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Saturday, 4th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
My Nerves Have Been Already Shredded By This Season - Notes for Hull
Monday, 12th Mar 2018 10:00 by HarryFromBath
HarryFromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Saturday’s game at Portman Road by delving into their forums.
“Sundays are better when you win, aren’t they?”, “A great game, mostly for the wrong reasons, but still a great game to watch”, “The lasting impression of this crazy game was the Norwich midfielder James Maddison with the hat-trick match ball at the final whistle looking totally pissed off. Brilliant.”
It has been a turbulent first season back in the Championship for Tigers after last May’s relegation from the top flight. A badly-managed summer squad restructuring and the ill-fated managerial appointment of Leonid Slutsky plunged the club into a second successive relegation battle.
A limp 1-0 late-January defeat at Sunderland left City out of the relegation places on goal difference, but since then they have gone on a run of mid-table form which has seen them win and draw three of their last eight games. Saturday’s topsy-turvy win over Norwich has given the Tigers a huge boost.
“Well done lads, we can all breathe a little easier”, “We are six points above 22nd with superior goal difference and a game in hand. That feels like a massive win today, especially coming back from two goals down”, “We won’t go down because somehow there are three teams even worse than us.”
“It is difficult to stay calm with the club staring into the abyss”, “Any points regardless of how they come are good. It’s about avoiding relegation for the remaining games”, “It’s a battle for survival now and nothing else. Point, points, points. Forget the quality of the game. Points. Bloody points.”
“Being a Hull fan right now has very little to do with what is happening on the pitch”, “The whole club is a shambles”, “The Allams have been great at creating apathy”, “They are taking the club apart piece by piece, sucking the life out of the club to line their pockets”, “Laugh or cry? Definitely cry.”
Fans interrupted a recent televised Yorkshire derby against Sheffield United by throwing yellow sponge balls on the pitch. They were angered by a decision to scrap season tickets and concessions and replace them with a membership scheme, the latest in a series of highly unpopular decisions.
“The Allams are waiting for the summer’s parachute payments. They care little about the fans going and protesting”, “We made a net £35 million on player sales and slashed the wage bill, selling quality players and replacing them with cheaper untested kids and loanees. I would call that cobbling.”
“A few on Humberside are saying they feel sorry for Adkins. Am I the only one who does not? He came into this with his eyes wide open”, “He is a tinkerman, earlier through necessity but probably now because he’s starting to panic and has been grasping at straws hoping he hits some formula.”
The 52-year-old former Southampton manager replaced Slutsky in early December and has set about trying to add shape and solidity to the side. Some sympathise with the challenge he has been given, but he has alienated others with his team selections and the poor quality of football being played.
“Adkins has offered turgid football. Hoof it into the corners, win the second ball, put in a poor cross and the opposition break on us. It’s absolutely awful”, “At least he was willing to take on a team in total disarray. He’s here until the end of the season at least, so we may as well get behind him.”
Adkins angered many Tigers by criticising Angus MacDonald after the centre-half had a poor first half in last Tuesday’s home defeat to Millwall. “He is an idiot, repeatedly picking woeful teams and awful tactics. When a player who has otherwise looked decent has a poor half, he publicly shames him.”
An Unbalanced Squad
“We have a badly constructed and poorly balanced squad. To stop the rot, we have to defend better but we haven’t any credible full-backs”, “Every opponent knows we have no left footer in the whole team. We have no option but to come inside”, “Half of the squad seem to play in the same position.”
“Our team is ridiculously unbalanced, we have had several bad transfer windows in a row.” Tigers have highlighted the squad’s lack of quality in the backline, the lack of bite and tenacity in midfield, the lack of depth on the wings and the lack of a natural finisher up front apart from Abel Hernandez.
Adkins has preferred using a 4-2-3-1 shape lately, but the return of winger Harry Wilson and striker Abel Hernandez from injury transformed the attacking balance of the starting XI (above) which beat the Canaries on Saturday. “What did Adkins have for breakfast? We had 23 shots and 15 on target.”
