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Things We Think We Think #319

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1. Another away game, another addition to our points haul. The 2-2 draw at Millwall wasn’t as impressive as the previous weekend’s 3-2 win at QPR – not even close, really, either in terms of the outcome or the result. But it’s another point, gleaned in trying conditions to deny relegation rivals what would have been a painful victory. We have to be glad about that.

2. It all looked so promising early in the game. City started rapidly and took a deserved lead, and at that stage it looked as though another win in the capital was on the cards. It’s a real pity City didn’t score what could have been a decisive second during this period.

3. However, when Millwall levelled, we ended up hanging on for half-time, and the third quarter of the game was frankly awful. That Millwall didn’t make the game safe explains why they’re also in trouble, because they had ample opportunity to do so. City were probably as poor as at any time this season between the 46th and 70th minute, and the sheer extent to which we were second best was frightening.

4. Then an equaliser was burgled, and after that neither side really showed enough conviction to suggest they’d end up winning. Overall, City’s claim to deserve a point is a little optimistic, but we’re not too bothered about that. We got the draw, even if troublingly lengthy spells of the game saw us chasing shadows.

4a. Millwall playing music after their goals was quite something. It’s like discovering that Gripper Stebson used Roland’s stolen dinner money to buy a flower press.

5. What a valuable point it is. We’re now a useful three ahead of the bottom three, and that equaliser ensured that Millwall are kept at bay rather than overtaking us. 21 points from 21 games and 19th is probably about as good as this appallingly depleted squad can do at the moment; if we have a decent return over Christmas, it’s possible that we’ll start 2019 in a handy position to avoid relegation. And if the Allam nightmare is finally curtailed and some investment made in the squad…

6. Brandon Fleming made his first League start for City on Saturday, and it must have been a day to remember for the young man. Being outjumped for Millwall’s equaliser must have been a chastening moment, but he didn’t let that unduly unsettle him. He can be proud of his afternoon’s work, and can probably look forward to more first-team action this season.

7. What a deeply dispiriting FA Cup draw. While we always crave a tick ground, at least playing someone from a different division – be it lower or higher – makes for an interesting occasion. Having a second trip to Millwall inside a month is the direct opposite of good. We can’t even pretend it’s good from the standpoint of progressing in the tournament, as home advantage alone will ensure Millwall are favourites to make Round 4. Bah, bah and thrice bah.

8. Nigel Adkins made it to a year in charge through the week. It hasn’t been a year of limitless glory, but instead has seen one relegation battle (successful) segue inevitably into another (barely surviving). Not much of that is his fault, and City’s recent run of good form has helped to establish a sneaking regard for him. He isn’t what we want in the long term. However, he’s giving himself a chance of extending that spell. Par for this season is probably 21st, given the appalling handicap his bosses are inflicting upon him. That City have a good chance of making that is no mean feat. A begrudging tip of the cap.

9. There’s been a lot of conjecture about City’s attendances this season. It’s universally believed that we’ve already had a first ever sub-10,000 League gate at the Circle this season, though the club continue to publish figures that claim we are yet to dip below 11,420 this season. Well, courtesy of a Freedom of Information request to the local authorities, we’ve been passed an official attendance for this season.

10. On 20th October 2018, 9,837 attended City v Preston. A four-figure attendance. City preposterously claimed 12,066 that afternoon, an inflation of the true figure by some 22%. That’s consistent with last season, where the club routinely added a fifth to the true attendances. And that wasn’t even our lowest this season. 11,420 allegedly made it to City v Norwich. Except, they clearly didn’t. Take off a fifth, then perhaps a few hundred more because of the shocking weather, and we’re possibly into the 8,000s. We’re not far from the ground being one-third full. For second tier League matches. What a depressing state of affairs.

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REPORT: Millwall 2 City 2

AdkinsN2Another Saturday, another trip to the capital. It wasn’t to prove to be as euphoric as the weekend prior, but the feeling upon leaving the New Den – which does music after goals – was one of satisfaction.

The reasons for this were many. A late(ish) equaliser, a makeshift starting XI (including a full debut for the impressive Brandon Fleming), a feeling that things on the pitch might not be so bad after all, even if our off-pitch dreams are being dashed as every day without a sale passes.

