Saturday, 24 August 2013

Hull City 1 Norwich City 0

Today, we witnessed the Tigers finest ever Premier League performance at the KC Stadium. In truth, it’s not top of a particularly long list but it does climb above the home win over Manchester City and the first ever Premier League victory against Fulham – on my list at least.

Not only did City hold on for victory despite being a man light for over 70 minutes but in doing so, they produced some of the silkiest, sexiest football I’ve seen from blokes in black and amber. Late in the first half the Tigers played the ball out of defence on the right hand side, from Elmohamady, through Koren, Huddlestone and Brady before Sone Aluko back-heeled the ball between opposing centre half and full back and Jake Livermore raced through on goal but shot over the bar. Chris Hughton stood on the touchline rubbing his eyes in disbelief while simultaneously having a quick count of how many City actually had on the pitch.

Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore made their first starts for City with Meyler and Graham making way from last week’s 2-0 hammering at Chelsea. Norwich arrived with several of their shiny new summer purchases barely out of the wrapping. If they thought they were in for a stroll in a place they’d never heard of, they would be badly mistaken. By half time Ricky Van Wolswinkel was dropping into his own half just to touch the ball. Leroy Fer cut a deeply frustrated figure. Javier Garrido went home with first prize in the “Kick an Aluko because you can’t get the ball off him” competition. Catchy name.

The game was even enough for the first twenty minutes with Emmanuel Tettey heading the only decent chance wide of the post. Then it turned on a tumultuous ten minutes. First Elmohamady swung a wonderful cross into the box from deep, Sagbo got ahead of Michael Turner in the box and the ex-Tiger hauled Sagbo to the ground. The ref awarded the spot-kick, correctly, and then proved utterly useless as Tettey held up the taking of the pen moaning about the position of the ball. That would become a theme.

Despite the gamesmanship, Robbie Brady sent John Ruddy the wrong way and a first Premier League goal for three years was on the board [1-0]. The game had barely settled back into a pattern when Mike Jones sent off Yannick Sagbo. There’d been a bit of verbal between Turner and Sagbo over the penalty award and tempers flared at the other end when Turner chucked himself down in the area looking for the ref to even things up. As the players wandered out, Nathan Redmond having smashed the ball over the bar for a goal kick, Sagbo and Russell Martin had a little tussle. For reasons known only to him, Sagbo tried to head-butt Martin. There was barely any connection but it’s just one of those things that you know immediately will be punished with a red card. The ref rightly produced one and my heart sank. Surviving for over an hour against a strong looking Norwich side was going to be very difficult.

Up to half time it wasn’t an issue at all. City left Aluko on his own up front and Koren, Huddlestone and Livermore bossed the midfield. Livermore especially had a wonderful game. His pace and energy were terrific weapons but his level of quality in possession was a surprise to me. He was outstanding. Koren was having his best game in black and amber (and putting in one hell of a shift) and Huddlestone gave us the calmness on the ball we knew we were getting. He’s a joy to watch. His one touch passing isn’t second to many. He switches play with the ease of a golfer chipping onto the 18th green knowing a Claret Jug or Green Jacket awaits him. He covers ground quickly and competes in the air. He was great. Livermore was even better.

City played delightful football going into the break. Norwich were rubbish. They were petty. Kicking us out of frustration and wondering why launching balls into our box was utterly pointless. Davies and Chester weren’t worked as much as you might think considering the disadvantage in numbers but what they were asked to do, they did without fuss. McGregor had far safer hands than last week and did a good job of coming for any balls into the box.

I didn’t think Norwich could come out in the second half and be as bad as they had been before the break but to their credit, they managed it. Even with Robert Snodgrass, who has tortured us at the KC once or twice before, on for the ineffective Bradley Johnson. Snodgrass engaged in a running battle with Maynor Figueroa. It didn’t appear to dawn on him that putting in decent crosses or striking at goal might hurt us more than throwing himself around and kicking the Honduran. The best moment came when Snodgrass lad a ball off near half way and Figueroa saw him coming, tucked himself up like he was hiding behind an invisible telegraph pole and launched himself shoulder first into the whinging Scot.

We had to deal with 20/25 minutes of pressure from Norwich. We dropped deep and allowed them a lot of the ball in front of us. They rarely hurt us. Their wide players only produced two decent crosses all afternoon. The second was a potential game-changer, Van Wolfswinkel meeting it with a bullet header that McGregor tipped superbly over the bar. “World Class” doesn’t do it justice; it was a wonder-save. Despite numerous changes in personnel, including the introduction of the always lively Wes Hoolahan, Norwich never got closer. McGregor made comfortable saves from Redmond in the first half and Howson in the second but had little else to do.

The longer the half went on, the more City grew back into the game. Aluko and Koren initially threatened on the counter and after Steve Bruce’s very well-judged substitutions, Boyd and Graham led the charge very well indeed. We came closer to finding a second goal than they did an equaliser. It was a great half of football. The sending off and the referee’s appalling leniency towards the visitors created a fantastic atmosphere in the East Stand. Blocks, breaks and interceptions were met with great applause as the crowd willed The Tigers to upset the odds.

Then as full-time approached it became almost as torturous as the Cardiff game on May 4th. The crowd knew what the players had put into the performance and they wanted to see it rewarded. It’s August and no game is “must win” in August but the thought of losing this one after such a sheer bloody minded effort made me feel quite sick. In the 90th minute, our friend the ref finally booked a Norwich player for a blatant pull on a rampaging Rosenior. It was their 19th foul. That’s before you count the poor sportsmanship, dissent and blatant diving. You have to hope an ugly little team like that gets their comeuppance and they did today - which is nice.

We showed our disgust at the adding of six minutes of stoppage time, presumably for a combination of Curtis Davies’ head injury and the time City took to make substitutions. However like they’d done throughout, City made light work of it. We spent most of it counter attacking and trying not to pass the ball to Danny Graham when he’d made a pretty good run. That’s the Hull City way. A second goal would have been way too easy!

So ended a really terrific 90 minutes at the KC “Sponsored by a phone company but incapable of providing a connection” Stadium. The Tigers really were fabulous. Apart from the lunacy of Sagbo; they were magnificent to a man. The manager deserves a fair amount of credit too. He picked the right team, reorganised properly after the sending off and then made fine substitutions.


Not all of the Premier League games will be like this. Which is probably a good job - my heart wouldn’t make it to Christmas. This should flood everyone with belief though. We can compete. We can go toe to toe with most. And we don’t even need eleven men to do it!

Ratings: McGregor 8; Elmohamady 7, Chester 7, Davies 7, Figueroa 8; Aluko 8, Brady 7, Huddlestone 8, Livermore 9; Koren 8, Sagbo 0.

Subs: Graham (for Aluko), Boyd (for Brady), Rosenior (for Koren).

