David Cameron Walker

Archive for the ‘Hull City’ Category

Back off boo boys

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Hull City are having a successful season. We are tucked just nicely into the play-off positions in fifth, on a decent run of league form with only one defeat in January.

So why did some of the 19,187 freezing fans at the KC Stadium for last night’s derby with Doncaster Rovers boo the team off at full time?

Football fans are particularly fickle folk, and the Tigers’ supporters are just as bad as most others.

Never mind the fact that a young City side got a draw while the teams above them at the start of play all failed to win (indeed table-toppers West Ham suffered an embarrassing 5-1 hammering at Ipswich) – for some, nothing short of emphatic victory, in every match, will suffice.

I had feared the worst when I saw fans on Twitter ridiculously predicting scorelines of 4-0 and 5-0 ahead of the game. Given that City have scored more than one goal on only seven occasions this season, on what were they basing their laughable predictions?

I can almost appreciate some of their early enthusiasm, and later concern, given that we were taking on a side in the bottom three and on a shocking run of away form. Add to that the fact City had more than a dozen chances in the game and some frustration at failing to score is to be expected.

But remember, our goal difference is only +3. This tells you almost everything you need to know. We have an impressively tight defence, but score no goals.

Nick Barmby had it spot on when he said post-match that he could not understand some of the “negativity”. He added: “We’re in a great position in the league and you’ve seen a team that wants to win the game. We’ve got to get behind the team. It’s a young group and they’re learning, so it’s not going to happen week-in and week-out.”

Dropping two points at home (and five in total to relegation-fodder Donny this season) is far from ideal, but it was only a fortnight ago that we were applauding the young Tigers’ ability to pick up three points at fellow play-off hopefuls Reading despite a dismal first half performance.

The Championship is not a consistent division. Teams rise and fall on the back of one good, or bad, month. You keep chipping away and after a mammoth 46 game effort hope for the best. Studying the league table a couple of weeks ago you would have seen Birmingham stuck in the bottom half. Now they are fourth and stand a very realistic chance of pinching an automatic place from long-time front-runners West Ham and Southampton.

City fans have terribly short memories. Just 15 months ago we had a team ridden with past-it Premier League wasters on wages that are now barely conceivable for a club of our size. First Nigel Pearson, and now Nick Barmby, successfully turned the squad around, creating a young, hungry team with just the odd touch of both class and experience. Our league position is, in fact, quite remarkable given the apparent lack of match experience possessed by half the squad, turning out in what many consider one of the world’s toughest leagues.

Josh King, the on-loan Manchester United striker, is a great example of where fans’ expectations in no way match reality. His arrival heralded comparisons with former loanee Fraizer Campbell, and predictions of a trip to Wembley in May. Why?

No doubt King has talent, pace and raw ability, but who could possibly expect him to come in to a settled team – mainly being introduced from the bench – and immediately score a sackful of goals? The lad has, as far as I can see, only ever scored one professional goal in his entire career. One day he will bag plenty, but give him a fair chance.

Perhaps the frustration is partly attributable to the general malaise across the country. With the economic situation so dire it is maybe no wonder that fans paying hard-earned money to sit at a match on a freezing cold night expect at least one or two net-busters to warm them up. But that’s not what football is about. If you want entertainment go and pay similar prices at the theatre or cinema, sit warmly and enjoy the show.

Football is – for the majority of real fans following teams outside the top half of the Premier League – about dedication, struggle, misery and, only very occasionally, days in the sunshine – both metaphorically and literally.

City fans should be counting their blessings – a passionate, dedicated young team, working hard and doing well is exactly what we should want to see. Booing those boys is not only counter-productive, but downright insulting.

I hope, and expect, that the dedicated Tigers fans making the 600-mile round-trip to Portsmouth this weekend will back the team properly, and proudly.

Written by Marcus Dysch, We Are Going Up’s Hull City blogger

Marcus tweets at @marcusdysch

Men in Black and Amber

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Nigel Pearson just left, without a word really, but I don’t want to highlight on that, it is in the past. Appointing Nick Barmby as manager until the end of the season was a surprising but not shocking move by Hull City. He is inexperienced but his position in the dressing room and the City stands him in good stead, however he needs big performances from the players.

It is clear that he has no experience of managing at Championship level, a very unforgiving one, just look at the managerial casualties already this term with two ex-England managers in Sven Goran-Eriksson and Steve McClaren leaving Leicester and Nottingham Forest respectively. Barmby has been doing some coaching for the Tigers since last season whilst still playing for the team, although he has been used more as an impact sub with 31 of his 38 league appearances in the last season and a quarter coming off the bench.

