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Time To Stop Underestimating Hull City

So, how many people thought Hull City would be Premiership cannon fodder, this seasons Derby County, bravely battling against the odds in a futile struggle that would ultimately lead to relegation. If so, how many had actually seen Hull City play before they came up? Not many I bet. Fair enough, I’d only seen them half a dozen times last season but there was enough there for me to feel that they’d certainly do a lot better than Derby did last season and I was not surprised when they won the play off final in May.

That’s one of the main problems football coverage has in the UK, it’s so biased toward the Premiership that sometimes the pundits have no idea about any of the sides coming up from the Championship at all unless they’re a former Premiership club or recently relegated and returning straight back. This in turn leads to the standard pre-season prediction of the 3 promoted clubs going straight back down, or depending how well the pundit knows the manager or either they used to play or manage them, the lucky promoted side may be tipped to finish 17th. It’s all rubbish really, a bit of an old boys club, blinkered people unable to objectively look at a side properly without bias coming into play. The plucky little promoted sides then have to run the gauntlet of cliches, ignorance and condescending comments as they battle bravely on until being relegated in April or May.
Yet Hull City, like Reading and Ipswich Town before them have caught a lot of people by surprise, Brown has them playing a fairly expansive 4-1-2-1-2 formation which seems to be working so far, with Geovanni in the hole behind Cousin and King and it allows them push up into a 4-3-3 when attacking with the ball, Boateng moving forward to form a midfield trio. It is so refreshing to see a side who come up, sign footballers and want to play the game the right way.

That’s why they’ve got 21 points after 13 games, because they’ve gone out to try and win games rather go into a match not wanting to lose it. Mentally, it’s a massive difference to your mindset and makes you feel more positive about the task facing you. West Brom are struggling to score goals because the players they have don’t have the top level experience and it shows, Stoke City are doing OK but as soon as people work out how to negate their long ball game, then they too will struggle. Hull on the other hand have more quality in the squad, players who have played in the Premiership, La Liga, Le Championnat and it gives them more weapons at their disposal.

Of course, at the moment everything’s going well but Brown will be the first to admit that he needs a bit more experience and depth adding to his squad in January. The loss of the highly rated Fagan thanks to Danny Guthries obscene challenge hit them hard, but they’ve recovered and carried on picking up points but I saw some comments about  the fact they’d lost 3 games on the spin. Articles entitled “The Bubbles Burst”, “Toothless Tigers” and “Hull’s Premiership Dream Start Over”, along with some ridiculous comments about Hull having been found out really got my back up.

Anyone who saw their last defeat, against Bolton Wanderers, will know exactly why they lost that game, an absolutely world class performance from the Premierships most underrated goalkeeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen, kept at least 3 or 4 goals out to nick the points for the Trotters. The other two defeats, against Chelsea and Manchester United hardly need defending, but to slate them for losing to those two sides? Absolute nonsense, if you’re lucky enough to support one of the big four, fine but if you don’t, just count up your recent results against them and see how well your side has done. At Old Trafford, they made Sir Alex a very nervous man indeed, pulling it round from 4-1 down to 4-3 and left with their pride intact. I think they were the first side to score 3 in a league match at Old Trafford since Chelsea in Mourinho’s first season, yet still the pundits pointed out the result and not the performance or opposition.

Unfortunately, yesterday Sky Sports fell into this very trap, saying it was a must win game after 3 defeats in a row in the game against Manchester City but then again, I don’t expect anything else from them these days so you learn to tune out the hype and dreadful punditry and focus on the game itself. When the commentating combination isn’t Gray and Tyler, then the same cliched ridden bores continue to offend the ears of all football fans with half a brain. 

The staff and players at Hull deserve a big pat on the back for dealing with the cliches and negativity so well and rubbing a few peoples noses in it. They’ve been a breath of fresh air all season, from their fantastic ground, the way they play football to the eloquent way Phil Brown discusses his side and football in general. Brown has surprised me, with how positive he wants to play the game, it’s fantastic to see a side want to win football matches away from home and do it in the right way. I thought he was taking a massive gamble with the front 3 he signed, but so far all 3 have been on fire, especially Geovanni who needs special attention to get him to kind of form that prompted Barcelona to shell out £10 million for him 7 years ago but Brown has certainly got a knack with him. Whatever he’s doing to get him playing so consistently well is another feather in the cap of the impressive Brown. 

