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