His coaching at the club opened the doorway for another more experienced manager to come in and do a job, at least until the end of the season, with Barmby as Head Coach. However Barmby has been given the chance, despite little experience, and every City fan is desperate for him to do well, especially with the chance of more exciting football than that seen under Nigel Pearson.

Bringing in a new manager from outside could have upset the harmony of the team and the club. Barmby, as a player, has been in the dressing room with all the squad. He knows everyone very well, their faults and their skills. Barmby, already being a senior figure in the squad before the departure of Pearson, will not find it as difficult to understand the needs and gain the respect of all the players, who fortunately aren’t known for their tantrums. This will hopefully mean he will have no problem getting the players performing for him and for the shirt.

Also Barmby is adored in the city of Hull. Along with Dean Windass he is one of the city’s most famous sporting sons. Everyone has welcomed him with open arms, the chants of Barmby Army took no time at all to be sung, the club have even released a range of T-shirts celebrating the former England midfielder’s appointment as manager. This will certainly buy him extra time if the team goes on a bad run. It is hard to gage how much pressure he is under to perform as it is highly unlikely Hull will be in danger of relegation when looking at the quality in the squad. However supporters all want a play-off berth which is looking like a realistic prospect, so there is some degree of pressure put on Barmby already.

The team’s collapse against Burnley on Saturday did really underline his managerial inexperience. Confidence among many was high after an easy 2-0 win against Derby County the week before but against Eddie Howe’s men at the KC Stadium Hull lost 3-2 after being two goals up with only 15 minutes left. Whether it was the fault of the players or Barmby it is hard to know, but Andy Dawson came on for winger Cameron Stewart with only thirteen minutes left and City conceded three times in the last fifteen minutes – including injury time. Hull have not really done anything like this in the Championship over the last two years so it was definitely quite a shock to the system and has made people question Barmby’s managerial credentials early on.

Some have said that appointing Barmby is just a cost cutting exercise and this may be true to some extent. On the other hand having someone with his status at the club and the city take over as manager is a good move and better than bringing in another manager who perhaps won’t care about the long term future of the club as much.

Also  so far this season Hull have used the least amount of players in the league with stability in the playing squad being incredibly important. Loan signings have also been kept to a minimum and used astutely, but the players will have to perform for their new boss.

The return of winger Cameron Stewart after a nine month injury lay off is vital to the team. Even in his first game back at Derby, Stewart was impressive and made an immediate impact with a goal coming from a great run down the left wing. He was clearly very pleased with his return, the winger Tweeting afterwards: “Nine long months on the sidelines but delighted to be back and to get 3 points and a goal was just icing on the cake. Fans were great today!”

Stewart is pacey and gives another desperately needed attacking dimension with his surging runs down the wing and crosses into the box. He is a creative player and will offer service to the strikers who can definitely score goals, even Dele Adebola. In the last 16 months with Pearson in charge and missing Stewart since February, Hull have not scored many goals at all which is still hampering the success of the team, despite a strong defensive record.

With Stewart making up one fifth of the ‘Manchester United Connection’ with Corry Evans, Joe Dudgeon, James Chester and Robbie Brady there is definite feel of youthful exuberance at Hull City, with promising, hungry players and a young manager in Barmby. His appointment and the return of Stewart could bring about a change, leading to a run of form that could be vital in the context of this season.

The fans and the board want Barmby to do well. If results tail off it could lead to anger directed at the club for not bringing in a recognised and experienced manager. The club are still seventh and Barmby will have to keep Hull City in a similar position for him to be considered a success.

Written by Ally Poole, We Are Going Up’s Hull City blogger

Ally tweets at @allyjpoole

Pearson on verge of Tigers departure

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Imagine: You have a good job. You enjoy it and perform admirably. But then you fall out with the boss, and despite still doing well, you feel you have to leave.

You get a new job, do well again and enjoy it, but nonetheless feel a bit disappointed that the disagreements with the boss meant you’d left the last one. It niggles. The new job is fine but it’s not quite the same, it’s not quite home.

Then your old company is taken over, a new boss comes in and decides he wants you back. Your old job on double the money. What would you do?

You would do exactly what Nigel Pearson has done this week. You might kid yourself and say you would stick with your new employer, it’s not about the money, you are loyal to those you work for, but you would still go. You know you would.

