Sunday, 31 January 2016

Tigers Transfer Talk: Ross McCormack the latest player linked with Hull City

With just one working day left of the transfer window, here's a round-up of the past weeks news, rumours, denials and outright lies!

31st January 2016

Are Hull City about to pull one out of the hat as the transfer window draws to a close? I doubt it but Simon Jones of the Daily Mail has suggested that Derby County and The Tigers are interested in Fulham's Ross McCormack who looked set for a big money move to Middlesbrough before that fell through this week. This one would be a hell of an investment - at least £9m - and City have shown no signs of spending anything significant this month.

One player definitely not joining City is Patrick Bamford. He completed a loan move from Chelsea to Norwich last night - as expected.

30th January 2016

According to the Daily Mail, six Championship clubs want to take forward Tom Lawrence on loan from Leicester City. The Wales international is currently being borrowed by Blackburn but that deal ends this month. The paper says City, Ipswich, Burnley, Cardiff, Forest and Leeds want to take him for the rest of the season.

Amongst all the excitement that 16-year-old Josh Tymon will make his Tigers' debut this weekend, you may have missed the news that his U21 teammate Harvey Rodgers is set for a loan move to Luton. That will be a good test for the talented young centre half.

Rival news: It broke last night that title rivals Middlesbrough have had a £9m bid accepted for prolific Blackburn striker Jordan Rhodes. The deal will include add-ons of up to £11m or £13m depending on who you believe.

29th January 2016

You wait all transfer window for a signing and then two com along at once? The Hull Daily Mail report that Manchester United midfielder Nick Powell will be joining City on loan before Monday's transfer deadline.

The paper point out that Powell's United contract runs out in the summer. So this could be the first step towards a permanent deal which would make much more sense at this time.

RUBBISH!: Steve Bruce isn't impressed with the "Abel Hernandez to Arsenal" rumour, telling his pre-match presser: "Abel's done very very well and of course you hear all the speculation, but some of it, unfortunately I have to say the media these days is they do talk some rubbish. I think I have been chasing 45 players in the last month. And as I have said repeatedly, no matter who it is, who they are coming for, it would be crazy to start dismantling the team now. I am sure Arsene Wenger understands that as far as we are concerned with Abel. And I spoke to his staff only a couple of days ago about a loan signing, so I don't think there's any substance in that one"

28th January 2016

The Tigers tried to sign Legia Warsaw and Slovakia keeper Dusan Kuciak in the summer and according to polish journalist Michal Kolodziejczyk, they've returned to do the deal in this window. The news coming out of Poland suggested it's a done deal but local journos corroborated the story but stressed it's not done yet. The fee is said to be 300,000 Euro or about £227k.

27th January 2016

If you thought you'd heard the most ridiculous rumour of this transfer window - think again. The Italian website tuttomercatoweb, who some rate for their news but seem to be rubbish when it comes to Hull City, have run an exclusive suggesting Arsenal will bid for Abel Hernandez in the summer. I love Abel (now) but there is no way he's at that level. Still, if they're offering £30 million...

Rival news: Middlesbrough are desperate to spend some money this month. Getting nowhere with Ross McCormack, seemingly, they're now linked with an £11m bid for Blackburn's Jordan Rhodes.

26th January 2016

The January transfer window thus far has been as quiet as Steve Bruce prayed it would be. Interest in City's key players has not been forthcoming and the rumour mill hasn't been as ridiculous as it was in the summer. The gaffer will brace himself for questions though after Talksport claimed today that Crystal Palace want midfielder/forward Mo Diame. The big Senegalese is just hitting his stride again after a dip in form following his return from a long injury lay-off.

Rival news: A rivals/ex-tiger double here. Gaston Ramirez, who spent last season impressing no-one on loan at the KC, joined Middlesbrough for the rest of the season. Derby County added another body to their expensively assembled squad with the signing of Blackburn left-back Markus Olsson for an undisclosed fee. The other side in the top five of the Championship, Burnley, snapped up Beverley born ex-England goalkeeper Paul Robinson on a short term deal.