Daniel Cousin and Marlon King are also delivering goals and performances, King showing his Watford form, rather than the performances he put in at Nottingham Forest and Cousin is beginning to show just why Roy Hodgson was so desperate to sign him in January. Add to that, the wily old head of George Boateng and Bernard Mendy adding some further quality and it becomes obvious why they’re doing so well.

They will need to add to the squad in January, especially to give them a bit more depth up front but with only 6 weeks until the transfer window re-opens, no doubt Brown will have his targets already lined up.  Of course, they may get pulled down the table but they’ve still got at least 10 winnable games to come and if they can get those points who knows where they may end up. If they finish top ten, then Brown deserves to be named Manager of the Year. Thank you Hull City, keep rubbing the pundits noses in it and good luck for the rest of the season.

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  1. mike pearce

    November 20, 2008 at 8:20 am

    I have been a ''TIGERS' supporter for 40 long years, i've been though the good times and the bad times with them, but i've always ''DARED TO DREAM' and stayed with the club, i remember ''THE GREAT ESCAPE'' season, nearly going out of business because of the worst chaiman the club has had, But the best era for me has to be the the days of ''WAGGY, CHILO, BUTLER, HOUGHTON', McKECHNIE, WILKINSON, BANKS, SIMPKIN, PETIT, NEIL, GREENWOOD, JARVIS, DEVRIES,BANNISTER, WARBOYS, BREMNER, PEARSON, EDWARDS, WHITEHURST ,PAYTON, WINDASS, i'me sure i've missed of players out of the list. But (i can say this with a smile on my face) the best times i've had as a supporter is the back to back promotions. The finest day ( up to now) is' 'WEMBLEY. As for the team we have got at the this season is it asking too much, can we challange for ''TOP EIGHT'' KEEP FAITH.

  2. Phil McThomas

    November 18, 2008 at 7:16 am

    Take it easy, man. It's just an opinion, no better or worse than anyone else's.

    Enjoy your run…it may last all season and for many seasons to come for all I know. Or it may have already ended. The truth is, no-one knows.

    Believe me, my comments are not bitterness.

    My feeling is that there is a terrible gravity in the premiership that drags down teams that don't “belong” in the top. Many teams have a flirtation with the upper reaches, but the gravity seems to be inevitable. Even when smaller teams deny gravity for a reasonable amount of time – Reading and Bolton being examples – gravity still seems to win in the end.

    I wish it weren't so, but experience tells me it is.

    The next three games will show Hull's metal – Portsmouth and Stoke away, Boro at home. If Hull are to maintain a top-half position, I'd say 4 points are required. Two points or less would indicate (to me) that Hull will drift into the bottom-half.

    Would you agree, Tom?

  3. PaulieB

    November 18, 2008 at 2:33 am

    Haha, No I'm not a Derby County fan but I agree with your assesment. Brown obviously knows the boy needs a bit of polish to bring him up to scratch but he's still learning and still young. I hope he makes a full recovery.

    Thanks for the comments.

  4. tom

    November 18, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Are you a Derby Fan? He wasn't too great at Pride Park.

    Back end of last and definetley beginnging of this season, he has showed some fantastic signs of fulfilling his undoubted potential.

    This kid has all the hallmarks of a rough diamond.

    It really does seem like Phil Brown has taken this kid and shook him up a bit. He's a daft kid with alot to learn but it looks like he could be on the right track.

    Its a shame the injury came when it did as he looked the sharpest and eager city player on the park….and I just hope that he can fit back in where he left.

    With a bit of grit and determination, I can't see a problem with this. It's a fantastic thing for Hull City, that he's back in training.

  5. tom

    November 18, 2008 at 2:21 am

    Opinions are opinions, but yours is very annoying as it took you an age to mention all the teams we had beaten, never mind making excuses and reasons for it.