Friday, 16 August 2013

PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW 2013/14



ARSENAL

LAST SEASON: 4th
KEY ARRIVALS: Yaya Sanogo - Auxerre (FRA) - Free
KEY DEPARTURES: Andrey Arshavin - Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS) - Released, Denilson - Sao Paulo (BRA) - Released, Vito Mannone - Sunderland - 2.8m

WHAT'S NEW?

Not a lot. Arsenal are sitting on a stack of money they can't spend. Failed with moves for Higuin who went to Napoli and Luis Gustavo who joined Wolfsburg. Key target Luis Suarez looks likely to stay at Liverpool and interest in Wayne Rooney was a fantasy. Another struggle to win the 4th place trophy beckons. Over 3000 days since they last won a trophy.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

Liverpool agree to sell Suarez, Arsenal finish 3rd and win the FA Cup.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Spurs end the Arse's 16 year run of Champions League football.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Finding 3 top players in the next 2 weeks.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Arsene Wenger.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 5th
 

ASTON VILLA

LAST SEASON: 15th
KEY ARRIVALS: Aleksandar Tonev - Lech Poznan (POL) - Undisc, Jores Okore - Nordsjaelland (DEN) - Undisc, Nicklas Helenius - Aalborg (DEN) - Undisc
KEY DEPARTURES: Darren Bent - Fulham - Loan, Jean II Makoun - Rennes (FRA) - Undisc, Richard Dunne - QPR – Released

WHAT'S NEW?

A load of players most have never heard of. Villa have abandoned their interest in young British players and gone for young foreign players instead. Holding on to Christian Benteke was crucial and some of the boys who struggled last season should mature but another season in the bottom half is almost certain.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

Sneaking into the top half.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Having an excellent Championship side in 2014/15.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Christian Benteke's goals and a much improved defence.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Andreas Wiemann.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 14th


CARDIFF CITY

LAST SEASON: 1st (Championship)
KEY ARRIVALS: Andreas Cornelius - FC Copenhagen (DEN) - 7.5m, Gary Medel - Sevilla (SPA) - 11m, Steven Caulker - Tottenham Hotspur - 8m
KEY DEPARTURES: None.

WHAT'S NEW?

Premier League football is. Cardiff return to the top flight after a 51 year absence and put 3 years of play-off heartache behind them. Stormed, deservedly, to the Championship title last season and have spent big and attracted real quality this summer.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

If everything clicks, they could finish in the top 8.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Upsetting a settled unit with expensive buys on big money could see them return to the Football League quick smart.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Integrating the new players and getting goals from Cornelius.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Gary Medel. Fantastic player. Absolute nutcase.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 15th


CHELSEA

LAST SEASON: 3rd
KEY ARRIVALS: Andre Schurrle - Bayer Leverkusen - 18m, Marco van Ginkel - Vitesse Arnhem (HOL) - 8m
KEY DEPARTURES: None. But half the squad have gone on loan around the world.

WHAT'S NEW?

Chelsea have a 5th new manager in the last 4 years. I can’t remember his name though. The squad has remained settled despite plenty of rumours and must improve having massively underachieved in the Premier League in the past 2 seasons.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

Winning the title and having a long run in the Champions League. Nothing else is good enough.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Another lackluster league campaign and not being involved in the CL past February.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Reflecting the managers determination and arrogance on the pitch.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Andrea Shirley. German is the Premier League’s first female pro.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 1st


CRYSTAL PALACE

LAST SEASON: 5th (Championship)
KEY ARRIVALS:  Dwight Gayle - Peterborough United - 6m, Jerome Thomas - WBA – Released,  Jose Campana - Sevilla (SPA) - 1.75m
KEY DEPARTURES: Andre Moritz - Bolton Wanderers – Free

WHAT'S NEW?

Not as much as Ian Holloway would have liked. Aside from taking a massive gamble on Dwight Gayle and what looks a very shrewd signing in Jose Campana, Palace have struggled to recruit proven quality and look by far the weakest squad on paper.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

Returning to the Championship with bulging pockets.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Is it still called “Doing a Derby”?

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Either pulling several rabbits out of the transfer hat in the next 2 weeks or cheating 15 penalties out of referees again.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Dwight Gayle.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 20th. Sorry.


EVERTON

LAST SEASON: 6th
KEY ARRIVALS: Antolin Alcaraz - Wigan Athletic – Free, Arouna Kone – Wigan Athletic – 6m, Gerard Deulofeu - Barcelona (SPA) - Loan
KEY DEPARTURES: None.

WHAT'S NEW?

Everton have a new manager, losing David Moyes after 10 years. In comes the well admired Roberto Martinez whose teams play attractive football but can’t defend. He inherits a strong squad with better defenders than he’s had before and some talented forward players. Kone is a super signing while Deulofeu, who is highly thought of in Spain, could be a master stroke.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

Martinez attacking principles lead Everton to a top 4 finish.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Martinez defensive flaws lead Everton to a mid-table finish.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Finding the right balance between defence and attack.
MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Marouane Fellaini. Thug.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 8th


FULHAM

LAST SEASON: 12th
KEY ARRIVALS: Adel Taarabt – QPR - Loan, Darren Bent – Aston Villa – Loan, Derek Boateng - Dnipro (UKR) – Free, Maarten Stekelenburg – Roma (ITA) - 3.5m.
KEY DEPARTURES: Mahamadou Diarra – Released, Mark Schwarzer – Released, Mladen Petric – Released

WHAT'S NEW?

Mohammed Al Fayad selling up after 16 years as Fulham’s owner was the big story of the summer. Don’t worry though, the Michael Jackson statue is still in place. Meanwhile Martin Jol has gone quietly about his business this summer with several shrewd but low cost signings.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

A top 8 finish is possible if Fulham click.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Several temperamental personalities in the dressing room mean they could slip into a dog fight when the going gets tough.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Taarabt and Bent helping Berbatov rather than getting in his way.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Adel Taarabt. I hope his Oyster card is topped up.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 12th


HULL CITY

LAST SEASON: 2nd (Championship)
KEY ARRIVALS: Ahmed Elmohamady - Sunderland - 2m, Allan McGregor - Besiktas (TUR) - 1.8m, Curtis Davies - Birmingham City - 2.25m, Danny Graham - Sunderland – Loan, Maynor Figueroa - Wigan Athletic – Free, Tom Huddlestone – Spurs – 5.25m, Yannick Sagbo - Evian (FRA) - 1.6m
KEY DEPARTURES: Corry Evans - Blackburn Rovers - 750k, Jack Hobbs - Nottingham Forest – Loan,  Tom Cairney - Blackburn Rovers - Loan

WHAT'S NEW?

Ten players are new. Steve Bruce got The Tigers promoted against all odds with a squad lacking goalkeepers, having several loan players and severely lacking in top flight experience. He’s done an excellent job of replenishing the team on a tough budget. THERE IS NO CHANGE OF TEAM NAME!