Ex-Tiger news: Striker Karim Rossi, who spent the 2014/15 season in The Tigers' U21 swuad after joining from Stoke has left Italian Serie B side Spezia to join FC Lugano of Switzerland. That makes four clubs in four countries for Karim inside 18 months.

25th January 2016

The odds on Nick Powell joining City on loan dropped drastically after Twitter rumours yesterday. The midfielder was the hottest property in English football when he joined Manchester United from Crewe almost four years ago but hasn't developed at Old Trafford and loan spells at Wigan and Leicester have been a flop. Two years ago, he'd have been an exciting signing for The Tigers. Now you'd just ask "Why?"

Rival news: Brighton snapped up Stoke midfielder Steve Sidwell on loan from Stoke City.

Bury 1 Hull City 3: A cup tie that had everything - except a giantkilling!

Hull City made it seven wins from their last ten FA Cup matches with a, sort of, comfortable 3-1 win at League One Bury in an old school cup tie.

Pre-match the atmosphere at Gigg Lane was pretty sedate. The majority of the two thousand, seven hundred and odd City fans gathered in Bury’s South Stand. It’s normally a home end that runs along the side of the pitch opposite the dugouts. The noisy Tigers gathered at the end in which Bury’s young wannabe casuals stood underneath the scoreboard in the corner and some loud chanting from either side warmed up the animosity before the bains in their corner lit a smokebomb and somebody threw it into the City fans. That caused some of the “naughty” boys in our end to charge a gate and the police got involved to keep the fans apart while both sides stood giving it “Do you want some?” from a safe distance. Another blue smoke bomb lobbed from the schoolkids caused a bit more aggro before the game started in a now surprisingly ferocious atmosphere.

City 4-4-2
Eldin Jakupovic
Ryan Taylor – Michael Dawson – Alex Bruce – Josh Tymon
Ahmed Elmohamady – Tom Huddlestone – David Meyler – Sone Aluko
Chuba Akpom – Adama Diomande

Just look at that team. That’s a second division (old money) team having made eleven changes – with no Shaun Maloney involved at all. It’s ridiculous really. The returns of Captain Dawson, Bruce and Diomande to full fitness were newsworthy but not quite as interesting as the inclusion of sixteen-year-old Josh Tymon.

I’ve seen Josh a few times this season in the U21 and he’s never looked out of place up against lads four or five years his senior and he didn’t here. Bury obviously targeted him early on with the ball finding Danny Rose on the right wing often in the opening ten but he got no change from young man. Eventually they switched to targeting Taylor on the right and found more encouragement – leading to Elmo becoming the full back mid-way through the half.

Bury were the more adventurous side in the first half. They rarely looked like they had the quality to break through the solid City backline but they put in all the leg work in the middle of the pitch. They flew into tackles, upsetting some of the City players when the ref didn’t clamp down in it, and displayed smart movement between The Tigers’ centre halves and full backs that kept everyone honest. They made the first chance of the game and given what followed, it had to go in. Danny Mayor jinked through our midfield and drew the defence who all shuffled across to cover leaving Rose alone on the right. His shot was well saved by Jak’s right boot.

That proved costly as City took an early lead. Diomande looks very good with the ball at his feet but it’s a lottery as to whether it’ll get there in the first place. He spotted a tremendous pass through the middle that Meyler galloped on to. The keeper came out to smother Meyler’s shot and Akpom was alert to slide the ball into the empty net [0-1]. It was exactly like Leicester’s winner at the KC last season. Meyler should have scored and was denied again in short order when his goalbound header from Taylor’s corner was kicked off the line.

Having shown his ability to defend, Tymon was giving the City fans a glimpse of his ability to get forward on the left but couldn’t get crosses in on the tricky surface. Conditions became tricker as constant drizzle became driving sleet and then snow. I’m glad I checked the BBC weather app on Friday night now. I might as well have asked Mystic Meg. The lively but clumsy Aluko hit efforts from distance just wide and then not far over while a brilliant challenge by Dawson discouraged Rose who thought he was in on goal.