While Pearson’s immediate future remains in doubt as Leicester City stall over paying appropriate compensation to take their former manager back to the King Power Stadium, it seems almost implausible that he could ever return to East Yorkshire should those talks in the Midlands fail. I fully expect he will be installed at the King Power Stadium within the next few days.

Some Leicester fans on Twitter and in the forums have taken great pleasure in goading the Tigers supporters over Pearson’s choice. I’m not sure why.

Having seen a former England manager spend millions of pounds on their team and “fail” to such an extent that he lost his job, you might think most of them would be sufficiently embarrassed about the need to crawl back to their former boss that they would keep their mouths shut and wait until their fortunes improve.

In another 18 months or two years they will be the ones mocked when Pearson ditches them for a richer club in a higher division. It will happen.

Still, there’s nothing as fickle as football fans, as Hull City supporters have also shown this week.

A fortnight ago the Tigers were unbeaten in nine games, sitting pretty in the play-offs and dreaming of a promotion push under Pearson.

The volley of abuse aimed at him – indirectly – on Twitter and other forums in the past few days has been a little embarrassing. This was the guy who arguably saved City from a quite likely relegation -which would have been half of a double relegation – and turned the side around completely to such a degree they became potential play-off hopefuls. What did he get for it? Idiots on phone-ins calling for his head after two defeats in three months.

He inherited a squad overloaded with over-paid underachievers, unwilling and unable to put in the performances on the pitch or make the decisions off it that were needed to help the club at a time of dire financial burden.

He leaves a squad loaded with young, hungry players, full of desire to make careers for themselves at the top level, prepared to bust a gut on the field and work as a unit to climb the table. And he did all that with a bit of nous, some decent contacts and not a lot of money.

I’m sorry to see him go, but I’ll lose no sleep. It’ll be more concerning if he returns in January with his multi-million pound kitty and attempts to pilfer away the likes of James Chester, Matty Fryatt and Leroy Rosenior. We can only hope they have a greater degree of true loyalty – although such hopes will no doubt again be dashed. Money talks, simple as that. Any football fan who thinks loyalty counts for more than money is a fool.

Where City go from here remains to be seen. There are plenty of options; some good, some bad, some ugly. Sorry, no more Iain Dowie jokes!

Hull could do a lot worse than Dave Jones, an admirable man both in football terms and in life generally. Steve McClaren, derided up and down the country, may do very well at a club he used to play for and in a city where his in-laws live. However the suggestion from owners the Allams that they want a younger man in charge seems to rule out those two experienced heads.

Warren Joyce combined with veteran player Nick Barmby may create an ideal coaching combo, given how many current Hull players trained under the club’s former manager at Manchester United’s Carrington training complex. Joyce seems to be the favourite and might be a good way of persuading the former United youngsters to stick it out at the KC. The problem is whether he would leave a cushy job at one of the biggest clubs in the world to return to Hull – where it took more than a decade for him to receive the praise he deserved for saving the club from dropping into non-league football.

Time will tell. Until then we should simply say thank you and good luck to Nigel Pearson. I’m grateful for what he did for Hull City and that’s pretty much it. No man is bigger than the club. Peter Taylor wasn’t, Phil Brown wasn’t and Nigel Pearson isn’t.

The king is dead, long live the (soon-to-be-appointed) king.

Written by Marcus Dysch, We Are Going Up’s Hull City blogger

Marcus tweets at @marcusdysch

 

Room for Improvement

Friday, October 7th, 2011

It’s been an optimistic and even impressive start to the season for Hull, the team is now starting to gel after a nervy first few weeks and with the international break giving time to reflect on the start of the season, it’s still hard to say how City will do this season. They are five points better off than this time last season and although I didn’t expect such a good start to the season, there is room for improvement after losing points to struggling pair Doncaster and Bristol City when in a winning position.

Pundits, particularly on Sky Sports, tipped Hull for the play-offs and even though all of the fans would have hoped for the team to make them come April 28th, I’m not sure everyone thought it was a realistic possibility. I for one thought it would be a season of mid-table mediocrity plagued by inconsistency. This season very strong teams like Brighton and Southampton have come up from League One, their strength emphasised by their impressive start to the season. Add to that the big spending Leicester, the ever improving Middlesborough and the strong and financially stable Blackpool and West Ham, who were relegated from the Championship and at the start of the season it look like a hard prospect for Hull this season. However the start has been quite good but improvements are definitely needed in attack, defence and also tactically.

The Tigers are unbeaten in six after a disappointing home loss to Crystal Palace and progress after this international break could make or break our season. Goals have been a real problem so far and even though Hull have won five matches  this campaign, they have only scored more than one goal in a match once. Scoring goals, particularly at home was a real problem last season with City only scoring 52 times in the league, the fourth lowest of all 24 clubs.