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

Massive investment form the Asian market leads to several world class acquisitions in January and City clinch the Premier League title with 2 weeks to spare.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Relegation, obviously.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Keeping the small number of really top quality players fit to play in most of the 38 games.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Danny Graham.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 17th


LIVERPOOL

LAST SEASON: 7th
KEY ARRIVALS: Iago Aspas - Celta Vigo (SPA) - 7m, Kolo Toure - Manchester City – Released, Luis Alberto - Sevilla (SPA) - 6.8m, Simon Mignolet - Sunderland - 9m
KEY DEPARTURES: Andy Carroll - West Ham United - 15.5m, Jonjo Shelvey - Swansea City - 5m, Pepe Reina – Napoli – Loan, Stewart Downing – West Ham United – 6m

WHAT'S NEW?

So far, not a great deal. Liverpool should do better than last season as they were much improved once Sturridge and Coutinho joined in January. They’ve signed good players but not players who’ll make a massive difference. Could still pull out a truly world class signing.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

The North London sides implode and Liverpool sneak into 4th place.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Finishing below Everton. Again.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Keeping Luis Suarez and keeping him happy.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Simon Mignolet. Has big shoes to fill.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 6th


MANCHESTER CITY

LAST SEASON: 2nd
KEY ARRIVALS: Alvaro Negredo - Sevilla (SPA) - 20m, Fernandinho - Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) - 30m, Jesus Navas - Sevilla (SPA) - 14.9m, Stevan Jovetic - Fiorentina (ITA) - 22m
KEY DEPARTURES: Carlos Tevez - Juventus (ITA) - 12m

WHAT'S NEW?

It’s nothing new but City have spent nearly a hundred million quid again. New manager Pellegrini has been provided with several top European performers to add to an already bulging squad. He absolutely must improve on their dire performances in the Champions League which was what truly did for Roberto Mancini.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

A quadruple?

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

More CL misery and United winning the title in spite of Moyes.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Settling quickly and maintaining a settled team. Mancini fiddled too often.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Negredo. He’s still not over the disappointment of missing out on a move to Hull.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 3rd


MANCHESTER UNITED
LAST SEASON: 1st
KEY ARRIVALS: None.
KEY DEPARTURES: None.

WHAT'S NEW?

For the first time in 26 years we’ll see a United team that isn’t managed by Alex Ferguson. I don’t think David Moyes can fill his shoes. His handling of the Wayne Rooney “saga” has been less than authoritative and publicly chasing players who didn’t want to join is not the United way.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

The Championship in his first season would be an excellent achievement for Moyes.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Finishing below City and being exposed in the CL.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Rooney and van Persie.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Moyes.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 2nd


NEWCASTLE UNITED

LAST SEASON: 16th
KEY ARRIVALS: Loic Remy - QPR - Loan
KEY DEPARTURES: None.

WHAT'S NEW?

Not a lot. Newcastle have spent most of the summer providing comedy value for football fans everywhere and not enough time strengthening a squad that was very, very lucky there were 3 sides more useless in the division last season. That said, Newcastle do have quality, most of it French, and if they can get a settled side out, they could be fine.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

If allowed to show their va va voom, they could be top half.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

They are just as likely to fall through the “relegation trap door”.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Remy staying out of prison.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Remy’s defence lawyer.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 18th


NORWICH CITY

LAST SEASON: 11th
KEY ARRIVALS: Gary Hooper - Celtic (SCO) - 5m, Leroy Fer - FC Twente (HOL) – Undisc, Martin Olsson - Blackburn Rovers – Undisc, Nathan Redmond - Birmingham City - 2m, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel - Sporting (POR) - Undisc
KEY DEPARTURES: Grant Holt - Wigan Athletic - 2m

WHAT'S NEW?

Someone at Carrow Road has won the Euromillions. Norwich have gambled big time on improving in the Premier League. There are risks of course but I think they’ve made an excellent job of it. Flirted with the bottom three last season before pulling away at the end. They’ll be safe by Christmas this year.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

Is Europa League football unlikely?

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

The club shop run out of W’s.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Getting their expensive acquisitions to work as hard as the players they’ve joined.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Gary Hooper. Waste of money.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 7th


SOUTHAMPTON

LAST SEASON: 14th
KEY ARRIVALS: Victor Wanyama - Celtic (SCO) - 12.5m, Dejan Lovren – Lyon (FRA) – 8.5m
KEY DEPARTURES: None.

WHAT'S NEW?

Saints have added quality in the right areas, albeit at massively inflated prices, to an exciting young squad. Though, ironically it was 31 year old Rickie Lambert who this week became their first England cap in 8 years.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

A top 10 finish is with their capability though the league is going to be ultra-competitive this season.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

I still hate the way they treated Nigel Adkins so I’d quiet like to see them struggle.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

A better start than they made last season.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

The interpreter.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 11th


STOKE CITY

LAST SEASON: 13th
KEY ARRIVALS: Erik Pieters - PSV Eindhoven (HOL) - 3m, Marc Muniesa - Barcelona (SPA) - Free
KEY DEPARTURES: Rory Delap - Burton Albion - Released

WHAT'S NEW?

Higher unemployment in Stoke. I don’t mean Tony Pulis, I mean those poor fellas who carried towels around the pitch. As much as Tony Pulis’s footballing philosophy made the games originators turn in their grave, he enjoyed great success at Stoke. Dispensing him was a brave move and replacing him with Hughes, who flopped at QPR, is even braver. Hughes hasn’t really made his mark on the squad.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

The towel carriers are re-hired to fan Abi Clancy on warm days.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

They will be sucked into the scrap for survival.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Home form. Best atmosphere in the league at the Britannia.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Cameron Jerome. He’d bet on it.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 16th


SUNDERLAND

LAST SEASON: 17th
KEY ARRIVALS: Emanuele Giaccherini - Juventus (ITA) - 6.5m, Jozy Altidore - AZ Alkmaar (HOL) - Undisc.
KEY DEPARTURES: Simon Mignolet - Liverpool - 9m

WHAT'S NEW?

Paulo Di Canio has brought his scouting system from Swindon. It basically involves cracking open the Championship Manager database and searching for players with ability above 150 whose contract is expiring.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

They could do anything this season. The signings are utterly random. In Altidore and Giaccherini they have at least signed a bit of proven quality.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

(R) Sunderland.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Championship Manager’s team of researchers.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Sadly, Vito Mannone.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 19th


SWANSEA CITY

LAST SEASON: 9th
KEY ARRIVALS: Jonjo Shelvey - Liverpool - 5m, Jordi Amat - Espanyol (SPA) - 2.5m, Wilfried Bony - Vitesse Arnhem (HOL) - 12m
KEY DEPARTURES: None.

WHAT'S NEW?

