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When Did It Go Wrong For Hull City?


In light of the news of Phil Brown “attacking” Geovanni, many football fans are wondering, when did it go wrong for Hull?

As the season started, fans and pundits alike were raving about the breath of fresh air he brought to the Premiership. Bucking the trend for promoted sides, his team attacked and results followed. Play the big boys? No problem. His side played fearlessly and took some significant scalps along the way. Sure, there was a big loss or two in the mix, but the positive results outweighed the negative. Hull City FC, and Phil Brown in particular, were the darlings of English football.

In interviews, Brown was a media star. The Hull manager was always willing to work with various press outlets and in a world where packaged clichés and “no comment” are the norm, his affable nature and straight answers were a revelation. Brown was, hands down, the nicest man in top-flight football. Everyone became a Phil Brown fan overnight.

The selfish git had us all fooled.

Without a doubt, the most noteworthy moment in this year’s Premiership was Brown’s infamous halftime rant at his players, forcing them to sit in front of the travelling fans while he tore into them. As it happened, Brown’s stock rose higher and higher with football fans who felt it was about time some high paid, out-of-touch players took a proper tongue-lashing and weren’t shamelessly protected by the boss. But while Brown’s “fan credibility” rose, his self-serving antics lost the respect of his players, and the results since have gone from bad to worse.

A club like Hull survives on character. It is essential that everyone is working for the greater good. Even with all players pulling in the same direction, there is no guarantee of success for a little club like Hull. Nevertheless, the sense of camaraderie and willingness to sacrifice the self for the collective good earned them 30 points in the first 18 games. Included in those points were a heady win against Arsenal at the Emirates, a few more kicks in the ribs of a down and out Spurs side at White Hart Lane, a good win against West Ham, and a comprehensive thumping of fellow promoted side West Bromwich Albion. Not included in the 30 points was a spirited comeback against Manchester United that left the once and future Champions shaking their heads, thankful the game isn’t 95 minutes long. As it stands, it took until last week for the rest of the league to score as many goals against the Red Devils as Hull scored, at Old Trafford no less, on November 1.

When Phil Brown sat his players down on the pitch and gave them the headmaster ritual, he was distancing himself from the carnage of a 4-0 first half. He was putting himself before the players. He was betraying the trust of his men to look good in front of the club’s fans. He was setting a precedent that public displays from Hull City was acceptable, and Geovanni took the bait. He was throwing away the rest of the season for Hull City FC.

Regardless of how much you make, and how pampered your lifestyle, nobody appreciates embarrassment. It is a poor motivator; for some it destroys confidence, for others, it builds resentment. Nobody “rises to the challenge” as Brown had claimed he anticipated.

Don’t be mistaken; players definitely get the hairdryer treatment from their managers. Truth be told, they get it more often than fans realise, and most times they are deserving recipients of a paint-peeling lecture. All the greats had uncompromising standards and accepted nothing less. But they did the dirty work behind closed doors.

Take a look at the tactics of some of the modern model managers to see a blueprint for successful man management. Arsene Wenger’s eyesight is incredibly selective, never ever seeing anything the least bit controversial performed by a player in red. He never speaks poorly of his players, even after enduring the ordeals of Tony Adams, Paul Merson, and the very public histrionics of Ashley Cole. Especially with his current crop of not-ready-for-prime-time-players, at no time has the stoic Frenchman thrown them under the bus.

Watch an interview with Sir Alex Ferguson, and he’s more likely to tell the reporters “Yous are f*****g idiots” than agree that one of his players was off form. He stands by his players through the tough times – think of Cantona’s Kung-Fu kick, Keane’s Haaland stomp and Ferdinand’s drugs test misadventure – because enduring misery together is vital to earning success. Don’t think for a second that those players got off as lightly behind closed doors as they did in Fergie’s interviews, but the bottom line is this: you can’t ask players to run through walls for you unless you prove to them you’re worth it.