However the acquisition of Martin Waghorn on loan from Leicester, a proven goal scorer, could really help us. If he can link up well with former Foxes teammate Matty Fryatt and Aaron McLean then there could be plenty of goals. All these players have proven they are good finishers, especially Fryatt who ended up top scorer last season, despite only signing in January. This is a further display of how Nigel Pearson’s side lacked goals – that a player who only played half the season finished top of the goal scoring charts with nine strikes.

There is no forgetting summer signing Dele Adebola too, who will bolster the striking ranks, even though it is said he had an impressive pre-season, it’s doubtful he will have a big influence on the team this season – the fact that on FIFA 12 his pace rating is 34 out of 100 really underlines this fact! If we can start scoring freely soon, I believe the play off places will be a real possibility and the way the strikers start after the international break is vital to our season. It’s unlikely we’ll win enough games 1-0 this season for a promotion push so scoring more goals is desperately important to us although I can imagine the “1-0 to the Hull City,” ringing out soon if we carry on in the same goal scoring vain.

Defence this season has not been a problem with four clean sheets kept thus far. The backline is based on good, young, hungry players with ex-Manchester United trainees James Chester and Joe Dudgeon looking solid and the improvements, in Dudgeon more so, can be seen clearly. He showed a slight lack of positional awareness and experience at the very start of the season, particularly in the Blackpool game on the opening weekend but he seems to be constantly getting better at this area of the game.

Together with the experience of Andy Dawson and Paul McShane to come back from injury the back four looks very strong this season. Defence, typified by smash and grab 1-0 away wins, was something that really helped the club’s ultimately unsuccessful play off push last season. Now, if the defence can stay fit and the strikers start scoring more freely, it is likely Hull can push on this season. It sounds simple, obvious even but without the strong back four it’s unlikely City will get anywhere in the next few months.

Robert Koren has been superb so far this season with great goals against Portsmouth and Bristol City – the way he plays and is positioned this season is very significant. At the beginning of the season he looked to be playing on the right side of midfield, where he was somewhat wasted out there. Playing him in the middle as a more attacking minded player with a more defensive centre midfielder like Corry Evans could open up the chance for Koren to bomb on forward without a real defensive job to do. With the comeback of pacey winger Cameron Stewart later this month there will be pace on the wings with both Stewart and the so far impressive Manchester United loanee Robbie Brady on the flanks, it will allow Koren to attack and look for goals from the edge of the box more often, without a defensive weight on his shoulders. The wide pair will also provide service to the strikers into the box and into the channels, not to mention the fast wing backs Rosenior and Dudgeon bombing on to make overlapping runs and crosses into the penalty area.

Hull’s start to the season has been impressive and better than expected, but there are still serious areas for improvement and as they say “It is a marathon not a sprint.” If the strikers can start firing, the defence can stay solid and the important Koren kept fit and looked after well by Nigel Pearson then Hull City can keep gaining points and consolidate a play-off place.

The next 10 games could potentially make or break the season as it could show off promotion credentials or indeed show off the lack of them, particularly with tough looking away games against Brighton and Southampton as well as home games against West Ham and Leicester coming up. Despite this I am definitely more confident of a play-off berth now than at the start of the season – I know most other Hull fans are too.

Written by Ally Poole, We Are Going Up’s Hull City blogger

Ally tweets at @allyjpoole

Bye Bye Bullard

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

I’ve written about the ins and outs of Jimmy Bullard’s Hull City career more times than I care to remember. Well not anymore I won’t be.

His move to Ipswich Town was finally, thankfully, sealed today. While City fans breathe a sigh of relief, Town fans will look to their new player and pray he helps them out of their current shocking start to the season.

Rather than review, yet again, his time with the Tigers, here is the blog that I came up with in January when he was first loaned out to the Suffolk side:

I wanted to write a lengthy blog here, detailing Jimmy Bullard’s Hull City career, giving a full rundown of the highs and lows.

But when I set my mind to it I realised he really wasn’t deserving of it, or of my time.

Had City signed a player called Joe Bloggs, unheard of, from the lower leagues, and he had gone on to make 18 starts in two years, scoring six goals, what would I write about him? Probably not a lot.

There is so much to discuss about Bullard – the contract, the knees, the hair, the jokes, the brawl-in-the-park, the goal celebration – but it’s all been said before, in lengthy detail.

So here, in short, is my synopsis of Jimmy Bullard’s Hull City career…

We signed him, we celebrated.