City lined up with Marshall in goal, Kane at right-back, Fleming at left-back, Elphick and De Wijs the centre-backs, Henriksen and Batty just in from of them, Grosicki on the left, Bowen on the right, Irvine advancing from midfield and Campbell up front on his todd. Millwall’s sole tactic early on seemed to be to try to exploit Fleming’s nerves, but the young man coped admirably, looking the part from the off. Bowen and Grosicki tore into the Lions, and it was the two of them who combined to put City ahead on six minutes. A cross from the right seemed to have come to nothing. However, a clearance landed at Bowen’s feet. And when the ball is at Bowen’s feet, good things invariably happen. He put in a delicious pass – the type that looks deceptively simple but few can execute properly – from the edge of the D into the run of Grosicki. The Pole had a touch and twatted it in inside Archer’s near post from about eight yards. The game was young but the goal was deserved.

And we continued in that vein for the next 20 minutes or so. Batty and Henriksen owned the midfield. Campbell worked tirelessly up front. Bowen and Grosicki tormented their full-backs. Somewhat pleasingly for those of us who attended the 4-0 destruction in Nigel Pearson’s early days, Jordy De Wijs – in one of his better games – was happily handing out a bit of a battering to Steve Morison. As with Loftus Road a week earlier, the game’s second goal only looked likely to come from City. Then Millwall scored.

Meredith broke down their left, was allowed to get his cross in with too much ease, the ball floated over Marshall for Gregory to tower over Fleming to level the match. Then came the goal music. Millwall – the team of Barry Kitchener, Tom Wilson, Terry Hurlock, Harry Cripps – has music after goals. FFS.

Then Millwall gained the ascendancy. No major chances, but they had our number. Elphick and De Wijs stood strong for the most part, and Kane got in some pleasing challenges but all told when the half-time whistle was blown, we were happy to get in at 1-1.

Then came the massacre. Millwall spent the next 25 minutes battering us. Absolutely destroying us. De Wijs cleared the ball off the line quite magnificently. Campbell did the same not long after, though his task was easier. They’d out-thought us, were outbattling us. We couldn’t keep possession. All we had was long, high balls up to Fraizer Campbell, who battled on gamely. Only when the ball was with Bowen did we get any respite. What a talent he is. Enjoy him while you can. If he’s still a Hull City player come Valentine’s Day I’ll be both surprised and delighted. Anyway, Millwall got the goal their dominance warranted on 54 minutes when Morison fed O’Brien, who was given the freedom of the pitch by Kane to smash home from about 25 yards into the bottom left-hand corner. There was only one winner after that. We had nothing. We couldn’t lay a finger on them. A third goal for the home side was a matter of when, not if. Our possession retention was pathetic. But our defence, however makeshift or maligned it may be, stood strong.

Millwall showed no sign of relenting when City won a corner thanks to hard work from Bowen and Campbell in the 73rd minute. Millwall’s set-pieces had been threatening, ours had almost all been overhit. However, this one found the head of De Wijs, who looped the ball goalwards. On the line – probably offside – was Henriksen, who capped a good shift by reacting quicker than the two defenders in close proximity to nod home. No music, just manic celebrations from a commendably vociferous away crowd.

Suddenly Millwall looked scared. A game that they couldn’t possibly lose was now losable. They looked less assured on the ball, while City – led magnificently by the hard-working Campbell – attacked with more vigour. Martin replaced Batty, Stewart came on for Groscki, but still we held the slight ascendancy. De Wijs picked up one injury too many and couldn’t complete what had been a fine game for the Dutchman. He was replaced by Mazuch. Could the Czech see out the last 10 minutes without getting injured, getting sent-off or giving away a needless penalty? Dear reader, he could!

Neither side looked likely to find a winner, and none was found. This was, without doubt, a point gained in a match in which we saw the best and worst of Nigel Adkins’ Hull City. But for the first time this season, when perusing the table on the way home, I allowed myself a glance at the teams above us, rather than fretting about the form of those below us. For that, Nigel deserves credit. We just need to bring this form and goalscoring prowess to the atmosphere-less KCOM now. That will be the acid test.

Richard Gardham (via Tiger Chat)

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City draw Millwall in the Cup

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The Football Association Challenge Cup has reached the stage where it incorporates City and other top-two-tier teams – but it doesn’t seem especially pleased to see us, vomiting an away tie at Millwall in our direction.

As draws go, being obliged to travel to a club in the same division as you is decidedly uninspiring, particularly when that same fixture is your next League game. There’s frankly nothing in the tie to engender any remote sense of excitement.