Half time: Bury 0 Hull City 1

The players came out after half time in nice dry kits all round. Except Bury’s Rose who still had his muddy shirt on. That’s got to be either superstition or he’s wasted his share in previous games. Be interesting to know if he’s wearing an off-white, still slightly stained kit in the next game?

Sone Aluko got the “You’re a greedy/lazy c***” normally reserved for Mo Diame from some of the morons around us. He responded with a terrific second half display. As noted by the experts in our car on the way home – he was much more direct and it caused havoc.

The game was settled by a crazy minute on the hour. Bury put the ball in the net when Pope’s shot was turned in by Lowe (I think) in the six-yard box. That sparked joyous scenes in the crèche in the corner and even a one-man pitch invasion from the only idiot who hadn’t seen the offside flag! Within seconds, Aluko brilliantly fought for the ball on the goal line and as he slipped inside the defender, he was tripped. Akpom coolly sent the keeper the wrong way and joyously celebrated in the “naughty” corner with the City fans gathered by the pitch-side [0-2]. Bury were furious but I’m not sure why. Neither decision looked contentious but it required the ref to have a word with David Flitcroft for his harassing of the fourth official. That happened while Elmo was waiting to take a throw-in leading to City fans’ serenading Elmo for a couple of minutes as he tried not to do his dance (probably).

The noise in our end was fantastic at this point and we controlled the game which was now well won. Aluko was running them ragged and he made a hat-trick clinching goal for Akpom with a lovely pass. There was still plenty of work to be done though and Chuba cut inside two defenders and finished beautifully into the far corner [0-3]. It was a great response from the loanee who has been mystifyingly absent of late. He’d shown great appetite for the game throughout with his work off the ball and gave Steve Bruce a reminder of his undoubted talent. He may even have had a fourth later when he was chopped down in the box by Nathan Cameron – a massive unit at the heart of their defence. The ref said Cameron had got the ball, which he had but not before he’d gone through Akpom.

The only disappointment of an otherwise brilliant away trip (apart from no beers on sale at the ground!) was the conceding of a sloppy consolation, tapped in at the far post by Danny Jones after two crosses flew across our box [1-3]. Lord knows what our system was by that point. Clucas had come on for Diomande, Hayden for the tiring Tymon and Maguire for Aluko. We had a winger at left back, a centre half in midfield and Ryan Taylor still on the pitch. He’s awful.

That didn’t dampen the atmosphere – although the weather did – and City fans crowded by the exits looking for a quick getaway in the sleet. Safely in Round 5, we applauded the players off and headed back through the slush awaiting the big draw. It’s only the fourteenth time in 112 years that we’ve reached this stage – making twice in three years. We’ve only been further six times. Here’s to making that seven.

Full time: Bury 1 Hull City 3

It’s back to league action now with two tough trips back to Lancashire to face Burnley and Blackburn. Steve Bruce has tough decisions ahead of him. That’s the problem with making so many changes for the purposes of resting players. Michael Dawson was always going to cause him a selection headache but Alex Bruce had a fine game, Elmo was lively, Aluko tremendous, Tymon very accomplished and Akpom smashed in a hat-trick. We now have at least six players who don’t deserve to drop out next week to add to the other eleven who have done nothing wrong either. It’s a headache I’m glad I don’t have.

That’s for next week. Thanks for the proper cup tie, Bury. Good luck for the season.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Tigers Transfer Talk: Hull City weekly rumours round-up

A week in the world of wild rumours, random links and desperate denials. It's that time again!

24th January 2016

The Sunday People link City with a move for Chelsea forward Patrick Bamford. The England U21 striker, who has previous experience in the Championship with Derby and Middlesbrough, has been linked with half the league and most of the bottom feeders in the Premier League since his loan spell at Crystal Palace was ended last month. Steve Bruce admitted his interest on January 2nd but it remains to be seen where Bamford is going to end up.

22nd January 2016

RUBBISH!: In news from yesterday's pre-Fulham press conference, Steve Bruce told the press that he has not looked at Bournemouth's Lee Tomlin. In spite of Bruce quashing the story, the Daily Mail still run the link again.

