Thursday, 19 July 2012

Wanna be a Tiger? #2

A second look at some of the names being linked with a move to Hull City in the summer transfer window. Some are credible, some are not.

In updates from the first instalment The Tigers signed up German Striker Nick Proschwitz and will complete a loan move for Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Amos when he returns from their pre-season tour.
Brad Guzan re-signed at Aston Villa for three years while tenuously linked drugs cheat Paddy Kenny joined Leeds United. Following the signings of Amos and Eldin Jakupovic, Vito Mannone is no longer a target. Another rumoured target definitely not signing is Paul Coutts who has joined Derby County.

Before we get onto the rumours, it’s time for a one off special called…


Robert Koren (Midfelder)

The former captain of the Slovenian National team miraculously joined the Tigers in the summer of 2010 after being released by West Bromwich Albion. Quite how Nigel Pearson managed to attract Koren at a time when the club’s finances were dire, half the squad were let go and the other half would have been let go if anyone wanted them and the quality of our signings were limited to the likes of James Harper and Nolberto Solano, I’ll never know.

Koren did sign though and proved to be a crucial player once he bedded in playing initially from the left of midfield and then eventually behind the striker as the team was built around him. He chipped in with ten goals from midfield including crucial late winners against Watford and Leicester City. Koren’s importance to the Tigers was still up for debate until his late-season injury coincided with an abysmal run of form that cost City a play-off place. The choice of words is poor; it was no coincidence.

We initially feared that Koren’s contract was up this summer but it transpired that the Tigers had an option to extend it for a further year. What we didn’t know for sure until today s that his contract has a release clause of around half a million pounds that allows Koren to leave. He has several rumoured suitors including Premier League new boys Reading and Nigel Pearson’s Leicester City. Steve Bruce revealed earlier this week that he’s attempting to convince Koren to sign a new contract. The reasons for that are now obvious.

Losing Robert Koren could be catastrophic for Hull City. I’m not even sure where he fits into the team for the new season, with Steve Bruce likely to prefer a 4-4-2 system over his predecessor’s choice of playing one man up front with Koren behind. What I’m certain of is that whether it’s in the centre of midfield, as a second striker or (most likely) as a wide player, Steve Bruce would find a place for Koren because he’s a difference maker. I’m also certain that Leicester City with Robert Koren immediately make the jump from underachieving over-spenders to a team that will win promotion.

It will take three things to keep Robert Koren at Hull City. The first is a lack of interest from a Premier League. At his age, he can’t afford to turn down a guaranteed chance to play in the top flight again. The second is for the manager and the owner to convince him through their words and actions that the club are serious about winning promotion again. The third is money. City would have to match the money Koren could earn at Leicester City. This is where I have a dilemma. Over the past 18 months, the club has been run properly. The squad is made up of players who are on the way up. They respect each other, they work for each other and they know that they’re all valued the same and paid accordingly (apart from the leeches the Allams inherited). I’m not sure that the club should be ripping up that structure for Robert Koren or anyone else.

Reading Steve Bruce's interviews in the last day or two, I get the feeling that he isn't too hopeful. I think that if he felt Koren was going to sign a new contract, he would have kept it to himself but as that is looking unlikely he's made it the public. That said, Bruce may well just be sticking to his word and being open and honest with the supporters.

Ahmed Elmohamady (Winger)

The 24 year old Egyptian winger joined Sunderland from ENPPI in his home country last summer after a successful loan spell. Steve Bruce was the Sunderland manager who took him to the Stadium of Light for a fee of £2m. He can play anywhere on the right hand side, has good pace and crosses the ball well. “Elmo” has already won over 40 caps for Egypt. He has failed to hold down a regular spot at Sunderland under Martin O’Neill and Steve Bruce has confirmed his interest in taking. Sunderland would want at a seven figure fee to let him go permanently so a loan might suit City.

Credibility? Confirmed.
Likelihood? Only a possibility, he’s bound to have other offers.