It’ll be our first meeting in the FA Cup with Millwall since City – then of the Premier League – flicked aside the Londoners in a match scarred by crowd trouble in 2009, and it’ll be the first time we’ve ever played them in the competition in the capital.

The tie will be played on the weekend of Saturday 5th January.

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Things We Think We Think #318

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1. The point against Norwich was both surprising and welcome. Just three days after an emphatic home defeat, the chances of anything good happening against the free-scoring lead leaders appeared remote. Yet with a performance of honest endeavour (and a bit of fortune arriving via an off-colour Norwich and the levelling effect of the shocking weather) City churned out a point that their efforts deserved. The quality was low, but we’ve come to expect that. So diminished are our hopes that simply grinding out a goalless draw at home constituted a good evening.

2. A good evening in particular was enjoyed by Kevin Stewart. His City career has been a huge disappointment, and his enduring underachievement has produced justified despair – certainly too much for one game to wipe away its memory. But, for one match alone, credit where it’s due: Stewart produced a flinty midfield performance, with jagged interventions that made life hard for his Norwich adversaries. He did little on the ball, but then again he (in common with his teammates) didn’t see it often. But he shored up a midfield that was comically lightweight three days earlier. More, please. A lot more.

3. The atmosphere against Norwich was a surreal one. Even allowing for their lofty league position, the visitors brought an impressive contingent, but they ended up being as subdued as their team. With surely fewer than 9,000 souls in attendance on the bleakest of late-autumn evenings, it left the occasion feeling like a tie in the early stages of the League Cup. Sure, as City’s prospects of gaining an unlikely point increased, a defiant throatiness began to develop as the previously cold, wet and fed-up City fans become more engaged in their side’s dogged effort. But the vast swathes of empty seats in a ground barely one-third full spoke loudest of all.

4. But hey, QPR! That wasn’t remotely anticipated. To travel to one of the division’s more on-form sides, snaffle three goals and three points – well, we’d be despairing if a relegation rival unexpectedly did that. For City to do it was deliciously surprising. And well-deserved too. City were an authentic attacking threat all afternoon, gamely survived something of a first-half onslaught when it became 2-1, controlled things nicely when it was 3-1 and didn’t panic (err, too much) when QPR pulled a late one back. Well done lads.

5. And yes, well done Nigel Adkins too. Four points from those two games is a superb return, probably three more than we could have realistically hoped for. With 11 points from 6 games, this is actually a legitimate run of form (even if the Forest match was so awful it’s rather tainted things). We don’t have the size or the squad to maintain this automatic promotion form, but the fact we’ve fleetingly achieved it is quite something. Adkins will probably never be our cup of Darjeeling, but if he gets brickbats when we’re 23rd, he needs acknowledgement when we aren’t.

6. Like astronauts peering through the windows of the International Space Station upon the turning globe below, we marvel at the dizzy heights of NINETEENTH place in the Championship. It’s a position that hardly felt likely after the Forest faux-pas, and we know that we are but two points from 23rd and could slip back into the relegation zone soon, but for now let us take time to acclimatise and gaze upwards: A win next week and defeats elsewhere could see us in 16th place. Stellar stuff!

7. What – if anything – are to make of the disparity between City’s home and away form? Over half of our points have now arrived on the road, and if only away points were counted City would be nestled nicely in 15th. However, only two sides have obtained fewer points at home, and only two other sides join us in having more points away than at home. It may be that the ghastly experience that is a Hull City home match in late-2018 is dragging the side down, and they’re happier on the road. Or it could just be a small statistical quirk that’ll correct itself.

8. Millwall next. Its importance is obvious from the League table. The losers of this will endure a blow that could easily endure until Christmas, while the winners will enter the festive period confident that the worst may be behind them. It won’t be easy – it never seems to be there – but we have to hope that we don’t return north empty-handed, especially as they’re struggling for form. That may be made easier for Saturday’s result, which has alleviated some of the (immediate) pressure. So we’ll travel in reasonable heart. Probably best not to expect a classic though.

9. Millwall is the first of four successive games against sides in the bottom half. Granted, Swansea and Brentford’s positions may be unexpectedly lowly, but it shows they aren’t the formidable opponents they may have been earlier in the season. While City are doing well, and with plenty of tough assignments left this season, it’s important we take plenty more points this month. It’d lift us a bit clear of the relegation zone and boost morale (as well as making the club more attractive to new signings in January), and we’ll need those points if (okay, when) things get sticky again.

