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MATCH REPORT: City 0-1 Blackburn

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You’re probably expecting a “W passed to X, who laid it off to Y, who crossed for Z to head home “ kind of report. Well, although some of the more mundane stuff will be ticked off in due course, that’s not what you are going to get today, I fear. The reasons for that are twofold: firstly, despite 90 plus minutes of what might generously be described as honest endeavour from the men in amber and black, one would honestly be struggling badly to find much incident of note about which to write; secondly, and in the scheme of things more importantly, it is a very long time indeed since there was so much cause to fear for the future of our beloved Club as there is now. And that is more important at this juncture than the matter of who passed to whom.

The loan window may change things (although we all know it won’t) but otherwise the expression “long, hard season” comes very much to mind.

The indisputable fact is that, quite simply, there’s nothing there, or at least not enough in terms of quality, to enable us to come anywhere near holding our own. This situation is exacerbated by the Club’s owners having no objective or ambition other than to amass enough bodies to ensure that we fulfil our fixtures for the season and keep the Club functioning, and specifically to spend no more money than is necessary to achieve that, despite receiving considerable wealth in the form of parachute payments.

Now, of course, the gruesome twosome will doubtless aver that they are simply trousering the money in order to offset the loans that they say that they made to the Club. Whether a forensic accountant with access to the books would disagree with that proposition I do not know.  But what is beyond doubt is that our football club is being wilfully, systematically and ruthlessly sabotaged. And for what?

Should you still, after all that has happened in the last four or so years, doubt that, then it’s a damn bloody shame that you weren’t at the Circle yesterday, because that would have convinced you.

The manager and team were roundly booed at the end of yesterday’s woeful display. Whilst the frustration of the long-suffering City support (official attendance 12.233, reports on social media say a shade over 10,000, with probably just over 1,000 Lancashire folk inside the ground: up to you which you believe, but check out photos and footage of the game if you weren’t there and then decide) is entirely understandable and justified, the ire of the Tiger Nation actually attached itself to the wrong target. One can try to identify the positives – young, fit enthusiastic squad, still time to coalesce (“gel” has become too hackneyed to use, and is even more irritating when spelled, “gell”), will probably improve as the season goes on if they don’t have the spirit thrashed out of them first – and you immediately have to concede that this is a blend of wishful thinking and straw-clutching. It is, sadly, an inescapable truism that we have a squad of players who, through no fault of their own or, once suspects, that of the manager, look completely ill–prepared for a Championship season.

This was made even more stark when you looked at our visitors yesterday. They’ve had as rough a ride as pretty much anyone in recent years but you would scarcely have known it. Maybe that’s a reflection on us as much as anything because these things are all relative, but whilst not looking likely to pull up any trees they were organised, enterprising and did the simple things well. And that was enough to see us off at a canter.

It’s often the case that, after a Saturday defeat, the mood of gloom still lingers on Sunday and then, to use an expression beloved of a former manager, we “dust worsels doon and go again”. We can usually all sympathise with that, too. But this all feels very, very different. In my 52nd year of Tigerwatching I am genuinely struggling to remember a time that ever felt so bleak. Even in the darkest days of the Dolan/Fish era, or during the travails of the malign, kleptocratic stewardship of the Sheffield Stealers, there was always that feeling, buried deep in some remote recess of the mind, that things would not always be that bad, that there would be some kind of modest recovery (far more modest than it actually turned out to be, of course) from the dire straits in which we found ourselves.

Not now, though.. For whilst you always thought that Needler would eventually see sense, or that Buchliffe would sling their hooks once they had stripped the Club of everything they could lay their hands on, there is no such prospect where the Allams are concerned. Some City fans still exclaim. “they’ve got to sell”, as though they have had some kind of Eureka moment, and we needn’t concern ourselves here with such naivety. Other more thoughtful types opine that the Allams will be off once the parachute payments have all been milked. Whilst this is a credible scenario, ask yourself two things. Firstly, where is the evidence that the Allams are actually capable of seeing a sale through, or that a buyer will be found with the energy and persistence to withstand the strain of dealing with them and the inevitable hardballing.. re-valuations, renegotiations and endgames? Secondly, if that’s what you think will happen, have you factored in their now well-documented petulance and malevolence? They could string this along for the next ten years and more if they wanted, just because they can, and there’s no evidence that they are minded to do anything but exactly that, assuming that you are not taken in by the press stories about movement on the sale front that appear every few months, Groundhog Day-style.