    So how could we have got our praise from your grad old self then Mr McThomas? It seems it would have been impossible as we have done what has been asked of us by winning these games, even if the opposition were slightly handicapped on occasions. Its almost like…..what mor do you want from us?

    We have the wins, and will keep winning this season when our backs are to the wall im sure as our pride, ballsy displays for a fresh premier league club and our general football week attitude really is something to be admired this season. Not many premiership managers would shoot us down if any!

    Which leaves me to believe you may be bitter as I see no comments from the proffesional minds on the subject of how they predict us to fall into mediocrocy due to our extreme luck this season.

    Which leaves to believe you could be bitter, as we are enjoying ourselves….

    You clearly havent seen us play this season have you!? Full 90 mins? Every week? or even nearly that much? You just seen us on Match of The day? Only you know that mate? But it affects your rights on having a valid opinion!;)

    Remember this wont you, when we have been the success story of the premiership at the end of the season, never mind the one currently.

    And if you think I'm getting carried away Its because I'm enjoying myself and for me, the glass is half full! But I wouldnt expect the same optimism for a bitter opposition fan!

    Where are these cracks by the way? If you have seen the games as I aforementioned, the only crack you could criticise was the first half against Bolton!!! You really havent been able to back up any of your beliefs with any facts or precise judgement…..your argument…….is terrible.

  6. tom

    November 18, 2008 at 2:06 am

    Nah mate…we are quiet..Its been proven…the fans know it….the manager knows it and the players know it. We need to improve…..but the atomosphere for Man City was so much better.

  7. PaulieB

    November 17, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Hmm, I seen a fair bit of Fagan and think the lad has a good future ahead of him. Playing at higher level can only improve him as a player and his injury was unfortunate. He was certainly being tracked by several Premiership clubs last year.
    Brown obviously thought a lot about him from their brief time working together but we'll have to see how he recovers and comes back.

  8. Shakira Graham

    November 17, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Craig Fagan is hardly a “highly rated” player. He will run through a wall for your club but he can't score, gets booked for stupid stuff and is a squad player at best. He didn't do much at Derby and I don't think when he comes back he will make all that much of an impact for Hull.

  9. tigers supporter

    November 17, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Top report by Paul Bestall

  10. PaulieB

    November 17, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    The loss against Bolton was purely down to Jaaskelainen's performance in my opinion. Without that, Hull would have won the game, no question.
    As far as underestimating them, the pundits have been happy to see them lose the last 3 games without taking in to consideration the opponents.
    As far yesterday's game, Man City in Jo and Robinho had two players who together cost more than Hull's ground did, that alone puts the performance yesterday in to perspective.
    Thanks for the comments though, keep em coming. 😉

  11. tyduffy

    November 17, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I have to agree with Phil. I think there is a valid point that there's not enough analysis of newly promoted squads in pre-season predictions. However, even with that greater understanding, I don't know that it was a fait accompli that Hull were going to do what they did. I don't think anyone has underestimated them since the Arsenal win.

  12. Phil McThomas

    November 17, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    To be honest, I'd say it was time to stop *over-estimating* Hull.

    Their only real jaw-dropping result was beating Arsenal at the Emerates.

    Home wins against Fulham and West Ham – not great teams.

    The four away wins is utterly unexpected, but they had the luck to play Spurs and Newcastle both in the depths of their dispair, plus former-Championship rivals West Brom.

    More worrying is only picking up one point from home games against Bolton and Man City.

    On balance, Hull have had a great start, but I fear the cracks are appearing and they'll probably spend the bulk of the season in the lower-mid-table range.

  13. Phil

    November 17, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    10 Games – We are capable of winning any game this season. I expect us to stay up fairly comfortably. I also expect some shock and surprise signings in the january transfer window. I also think the coup of signing Zayette from under the noses of Newcastle and Everton is amazing.
    Also where do these people get off calling the KC the quietest ground in the premier league. We have had one half quiet game all season. I went to OT to watch the tigers against united and 3,000 city fans outsung 72,000 united fans. They were very quiet that day. As were the Blackburn fans – oh yeah as were the Gooner fans. Rubbish stats that are probably made up!!!!!!!

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