The side’s fragile backline is a huge concern. Michael Dawson lacks pace and his centre-back partner Ondrej Mazuch is error prone. Ola Aina is positionally naïve at right-back but the form of Max Clark, “an obvious weakness on the pitch at left-back” is by far the biggest issue which needs addressing.
“We concede terribly easily.” Regular keeper Allan MacGregor was injured for the Norwich game but stand-in David Marshall “did himself no favours with two howlers”, “Our problems this season were caused by poor recent recruitment and in the defence in particular”, “Stop giving stupid goals away.”
“Even in form the central midfield is too soft”, “We are dying for a tough-tackling midfielder who can pass, a real midfield general”, “Our midfielders are all pussycats”, “Seb Larsson and Jarrod Bowen have been the best of a bad bunch in midfield. At least they put in consistently good performances.”
“No pace, no urgency, awful.” The lack of a threat from midfield before the return of Hernandez and Wilson was regularly highlighted. “We panic and we lack quality in the final third. Our final balls are poor, we take wrong choices and when we do get chances we lack the firepower to finish them off.”
“We are our own worst enemies, Keep the ball!” Hull have struggled to control midfield in previous games but a pattern of “being unable to pass simple balls” and “too many long hoofs from defence” was replaced by “great forward running off the ball and so much space created” against Norwich.
“The Norwich game was the best I have seen Jackson Irvine and Marcus Henricksen play in months.” Hernandez replaced hard-working winger Nouha Dicko up front. Having a proven dangerous striker leading the line transformed the industrious and creative midfield play of both Irvine and Henriksen.
The return of Wilson on the left wing helped address the team’s lack of width and provided a good balance to Jarrod Bowen’s good work on the opposite flank. Wilson’s willingness to press in the final third and protect rookie left-back Clark are a huge improvement on “luxury player” Kamil Grosicki.
“All depends on Hernandez and Wilson staying fit”, “Hernandez is a superb Championship striker.” The Uruguay international has been out since August with an Achilles injury. He lasted 61 minutes and scored two penalties in his first start since this injury before being substituted against Norwich.
“I was waiting for the usual capitulation at 3-1 down but the brilliant comeback and result showed how much the players wanted it.” Tigers had complained about a side “not sufficiently motivated to stay” and “having no fight” before Saturday’s win. Many will want to see this mentality maintained.
Hull 4 – 3 Norwich
“I love Sunday league football on a Saturday afternoon, lots of goals, dodgy refereeing decisions and defence v attack”, “The most enjoyable game of the season, completely bonkers with tidy football in parts”, “A fantastic rollercoaster of a match. It’s such a long time since I felt that good after a game.”
Hull started brightly and Irvine slotted home to put them after six minutes. James Maddison turned the game around with a 21-minute hat-trick, scoring twice from the penalty spot on 18 and 39 after fouls on Nelson Oliveira and Onel Hernandez, these goals bracketing a low finish on 19 minutes.
“This is not normal, four penalties in 30 minutes”, “Abel Hernandez into the roof of the net to make it 3-3, this is mad”, “Weirdly, I’m enjoying this masochistic event.” Hull drew level with penalties on 41 and 48 minutes before Harry Wilson’s “brilliant goal” on 71 minutes completed their turnaround.
“Pressing from the front relieved some of the pressure from our poor defence. We were playing like Liverpool have been this season”, “I nodded off only to see some of the penalty shoot-out. Did we win?”, “It was good to shut up the Norwich fans after taunting us with ‘1-0 and you ****ed it up’.”
Hull 1 – 2 Millwall
“Well, I just got back home. What a load of rubbish that was”, “All in all we deserve to be relegated”, “That was absolutely bloody awful. It was the first time I found myself questioning why I bother. I will never stop going but if that was anyone’s first game, they won’t be coming back”, “Diabolical.”