And then, something new came into the mix post-match, in the guise of Adkins’ extraordinary interview with David Burns. Our manager has acquired a reputation for positivity so unrelenting as to be profoundly irritating, and to hear him so downbeat after the game was certainly a new and unexpected development. Adkins in fairness to him was at pains to point out that he was speaking in the heat of the moment. but nevertheless the comments he made were startling. Time will tell whether he becomes the second City manager in succession to have his positive spirit broken by the Allams, but this is not sounding good. Some fans are unsympathetic towards Adkins because of his allegedly naked coveting of the job while Slutsky was still in post, but, whatever the truth of that, nobody can fairly say that he has not given the job his all and, whilst he was clearly naive in thinking that he could make the Club prosper on the field in spite of the constraints under which he would be expected to work, he deserves better. A failure by the Club to fund any decent loan signings might well push Adkins over the edge, but far from this bringing the chickens home to roost, there’ll be a queue of sufficiently desperate, over-confident or irrepressibly-optimistic candidates outside Ehab’s office bursting to step into his shoes.

Casting the slough of despond yesterday at the Circle were the following:-

                                                     Marshall
Lichaj                            MacDonald                        De Wijs                    Kingsley
Bowen                           Henriksen                        Irvine                        Kane
Evandro
Campbell

Subs: Toral (for Kingsley, 29 min), Dicko (for Campbell, 72 min), Milinkovic (for Bowen 72 min)

 As already promised, I’m not going to dwell on the detail of the match: it’s of secondary importance.. Blackburn had the better of the first half, with a succession of efforts on Marshall’s goal. The warning bells were starting to ring as early as a quarter of an hour in, when Armstrong, who had already forced Marshall into one save and headed over, missed an absolute sitter. Marshall was called into further action to defy Armstrong again and then Dack, before Kingsley had to leave the field following a nasty-looking clash of heads with Palmer.

We had threatened only sporadically, with MacDonald’s angled effort being pouched by Raya early on, a Bowen (what on earth has happened to him?) effort being blocked and Henriksen firing wide just after the half-hour.

The first half seemed to be drifting towards a goalless conclusion when we duly conceded. Rovers worked the ball quickly out to the right and Bennett’s pinpoint cross was swept home by Dack from close range with the City defence looking on in admiration.

After half time we passed the ball around nicely for spells, but without conviction, intensity or putting the visitors under any kind of pressure. We actually managed a shot on target about ten minutes in when Irvine (about the only City man who deserved to be exempted from criticism) saw his effort saved by Raya.

Dack went off after an hour to be replaced by Danny Graham, and the fact that he looked quite a handful while he was on is very telling. Rovers – and Bennett in particular – ought to have made the game safe with twenty to go when he pokes wide with the goal at his mercy after Marshall spilled an Armstrong effort.

We press, after a fashion. Evandro (twice) and Dicko have efforts blocked, and then the inevitable one good chance to rescue the game comes in the 87th minute, but Raya’s flying save keeps out De Wijs’ header from an Evandro cross.

That same curious lack of urgency persists into injury time (six minutes flagged, seven played) and the away side, who had had chances themselves to make the game safe in the last fifteen minutes (maybe I was too generous about Graham) , see the game out with apparent ease.

And that’s it. An afternoon of going through the motions, aptly reflective of the management of Hull City off the field. One really does wonder where this is going to end, and absent a significant improvement at Rotherham on Tuesday we might well be a significant step nearer to having that question answered, for this season at least.

Ian Thomson (via Tiger-Chat)

FEATeflcup

NEWS: City draw Derby in League Cup

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City’s dubious reward for overcoming Sheffield United on penalties two nights ago is a home fixture against Derby in the second round of the League Cup.

The competition is no longer seeded at this stage, though still regionalised, and it’s fair to say that both clubs might have hoped for something a little more interesting than this – particularly when one considers that Derby are already in Hull the weekend after this tie will be played.

It’ll be the fourth meeting of the sides in the League Cup. The most recent was in 2001, when bottom-tier City lost 3-0 at Pride Park, while previous encounters saw a 3-1 defeat in 1970 and a 6-5 aggregate defeat in 1965.

We shudder to think what sort of “crowd” will turn up for this one, with even Derby fans having little incentive to travel. City, if you don’t much care for retaining your hard-earned, are revealed by top100bookmakers.com to be 475/1 to win the competition this season, and perhaps gain a slice of history for being in both League One and Europe.

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Things We Think We Think #305

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy Birthday Hull City AFC

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On this day 114 years ago, the nascent East Riding of Yorkshire Football Association gathered in the Manchester Hotel on George Street in Hull city centre to discuss the creation of a new football team in Hull.

The outcome was Hull City AFC, founded by Messrs Gilyott, Lilley, Crompton, Ramster, Andrews, Frost, Barraclough, Levitt, Bielby, Emmerson, Shaw, Hay, Hobbs, Morison, Spring and Wrightson. The new club was too late to apply for entry into the Football League for 1904/5 and played a season full of friendlies, before joining the national league in its Second Division a year later.

Since that day, which is now perilously close to slipping from living memory, we can hardly say that the ride has been dull, can we? Happy Birthday, Hull City AFC.