Swansea splashing the cash.  Two seasons of Premier League football maintained on a tight budget and the increase in TV revenue have given Michael Laudrup a bit of wiggle room. The obvious big name signing is Bony who a dozen Premier League clubs have looked at and baulked at the asking price. How to top winning a trophy at Wembley is going to be a big question for Laudrup this season.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

Improving a place or two in the league and doing well in Europe.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Losing Laudrup.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Coping with the numerous Thursday-Sunday matches scheduled, especially after Euro trips.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Michu. Second season syndrome.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 10th


 TOTTINGHAM HOTSPURS

LAST SEASON: 5th
KEY ARRIVALS: Ettiene Capoue – Toulouse – 9.3m, Nacer Chadli - Twente (HOL) - 7m, Paulinho - Corinthians (BRA) - 17m,  Roberto Soldado - Valencia (SPA) - 26m
KEY DEPARTURES: Clint Dempsey - Seattle Sounders (USA) - 6m, Steven Caulker - Cardiff City - 8m, Tom Huddlestone – Hull City – 5.25m.

WHAT'S NEW?

Spurs finishing 5th, Daniel Levy playing hard ball over transfers, sound business being done at WHL. None of that is new. A striker though. A proper top class striker, that is certainly a revelation. Spurs have spent big on a guy who should score goals by the bucket load. The excellent Paulinho and lively Capoue look great business too.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

Is a title challenge too much to ask? Probably, just.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Soldado is crocked. Liverpool have a stormer. Spurs finish 5th again.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

I’ve avoided mentioning Gareth Bale! Damn, nearly. Anyway – keeping him or selling early enough to replace with quality.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Paulinho. You can never trust a Brazilian.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 4th


WEST BROMWICH ALBION

LAST SEASON: 8th
KEY ARRIVALS: Diego Lugano - Paris SG (FRA) – Free, Goran Popov - Dynamo Kiev (UKR) – Loan, Nicolas Anelka - Juventus (ITA) - Released
KEY DEPARTURES: None.

WHAT'S NEW?

WBA have had a quiet summer. Anelka and Lugano, while big names, aren’t signings that have really caused a ripple. They had a settled squad last season, didn’t ever panic when a result went against them and through a combination of shrewd tactics, team spirit and quality throughout, they finished in a fine eighth place.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

8th again is surely the limit of their capabilities.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Odemwingie holds another circus show on deadline day.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Their discipline, workrate and craft in midfield.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

Anelka. He’ll score goals no doubt but he can be a poisonous influence.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 13th


WEST HAM UNITED

LAST SEASON: 10th
KEY ARRIVALS: Andy Carroll - Liverpool - 15.5m, Razvan Rat - Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) – Free, Stewart Downing – Liverpool – 6m
KEY DEPARTURES: Carlton Cole – Released.

WHAT'S NEW?

West Ham have followed up the mildly successful capture of Andy Carroll by signing the man tasked with providing him at Liverpool, Stewart Downing. That combination didn’t do well on Merseyside but it’s right up Sam Allardyce’s street. The ‘ammers did well on their return to the Premier League last season and have enough quality in every area to do well again.

BEST CASE SCENARIO?

Downing and Carroll hit it off and another top 10 finish is secured.

WORST CASE SCENARIO?

Carroll spends another season picking up niggly injuries and Big Sam rues the day he let Carlton Cole go.

KEY TO SUCCESS?

Kevin Nolan most probably. Right place. Right time.

MOST LIKELY TO FLOP?

I think Downing will do well, so Carroll if anyone.

RICK's PREDICTED FINISH: 9th

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Hull City 3 Real Betis 0

Hull City AFC, known as The Tigers (separately for good reason), took on Real Betis in the final game of an eclectic pre-season in a game serving as a well-deserved testimonial for future Hull City Hall of Famer Andy Dawson.

Prior to the main game a small sided game featuring legends who’ve played alongside “Daws” took place. Wearing the City home strip were Daws, Dean Windass, Henrik Pedersen, Ian Ashbee, Jamie Forrester and Gav the coach driver. Opposing them, in last year’s blue third kit, were the slightly fitter bunch including Ben Burgess, Danny Allsopp, Jason Price, Steve Melton and Marc Joseph who, in contrast to some Danish pub landlords we won’t name, was still in peak physical condition. The football ability is also the same. Unfortunately.

The game finished 6-4 to the home legends due mainly to the away lot taking it steady and then stepping aside to allow Dawson’s kids to score a couple – a moment they won’t ever forget. The man of the moment also added a couple while Dean Windass showed his inability to volley a football goalwards. Has that man ever scored a volley? Hilariously Marc Joseph tried to kill a young Dawson with a two footed sliding tackle and the crowd booed the crap out of the goalkeeper for saving from the youngest Dawson.



 The main game ebbed and flowed like most pre-season games. Between the opening two Tigers goals absolutely nothing happened but otherwise it was mostly entertaining and occasionally kicked off. David Meyler and Steinhofer were both lucky to avoid red cards. The German for an out of control tackle and Meyler for trying to throttle him in retribution.

Betis have a game with Everton on Sunday so they’d split their squad. While typically Spanish in their movement and passing, City showed more desire to win and better pace and strength. At times City also moved the ball slickly and gained confidence from an early goal. Danny Graham headed in Robbie Brady’s free-kick at the far post. That will hopefully fill him with confidence. There was no questioning his work rate up front though his touch let him down a time or two.

The other home debutants outfield were Curtis Davies, Maynor Figueroa and Yannick Sagbo. Davies looked very comfortable alongside James Chester and, while the two were generally untroubled, he showed his ability in the air and his turn of pace which attracted Steve Bruce to him. Sagbo had a quieter game but there was evidence of some quick feet, which led to him being clobbered a few times. He looks decent in the air, is quick and is more physically impressive than his measurements suggest. On a day designed to celebrate our greatest ever left back, it was fitting that Maynor Figueroa made a fine impression in the position. He’s a fine athlete and he shows great ambition down the left hand side. He’s going to be a big favourite. The other debutant was goalkeeper Allan McGregor but he had so little to do, he could have spent his time peeling oranges. He looks very comfortable with ball at feet.

The other player who felt like a new signing was Sone Aluko. I’m delighted to report that he looks as good as ever. He seemed to enjoy the fluid formation which allowed him to exchange positions with Sagbo and Graham when they saw fit. With Robbie Koren looking fitter and faster than ever in midfield alongside the versatile and ever-improving Robbie Brady, they played some nice stuff. Aluko doubled the lead with a beautiful curling shot from a short Brady free-kick though he’d never get this much space in a Premier league game for sure. We need midfield reinforcements but Brady and Koren showed great desire to work for the team which will stand us in good stead in the short term if new players don’t arrive.

The game was wrapped up with a cheeky goal from sub George Boyd. He spotted a poor back pass coming, latched on to it, rounded the keeper, let a defender slide past him and then dinked the ball over the grounded defender. Boyd arrived along with 5 others in one go in the second half. Liam Rosenior was laughing as he strode on to the pitch having been told he was playing midfield with Alex Bruce. With Dudgeon at right-back and Brady left it was an odd system but it was designed to allow Andy Dawson to make a late cameo so it was all fine. When McLean and Proschwitx became the 7th and 8th subs, Matty Fryatt dropped into midfield and had a great time picking out passes. He’s a good footballer our Matt. He’s just a bit lost in the shuffle unfortunately.

