless, totally confident finishing he showed regularly in 2007-08 as City rose to the top flight. Brought back a lot of happy memories. Well done Fraizer.

9. Seeing Crystal Palace pin their Wembley hopes on a defensive partnership of Anthony Gardner and Paul McShane in midweek was nothing short of hilarious, and yet it almost worked, with the Eagles only losing their Carling Cup semi-final to Cardiff City on penalties in the end. It would have been a briefly joyful moment had McShane stepped up to take a kick, but that script seems, sadly, destined to remain unwritten.

10. Hearing that the Football Supporters’ Federation are bringing their safe standing roadshow to Hull is excellent news. Even if it’s not your preference to stand, the choice should be provided for those who do. We hope the event on February 11th is a success and eventually does lead to a standing area at the Circle. In the meantime, why not go sign the FSF’s petition on the issue?

Things We Think We Think #33

1. Another week, another win. Frankly, we didn’t deserve it, but we didn’t deserve that run over Christmas. These things really do even themselves up.

2. Was Aaron Mclean offside? Yes. Was he interfering with play? Well, he got to within a yard of the ball, so yes. Was the linesman right not to flag? Yes, according to the laws as they currently stand. It’s the laws that are patently stupid, not the officials’ application of them.

3. It also made Brian McDermott sound unusually foolish. One can understand his frustration, but suggesting this is some mysterious new development is woefully ignorant and to blame Saturday’s officials is to select the wrong target for ire.

4. The trip to Berkshire has begun, hopefully, to prove the worth of Robbie Brady as a good player, rather than just a flick-heeled showpony with minuscule discipline or appreciation of a team game. He got his chance, both to play and to score, and took each in the correct manner. Let’s hope this makes him a crucial member of the squad for the remainder of the campaign.

5. His fellow winger is faring a little less well, however. Have other teams worked out Cameron Stewart a little? Maybe they have. There’s no appreciable drop in his workrate, which is promising, but his effectiveness has been greatly reduced in recent weeks. How he responds will be fascinating. He’s a young player still learning the game, and there’s no reason to suppose he won’t react positively to it. Let’s hope so, because Stewart on his day is almost unplayable.

6. Crawley on Saturday represents an outstanding opportunity for progress in the FA Cup. We’ve only made the Fifth Round once since 1989, which is serial underachievement even by City’s standards. Assuming Nick Barmby picks something approximating to his strongest side, and it applies itself correctly on the field, the result should only go one way. Anything else and we could find ourselves embarrassed. It’d be a shame if that were to occur during such a successful season.

7. It’s probably rash to start issuing targets and getting ahead of ourselves, but City’s next three games are against sides in the bottom eight, two of them being at home. If any of rivals were to encounter such a run of games we’d expect them to amass five points, at the least. If City can do the same we’d be on 50 (or more) from 30 games. Another seven wins from the remaining 16 games would virtually guarantee the play-offs…

8. Perhaps Barmby just likes the insurance of extra defensive cover, but his selection as a substitute for the last three games of Liam Cooper, who had been off the radar – and, indeed, off the premises – for quite some time, shows considerable and welcome faith in a youngster who just momentarily looked set for a major future when he played in the Premier League. The remarkable ever-presence – by minutes as well as by matches – of Jack Hobbs and James Chester suggests game time may be of a premium for the young man, but at least he’s been noticed again.

9. The transfer window closes in just over a week. The arrival of two goalkeepers and one centre forward, all on loan, has been most welcome but is there cover anywhere else that we would really regard as urgent? The defence seems strong, the midfield currently picks itself but has back-up available, and we have enough width and central ability in attack for Barmby to play around with. From here, the squad looks pretty much as we would need it to be, on both content and form.

10. Aston Villa, Rangers and Celtic have all publicly declared themselves willing to introduce safe standing areas at their home grounds. Villa’s intervention is significant as they’re the first Premier League club to officially state this, though plenty of others sympathise. More than two decades have passed since the ill-advised move towards all-seater grounds began, yet the issue refuses to go away. If anything, the momentum is now with the pro-standing lobby.

Things We Think We Think #32

1. The victory over Peterborough won’t live long in the memory, but there were still positive signs to take from it. Robert Koren’s goal was yet another delightful strike, and the way City ruthlessly closed the game out by starving an eager but limited side of possession was a sign of maturity from a youthful side.

