|Hull City 2 v 0 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 15th September 2018 Kick-off 15:00
We Have Fallen So Far in Such a Short Space of Time - Notes for Hull City
Friday, 14th Sep 2018 12:00 by HarryFromBath
HarryFromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Saturday’s game at the KCOM Stadium by delving into their forums.
“We’re a long way off, aren’t we?”, “I can’t believe there are three worse teams in the league”, “We are in the mire and will be in the same sort of mire as Rotherham at the end of the season”, “I have no idea how we can stay up”, “There are some positives but the club has had its heart ripped out.”
“Is anyone getting worried?”, “Most of us are very worried.” Hull head into Saturday’s match one point and two places ahead of Town, having picked up their solitary league victory at Rotherham. Most fans see this season as being nothing other than a relegation scrap. “I think we’re going down.”
“Are we now equipped for this relegation battle? We will need a bit of luck with availability as we don’t have much depth. An injury crisis, a rash of suspensions or the sale of anyone good in January and we could be done for”, “We will be relegated unless some late rabbits are pulled out of hats.”
“I have never been less enthused about going and I have hardly missed a game since 1995.” Many now feel apathetic. “I’m not boycotting, but I’m fed up with the whole fiasco and can’t be bothered”, “We have been in decline ever since Steve Bruce quit in 2016 and there’s still a long way to fall yet.”
“I genuinely feel for Adkins and the players. He will learn from the previous games and seems to be instilling belief into the players, but it will take time”, “We don’t look any better than under Slutsky, but sacking Adkins won’t do anything because nobody can come in and make the situation better.”
The 53-year-old replaced Leonid Slutsky last December with the club hovering just above the bottom three and secured survival with two games to spare with a remarkable 5-5 draw at Bristol City. Tigers sympathise with the challenge he has faced building a competitive team despite a raft of departures.
“I sometimes wonder why he is sticking around. The club is clearly not trying to sign his targets. They are targeting whoever is cheap”, “He has been made to look a fool due to a recruitment process over which he has no control”, “He’s doing his best for us and his players and doesn’t deserve criticism.”
“Adkins isn’t perfect but we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in if we had decent backing”, “Some of the drivel he comes out with after games is really starting to grate”, “Much as we would like him to, he can’t come out and say that the owners are dire. He has a tough enough job working for them.”
Rebuilding During a Fire Sale
“Has there been one good signing in the last 18 months?” All tactical discussion and analysis of Hull needs to be viewed in the context of what was a significant haemorrhage of talent from the club in the last two seasons. “The only players we get are those who have had absolutely nowhere to go.”
“We lost [keeper] Allan McGregor, [defenders] Michael Dawson, Max Clark and Moses Odubajo, [midfielders] Seb Larsson and David Meyler and [strikers] Adama Diomande and Abel Hernandez this summer, replacing them with bargain players. Remove the spine from the team and it crumbles.”
“We are too lightweight, we need players to rough the opposition up.” The remaining players lack experience and a streetwise edge. “I fear how this could affect the long-term careers of the younger lads. We’re desperate for some wise old heads to protect the youngsters and help them progress.”
Another regular theme is how the side have betrayed themselves, often through their naivety. “Hull City are a team that keeps giving penalties away and conceding late goals. Over the last couple of seasons, we must be way out at the top of the league in both. Something needs to change quickly.”
“I would dearly like to get rid of the 4-2-3-1 but it seems that we’re sticking with it.” The starting XI (above) for City’s last two league games kept faith with the manager’s preferred shape. “I want us to play with the handbrake off. If we are going to be struggling, why not throw the kitchen sink at it?”
Adkins was brought in to strengthen the defensive balance of the side, but many fans now doubt the resilience of their back four and would prefer to see the side playing on the front foot. “People had a go at Slutsky for not sorting out our defending, but I’m struggling to see an improvement right now.”
“We can’t defend for toffee and we are conceding two goals a game.” Keeper David Marshall has been praised for keeping scorelines respectable, but the lack of experience of the new centre-half partnership of Reece Burke and the error-prone Jordy De Wijs has been regularly exposed.