The only real negative from the new system is that it stunted Elmohamady who didn’t get forward anywhere near as often as he did last season. He may grow into the deeper role but he seemed keen not to get caught up front knowing there was no-one to cover for him.

All that was left was for us to give Andy Dawson a rousing reception as he replaced Brady, cheer his every touch and then stay to applaud him at the end. The crowd of 7,991 was a big disappointment but those who were there did a great job of reflecting the respect and adoration we’ll always have for Andy Dawson.

There’ll never be another.

Monday, 15 July 2013

North Ferriby United 1 Hull City 3

Blimey, time for Ferriby again? That came around quickly. I'd barely had time to miss football. Andy Murray hasn't stopped sipping champagne and we're only one test into The Ashes! Still, this is one of my favourite fixtures of the season. You've got love a visit to a ground where you can hit the wall when it isn't even a free-kick. The only sour note was the stupid decision to stage games against Ferriby and Winterton on the same night. I didn't like having to choose and I feel sorry that Winterton have missed out on my £15 or so and many others. It meant a split in the squad. One lot were sent over the bridge to West Street and ran out 6-0 winners with goals from Meyler, Fryatt (3), Evans and a mysterious trialist. Most of the rest lined up at Church Road thus:


The split in the squad did mean the majority of the Tigers played a full 90 minutes which is highly unusual at this stage of pre-season. A few were blowing by the end but they'd put in a decent effort, played the game at a decent intensity and restarted quickly when the ball went out. Despite the heat, there was no stopping for drinks breaks, it was a solid workout. Ferriby, as you'd expect given their promotion to Conference North looked the best I've seen them. They were well drilled, moved the ball well, were aggressive and very threatening from set pieces. They look to have better strikers than before with good movement. They've recruited well.

The game wasn't the best. It rarely is in pre-season. The excitement carries you through the first quarter hour and then you remember it's just a friendly and they're generally rubbish. Certainly for long periods in the second half there wasn't a whole lot of goal mouth action. In fact the work in the last third let City down throughout. Otherwise they passed quite nicely, created space on the wings and got into reasonable positions. In the first half, the threat all came from Brady. In the second, it was all Rosenior. Brad made the first chance after 30 seconds, clipping the ball into Quinn' path, the 'keeper advanced and Quinn lobbed the ball wide of the empty net. A few drunkards in the corner behind McGregor's goal chanted "Who needs Mourinho? We've got Steve Brucio". Not sure about that one.

City led two-nil at the break. Brady linked up with Quinn on the left and crossed for Liam Rosenior to tap-in. Rosie didn't even raise an arm in celebration. Probably too surprised! [0-1] Nick Proschwitz doubled the lead with a tap in after the 'keeper had pushed out his own header from Brady's deep cross. [0-2]. Proschwitz had earlier survived a two footed tackle that would have seen a red card produced in a "real" game and had a smart shot stopped when he latched onto another rebound. Otherwise, he looked the same. Not quite quick enough, not quite strong enough and didn't win headers. His strike partner Boyd was also a bit below par, like the player who finished his loan spell last season. He makes the game look really simple when he's at his best. He was struggling with it here.

The second half was a quieter affair as mentioned. Ferriby made plenty of chances and looked a bit brighter for them. City huffed and puffed and got Rosenior in behind half a dozen times but didn't get enough reward for it. Rosie was great working up and down the flank and showed terrific pace but still struggles to find a cross at the end of it. The summer break hasn't provided some magic formula for anyone. Alex Bruce still passes to them sometimes. Tom Cairney still floats around, produces the odd lovely pass but watches games pass him by. Robert Koren can't remember what hitting the net feels like!

Ferriby pulled a goal back deservedy when Nathan Jarman, a terrific signing at that level, met a lovely cross [1-2]. They might even have equalised when the #7 capitilised on a mistake by McShane and chipped a lovely Cantona-esque shot underneath the bar but saw Allan McGregor tip it over. It was a terrific save from the impressive debutant 'keeper. He came out and collected crosses, made saves comfortably and kicked the ball well. The other new signing on display, Curtis Davies, had a pretty reasonable game. he looked great in the air at both ends, was confident on the ball and made one super tackle in the second half. The only black mark against his name were a couple of pathetic attempts to stop their #11 weaving through our defence in the first half.

City wrapped up a far from comfortable victory in the last minute. Quinn sprayed a pass wide to Rosenior, his cross was missed by everyone and fell back to Stephen Quinn who lashed the ball into the far corner [1-3]. The Billy Bly Trophy is ours once more. I'll tweet the highlights of the open top bus parade.

The Tigers now head out to Portugal for a couple of games and then face trips to Peterborough and Birmingham. It's disappointing that there aren't more convenient games locally but that is what it is. Nothing really matters until August 18th. That's when the real stuff starts with an over-priced trip to Chelsea. We're a couple short in the final third. I think everyone knew that already. It didn't need this game to tell us anything. It did though. It told us that our best two forwards were in Winterton!


Friday, 5 July 2013

Whatever happened to...? Premier League Tigers

It may only have been three years since Hull City’s original Premier League journey came to an end at Wigan but at times it has felt like a lifetime. The club neared bankruptcy, were saved by an Egyptian on a white horse, have turned over nearly 50 players, seen four managers (and one “Football management consultant”) leave before returning to the top flight against all odds.

It’s been quite a journey for the players who wore the black and amber in the Premier League too.  A few went on to bigger and better things. Several have retired. Some travelled the world. One has been to prison. Let’s have a look.

Amr Zaki (6 appearances - 0 goals)

The first Egyptian player to represent Hull City (before it became old hat) had an unremarkable spell on loan from Zamalek. He returned to the Egyptian club and found a bit of form but a serious injury and a contractual dispute meant he missed a lot of football. He went on to join Turkish side Elazigspor in 2011 but left following a contractual dispute. He then returned to Egypt with ENPPI whom he’d previously represented between 2003-2005. He left earlier this summer following a contractual dispute and has signed for Al-Salmiya of Kuwait. I hope they’ve got a good lawyer.

Andy Dawson (60 apps - 1 goal)

Left The Tigers this summer after 10 years at the KC Stadium to rejoin former club Scunthorpe United. Helped steady the ship after relegation from the Premier League and secured a fourth promotion with the club last season though it’s safe to say his contribution paled in significance to that made in the other three. When there is finally an official Hull City Hall of Fame, he’s a cast-iron certainty. Well deserved testimonial takes place on August 10th 2013.

Anthony Gardner (30 apps - 0 goals)

Ex-England international sick note was allowed to join Crystal Palace on loan in 2010 as his early appearances for The Tigers in the Championship resembled a “You’ve Been Framed” audition tape. Joined Palace permanently after his contract expired and restored his reputation somewhat with solid displays as Palace reached the league Cup Semi-finals in 2012. Showed his gratitude for the rehabilitation at Selhurst Park by leaving for Sheffield Wednesday where he managed 37 games. In one season. Their Physio has just been trademarked by Marvel comics.