2. A couple of modest concerns, however. City started very slowly and a better side would probably have capitalised on that by scoring at least once. We were also very fortunate not to concede a penalty close to half-time, and would have had a tough job on to win the game in the second half. Nick Barmby has described that as a bit of overdue good fortune and  he’s right, but starting better and scoring that second goals are things City can seek to improve.

3. Even so, there’s a lot of truth in that hoary old cliché that good teams can win when playing below their best. City are sixth in the Championship – we are undoubtedly a good side.

4. A good psychological move on behalf of his players from Barmby in selecting his team for the Peterborough game; despite three straight defeats, the “established” XI was carded, whatever the temptation to alter things following those losses and a few good claims made by peripheral players after the FA Cup win over Ipswich. Barmby was essentially saying “you’re my best team, lads, forget the last three games, it’s still all about you”.

5. And as interesting was his choice of substitutes. Many more players are now available to the new City gaffer and so he knew he was going to be left with some disappointed faces and perhaps spring a surprise or two. Richard Garcia and Jay Simpson will maybe have raised eyebrows for longest through their omission as they stayed suited up while four of the more youthful, inexperienced members of the squad were given a shirt.

6. If one player from the “establishment” does look ready for a spell of battery recharging, it’s Matt Fryatt. He doesn’t seem entirely happy, and isn’t helped by the lack of a regular strike partner whose brief doesn’t include also filling in at left wing and right back. Josh King’s arrival, as well as Simpson’s return, give Barmby real alternatives now, should he feel he needs them.

7. Only Kamel Ghilas of the senior squad is still out on a loan spell arranged prior to Barmby’s appointment; the rest have returned. We can’t imagine Barmby will be in a hurry to recall the Algerian, though. When is he out of contract again?

8. Assam Allem’s patient persuasion of Barmby to take the job and his robust repelling of unwanted transfer offers from lesser Championship sides have been very welcome. The recently-released accounts illustrate the extent of his benevolence, for which we will be eternally grateful – his conduct in recent weeks is a pleasing indication that there’s more to his ownership of City than financial assistance.

9. Sky’s decision to bring forward the Blackpool away game in March to the Friday night is typically inconsiderate towards travelling supporters, but that’s now as much part of television’s contribution to football as boneheaded punditry and copious advertising breaks.

10. The news that Dean Windass is suffering from depression is desperately sad. We hope an authentic City legend gets the help he needs.

Things We Think We Think #31

1: Crawley Town at home, while noting it may be difficult, is a very appealing fixture in the last 32 of the FA Cup that should take City into the fifth round. A draw, of course, would suit a shamelessly nerdish element of the Tiger Nation as far as ticking off visited stadia is concerned, but fortunately, there is nobody on this website who thinks like that. Oh no.

2: The pricing for this game will be interesting. A Fourth Division side that no-one had even heard of five years ago is unlikely to spark a clamour for tickets – you’d think City will want to price it similarly to the Ipswich game, at which £10 for season ticket holders represented unusually good value for modern football. The nostalgic may view it a shame to heavily discount tickets for the Fourth Round of the FA Cup and Crawley will want to maximise their takings – however they’ve only played in front of one five-figure gate that we can see since 1992 and they shouldn’t do anything to jeopardise the chances of another.

3: Is it foolishly premature to observe that while City really should make the Fifth Round this season, Manchester City and either of Manchester United or Liverpool won’t? Yes? Ah.

4: City played well on Saturday, showing lots of ability in the first half and no little heart in the second. Granted, Ipswich are a pretty poor side, but we’ve lost to far worse before and it was heartening to see them put away.

5: Peterborough next weekend is a return to the Championship grind, and a game any promotion-chasing side would fancy winning. It’s never that straightforward of course, but a rest should have done a few tiring bodies some good and a win never hurts the general morale at the club. City’s current home record of 7-0-5, while appealingly do-or-die, needs to be improved if we’re going to sustain a challenge.

6: We should admit that the £1.5m rumoured to have been bid for Cameron Stewart by Leicester isn’t a wholly unfair offer. However, he can’t easily be replaced and it’d be folly to sell to a club in the same division. City should invite Nigel Pearson to do one.

