FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #313

TWTWT

1. City are back after the blissful hiatus for an international break (remember when we used to curse these?), and nothing much has really changed. The draw against Preston just wasn’t a good enough result for a side in our desperate predicament, and showed quite perfectly why we look like a side heading for relegation.

2. Sure, City played fairly well for decent chunks of the game, striking the frame of the goal a few times. Nigel Adkins and his players could perhaps bemoan ill luck and fine margins; we could equally bemoan the familiar lack of a cutting edge that’s hamstrung us all season. We’ll stick with the grumpier interpretation. When on top, against a side in the bottom three, chances absolutely have to be taken. Most other sides in the division would, and while we accept that we’re among the very weakest, the same has to apply.

3. It wasn’t a conspicuous lack of effort or endeavour. It’s just a lack of authentic Championship quality running throughout the whole side. We used to be a mixture of decent second tier players with a dash of Premier League class; now the decent second tier players are being asked to carry League One larkers, and the result is the painfully meagre fare we see every Saturday. The idea that we’re good team being chronically mismanaged doesn’t ring true – this just isn’t a good team.

4. Naturally, much of the ire heads Nigel Adkins’ way. It’s worth reiterating, over and over again, that most of this shitshow isn’t his fault, but that of the loathsome Allam family. Nonetheless, the suspicion lingers that he could still be playing this weak hand better. Forget the garrulous media utterances – they’re the style, but it’s the substance we take issue with. Erratic team selections. Perplexing substitutions. Nothing approaching a coherent style of play or purpose is emerging. Instead, we’re sinking.

4a. Not to labour the point, but those substitutions

5. One of the City Twitterati likened Nigel Adkins to Ned Flanders from The Simpsons this week, and it’s an apt comparison. Every day Ned Adkins has a shave, looks in the mirror and asks “Now what can I ding dong diddly do for you?”

6. Kamil Grosicki is worth his starting position right now, he was undoubtedly one of the better performers against Preston, but calls to build the team around him seem misguided. There’s still a nagging doubt about whether he’s giving it his all and he spends a significant chunk of games berating team mates for not being on his wavelength. You build teams around team players, not people looking out for themselves.

7. City have two away games next, from which points must be taken. There’s a long midweek trek to Bristol in the offing, to play a side just two points off the play-offs and who’ll start as strong favourites. Then it’s Bolton, who don’t look up to much this season, but who’ll definitely fancy improving their league position oat our expense. But our already abysmal points-per-game ratio cannot survive two more defeats. That’d almost certain return us to the bottom of the table, and the longer we sit in the bottom three the harder things will become.

8. Relegation no longer feels possible, but now – without a major alteration to our fortunes – actually more likely than not. The major alteration required probably feels beyond the current squad, meaning that it needs bolstering… which will require new owners. Or a new manager. And frankly, for all that he doesn’t inspire, who on earth are we going to be able to attract at the moment? And the Allams wouldn’t pay Adkins’ contract up anyway. So we’re completely stuck with a substandard squad and a substandard manager… until new owners arrive.

9. If they do. The prospects do seem real at the moment, and our hopes are beginning to rise. The fact that things have gone quiet strikes us as a positive sign – serious discussions such as this are much more likely to proceed privately than through the media. We still don’t put it past the detestable duo to continue their slow asphyxiation of the club, just because they can; but money is everything to them, and a sufficiently handsome sum may just pry their cold, dead hands from our windpipe.

10. Charlie Crickmore was still a teenager when he left Hull City, yet there was something that eternally held him close to the hearts of the Hull folk who saw him play in black and amber, made up of a combination of regret that he wasn’t able to stay longer and be one of the creative forces around the forthcoming Chilton and Wagstaff partnership, and of joy at his return to the local game as a referee after his retirement, while working for the fire brigade. He was, very simply, a very nice and popular man who loved his city, and his death last week will be mourned by many. We congratulate City for instigating a minute’s applause in his name at the weekend’s match, and we offer our condolences to his family.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #309

TWTWT

1. A 2-0 home win. It’s such a satisfying scoreline, isn’t it? It speaks of a calm assertion of superiority, firm yet unflashy, understated and efficient. Well, it may be a stretch to apply those lofty terms to this incarnation of Hull City, but this was still a deserved win, however you wish to describe it.

2. That Ipswich are dreadful is a fact we cannot avoid. They’re bottom, and it’s easy to see why. The post-McCarthy era was supposed to invigorate a club now into its 17th successive season in the second tier, however on this evidence it appears their exit from the Championship could be via the less preferred route. Ipswich, together with Rotherham, offer genuine hope that however negligent our preparations for 2018/19 were, there may still be three sides worse than us this season.