Bernard Mendy (49 apps - 2 goals)

French full-back with lightening quick feet and desperately slow brain was released from his City contract about 5 minutes after relegation was confirmed. He moved to Denmark with Odense, where he turned up in a Europa League tie with Fulham, before signing a two year contract with Brest. They were promptly relegated. He must have felt a right tit.

Boaz Myhill (55 apps - 0 goals)

Promotion to the Premier League was his third with The Tigers. Signed for £50,000 from Aston Villa by Peter Taylor, he became arguably our greatest ever goalkeeper before moving on to WBA after relegation. He didn’t want to go but the club needed to sell him. The fee was officially undisclosed but said to be £1.5m. That’s not a bad return. Unfortunately he’s played second fiddle to Ben Foster at WBA and has almost played more times for Wales than Albion in the last three years. Bring Back Bo.

Bryan Hughes (6 apps - 0 goals)

Experienced midfielder played a much unheralded part in the promotion team. He was never going to be a Premier League player again though and we saw little of him before he was released in January 2010. For a fella who’d made 40-odd Championship appearances in a promotion winning side 18 months earlier, he had a surprising struggle to find a new home. He had short spells with Burton, Grimsby and IBV in Iceland before a half season spell at Accrington Stanley. You know who they are. He’s now retired but it active on the ex-Tiger circuit and has turned out for Scarborough Athletic. Still lives locally and props up Deano at the bar!

Caleb Folan (23 apps - 3 goals)

The Tigers first £1m signing and scorer of the first ever winning goal in the Premier League exited the KC Stadium in 2011 to join Colorado Rapids. Chances were few and far between for him in the Premier League and that continued after relegation partly as result of injuries and partly because Nigel Pearson thought he was rubbish. His unremarkable stay in the MLS ended in February 2012 when he signed for Birmingham City, where he never played a game before he moved onto Malaysia with T-Team. He left them in March and now looks to be in limbo, despite being only 30 years old.

Craig Fagan (47 apps - 5 goals)

Ah, Craig Fagan, he’s a grafter. Not much of a footballer though. Another who came in like a Lion and went out like a Lamb, his third spell with City ended in 2011. He’d missed most of the previous season with an injury sustained when he stabbed himself with his own forked tongue at Burnley. He fell into League two with Bradford City, left them to better himself and ended up without a club until Bury came calling and he fell into League Two with them. He’s also only 30 years old and is currently without employment.

Daniel Cousin (30 apps - 4 goals)

Goal-shy Gabonese globetrotter left The Tigers for Larissa of Greece. He initially went on loan (which said much as he was let go when we couldn’t hit a cows arse with a banjo) and moved permanently the following August. He moved back to his homeland with Sapins to prepare for the 2012 African Nations cup which they were co-hosting. In fairness, he had a terrific tournament and captained his country through the group stage before they were beaten on penalties by Mali. A return to Rangers fell through when they were placed into administration and he’s done nothing since.

Dean Marney (47 apps - 1 goal)

Plays for Burnley. Tosser.

Dean Windass (5 apps - 1 goal)

One of the saddest parts of the glorious first half-season in the Premier League was the way Dean Windass’ City career ended. What should have been the ultimate fairy story ending with “Deano” firing his hometown club into the top flight for the first time had an unsatisfactory epilogue. Deano couldn’t see his career come to an end and chose to play on ending up on loan at Oldham before moving on to Darlington as Player-Assistant Manager, a move that didn’t work out with the club on the verge of implosion. He received a testimonial at the KC Stadium but it never quite felt right coming a year after the heroics. Has semi-retired, turning out for Scarborough occasionally with Bryan Hughes and has had well-documented mental issues.

George Boateng (52 apps - 1 goal)

The former Holland international may well have been worth another year at the KC Stadium following relegation but was released in the summer of 2010. He moved onto Greece for a year with Skoda Xanthi before his former Middlesbrough gaffer Steve McLaren signed him for Nottingham Forest. He made only a handful of appearances for Forest and despite being 37 now, has been playing for T-team in Malaysia where he was temporarily reunited with Caleb Folan.

Geovanni (60 apps - 11 goals)

The undisputed star of the “Premier League Years”, Geo scored the Tigers first top flight goal, scored more goals in the premier League than anyone else and remains the only Brazilian International to wear the black and amber. Cancelled his contract upon relegation and moved to San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS. Has since turned out for Vitoria and America in the Brazilian second division.

Ian Ashbee (31 apps - 1 goal)

Inspirationally captained City through four divisions. He was rightly awarded a new contract despite missing the entire second Premier League season through injury. Made a goal scoring return in a 2-0 opening day win over Swansea City in August 2010. That proved to be a false dawn and as Nigel Pearson re-shaped the team, Ash became the biggest victim of the clear out when he was allowed to join Phil Brown’s Preston North End. He couldn’t keep Preston in the Championship and having struggled with a knee injury, he retired the following season. Now works for Blowers Jewellers in Hull and cycles a lot.

Ibrahima Sonko (9 apps - 0 goals)

Signed on loan from Stoke City in August 2009 with the unenviable task of replacing Michael Turner. He made a shaky start to his City career and following a humiliating drubbing at Anfield, Phil Brown dumped him in the reserves. He showed a lot of character when called upon to return to the team later in the season (we were desperate) and refused to criticize Brown for his treatment. He spent the following season on loan at Ipswich before Stoke released him. He’s now with Akhisar Belediyespor in Turkey and helped them retain their top flight status in their first ever season in Super Lig.

Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (31 apps - 3 goals)

Hessle Road’s finest export almost called an end to his career after his City contract expired. Presumably feeling that nothing could top the experience of wearing the black and amber. Ahem. Instead he had an injury hit spell at Rapid Vienna and a swansong at PSV before retiring in 2012.

Jimmy Bullard (15 apps - 4 goals)

You know this one. He’s at the bank. He laughed all the way there.

Jozy Altidore (28 apps - 1 goal)

Took a time to settle in England but was showing some promise when he ended his only season at the KC prematurely by nutting Alan Hutton. He was then loaned out again by Villareal, to Bursaspor in Turkey but it didn’t quite work out. Has since gone onto fulfill his promise with a goal-laden spell in Holland with AZ Alkmaar and recently ended an international goal drought by scoring in four successive games for the USA. Linked with a multi-million pound move back to England.

Kamel Ghilas (13 apps - 1 goal)

Signed by Chairman Paul Duffen for an over-inflated price after some impressive performances on YouTube. Scored his only Tigers goal, a winning goal at that, against Bolton and spent the next two years “not being given a chance” while coincidentally displaying a crap attitude and being rubbish in every reserve appearance. Was palmed off to Arles and Reims in the French Ligue 2, scoring a few goals at the latter and earning a permanent move. He had a decent season as they won promotion to the top flight but did little to help them stay up.