“A shocking performance, no fight, desire or skill.” George Saville gave the Lions ahead a first minute lead and Jake Cooper doubled the visitors’ advantage on 33 minutes heading home from a corner. Abel Hernandez pulled a goal back for Hull on 79 after coming on as a substitute 20 minutes earlier.
“The worst result in years, we were taken to school by League One journeymen with a budget which is a fraction of ours”, “The midfield was anonymous and we struggled to break down Millwall’s giant back four with the diminutive Nouha Dicko left isolated on his own. Grosicki was a waste of oxygen.”
“The midfielders can’t pass or win a tackle.” The pattern of the game echoed previous poor displays, the starting XI (above) struggled with Millwall’s physicality and intensity. Dicko was unsupported and isolated by a lightweight midfield and Lions’ striker Tom Elliott gave City’s backline a tough evening.
Hull 1 – 1 Barnsley
“Well, at least it’s a point”, “Everything goes out the door in conditions like last night. We didn’t play badly either, we were mostly solid and created enough but we didn’t score. We had enough of it to put it to bed”, “It was the coldest I have been at a match and I had three layers and my big coat on.”
“A free header between the centre-backs, both of whom were marking nobody.” Oli McBurnie put the visitors in front, heading home Brad Potts's cross on 22 minutes but Michael Dawson volleyed an equaliser from a corner on 73 to rescue a point for the hosts. “It was a scrappy goal but it will do.”
Tigers felt that their line-up (above) was ill-suited for this relegation scrap. “We didn’t turn up at all tonight. You have to battle in the Championship and we didn’t. We only got into the game in the end because Barnsley sat back”, “Two points dropped but denying Barnsley three points was important.”
Goalkeepers and Defenders
“David Marshall did himself no favours with two brainstorms against Norwich.” The 32-year-old ex-Cardiff keeper was the only player singled out for criticism after Saturday’s win. “The realisation that he will be our number one next season is scary”, “He wiped out a Oliveira when there was no need.”
David Marshall at Cardiff
“Thank God we didn’t sell Allan McGregor last summer.” Tigers hope that the 36-year-old one-time Rangers keeper is available for Tuesday’s game. “He has make so many good saves to keep scores respectable and isn’t afraid to wipe out a striker. Make him captain, at least he gives a damn.”
“McGregor has been my player of the season but I fully expect him to leave this summer”, “He is not afraid to get cross”, “He is his usual miserable self, you have got to love him”, “He makes occasional howlers. He always jumps as opponents take freekicks, losing his feet and not keeping his position.”
“Ola Aina is a young player with a bright future.” The 21-year-old right-back is on loan from Chelsea. “He has always had confidence going forward, his problems are defensive”, “He gets caught out of position and makes schoolboy errors, he let his man run away from him for Norwich’s second goal.”
“Aina looks an attacking threat on the right. When he plays he creates space for Bowen in front of him”, “He is young and raw and he works hard. He doesn’t deserve the stick he gets”, “He has been fine since Adkins came in. He looks vulnerable defending but confident and bright going forward.”
“Sheffield United targeted Max Clark and rightly so. The lad is a bit out of his depth at this level.” The 22-year-old left-back and youth product “is absolutely awful. He’s trying his best but is nowhere near good enough. He has been massively thrown in at the deep end due to our approach to transfers.”
“Don’t get me started on Clark’s panicked clearances”, “Every time he gets the ball he punts it long down the line. To say he hits his target half of the time would be generous”, “He has improved and is not being skinned so often, but his only downside has been launching the ball forward too often.”
“Michael Hector overplays the ball and doesn’t react quickly to danger.” The 25-year-old Chelsea loanee “isn’t going to stop making sloppy errors”, “He’s talented but unreliable, trying Hollywood passes that miss their man”, “The guy is so inconsistent, making the same fouls in the same place.”
“Angus MacDonald seems pretty decent.” The 25-year-old centre-half arrived from Barnsley in January “has been good since he came in. He has to cover the left side due to Clark being out of position so many times”, “He is settling in and makes terrific blocks. I am very impressed with him.”