Fans hope that the experience of newly-arrived centre-back Tommy Elphick will bolster a defence which has conceded 17 goals in eight games. Right-back Eric Lichaj settled in quickly after arriving from Forest while left-back Stephen Kingsley has combined well with Todd Kane in front of him.
The lack of a natural defensive midfielder is a concern. “Not replacing the players we had in midfield is one hell of a gamble”, “We have absolutely no bite in midfield. Sides are not frightened or wary of us”, “Daniel Batty, Jackson Irvine and Markus Henricksen are all quite attacking central midfielders.”
Fans worry that opponents have either worked out or double-marked the heavily left-footed Jarrod Bowen on City’s right flank. Hull have two natural left wingers in Poland international Kamil Grosicki and French-born Serb David Milinkovic, but neither have started a league game this season.
“There is the Polish conundrum. If Kamil Grosicki is fit and in the country, he needs to be involved”, “Just about everyone is playing the wide left role. Todd Kane is a right-back, Jon Toral is a playmaker and Jackson Irvine is a box-to-box midfielder, all while having David Milinkovic sat on the bench.”
“I can’t see Adkins going for two strikers. It’s not his way.” The arrival of Chris Martin from Derby has raised fans’ hopes. Fraizer Campbell, Nouha Dicko and Will Keane have all struggled to find the net in the lone striker role, whereas Martin is a finisher who will add a needed edge to their attacking play.
The need to finish is an acute theme. “We have to make our luck by putting away the chances that we get”, “We must work on our finishing and overcome a distinct reluctance to shoot when in good positions”, “For all the good Campbell brings, sometimes we miss an attacking threat up the pitch.”
Eric Lichaj was reported to be late returning from international duty with the USA team. This has led to speculation among fans that Adkins might be prompted to switch to using wing-backs while also including the experienced Tommy Elphick and Chris Martin in a reshaped starting line-up (above).
Hull 1 – 2 Derby
“Just got back from the game, it’s a good job I don’t have a cat. We were the only team who looked like scoring in the second half”, “Derby had a strong squad but looked distinctly ordinary for most of the game”, “That was bloody harsh, we played well in the second half and deserved at least a point.”
Martyn Waghorn converted a penalty on 23 after David Nugent was brought down by Jordy de Wijs to give Derby first-half lead. Todd Kane levelled the scores on 53 after being put through by Evandro, but Florian Jozefzoon won the match for the Rams with a deflected shot at the back post on 88 minutes.
“It was an encouraging display”, “Our passing was awful in the first half. We panicked and lost the ball. Too many players did not seem tough enough but I was more than pleasantly surprised by the second half improvement”, “We were the only team going to win until Adkins rang the changes.”
Several fans felt that Adkins’s changes (above) disrupted the side’s attacking balance. “It was a case of too many too soon with the substitutions. Taking off Evandro and Kane, our most creative threats lost us our rhythm. We didn’t have time to settle, lost the initiative and then boom, a sucker punch!”
Stoke 2 – 0 Hull
“That was a poor game. Stoke really weren’t very good but we were so weak”, “The optimist in me thought we might nick a draw, the realist in me suspected a defeat”, “The outcome of this game is going to be a familiar occurrence this season. The quality of our players is just not good enough.”
James McClean opened the scoring for the Potters on nine minutes in the ninth minute with a fierce low drive after Hull failed to clear a corner. Mame Biram Diouf’s deflected effort doubled their lead on 59. Evandro missed the subsequent Carabao Cup tie after receiving a second yellow card on 60.
“Stoke are a decent side for this level but this was a comfortable afternoon for them even when they were below their best”, “For us to not muster a decent shot on target in 90 minutes is really poor”, “We conceded from a corner again, leaving McClean completely unmarked on the edge of the box.”