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What price a City World Cup winner?

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The greatest tournament on earth – no, not Super League – has kicked off, and it’s hard not to be impossibly excited. World Cups are evocative occasions, summoning up memories of competitions past and a time of your life long gone.

You never forget your first World Cup. As a member of Club mid-30s, it’s always going to be Italia ’90. I don’t care that older viewers sniff about the quality of football, and anyway, retrospective viewings support that analysis. I only need to hear the opening bars to Nessum Dorma, the Puccini aria that BBC Grandstand and Luciano Pavarotti made famous in UK households, to be transported back to being a wide-eyed eight year old discovering football for the first time.

They still quicken the pulse. There’s nothing quite like a World Cup – and FIFA’s sordid machinations, the astronomical sums of money involved, the nefarious antics of pantomime villain players, nothing can remove all of the lustre associated with Jules Rimet’s gift to the world.

But one thing has different changed for City fans in adulthood and beyond:  the merging of two different components of our football-watching lives: City, and the World Cup.

You don’t have to go back too far for the World Cup and Hull City AFC to have nothing to do with each other. The demarcation zone was stark and the reason obvious: we were nowhere near good enough to have anyone involved. After all, Italia ’90 coincided with the beginning of the worst decade (so far) in City’s history as we tumbled down the divisions and into semi-permanent financial disarray.

But now look at us! Stricken as we are now, we’re about to enjoy another World Cup with Hull City involvement. The novelty has not quite worn off, but it’s still a real pleasure. But what are the chances of a Hull City player WINNING the World Cup?

They’re obviously not great. Australia are a remote 1000/1 to win the tournament; Jackson Irivine is unlikely to return to East Yorkshire adorned with gold and with tales of antipodean glory. Escaping a group in which they look distinctly fourth best would be a significant achievement for the Aussies. Advancing into the latter stages looks frankly impossible.

But what of Kamil Groscki’s Poland? Progress from a weak group H is probable, and assuming England and Belgium both qualify from neighbouring Group G, they’d hardly be rank outsiders against either. At 80/1 to go all the way, they’re scarcely a shoo-in, and you’d expect them to come unstuck when they encounter the tournament’s serious big hitters. Still, it’s roughly akin to Brighton winning next season’s FA Cup. Even a no deposit free bet may not have you scampering to the bookmakers, but if it happened, it wouldn’t be seismically shocking. Denmark and Greece were even bigger outsiders win Euro 2004 and 1992 respectively.

And even if Grosicki grates, there’d be something exciting and new about City having an actual World Cup winner (though you can already see the pound signs in Ehab’s cold eyes) – even if he didn’t feature in our hypothetical final. Then again, as he’s just left, wouldn’t there be something magnificently TypicalCity about Seb Larsson lifting aloft that magnificent trophy in July…

FEATeflcup

City draw Sheff Utd in League Cup

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City have this morning been drawn away to Sheffield United in the first round of the 2018/19 League Cup.

The draw was made in Ho Chi Minh City in order to capitalise upon the competition’s fanatical following in Southeast Asia, and this season’s incarnation sees City enter in the first round for the first time since 2015, when a penalty shoot-out was needed to overcome Accrington.

We’re unlikely to start as anything but firm underdogs for this fixture, which could mean our first First Round exit since a 2-0 home defeat to Macclesfield in 2011. City haven’t played Sheff Utd in the League Cup since 1983, when a 1-0 win at Boothferry Park wasn’t enough to overturn a 3-1 loss at Bramall Lane – that too was in the First Round of what was then called the Milk Cup.

There’s been a bit of tweaking to what we’re supposed to call the Carabao Cup this season. Gone is the seeding system that kept the bigger boys apart in the first round (but virtually ensured a good draw for any minnows who made it through), though regionalisation has survived. There’s also be no extra-time for drawn games – it is, rather anti-climactically, straight to penalties.

The tie will probably be played on Tuesday 14th August.

FEAT WembleyBarmby

Wembley Day, 10 years on

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It’s ten years today since perhaps the greatest day in our entire history: the day that Hull City AFC, after 104 long years, were promoted to English football’s top flight for the first time.

So much has changed since then, and the decade that followed even produced some occasions to almost match it.

But not quite.

So, Tiger Nation, enjoy reminiscing with us about this most glorious of occasions:

  • Read the AN match report from that day
  • Peruse our photo special (warning: contains Paul Duffen)
  • This afternoon, we’ll be live-tweeting the day 10 years to the minute, so join us over on the Twitter
  • Tonight, we’ll have a special podcast with Bryan Hughes, one of the Heroes of 2008

Happy Wembley Day!

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Things We Think We Think #303

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10a. Allam Out.

FEAT-TWTWT

Things We Think We Think #302

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Things We Think We Think #301

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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