Conversely, the first time things were not going to plan at Hull (a poor first half no less), Phil Brown lost the plot and publically humiliated his players. He claimed he was looking for a lift – a way to get a bug in their ears and remind them about the fans who spent a cold, miserable Boxing Day travelling to Manchester to watch a poor performance. In fact, he was letting each and every one of those fans know that it wasn’t his fault and they could hang the blame at the feet of the players, not him.

If this was about “making a statement” what was the point? At 4-0, the game was a foregone conclusion. As far as making an impression goes, Brown certainly left one on his players. So much so that they’ve managed to gain all of one point in the nine matches since the infamous rant. In the process, the club have tumbled down the standings and are now a hot tip for relegation.

When wondering where it all went wrong for Hull City, look no further than Phil Brown’s self-serving Boxing Day rant. That’s when Hull got knocked out of the Premiership.

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  1. dan

    July 11, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    ive just read that hulls (browns) latest targets (fortune and campbell) have turned them down. big surprise…..(the whole owen thing was just daft) fortune didnt sign because he knew tony for a few months or that he has a 50/50 chance of winning trophies or that he can be playing european football, it is because hull are pants and brown is a twat. Campbell didnt sign because sunderland have a better squad, more money to invest in the squad, bigger fan base, more likely to stay up etc. My money is on Hull going down this season, with less points than Derby!!!!

  2. David H

    March 8, 2009 at 5:03 am

    It never ceases to amaze me that those who blindly follow their favourites will make you the villain when your state the obvious if it happens to contradict their beliefs.

    The facts are that the Tigers WERE soaring on a mix of adrenaline and team spirit and that the bubble burst after the Man City game.

    The facts are that Phil Brown has demonstrated at times his unbelievable arrogance and inflated self importance. Alex Ferguson does the same occasionally – hence Beckhams and Van Nistleroys departures following differences with him, but Alex has the luxury of being able to afford such losses, Hull City AFC don’t. ‘

    Brown has lost us King and Windass through his temperament not through their playing skills and Geovanni was close to joining them.

    A true manager MANAGES his players and that includes compromise. Brown knows no compromise. He believed all the publicity he read when the team was shooting up the league and suddenly HE changed and became a bully and an arrogant one at that. The result was that the adrenaline and team spirit that had taken the Tigers so far was gone.

    The manager is a part of the team, an EQUAL part and supposedly the thinking part. In Browns case he WAS and may even be again, but he will need humility and modesty and more than those he will need the TEAM playing with and for him, with him a part of the team and not a God like figure that demonstrates his power by excommunicating players when they happen to upset him personally.

    By my estimate WBA Newcastle and Boro are heading south this season, not the Tigers, so hopefully Phil will have another chance to get over himself and take the Tigers where they can go with encouragement and enthusiasm next year.

  3. Olegend20

    March 5, 2009 at 12:53 am

    “But while Brown’s “fan credibility” rose, his self-serving antics lost the respect of his players, and the results since have gone from bad to worse.”

    Which players did you interview for this article? Failing that, which interviews are you citing where players have said they’ve lost respect for Phil Brown? Or are you simply going on “feeling”, like on phone-ins where fans call in to claim that the manager has “lost the dressing room”.

  4. Mark U

    March 4, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Scott , many mistakes in the article including the name of the club , for your information it is Hull City AFC . Also , since when do you get relegated in march ? Perhaps you should do a little research of maybe even speak to fans of the club before writing these articles ?

  5. TerryDDolan

    March 4, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Came for something interesting to read…
    worth reading to research negative comments…
    not worth reading for factual errors…
    still looking for something interesting to read…

  6. Solly Atwell

    March 4, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    What a rubbish article.

    ” That’s when Hull got knocked out of the Premiership.”

    Last time i looked we were 12th.

    I suggest you go back to R’se licking the top four.

  7. tigertim1904

    March 4, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Phil. Brown has performed miracles with what is basically a championship squad of players.I believe Mr. Brown wears his heart on his sleeve which sometimes gets him into trouble with so called experts.Calling him “a selfish git ” says more about you than PB.

  8. Burt Reynolds

    March 4, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    They’re at 32 points now after the Fulham game… something doesn’t add up..

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