7: Nick Barmby’s comments last week about his philosophy will have excited the most cynical of us. The prospect of a local hero creating a culture of exciting passing football throughout the club is a mouthwatering one. If anyone can teach that, it’s got to be a former England international, winner of domestic and European honours and one of the cleverest players of his generation. Okay, it may not work – but if it does, the positive effects could last for many years.

8: Bringing back Vito Mannone was a masterly idea. Though the proposed move for Steve Harper was met with widespread approval, acquiring the Arsenal keeper instead, for a third separate loan, was an excellent bit of business.

9: We’d like the first leg of the Carling Cup semi between Cardiff and Crystal Palace next week to finish with a huge margin for one side or the other, please. We’re due to play at Cardiff on the day of the final and it’s infuriating not knowing if that date will be kept or not while the cheaper train tickets are on offer.

10: Ordinarily we’d deplore a manager who takes a club of QPR’s size to the Premier League being sacked eight months later with the team not even in the bottom three – however we’ll make an exception for Neil Warnock, who is a thoroughly dislikeable individual. Football is a saner and more civilised place without his boorish ignorance.

Things We Think We Think #30

1. Middlesbrough and Burnley represented a brace of disappointing results yet solid performances. Hearing opposition managers whose outplayed sides have just beaten us offer praise is going to wear thin sooner or later, however.

2. Sadly, Derby was a much poorer outing. The Tigers looked tired and in need of a few fresh legs in the side.

3. All year long, City’s set pieces have been dreadful; corner kicks rarely go beyond the first defender, direct free kicks are usually hoofed at the wall. When teams are defending well and frustrating our quick passing game, set pieces should provide some hope of a goal but right now they don’t. Work is needed on the training ground.

4. Without wishing to state the bleeding obvious, the January transfer window will see the long term ambitions of the Allams tested for the first time. Rebuffing Leicester’s approach for Cameron Stewart was certainly a positive start, but who knows if that’s just bloody mindedness and reluctance to trade with Leicester following the protracted and acrimonious departure of Nigel Pearson rather than determination to keep the key components of a potential packed side together. It seems that Nick Barmby is waiting to see what he has to work with when the window closes before deciding if the ‘caretaker’ prefix on his job title will be removed. If the Allams do sell prized assets in January, they’re likely to need a new manager in February.

5. The last two games have highlighted the imperative to sign one new ‘keeper, and in the long term we need two . Péter Gulácsi had just about rebuilt a tattered confidence, then Burnley away happened and the Hungarian looks done at City. Adriano Basso hasn’t done much wrong this season, but the Brazilian struggles to complete 90 minutes because of tendonitis. Towards the end of the Derby game, it looked like his leg would detach at the knee when taking goal kicks. Basso will probably do as a substitute netman for the rest of the campaign, Gulácsi however should be returned to Liverpool and a permanent replacement brought in. Newcastle’s Steve Harper is the frontrunner for the job.

6. So far, Nick Barmby’s role has not required anything more than picking the side and keeping them motivated – he’s been a head coach so far. The incomparably tiresome transfer window requires a different set of skills; persuading important players to stay while enticing new blood into the squad. This’ll be an interesting test of Barmby’s credentials.

7. The club are being extremely coy about the reasons for CEO Mark Maguire’s departure. Regardless, we are not sorry to see him go.

8. Though we’ll doubtless hear fighting talk about fielding a strong side for Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Ipswich, it’d be a surprise not to see City’s youthful stars rested. We’ll try to be philosophical about that – were City 13th it’d be deeply disappointing, but with a promotion push in the offing things are different. Just one thing though, City? For the sake of those who feel obliged to go literally everywhere, don’t bloody well draw the game.

9. Hooligan supporters, thuggish players kicking off in the city centre seemingly every weekend, and now a doping scandal…the reputation of the city of Hull would be immeasurably enhanced if a certain eggchasing franchise pissed off back to Gateshead.

10. Gary Ablett’s short period with City as a 20 year old in 1986 has rightly not been mentioned on a national level as his sad, unspeakably early death is reported, but those who saw him when he joined on loan from Liverpool remember a class act in the making during his month in City’s number 3 shirt. He will be much missed.


Gary Ablett, 1965-2012