David Meyler (Midfielder)

Young Irish midfielder whose career has been blighted by two cruciate knee ligament injuries, one fortunately less serious than the first. Roy Keane took him to Sunderland from his hometown club, Cork City, for £250,000. He’s been limited to just a handful of appearances for Sunderland which is a shame for such a talented player. It’s likely that Sunderland will send him out on loan to get games under his belt an Steve Bruce, who gave him his break at Sunderland, is very interested.

Credibility? Confirmed.
Likelihood? This one is a strong possibility.

Abdoulaye Faye (Defender)

Vastly experienced Seneglaese international defender is looking for his fifth club in England after his release by West Ham. The Hammers were the third club he’s played for under Sam Allardyce along with Bolton and Newcastle United. Faye also played an important part in establishing Stoke City in the Premier League, one of several astute signings by Tony Pulis. Despite being 34 years old, Faye s still fit and mobile and would give the Tigers an aerial presence that was missing at times last season as well as adding a bit of know how to some of the youthful quality we already have.

Credibility? Confirmed.
Likelihood? He’s had a medical and agreed terms. This one looks a go-er.

Ricardo Fuller (Striker)

Mobile, powerful and skilful Jamaican front man who’s spent most of his career in England. Suffered two serious knee injuries which mean he’ll never pass a medical and have probably stopped bigger clubs looking at him. Portsmouth eventually took a chance on him, one of Harry “Delboy” Redknapp’s deals, because of his goal return at Preston but he struggled at Pompey. Had a slightly better spell after following Redknapp to Southampton (for less than a tenth of the fee Pompey paid for him) and finally settled at Stoke where he won promotion to the Premier League and helped the club stay in the top flight three seasons in a row. In fact, Stoke looked certainties for relegation in their first PL season until Fuller gave Andy Griffin a slap against West Ham and it turned around their season. Or perhaps that was a coincidence.

Credibility? Already denied by Steve Bruce.
Likelihood? Highly improbable unless Steve Bruce is attempting to put us off the scent.

Paul Anderson (Winger)

A bright young winger available on a free transfer after seeing out his contract at Nottingham Forest. He was previously on the books at the KC Stadium after being released as a junior by Leicester. He left City in 2005 to join Liverpool in a swap deal for England U21 international John Welsh. Never threatened to break through at Anfield and after productive loan spells at Swansea and Forest, he moved to Nottingham permanently for £250,000. Anderson is a good footballer who has Championship pedigree but struggled for form and fitness last season. 

Credibility? Rumour denied by Steve Bruce.
Likelihood? Not going to happen.

Alex Bruce (Defender)

The Manager’s son is available on a free transfer after being released by Leeds United. He joined the Tigers on their training camp in Portugal and has made appearances in the opening pair of pre-season friendlies. While City are short on experienced defensive cover, there are better defenders available. Steve Bruce has said he’s wary of being accused of nepotism but it’s hard to see any other reason why City would take on Bruce Jr.

Credibility? He’s worn the kit!
Likelihood? A definite possibility.


Sone Aluko (Winger)

Another young English winger of Nigerian descent who has a single cap for the Super Eagles. Aluko came through the youth system of Birmingham City (where he was managed by one Steve Bruce) before joining Aberdeen, initially on loan. He impressed in the SPL for the Dons and was snapped up by Rangers at the end of his contract last summer. His impressive form continued at the declining Glasgow giants and he proved to be the shining light in a disastrous season. His brilliant individual goal in a 3-2 derby win over Celtic at Ibrox will go down in history as being the last great moment for the "old" Rangers. After Rangers liquidation, Aluko refused to transfer his registration to the new company and left as a free agent. Any signing will be the subject of some debate as the Scottish FA have so far refused to sanction the transfer of the registration of ex-Rangers players such as the three Stevens, Whittaker, Naismith and Davis.

Credibility? Do you believe the Hull Daily Mail?
Likelihood? As likely as Nigel Pearson trying to poach Robert Koren :(

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