Hull 0 – 4 Derby (Carabao Cup Second Round)
“Well, I feared a drubbing and that’s what we got”, “It was a depressing night, men against boys all over the pitch. The young lads out there shouldn’t have been on the pitch at that level. Christ knows what it will have done for their confidence”, “This is what we have in reserve when the injuries bite.”
“Outclassed.” Martyn Waghorn opened the scoring on 29 minutes before a Florian Jozefzoon brace on 39 and 73 made the game safe for the Rams. Mason Mount added a fourth on 89 to complete the rout for the visitors. “It’s very sad to lose that way at home. It’s really frightening about the future.”
The starting line-up (above) included out-of-favour defender Angus MacDonald and midfielder Kevin Stewart in what was a very inexperienced side. “I was more frustrated with the experienced players. We were poor going forward, looking like a League Two side trying to break down Manchester City.”
Goalkeepers and Defenders
“David Marshall has been one of the few players to emerge with any credit this season.” The 33-year-old ex-Norwich and Cardiff keeper “has made a string of crucial saves this season”, “He often has poor kicks which can be intercepted and needs to boss defensive situations more assertively.”
David Marshall (Cardiff)
“When was the last time Marshall kept a clean sheet?”, “When was the last time he didn’t have a joke of a team in front of him?”, “He had to deal with a flurry of shots against Derby and by the end of the Stoke game Marshall was keeping the score respectable”, “He has been consistently good.”
“Eric Lichaj is Mr Dependable. I doubt if he will ever have a bad game.” The 29-year-old June arrival from Forest “is one of the few players we have who will actually get stuck in”, “He looks a wise head defensively and his positioning at right-back is much more solid than Ola Aina’s was last season.”
“Lichaj is a willing battler, he’s your typical no-nonsense full-back”, “He’s comfortable defensively and not bad when he does get forward”, “We’re desperately short of a do-or-die leader but he’s the one in our squad who can do it”, “He looks like a captain. He is vocal and tries to organise the defence.”
Eric Lichaj and Clayton Donaldson
“The jury is still out on Stephen Kingsley and I have seen most of the games he has played.” The 24-year-old left-back arrived from Swansea in 2017 but his first season at Hull was blighted by a groin injury. “The injury he succumbed to definitely affected his earlier displays last year under Slutsky.”
“Kingsley has a great cross on him but he lacked the speed to take on and dribble past players.” He is kindly thought of by Swansea fans. “He was always reliable and never complained when dropped”, “He looks great playing behind Kane, his performances at the end of last season were encouraging.”
“Angus MacDonald was laughable in the League Cup game against Derby.” The 25-year-old former Barnsley man “was playing out from the back and got booked due to his poor ball control”, “Teams didn’t cut through us last season when he was in defence, but this season he is a comedy genius.”
“This Jordy De Wijs isn’t too smart, is he?” The 23-year-old July buy from PSV Eindhoven “is great with his head but utterly hopeless with everything else”, “When he first arrived here, he looked like an enforcer, but he has gone from a meat-headed serial killer to a weakling in a matter of weeks.”
“De Wijs should have had a watching brief from the start. The English tempo is more frantic than on the continent and he needs time to adapt”, “He doesn’t take prisoners but he launches the ball in a wayward manner”, “Massive, and he put a freekick out of the ground. This just about sums him up.”
“Hopefully Tommy Elphick can strengthen the backline and bring a halt to some of our errors.” The 30-year-old loan signing from Aston Villa is yet to make his debut for Hull. “He’s a sensible signing and a leader on the park. If he defends as well as he talks we will have made a very sound purchase.”
“A good lad and a good leader buy my God he’s a terrible defender.” Villa fans have their doubts. “I would give any youngster a chance over this hoof merchant”, “He would crack under pressure, and I became nervous every time he played because he was a liability. A tragic player”, “He was dreadful.”
“Burke has been excellent”, “He has looked the part, but he has had a lot of covering to do, and his poor positioning at times can be put down to his inexperience.” The 21-year-old July purchase from West Ham “reminds me of James Chester in the way he likes to play the ball out from the back”.