3. And we put them away fairly well. An early goal is always nice, and it’s good to see Bowen scoring too. Much was expected from him this season, but it hasn’t really happened so far. Sides are now aware of his threat and contain him more effectively, while the downgrading of his team-mates’ collective quality hasn’t helped either. However, it was a tidy finish from a player we’re relying on for a dozen or so goals this season, and we can only hope it sees him return to those 2017/18 highs.

4. After that strong start, City pressed on too – again, cause for encouragement. The intent was there, if not the application, but we can’t have everything. A swift second may have made for a more fun afternoon, but it wasn’t to be Of course, better sides than Ipswich would have punished us for not getting a second when they eventually rallied. But they’re poor, probably worse than us, and we saw it out and even added a second (helped by some amateur defending), and hey, in these bleak times you take what you can get. A 2-0 win that restores the point-a-game ratio that gives you a decent chance of survival coupled with a rare clean sheet – well, it’s probably the best it’s been all season.

5. It represents a tiny bit of breathing space too. We fretted last week that we had three alright fixtures and then three awful ones, and that the consequence of entering the awful ones without a win would have been grim. We’ve got that win, and the pressure is very slightly off for the trips this week to Wigan (11th, doing well) and Reading (22nd, worse than us). We could still do with more than nothing from them, as you suspect we’re never going to be far from the relegation places this season, but we travel to the wrong side of the Pennines on Tuesday in reasonable heart. Take a point…?

6. 11,650 were officially declared by the club on Saturday. We know gates are over-inflated by around 20%, which means there were actually around 9,500-9,800 there. That’s not just the lowest League gate at the Circle, it’s also the first four figure attendance for a non-Cup match at the stadium. It’s heartbreaking.

7. City’s accounts were not laden with surprises, though they weren’t without interest. Rather like City’s debt, in fact. That debt now stands at a sobering £63m, a reduction caused by a drastic reduction in expenditure. Now look – this isn’t wholly bad. In a division notorious for foolish overspending, that charge cannot be levelled at City. And no-one in East Yorkshire would have expected, or even wanted, anything but a sensible approach to life back in the second tier. In some regards we have that: debt is falling, and as a club with a lengthy history of recurring financial crises we should always be alert to our fiscal health. The problem is both the scale, and the methods.

8. The scale, firstly. Relegation to the Championship imposes an obvious need to adjust your spending. Player wages are the highest cost, and should be covered to an extent by relegation clauses in contracts. The Allams have always – to their credit – imposed these. But it didn’t stop there, with the obvious determination to rid the club of ALL high-earners and replace them with cheap, short-term loanees. That may look good on an accountant’s spreadsheet, but it has real impacts upon the “product”, to briefly use their dreadful terminology, and that’s suffering grievously. Cost-cutting is fine, even welcome, but if it’s so harsh that it chokes off demand for your product, it risks being counterproductive. As we have seen.

9. But even worse is the methods. Removing concessions from the young, old and disabled isn’t merely counterproductive, it’s contrary to basic standards of decency. Even many of those not directly affected have been so nauseated that they’ve turned their backs on the club, causing tumbling gates and further inhibiting turnover – and the long-term consequences that we’ll still be grappling with a decade from now promise to be horrendous. It’s this that informs the view that this isn’t just cost-cutting, prudence, footballing austerity, or whatever you want to call it, but pure malice.

10. It was also nice to see confirmation of the true extent of City’s falling attendances. We proved last year that the club was over-stating gates by around 20%, and the accounts legally cannot repeat the willfully inaccurate figures given on a Saturday afternoon. They show the stadium, on average, half-empty every week. A halving of gates in just a few years. If the Allams were the great businessman they pretend to be, they’d act right now, because crowds are still falling by the month really is no telling how far there’s left to go.

FEAT-SEATS

Art of Football giveaway

artoffootballsplashDefeat at Sunderland and the ongoing takeover saga have us all in a bit of a funk right now, but those kind folk at Art of Football have felt our pain, and want to remind us of happier times via the medium of arty prints and desirable tee shirts. They’re offering one Amber Nectar reader a gift card to choose an item they’d like.

We’ll let Art of Football  describe their wares in their own words…

“Our hand crafted designs try to emulate the beauty of those split second moments, the moments you never forget, as we look to capture the energy, passion and euphoria that erupts from that one magical kick of a football. We only produce a limited number of each design, so your T shirts, like any good piece of art, are exclusive and completely original.”