Kamil Zayatte (55 apps - 3 goals)

Despite being the king of the stupid own goal, Zayatte had enough about him to leave a reasonable impression in the midst of The Tigers relegation. It was felt that whatever we lacked for our assault on the Championship in 2010/11, at least we had a solid defensive pairing of Zayatte and Gardner. That thought was dismissed in stunning fashion as The Tigers were dismantled on consecutive Saturdays by the might of Millwall and Donny Rovers. A move to Leicester fell through before Zayatte was allowed to return to France in January 2011 on “compassionate grounds”. Presumably due to the death of a Turkish relative because a week later, he signed for Konyaspor in Turkey. They were relegated from Super Lig (a coincidence) and he moved on to Istanbul BB. Also turned out in the African Nations Cup of 2012 for Guinea.

Kevin Kilbane (37 apps - 1 goal)

A £500,000 panic buy by Phil Brown in January 2009, “Killer” earned a lot of respect from the City fans in the summer of 2010 when, with the club in grave financial difficultly, he split his £26,000 a week wage in half over two seasons to save the club money in the short term. The fact that players of Kilbane’s ability were being offered £26,000 a week wages had nothing to do with those financial troubles. Honest. Despite being a thoroughly nice chap and a great pro, he had a stinker of a time at the KC and after loan spells with Huddersfield and Derby, he left for Coventry City when his contract expired. He retired after a few months at the Ricoh Arena and is currently working for the BBC as a colourless commentator.

Liam Cooper (2 apps - 0 goals)

Homegrown central defender suffered a baptism of fire in the Premier League when Phil Brown threw him into the team at Anfield way before he was ready and City were hammered 6-1. No worries though, it was all Sonko’s fault. After relegation, Nigel Pearson never really showed any faith in Coops and he went on loan to Carlisle and Huddersfield. He made a few appearances under Nick Barmby and while Barmby’s sacking and Steve Bruce’s appointment has proven to be good for the football club, it wasn’t good for the younger players. Bruce moved him out to Chesterfield on loan and he made a permanent move for a small fee in January 2013. He will develop with regular football and I’m sure he’ll climb back up the football league ladder.

Manucho (13 apps - 2 goals)

After searching high and low for a striker in the 2009 January transfer window, Phil Brown limbo danced his way into the Man Utd reserve squad and found Manucho. He made 13 unspectacular appearances which brought one highlight. In the 93rd minute of a pulsating game at Craven Cottage, most of which they’d spent pummeling us, Richard Garcia picked up the ball on halfway, beat most the defence, dug out a ridiculously good cross and Manucho tapped in from an inch out. Man Utd sold him on to Valladolid in Spain where he started brightly enough and starred for Angola in a couple of Nations Cup campaigns. He’s since spent time on loan in Turkey with those household names Bucaspor and Manisaspor with little success.

Mark Cullen (3 apps - 1 goal)

Another homegrown player who had a flirt with the City first team towards the end of the Premier League adventure and scored what remains the Tigers last top flight goal in a 2-2 draw at Wigan. Has since failed to live up to that early hype, has never looked like breaking through at City and has had spells on loan Bradford, Bury (twice) and Stockport without impressing. Was released by The Tigers this summer and signed a two year deal at Luton. Needs stability, regular football and the chance to gather momentum in front of goal so this should be a good move for him.

Marlon King (20 apps - 5 goals)

Promising loan spell at City ended when lazy performances on the pitch were capped by a sexual assault allegation off it (obviously). Moved on loan to Middlesbrough before being transferred from Wigan Athletic to Her Majesty’s pleasure.  On his released Coventry City gave him a fifth chance in football and he returned the favour with a near 1 in 2 goalscoring ratio. As a thank you for their help, he turned down a new contract and buggered off to Birmingham. He’s continued to score goals but his high wages mean Blues are desperate to get shot of him. He’s been linked (without credence) with a move back here. Over his dead body.

Matt Duke (21 apps - 0 goals)

Long serving, often reserve Goalkeeper enjoyed a much deserved moment in the spotlight after overcoming testicular cancer. Oddly he made more league appearances in each Premier League season than he had in the previous four seasons combined at the lower levels. Having finally established himself as the number one following Myhill’s departure, he failed to convince Nigel Pearson that he was the long-term option and was released at the end of the 2010/11 season. He moved onto Bradford City on a two year contract. He spent half of the first year on loan at Northampton but established himself during the second season and was the star of a remarkable run to the League Cup Final. A feat unmatched by any bottom division side in the modern era. Duke played in the final at Wembley but was sent off as Bradford were thumped 5-0 by Swansea City. They would go on to win promotion in the League Two Play-off final at Wembley but Duke had lost his place by that point. Moved on to Northampton Town this summer.

Michael Turner (42 apps - 4 goals)

Gangly centre half whose Hull City career turned around in spectacular fashion under Phil Brown. When Brown took over from Phil Parkinson, Turner was heading for the clearance bin. Under Brown, he blossomed into arguably the best centre half in the club’s history and was on the verge of an England call-up. Admired by Liverpool, he was eventually sold to Sunderland for 4p in 2009 to help pay the wage bill as the excesses of Duffen and Bartlett cast a dark cloud over the KC Stadium. He never really developed at Sunderland under their useless Geordie manager Steve Bruce and moved on to Norwich City last summer. A few of his early performances were woeful but he settled down and formed a fine partnership with Sebastien Bassong.

Nathan Doyle (3 apps - 0 goals)

Another hero of Bradford City’s run to the 2013 League Cup Final. Doyle was signed by Phil Brown as “one for the future” of the football club but the club hit unchartered heights unexpectedly and he was left behind. On his release he moved on to Barnsley where his only point of note was an arrest on suspicion of possessing cocaine. He had a loan spell at Preston (managed by Phil Brown) and then joined Bradford City on a free transfer. He played a big part not only in the League Cup run but in Bradford’s eventual promotion.

Nick Barmby (41 apps - 1 goal)

If anyone had told you in 2004 when Nick Barmby came “home” to see out his playing days at his home town club (freshly promoted form the bottom tier) that four years later he’d make 41 appearances for Hull City in the Premier League, you would have called in the men in white coats. Nick eventually became manager of the club in 2012 before being sacked in ridiculous circumstances a few months later. It appears the club has lost all contact with a wonderful servant who should have been part of the setup for years to come, which is a real crying shame. Hopefully the relationship will be repaired one day. In the meantime we should remember the man whose last act as a City player was to fire a winning goal against Cardiff City in the Championship which, in any other circumstances, would have been a fitting end to a glittering playing career.