McGoldrick holds back Reece Burke (Bolton)
“Burke looks comfy on the ball but there’s not a lot to him physically”, “He has looked good. He’s a calm and classy centre-back who wins his headers and he doesn’t mess about”, “He has had the odd ‘moment’, but you usually know a defender has had a good game when they pass through it quietly.”
“Markus Henriksen is far too anonymous for a lot of the time.” The 26-year-old former AZ Alkmaar man “is undoubtedly talented, but he can’t tackle and spends much of the game holding hands with our keeper”, “He’s a player who can nick the ball away but he just isn’t a tough-tackling midfielder.”
Markus Henriksen celebrates with Jackson Irvine
“I am trying to tiptoe any way through the horror of this world, a bit like Henricksen in most games”, “He’s so slow in possession and it’s worrying when I see him bottling out of tackles”, “His ability to stop breaking runners is very poor. He doesn’t take the responsibility to do a proper defensive job.”
“Daniel Batty has been the more influential of our two holding midfielders.” The 20-year-old youth product “has put some of his senior professionals to shame with his performances. The lad should be justifiably happy”, “He gets caught out of position but he gives us good midfield attacking options.”
“I really like the look of Batty. You can tell he has a bit about him”, “He’s a tidy little player who looks ready to be involved but he should be coming off the bench at this stage of his career”, “He should have been taken off after an hour against Villa. He was exhausted and it showed for their third goal.”
“How many million did we play Liverpool for Kevin Stewart?” The 24-year-old “is weak, half-hearted, lacking guts and passing the buck all the time”, “We need him to step up his defensive game but he’s so weak in the tackle. He has been an absolute disgrace to the shirt every time I have seen him play.”
“Jon Toral is lazy and languid. Playing football is too just much of a chore for him.” The 23-year-old Spanish former Arsenal youth player “is a great talent but not an English league battler. He should be at Levante or a similar Spanish team”, “I question if he can maintain his ability for longer periods.”
“Evandro is a tidy and effective player.” The 32-year-old Brazilian ex-Porto man “has a good brain and can see danger, but he isn’t quick and doesn’t break forward at all”, “He started really well but has been anonymous in recent games. I feel he actually needs to drop in a bit to link the play more.”
“Evandro may be a skilful player but putting him behind the striker isn’t working. His mobility and pace are non-existent”, “His mobility is shocking and he is pedestrian”, “He’s a class player but lacks the pace or physique to play high up, and he isn’t linking play as a number 10 as I hoped he would.”
“We have certainly missed Irvine. He’s one of the most important players at getting us on the front foot.” The 25-year-old ex-Burton man missed the last three games through illness. “He will hopefully be back for the Ipswich game. He injects flashes of urgency into our play and gives our midfield legs.”
“Irvine was one of our best signings last season, a box-to-box midfielder who gives his all”, “He has looked well up for it and made good all-round contributions when he has played this season.” The Australia international “makes mistakes and loses his man but he has a good engine and he fights.”
Wingers and Wide Midfielders
“Kamil Grosicki must put up with us until the New Year, and we must put up with him.” The 30-year-old Poland international was linked with Bursaspor and Sporting Lisbon last month but both moves collapsed before the window closed. “A player with abundant talent but cursed with a bad attitude.”
Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen
“I don’t know what to make of it if Grosicki stays. At times last season he looked brilliant, at others he couldn’t be bothered”, “Someone should point out to him that if he made an effort and scored a few goals, he could be a hero this season and get the applause from supporters he always craves.”
“What’s the deal with David Milinkovic?” The 24-year-old played on loan at Hearts from parent club Genoa before switching to Hull this summer, but he has only featured as a bench option. “From the glimpses I have seen, he seems to be more intent of showing off his footwork than passing the ball.”
“I fear Milinkovic will flatter to deceive. He’s a right-footer who cuts in from the left all the time with limited success. He gets boxed in by opponents when he dallies and gets dispossessed”, “We bought him to move us up the pitch and take the pressure off the defence, but I’m baffled by this signing.”