Look at these lovely garments featuring Deano volleying City into the Premier League in the 2008 Championship play-off final…

windass-smash-navy-sweat-square

windass-smash-white-square-web

Great aren’t they? Art of Football sent us one of the white tees which came beautifully presented in a box, and wrapped in high quality printed paper, lending a real sense that a work of art is being unveiled.

So, to be in with the chance to win an Art of Football item, you need to answer two questions. The first being…

Who replaced Dean Windass as a second half substitute in the 2008 play off final?

Since that’s easy to look up on the Web we’ll add a tie-breaker element. Tell us who or what you’d like to see on a future Art of Football print/tee (and tell us why).

We’ll determine the best answers, put them in a hat (literally, one of those awful Thriller at the Villa caps from 1999) and draw the winner live on the Periscope broadcast of the Amber Nectar podcast recording next week (indeed on tomorrow’s broadcast, one of the Nectarines will be modelling the white Deano tee). Then we’ll let Art of Football know who the winner is so the prize can be claimed.

Send your answer and suggestion to artoffootball@tigernation.co.uk by midnight on Sunday 27th.

Don’t want to leave owning such a fine item to the capricious whims of chance? Then head to Art of Football right now!

FEAT-MOON

PREVIEW: City v Fulham

tactics

Victory this evening, and City could go top of the Championship.

Yes yes, it’s far too early to be troubled by League tables. They shouldn’t really have dashed lines added to them until the clocks change. And it’ll probably take a two goal victory anyway.

But still…wouldn’t it be nice? There isn’t quite a sense of gloom surrounding City at the moment, more a sort of pensiveness. No-one, including Steve Bruce, can be sure who’s actually going to be here when the table does become meaningful. Perhaps the fillip of going top does have something to be said for it.

However that’s assuming Fulham turn up and thoughtfully roll over for us. It’s hard to imagine that happening. Their start – and it’s barely even a start with 44 games remaining – has been modest, drawing at Cardiff before a home defeat to Brighton, sandwiching a League Cup win at Wycombe. You’d hope for more. But a victory at the KC tonight against a side favoured by many for promotion, and their opening to 2015/16 rapidly assumes a brighter hue.

Fulham haven’t prospered in East Yorkshire of late. After a lengthy separation we resumed occasional contact in 2008/9, and all three of their latest visits to Hull have been defeats, most notably and recently that 6-0 annihiliation in December 2013. Only once in six Premier League encounters did the Cottagers best the Tigers.

Adopting a wider view, the records are about level, City winning 33 to Fulham’s 29 of a total of 89 meetings since 1908. That may have little bearing on tonight, but team news will: City are awaiting fitness reports on Clucas, Meyler and Hayden – all suffered knocks in the draw at Wolves on Sunday, though most (if not all) are expected to be fit. Meanwhile, Abel Hernández is available for the first time this season after serving the suspension he picked up on the final day of last season, though whether the want-away striker is worth a place is another matter.

Fulham’s injury list concerns the longer-term unavailable, with Fernando Amorebieta , Luke Garbutt, Jack Grimmer, Scott Parker and George Williams all missing.

At a best priced 7/10, City are strong favourites to make it seven points from three games, while Fulham’s hopes of matching us on four are as long as 11/2. Equivocators can get the draw at 3/1. And are we allowed to mention that Derby’s moderate start to the season has pushed us back to second favourites for the title (7/1)? Oops.

FEAT-MOON

NEWS: City sign Moses Adubajo

BruceSgrin

City have this afternoon confirmed the signing of Moses Odubajo from fellow Championship side Brentford.

It’s been something of a protracted saga, with City initially agreeing a fee with Brentford and personal terms with the player earlier this week, only for the Tigers’ coveting of his former Bees team-mate Andre Gray to complicate matters.

It did appear that a joint deal approaching an eye-watering £10m would be done for the pair, however it now looks as though City have decided to leave Grey for the time being and concentrated on wrapping up a deal for just Odubajo, one that is thought to have cost £3.5m.

The 22 year old Londoner spent the early part of his career in the east of the capital with Leyton Orient, turning out 93 times for the Os between 2010-2014 – including two FA Cup games and a League Cup match against City, all in 2013. It was reputedly in the latter game, which City won 1-0 thanks to a Robbie Brady goal, that Odubajo first came to Steve Bruce’s attention.