“Bloody hell Ondrej Mazuch, how stupid can you be?” The 28-year-old ex-Sparta Prague centre-half “provided Norwich with as cast-iron a stupid pointless penalty as you will ever see”, “He can’t kick a football but will head anything. He’s a strong no-nonsense defender who is all blood and thunder.”
“I know that Dawson scored last night against Barnsley but he was a liability once again. He was at fault for their goal and anyone with pace will have a field day against him.” The 34-year-old former Spurs man “is not a good player any more. We are leaking goals because he is playing in the side.”
“I know Dawson is slow these days but he is tough to watch. He often has to play because there is nobody else”, “He has been absolutely horrendous this season but this is as much down to the full-backs and the soft midfielders in front of him”, “At least he hits the target more than our strikers.”
“David Meyler has played like he’s half asleep this season.” The 28-year-old ex-Sunderland man “is too risky in a holding role given how much has given the ball away this season”, “He puts in a terrific effort and is aggressive but constantly loses the ball. He has played like he’s half asleep this season.”
“Oh no, Kevin Stewart is on.” The 24-year-old summer addition from Liverpool “gives the ball away with every touch, ambling back to poorly try and win it back”, “His giving it away and us conceding has been a familiar story, a truly awful signing”, “We might as well have Moira Stewart in midfield.”
“Jackson Irvine is not very elegant but he’s willing.” The 24-year-old August buy from Burton “runs his backside off. The amount of running, pressing and harrying he does right up to the final whistle has typified someone who is not giving up. He clatters a few and gets whacked without rolling about.”
“Irvine never gives up. He’s capable of playing lovely through balls but his passing is also shocking at times”, “His tenacious and buccaneering play is full of energy, a bright light in a sea of ineptitude”, “He was a fish out of water when Adkins switched him to the left wing. He’s decent, but no winger.”
“The Jon Toral thing puzzles me.” The 23-year-old former Arsenal youth player had a very successful loan spell at Birmingham. “He’s a creative player who flatters to deceive at times. Against Barnsley he was dire and would have been substituted if he wasn’t injured. Running was too good for him.”
“Evandro is a classy player.” The 31-year-old ex-Porto attacking midfielder has been sidelined through injury. “He’s technically our most gifted player, rarely losing or wasting the ball. He has guile, creates things and even does a good job of winning the ball back.”
“It’s a shame we don’t play through Evandro more, instead there is too much hoofing going on”, “It is said that he takes too many touches, but I think he keeps the ball until he can see a sensible option to play it. If we feed him the ball and give him some movement we would look more threatening.”
“The Norwich game was the best I have seen Markus Henriksen play in a Hull shirt.” The 25-year-old ex-AZ Alkmaar man has been heavily criticised for his earlier displays this season. “He looked a new man compared to the player I saw earlier in the season, chasing people down and linking our play.”
“The much-maligned Henricksen was class on Saturday”, “He got involved and found good spaces, making good runs and passes”, “He had one of his better games for us against Millwall and got stuck in”, “He made himself available and won the ball many times both on the ground and in the air.”
“At this point, Larsson is our midfield general.” The 32-year-old August acquisition from Sunderland “is a bright light among complete darkness”, “He has been too slow playing on the wing but has been excellent in central midfield”, “He is very industrious and uses the ball well, keeping us ticking over.”
“Larsson makes himself available more than most, he leads by example”, “The major factor in the win over Blades was having him back. He was outstanding, doing a lot of the dirty work and rarely giving the ball away”, “We are weak without him, he is without doubt the summer’s best signing.”
“Kamil Grosicki does little for the amount of time he’s on the pitch. He would be better as an impact substitute.” The 29-year-old one-time Legia Warsaw man “is lazy and contributes little defensively, but he can score and assist”, “He might not track back but he can produce a piece of real magic.”