“Todd Kane is an intelligent player who is good on the ball and technically impressive.” The 24-year-old Chelsea loan signing has often played as a right-back, but Adkins moved him to the left wing with no available alternatives. “He’s a decent player with an eye for a killer pass, a real creative threat.”
“Kane’s creativity and pressing are wasted at right-back”, “He and Kingsley have marshalled our left side very well”, “He can take a decent corner or freekick into the zone which creates uncertainty for the keeper and defenders”, “We look less assured when he comes off as he is full of confidence.”
“Bowen is our best player by far. We should be playing a system to get the best out of him as he was simply superb given a free role under Slutsky.” The 21-year-old ex-Hereford United winger “is always a threat and he can score goals”, “There’s a lot hanging on him this year given how our squad looks.”
“Bowen’s form has gone downhill since Adkins arrived, whether that’s a coincidence I don’t know”, “Everyone knows he doesn’t have a right foot, so they don’t let him cut inside”, “He has been man-marked in a couple of games this season. Blackburn double-marked him and he was left stranded.”
“Will Keane doesn’t resemble a footballer.” The 25-year-old former Manchester United youth player “doesn’t challenge in the air or on the floor. His flicks and tricks are okay when four goals up, but not when chasing games”, “He did a great job of chasing, harrying and holding the ball at Rotherham.”
Will Keane (Sheffield Wednesday)
“Was Keane still anonymous?”, “The problem with Keane is that his promise was in full flow five years ago. Since then he has had very bad injuries. His hold-up play is decent but he isn’t good enough to lead the line consistently. The odd of him being a top striker are steadily shrinking.”
“I feel a bit sorry for Nouha Dicko but his finishing is appalling.” The 26-year-old former Wolves man “is a squad player only to be brought in when injuries happen”, “His industry and work rate would be better used alongside a strike partner”, “He can’t link with team-mates or get on the end of crosses.”
“Would anyone miss Dicko? He is full of effort and fight but strikers need to score goals”, “He’s full of energy but he finds himself in wide areas too often. In our formation where crossing is important he has to be in the centre of the pitch, not drifting and hoping somebody is breaking from midfield.”
“Martin is the bullying type of forward we have so badly missed.” The 29-year-old Beccles-born frontman joined on loan at the end of August from Derby but was unable to feature against his parent club. “I look forward to see what happens now we have a proper target man who leads the line and knows how to finish.”
Reading's Vito Mannone and Derby County's Chris Martin clash
“I just had a Derby mate thanking us for taking Martin off them. They thought he was idle and that we shouldn’t expect him to run too much”, “He is criticised for his laziness but people don’t take his football brain into account. He’s a player who doesn’t need to run around like a headless chicken.”
“It’s a shame Campbell can only play 60 minutes a game because we look weaker without him.” The 30-year-old former Crystal Palace striker “has been involved in so many of the best chances we have created over the last year. He always seems to be setting people up in really good positions too”.
Fraizer Campbell (Palace)
“Campbell’s defensive headers and tracking back are invaluable these days”, “He doesn’t half put in a shift in every game. Most players take a breather during the game but he is like a wasp, buzzing around the pitch with full intensity the entire time he’s on it. He can’t keep that up for 90 minutes.”
Tigers’ Views on ITFC and the Game
“A home win against a poor Ipswich side on Saturday could mark a turning point in our season and give some support to the beleaguered Adkins at last.” City fans are not taking us lightly, but they do see this game as a vital one to win in order to get their campaign back on track.
“We always seem to so well at home to Ipswich and terming it a ‘must-win’ isn’t a hopeless misuse of the phrase. Something has to give on Saturday. We haven’t got a point at home yet, and Ipswich haven’t got a point away.” City have lost their last six home games stretching back to last season.
Most feel that the two teams are evenly matched. “It’s faintly ludicrous to say this, but this game at home to Ipswich on Saturday actually does have a six-pointer feel to it”, “Ipswich have signed Jon Walters who is a very experienced and decent finisher. He would have been a good signing for us.”
Photo: Action Images
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