A year later he moved west to Brentford for £1m and continued to impress, playing virtually every game as his unfancied side made the Championship play-offs. Though eligible for the Nigerian national side, he’s also represented England at U20 level.

The deal was not completed in time for Odubajo to face Huddersfield tomorrow (which we’ll be previewing in the morning), but he can face either Accrington on Tuesday or, more likely, Wolves a week on Sunday.

Best of luck, Moses.

EVERLIVING2

Music Giveaway – Everliving by Steve Cobby

EVERLIVING

Tuesday mornings are normally when we upload the weekly sonic assault that is the Amber Nectar Podcast, but that’s on close season hiatus until August, so we’re going to offer you the chance to listen to something far more beautiful than Matt’s dulcet tones…

Prolific local musician and City fan Steve Cobby a.k.a. The Solid Doctor, JJ Fuchs, one half of The Cutler and of course Fila Brazilia (whose track ‘The Hull Priests’ is the Amber Nectar Podcast intro theme), has just released the long player ‘Everliving’, and once again generously gives Nectarines the chance of some lovely free music.

No CDs this time though, we have ten download codes which can be redeemed at http://stevecobby.co.uk/, and to get one you need just to answer the following question, sending your answer to everliving@tigernation.co.uk by midnight Friday 5th June.

What was the name of Steve Cobby’s first long player, released in March 2014?  

We’ll send the winning codes out by email at the weekend, but if you don’t want to risk missing out, you can of course buy Everliving at http://stevecobby.co.uk/album/everliving and here’s a relegation pain soothing preview hosted on Soundcloud…

COMPETITION: Win a Savile Rogue cashmere football scarf in City colours

We have again teamed up with Savile Rogue to give you the chance to win one of the world’s finest cashmere football scarves in City colours

There’s no half-scarf inanity here, no  in-your-face logos and no cheap nylon, Savile Rogue favour a traditional bar design and the comfort, quality and warmth of top grade wool

It’s the sort of scarf you would be happy to wear even when you’re not at the match.

For the chance to get your hands on a rather fine black and amber scarf, just answer this question…

In 1982, a third colour was added to Hull City’s familiar black and amber scheme, and the tertiary trim tone featured on playing kits and supporter scarves up until 1990. What was that colour?

Email your answer (by 24th November) to roguescarf@tigernation.co.uk and we’ll announce the winner soon after.

You can follow Savile Rogue on Twitter or Facebook

 

PREVIEW: Liverpool v City

tactics

And so to Anfield.

Those who are fit, anyway. For the first time this season, Steve Bruce is faced with selection issues caused by a problematic injury list rather than a surplus of available bodies. In goal, Allan McGregor is some weeks from fitness, while his understudy Steve Harper injured himself in the draw at Arsenal. That means third choice keeper Eldin Jakupović will start, with youngster Rory Watson summoned from the development squad to be City’s substitute keeper – and of course, one Matt Baker will always remember the time a young lad from the juniors sat on the bench at Anfield.

It gets little better elsewhere. Michal Dawson will be out for a month, our player of the season so far Nikica Jelavić is looking at a similar absence, while injury concerns now surround Andy Robertson and Tom Huddlestone. City do now have a squad that’s better placed to cope with an extensive injury list – let’s hope it copes.

Liverpool have started the season slowly, though successive League wins have lifted them up to fifth. Last week’s win at QPR, where Liverpool were narrowly the losers in that afternoon’s splendidly entertaining contest of Who Can Defend The Mostly Ineptly highlighted both their strengths and weaknesses – still a threat up front, but far from infallible at the back. Not entirely unlike City in fact, meaning an open and entertaining game is on the cards, and with only one clean sheet all season, City must think they can be the latest side to score against the Merseysiders.

Brendan Rodgers has to decide whether to include Mario Balotelli in the side. His dreadful form this season has largely been overlooked in favour of an odd furore over shirt-swapping. He ought to have tried biting someone or racially abusing them instead.

City’s record at Anfield is far from stellar. Only once in nine visits have we avoided defeat, a 2-2 draw in December 2008; and only once have we ever beaten Liverpool, last December. It’s not surprisingly that Liverpool start as strong favourites, with 4/9 the best you’ll get on a home win. A second successive draw for City is 4/1, while a third Premier League victory for the Tigers is as long as 8/1. There are causes to be optimistic – City’s goalscoring, Liverpool’s porous defence – but ooh, that injury list is long, isn’t it? Time for the squad to step up. Come on City.