“Grosicki is so weak. He looks terrified of taking a knock”, “He’s not bothered and doesn’t care”, “He has a sweet strike of the ball and he is productive in attack”, “He seemed a luxury player when we signed him and a strange purchase. I don’t think that has changed as we fight a relegation battle.”
“Harry Wilson was the game changer against Norwich.” The 20-year-old Liverpool loanee arrived at the KCOM Stadium in January. “He inspired the team and the crowd”, “He is going to be a very good player”, “I bet he goes home happy tonight. It must feel great with everyone chanting your name.”
“It was worth the admission money to see young Wilson going past players like they weren’t there. He reminded me of Ryan Giggs.” He missed three games having injured his shoulder in Hull’s FA Cup defeat at Chelsea last month. “This kid is such a promising talent, he just glides through defences.”
“Bowen is becoming rather good.” The 21-year-old ex-Hereford United man “is involved in pretty much everything and is starting to bamboozle defenders cutting into the box”, “At times against Barnsley it looked like he was the only footballer we had. Just pass it to him and watch him do it all.”
Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen
“Bowen looks our biggest threat by far. He looks dangerous every time he gets the ball and will also track back to our byline. My problem with him is the lack of quality to finish the good work”, “He is our best dead ball specialist but he needs to get his head up delivering that final ball in open play.”
“Adama Diomande showed in one blatant open goal miss against Ipswich why he’s our fourth-choice striker.” The 28-year-old one-time Dynamo Minsk man “works hard and tries to get involved in the game but he isn’t a goalscorer”, “For a big lad he comes off worse in a lot of the physical challenges.”
“It’s going to be hard for Will Keane after such a long lay-off.” The 25-year-old ex-Manchester United man has mainly featured as a substitute building match fitness recovering from a cruciate ligament injury sustained in November 2016. “He is a good option to hold the ball up coming off the bench.”
“Keane is a big lad who has a good touch and links up well with Toral”, “He looked lost playing in a two-man attack at Middlesbrough. He was too far from Fraizer Campbell and I don’t think he had the ball in the first 20 minutes”, “It will take time for him to make an impact and get fully up to speed.”
“I’m happy to see Fraizer Campbell return but overall I have been disappointed with him. He’s rated here for his tracking back in midfield more than for his attacking prowess now.” The 30-year-old ex-Crystal Palace man played on loan for the Tigers from Manchester United in the 2007/08 season.
“You can’t fault Campbell’s work rate”, “He spends too much time dropping back or wide”, “I like to see him hungry for the ball but for all his hard work there is no end product”, “He had more of an impact coming off the bench against Norwich. His run and pass for our fourth goal was impressive.”
“Dicko puts in a good all-round effort. Holding the ball up and bringing others into the game.” The 25-year-old ex-Wolves striker or winger “could be a decent Championship striker if we could get some half-decent service to him. He holds the ball up well and offers very good movement up top.”
Nouha Dicko playing for former club Wolves
“Dicko is tireless up front and a constant nuisance but he isn’t suited to playing on his own up front”, “He tries and tries despite the stupidity of putting him up front against Championship centre-backs who are eight feet tall”, “He is more of a threat working his way into the box and getting a shot off.”
“Good to see Abel back.” The 27-year-old former Palermo striker “will rip this league apart given the right service”, “We have missed him, he is so good in the Championship”, “Having him back and fit will make such a difference to our season. He provided constant pressure up front against Norwich.”
“…and that’s what Hernandez brings”, “His goal against Millwall was a proper striker’s finish. He is such a predatory striker and he is lethal in the six-yard area”, “If we had him all season, we would have been mid-table or higher”, “It’s a shame he is off in May, we will miss a player of his quality.”
Tigers’ Views on ITFC and the Game
There has been nothing said on any Tigers’ message board about Tuesday’s game at the time of writing. If there are any interesting pre-match comments worth reporting back, I will post these on the forum on Tuesday afternoon and link them on my Twitter feed.
The busiest Hull message board is Not 606.
Photo: Action Images
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