10. The draw for Round 3 of the Football Association Challenge Cup takes place this evening, probably at the same time as the AN podcast will be going out live. Tune in to see our disappointment at drawing Wigan at home instead of Ground Tick FC away.

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Things We Think We Think #316

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1. What on earth to make of Saturday’s frenetic affair at Birmingham? Both sides will be left somewhat ruing the outcome – Birmingham for losing a two-goal lead, City for conceding a late equaliser. On balance, the result was probably about right. But what a remarkable afternoon.

2. It’s impossible to let much of City’s defending go uncommented upon. After praise had been forthcoming for the notable tightening of things at the back of late, Saturday felt like September again. The two goals gifted to Birmingham before half-time were ridiculous, and had the match drifted to the sort of comfortable defeat that seemed likely at the break, it’d have been self-harm that’d have done it. No side at any level can do that sort of thing. It didn’t look or feel very secure all day.

3. Right at the very end too, City’s defending was again pretty hopeless. An air-kick presented an easy chance for Birmingham’s late leveller, and cost us two points. And goodness knows we’ve coughed up enough late goals already this season.

4. But…wasn’t the stuff inbetween quite exhilarating? Doubly so for being wholly unexpected. Campbell’s predatory brace and Grosicki’s blockbusting free-kick completely transformed the match and it looked as though a side with a long unbeaten record at home were about to lose it. It wasn’t to be, but to even come close was quite stunning.

5. It is a point gained, all considered. Most City fans would probably have taken it on Saturday morning, and definitely at 4pm. It does suggest that the players are playing for Nigel Adkins at the moment too. We’ve taken 7 points from the last 9 available, which is a very good run of form at this end of the table. It hasn’t lifted us out of the bottom three, but we’re level on points with 20th and only a result away from escaping the bottom three for the first time in a while. That there’s even hope of doing that when we were recently four points adrift is no little achievement.

6. It’s also interesting in terms of the longer-term management of the club. If we do assume for a moment that the Allam nightmare is coming to an end, a month ago many would have assumed that Adkins would have been an automatic casualty of a takeover. Now, with his side visibly improving, he can present a case for being allowed to keep control of the team and be allowed to spend whatever funds are available in January. Whether that case is a strong one or a weak one depends upon personal taste – he still isn’t quite to ours – but at least it’s a plausible one.

7. Isn’t it great to see Fraizer Campbell playing the way he is? Four goals in three games, and a constantly buzzing presence up front. He’s a different player to the one that scorched through his first period with City a decade ago, which is understandable given the passing of time. His runs are now more thoughful than just jet-heeled, for instance. But he’s in the best form of his second spell here, particular now that he’s poaching goals, and an automatic choice up front. More, please.

8. There’s an international break now, so another fortnight in which to take stock. Then City have two home games in three days. They’re both against promotion hopefuls in Nottingham Forest and Norwich, but City have to take heart from the surprising but thoroughly merited win against West Brom nine days ago. We probably have to take something, because as difficult as those games are, the two after that are on the road.

9. With regards to the takeover, no news is at least not bad news. Like a house move, it probably grinds on quietly for quite some time, before excitingly all coming together at the end. At least, that’s what we’re hoping.

10. Let’s daydream: it’s Saturday 22nd December, Father Christmas is coming soon and City have picked enough form to have escaped the bottom three. Swansea at home, and it’s a late kick-off so there’s more scope for pre-match pubbage. The Allams have just slithered away from the club, and a bright new dawn may be about to break. Investment is promised, supporter relationships are being repaired, the club feels as though it’s being mended. The biggest crowd of the season has gathered – expectant, united, optimistic, over the drink-drive limit – and the team that once again properly and unbegrudgingly calls itself Hull City AFC takes to the field, to raucous acclaim…

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Things We Think We Think #315

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1. Well! Haven’t things changed? Two successive 1-0 wins, and all of a sudden this grotty season has been lent a faint but unmistakeable (and not misplaced) sense of hope. The single goal victory at Bolton was decent, but beating a West Brom side with automatic promotion hopes was authentically impressive. And not just for the result.