He played, he got crocked.

We waited, he waited.

He came back, he was immense.

We loved him, he loved us.

He got crocked, we waited again.

He came back, he wasn’t the same.

We went down, he wouldn’t go.

He collected his money, we paid for his drinks, clothes, cars, new house.

He played, we were over him.

He left, we shrugged.

Ipswich fans, I really hope you get to see the best of Bullard. His range of passing, striking of a ball, marshalling of midfield, all contribute to make him, on his day, potentially the best player in the Championship.

Written by Marcus Dysch, We Are Going Up’s Hull City Blogger

Marcus tweets at @marcusdysch 

Part Of The Play-Off Pack

Monday, August 1st, 2011

A year after inheriting the rotten corpse of Hull City’s relegated Premier League squad, Nigel Pearson must now turn up at the training ground and breathe a sigh of relief.

After a season which began with the genuine threaten of relegation, but ended with a club record-breaking unbeaten away run and push for the play-offs, the Tigers now look forward to what could turn out to be the club’s most mundane period – on the pitch at least – for five years.

Much of the summer has been spent battling on two fronts – one to ship out the overpaid wasters from that Premier League adventure, and the other to bring in young, hungry loanees, mostly from Manchester United’s reserve and junior sides.

With defender Joe Dudgeon and winger Robbie Brady added to the ex-Red Devils already in the squad – James Chester, Corry Evans, Cameron Stewart and Paul McShane – it is feasible that City could line up with no fewer than five former United starlets in the starting eleven. When Stewart returns from injury the number will likely rise to six.

Pre-season form – never a clear indicator of what lies ahead – is promising, with a semi-strong Liverpool side despatched 3-0 at the KC Stadium last week.

But for all the positive signings, Pearson still needs to strengthen a squad that already appears to be creaking under the weight of injuries to players including centre-halves Paul McShane and Jack Hobbs.

A first choice goalkeeper must be selected, with Hungarian under-21 international Péter Gulácsi (on-loan from Liverpool) likely to get the nod ahead of Brazilian Adriano Basso. And we all remember what happened the last time the Tigers brought in a Brazilian…

Dele Adebola’s “capture” from Nottingham Forest was openly mocked by many fans, but the word from pre-season training is that he is one of the fittest, most aggressive strikers to be seen at the club for a long time and could be the ideal “big man” in a traditional “big man-little man” strike duo with goal-machine Matty Fryatt.

Much may depend on what else Pearson can achieve before the transfer window slams shut. Few fans would argue with another player being added to the ranks in each of defence, midfield and up front.

But the potential departures of yet more Premier League relics will also have a huge impact. Jimmy Bullard is currently suspended for two weeks for an apparent breach of club rules during a training camp in Slovenia.

Out of favour for all of last season, the knee-knackered middle man was on the verge of a return to Pearson’s good books before his apparent misbehaviour on tour.

His £45,000-a-week wages continue to cripple many of the management’s efforts to rebuild the squad. If he leaves the club – either through a possible transfer to top flight new boys QPR, or potentially even by having his contract terminated – it will free up much-needed funds.

Alternatively, although somewhat unlikely, he may yet make another miraculous recovery and return. If fit and given a run of games, it is almost conceivable that Bullard could be the division’s best player, pulling the strings for a Tigers team still bereft of creativity.

Another leftover from the Premier League is Nigeria international Seyi Olofinjana. The big man spent last season doing reasonably well on loan at Cardiff but has returned, only to be struck down by a mystery injury.

Many City fans would welcome him back as the brute force needed to fill the Ian Ashbee-sized hole in the middle of the park. Implausible as it may be (and it is massively implausible), a Bullard-Olofinjana double act could propel the Tigers to the play-off places at the very least.

But fans must remain level-headed. In what will prove to be the most competitive league in the country, if not all of Europe, it could well be difficult to improve greatly on last season’s almost miraculous 11th place finish.

An improvement on poor home form is essential, as is a return to finding the net more than what seemed like once every other game. Anything less than wins and plenty of goals in east Yorkshire will leave City fans moaning more than usual.

However with at least 10 sides in the Championship harbouring genuine promotion aspirations, City should prepare for another season of ups and downs and be ready to settle for another crack at the play-offs, only to be let down and finish comfortably mid-table.

Prediction: Matty Fryatt scores 20 league goals, but City finish a mediocre mid-table 12th.

Written by Marcus Dysch, We Are Going Up’s Hull City Blogger

Marcus tweets at @marcusdysch