Paul McShane (44 apps - 1 goal)

The only surviving member of the first Premier League season in the Tigers squad. McShane played the first half of that season on loan from Sunderland and impressed everyone but when he returned on a permanent deal for the 2009/10 season as part of the swindle that took Michael Turner to Sunderland, he was rather less effective. After The Tigers slipped out of the Premier League, his large wage became a burden and getting rid of him was high on the priority list. However, despite spending time on loan at Barnsley and Crystal Palace, he remained a City player and under Steve Bruce became a key figure in a promotion push and a real fan’s favourite. Remarkably, the contract that everyone had spent years counting down was extended with the terraces insisting “Don’t sell McShane”. The board listened. Egyptians take threats of rioting seriously for some reason.

Peter Halmosi (18 apps - 0 goals)

Halmosi became the expensive equivalent of Ryan Williams when he was signed for £2.5m in the summer of 2008 having impressed several times while playing for Plymouth against The Tigers. His tricky wing-play, dangerous crossing and expertly taken set pieces went completely missing as the Hungarian with the flowing locks struggled to make any impression on the Premier League. His time in black and amber memorable only for John Motson butchering “Halmoshi” on Match Of The Day. He was packed off back to Hungary to join Szombathelyi Haladas on loan and when his contract was terminated, he signed for them permanently and there he remains.

Richard Garcia (41 apps - 1 goal)

The Australian winger was signed from Colchester United in June 2007 for a bargain £400k, one of several shrewd acquisitions made by Phil Brown that summer. Not a winger blessed with great pace or quick feet, he made up for it with strength, work rate, determination and know-how. A key figure in the promotion of 2007/08, he struggled in the Premier League especially when he pushed up front. It wasn’t his best role but he always did whatever he was asked. In 2010, he made history when he became the first player representing Hull City to play in the World Cup Finals. He struggled with two knee injuries for the rest of his City career, limiting his chances, and was released in 2012 when he was probably worth another contract. He moved back to Australia with Melbourne Heart but is currently readying his next move.

Ryan France (2 apps - 0 goals)

A £15k signing from Alfreton Town in 2003, France would play for Hull City in all four divisions, though he was never really good enough for the top level. He gave great service to the club and may well have played a bigger part had he not suffered a serious knee injury in 2007. He was released after the first season in the Premier League and signed for Sheffield United where his career was cut short by persistent knee problems. He was a late comer to the pro game as he chose to complete his degree which should hold him in good stead given the premature retirement.

Sam Ricketts (29 apps - 0 goals)

Arguably the Tigers best ever right-back, Ricketts was signed from Swansea for £300k by Phil Parkinson in the summer of 2006. He displayed the family’s horse racing pedigree whilst galloping up and down the right wing become a key figure in the Tigers side that avoided relegation from the Championship, won promotion at Wembley and then stayed in the Premier League against all odds in three consecutive seasons. He was then sold to Bolton Wanderers for £2m. Having fallen out of the Premier League with Bolton last summer, he’s since moved on to Wolves who themselves have been relegated in each of the last two seasons. Premier League to League One in 22 months is a mighty fall for both Sam and Wolves.

Seyi Olofinjana (19 apps - 1 goal)

Only the legend of Jimmy Bullard stops Olofinjana receiving more press as a colossal waste of what precious little money Hull City had in the summer of 2009. A £3m transfer fee and around £5.5m in wages collected over 4 years for less than 50 appearances in return is outrageous. In that time, we’ve paid for him to play on loan for Cardiff and Sheffield Wednesday. Seyi is a thoroughly nice and intelligent chap but his once marauding midfield performances are long gone. At the very least Hull City can comfort themselves in the fact that a lot of the money paid to Olofinjana will make its way to his charity projects in his native Nigeria as opposed to disappearing into the till  at the Weir Bar!

Stephen Hunt (27 apps - 6 goals)

One of the few shining lights in the second Premier League season, Hunt was signed for £3.5m from Reading and became a firm favourite with his energetic, all-action displays, fine set piece delivery and eye for goal. His injury ¾ of the way through the season ended any feint survival hopes. We recouped a large chunk of the fee when he moved on to Wolves in 2010. There he was relegated from the Premier League for the third time in four years, missed most of their second relegation season through injury and was released this summer. He’s about to turn 32 and looking for a new club. Perhaps he could join his brother at L**ds?

Steven Mouyokolo (21 apps - 1 goal)

Tall centre half whose City story is similar to that of Hunt. Joined for a surprisingly high £1.8m from Boulogne in the French second division (in the time before French second division clubs spent £50m on international superstars) and produced some impressive performances despite relegation. Wolves gave us our money back and as they went down the toilet, he was released after a spell on loan at Sochaux. Recently joined Celtic on a one year deal.

Stylianos Giannakopoulos (2 apps - 0 goals)

Probably the most pointless signing in the clubs history. A star of Greece’s 2004 European Championship squad, he was signed only on the strength of his relationship with Phil Brown at Bolton and not because he offered anything the team needed. He made 2 sub appearances in the league and played a cup game before being released. Currently chairs the Greek PFA.

Tom Cairney (11 apps - 1 goal)

The only other member of the current Hull City squad who has played for the club in the Premier League. Cairney broke through in 2009/10 with some superb performances alongside George Boateng in the midfield and was expected to carry the team in the Championship following relegation. He has never really progressed and much of his obvious talent remains untapped. He didn’t make a single league start in 2012/13 and with one year on his contract left, he has plenty to do to remain part of the club.

Tony Warner (0 apps - 0 goals)

A career back-up Goalkeeper, the Trinidad and Tobago international was signed by Phil Brown to provide cover for Duke and Myhill in the Premier League. His only appearances came in cup competitions. Since being released by The Tigers he’s been at Charlton, Leeds, Scunthorpe, Tranmere, Wellington Phoenix in the Australian A-League and is currently at Floriana in Malta. Have gloves, will travel.

Wayne Brown (1 apps - 0 goals)

His Hull City career lasted one season and one game. A fine signing by Phil Brown from Colchester United in 2007 for £450k, he provided a calming influence alongside Michael Turner and wrote his name into Hull City folklore with a heroic performance at Wembley in the 2008 Championship Play-Off Final. Fears that he may lack the pace to play in the Premier League had some foundation and on his one and only Premier League start for the club, Wigan Athletic ripped us to pieces, 5-0, at the KC Stadium. Brown moved on loan to Preston and then Leicester whom he eventually joined for a fee after helping them win promotion from League One. He was the centre of a scandal at Leicester after he admitted (“joked”) that he’d voted for the BNP in the General Election. He left for Preston North End but struggled with injuries and failed to find form before being released. His last listed club is non-league Bury Town. He’s now retired.

Will Atkinson (2 apps - 1 goal)


Wiry Winger who came through The Tigers youth setup and, like Mark Cullen, scored at Wigan in the penultimate Premier League fixture. Never threatened to make the grade thereafter and after loan spells with Rotherham, Rochdale, Plymouth and Bradford, he signed permanently for the Bantams in 2012. He played a part in League cup wins over Arsenal and Aston Villa and played twice at Wembley in League Cup and Play-Off Finals (with mixed results). He left Bradford this summer to join his old boss Phil Brown at Southend United.