2. City deserved this. They absolutely did. It wasn’t a streaky backs-to-the-wall-and-pinch-one-on-the-break kind of win over a top side. City created chances, and while the lingering impression remains that we don’t convert them often enough, we did at least take one. Best of all, City then controlled the remainder of the game with rarely seen assurance and conviction. The defence and keeper will get the plaudits for another clean sheet, and rightly so. Successive shut-outs have capped off a run of seven games in which no side has beaten David Marshall twice in a game, and this defensive improvement has been vital. To stay up, a side often needs little more than to be tough to beat. Well, we’re looking a trickier assignment for opposing sides than we did six weeks ago. It could just be enough.

3. However, the whole side warrants praise for the way West Brom were repelled. Never mind that they clearly had an off-day – even at 50% effectiveness they’d have comfortably rolled us over in September. Now, we can see growing organisation and confidence throughout the side. From Fraizer Campbell’s tireless efforts up front, Dan Batty’s remarkable composure in midfield right through to a defence that is seeing inexperienced players begin to rise to the challenge – well, frankly we didn’t see it coming.

4. But let’s not get too carried away. City are still second bottom after all; these two wins have only stopped us from being hopelessly cut adrift. We’re still progressing than less a point a game and that needs fixing if we’re to survive. The key thing is that we can now start to see a way towards safety. New owners, a few new players in January to augment an improving but still desperately thin squad, and 21st could be ours. We didn’t think that a fortnight ago.

5. It also means we needn’t desperately fear Birmingham next week. They’re having a good season, just three points from the play-offs, and will start as favourites. But a match they thought was a gimme isn’t now. We hope. Any positive result will be very welcome, and may even lift us out of the bottom three. And considering that we were four points adrift of safety a very short time ago, that’d be some turnaround.

6. There was a meeting of the new Supporters’ Committee on Monday. No, we didn’t know about it either. The fall-out has been predictable though, with the club violating guidelines on club-fan consultation by barring the Hull City Supporters’ Trust after their failed – and really quite distasteful – attempts to strong-arm a fans’ group into changing its personnel. That ensured a few days of bad headlines and robust censure from the Football Supporters’ Federation, who are referring to the club to various authorities. How utterly pathetic our club is.

7. The strangest thing (beating even the comical suggestion that the OSC is “independent”) was the claim by the club on Tuesday that some of the “reps” at the meeting “prefer not to be widely publicised”. Now, we would really prefer not to be querying fellow City fans, but you can’t help wondering what the point in putting oneself forward as a “fans’ representative” is if you don’t want fans to know that you’re representing them.

8. But as usual, the real cause of the issue is Hull City AFC themselves, who bar fans from groups and organisations that DO possess a constituency and thus a mandate to represent other fans, and are also willing to do so. And of course, it’s all so short-termist. A hallmark of the Allams’ regime is how the club merely survive from one day to the next, never willing (or perhaps able) to think of anything beyond simply stumbling through whatever self-wrought crisis they’re presently experiencing. But one day, the club will be owned by adults again, who want to engage meaningfully with the fans, and some tough questions will be heading the way of those who helped the Allams spread their poison.

9. Apropos the takeover, the relative silence on that front isn’t particularly concerning. This sort of thing takes time, and much of it occurs quietly, behind the scenes. But…why was there a very slightly discordant note about the news being reported last Wednesday about the Allams “saying farewells”? That would be awfully premature if we’re still at the due diligence scale, and without a preferred bidder even been decisively identified. Coming so very conveniently at a time when the club was copping flak for their ridiculous antics with the Supporters’ Committee is interesting too. We aren’t buying it. And never forget: the Allams may love money, but they already have enough of the stuff, and also have the motivation to inflict even greater ruination of the club if they want to while planting stories about sales and takeovers to amuse themselves in the meantime. Price up the champagne if you wish; but don’t part with your hard-earned just yet.

10. Above all, we ache for the optimism and unity we’ve had before. Watching old clips of City home games at the Circle is hard when you see stands full of City fans all pulling in the same direction as the club. It’s been so long now – last week saw the fifth anniversary of the meeting Assem Allam called with City fans over the name change at which he promised not to proceed with Hull Tigers without consulting the fans (a promise he almost immediately broke). Since then, nothing has felt right. We yearn for City to be mended.

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Things We Think We Think #313

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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.

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Things We Think We Think #312

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1. It’s been a week of contrasting emotions. The glimmer of hope presented by a doughty draw with Middlesbrough was extinguished in defeat to Leeds, a match that started well but ended pretty pathetically, with City completely unable to lay a glove on their opponents despite trailing only by one.

2. Nigel Adkins’ view of our Tuesday night victors didn’t make any sense. They’re good, quite good in fact, and clearly a mile better than our sorry squad. But the best Championship side in years? They’re not even the best Championship side of this calendar year, and there wasn’t much to suggest that the Hull City class of 2016 wouldn’t overcome them. Mind games to bolster his side’s fragile confidence? Perhaps. But at least make confidence-building remotely grounded in fact, eh Nigel?

3. It was an oddly listless evening. Fewer than 10,000 City fans turned up, and it didn’t feel remotely like any previous City/Leeds fixture at the Circle. When not even the visit of the Champions of Europe can fill seats and clear throats, we know the disease is deep and entrenched. City were alright in the first half, competing well and suggesting that another unlikely point was possible; but the second half response to going behind was abysmal. Sure, City were unlucky to lose Irvine (who is excellent) for Stewart (who is, shall we say, not operating at quite the same level). And they’re better than us. But for pity’s sake, don’t cough up a match like that.

4. If minded towards a charitable disposition, it’s possible to have a degree of sympathy for both players and manager following our latest defeat, this time at Sheffield United. The manager made a courageous (in the Sir Humphrey Appleby sense of the word) decision to shift to 3-5-2 and drop both Bowen and Grosicki; yet he was only 20 minutes and a penalty away from seeing it justified with a surprise point. Meanwhile, the players themselves showed tolerable application, albeit undermined by a familiar lack of quality, but they too were part of an outfit that wasn’t far from a draw against a side now 23 places above us.

5. And if you’re not charitably inclined, and are instead absolutely bastard sick of City losing all the time, then you’ll note yet another defeat, yet another unclean sheet, yet another blank, yet another slide down the table. Which is placing Adkins under considerable pressure. If a takeover is in the offing – which we’ll deal with shortly – then he won’t be sacked now, as any new owners will probably want to decide who they want taking the club forward. There’s also no prospect of the Allams spending another penny on the club they don’t have to by paying him off. So we’re stuck with him for now. And of course, it’s up for debate as to how much of this unbearable shitshow is even his fault anyway. Our view is that he’s a secondary but not inconsequential culprit. Who sometimes does our head in.

6. If Kamil Grosicki is fit and not acting the idiot in the dressing room, he has to play. He is by some distance our best footballer, and dropping him against a side who had eyes on the top of the table, in tandem with our form goalscorer (for what that actually is) in Jarrod Bowen, was a batty decision. Adkins doesn’t have enough league points nor brownie points to be making calls that lend credence to the idea that his ego is getting in the way.

7. We suspect that when Ehab Allam recently  asked the Guardian newspaper “How is this club decaying?” he was being rhetorical, but everyone else but him knows the answer, because they know what recent home attendances have been, and they’ve seen the current league table.

8. It’s takeover gossip season again. Except…are we genuinely close this time to the Allam nightmare ending? The midweek document unearthed on Company’s House, plus seemingly categorical statements about bids, interested consortia together with names and nationalities bodes well. We’ve been here before of course, and a man like Ehab Allam would no doubt regard raising the hopes of a city only to destroy them as a worthwhile use of his time. So, the champagne isn’t yet bought, let alone transferred to ice – but we may begin pricing it up soon.

8a. Of course, if Paul Duffen returns, we may downgrade to just fizzy wine. The former City chairman would return with considerable baggage, much of it decidedly unappealing. His fingerprints were all over the descent into financial doom that brought about the Allams in the first place. Of course, we’d take him over Assem and Ehab, in the same way a particular nasty dose of ‘flu is preferable to a right good Novichoking. But that isn’t to say that his comeback will be a cause for unrestrained celebration. He’d better have learned a thing or two about responsible housekeeping.

9. But hey, it might not be him. Or it may not happen at all. So we’ll just wait, and hope. There’s no point appealing to the Allams’ better nature to sell, because their nature is purely about money and spite. But at least it means there is a language they understand. So come on, someone. Take a punt on a broken club, because the world has seen what we can be, and could be again if handled right. Get kids and old folk back in; treat disabled fans properly, open the Upper West, call us by our bloody name, make Hull proud of its foremost sporting institution again. You won’t regret it.

10. Bit of housekeeping: two thirds of our editorial team are moving house at the moment. Bear with us while posting is light, and excuse the lack of a podcast this week (KCOM are partly to blame here, if you can possibly imagine that). Back after the international break.

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Things We Think We Think #310

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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