On loan Arsenal midfielder Isaac Hayden admitted he's flattered by talk of Steve Bruce signing him permanently, questions whether he has a future at Arsenal after the signing of Mohamed Elneny and will look at his situation in the summer.

The Hull Daily Mail report that City striker Greg Luer is set for a loan move and Peterborough, Barnsley, Oxford and Stevenage are interested. Any loan move would require a recall option.

The Irish Examiner run a line on David Meyler's contract situation. Meyler is out of contract in the summer but a new deal is on the horizon and the paper quote Steve Bruce saying “We’re getting close with Meyler.”

Done deal: The Irish Examiner weren't wrong. David Meyler signed a two year contract extension to keep him at City until 2018 on the same day his daughter was born. What a day for DM7!

Rival news: Middlesbrough reportedly had a £6m bid for QPR's Matt Phillips turned down. Apparently QPR want £6.5m plus Boro winger Adam Reach. In another swap, Boro are also said to be offering Kike to Fulham, as well as £9m, for Ross McCormack.

21st January 2016

This one is a couple of days old but has only just made it through to the English press. It's also a new name. Italian site Il Corriere dello Sport report that The Tigers and Bournemouth are interested in 18 year old Monaco midfielder Leonardo Rocha Miramar. If you've never heard of him that's no surprise but he's been linked with clubs in Serie A. He's tall, Portuguese and used to be a client of "super agent" Jorge Mendes - who handles Cristiano Ronaldo. That's about all anyone seems to know about him.

Bournemouth forward Lee Tomlin, the subject of speculation linking him with Leeds this week cryptically tweeted "#decisions". BBC Radio Solent's Adam Blackmore attempted to read into the tweet adding "Maybe Hull & Leeds still interested.....and the Cherries are supposed to be keen on Lewis Cook still".

Rival news: The Mirror suggest Middlesbrough will up their bid for Fulham's Ross McCormack to £9m That figure is still £2m short of what Fulham paid for him in the first place though. Brighton are linked with a loan move for Stoke's Charlie Adam by the Daily Star while Stoke themselves offered £7m for Burnley defender Michael Keane say the Metro - the bid was rejected.

20th January 2016

A south coast journalist suggested last weekend that City might be interested in Bournemouth's French striker Yann Kermorgant. Whether there was any truth in that became irrelevant today as he joined Reading for £500k.

Rival news: Derby County are showing ambition at first team level to challenge City, Boro and Burnley for the automatic promotion spots in the Championship. However they also continue to put a lot of focus into their future. They've snapped up 16 year old striker Luke Thomas from Cheltenham and 17 year old forward Lewis Walker from Ilkeston. They add to recent deals to take Jayden Bogle and Jayden Mitchell-Lawson to Derby from Swindon in the summer. You might rememeber Derby beat City to the signing of Elefe Santos from Bristol Rovers a couple of seasons ago. Like The Tigers, they're scouring non-league for players who've previously missed the boat on pro-football.

Ex-Tiger news: Sunderland striker Danny Graham, a one time City loanee, joined Blackburn Rovers on loan.

19th January 2016

Conor Washington isn't heading for Hull. He joined QPR from Peterborough last night for around £3m. Washington will fill the void left by Charlie Austin's move to Southampton. Austin, of course, is the one that got away as far as City are concerned.

18th January 2016

It wouldn't be a transfer window without Fraizer Campbell being linked with a return to City. The Mirror today claim he is free to leave Crystal Palace and The Tigers, QPR, Wolves and Ipswich have all made their interest known. Campbell is now 28 and has been constantly linked with a return to Hull after his successful loan spell in 2007/08.

Ex-Tiger news: The Mirror also say Southampton have rejected an £8m bid from Liverpool for Ireland striker Shane Long.

Fulham 0 Hull City 1: The Tigers are back .. on top

Hull City returned to top spot in the Championship with a hard fought win over a spirited Fulham side at Craven Cottage.

The Cottage is my favourite away ground in this league. In part, it’s due to the memory of the smash and grab win in February 2009 when Manucho grabbed all the headlines but Richard Garcia’s magnificent run set-up the unlikely late victory. But it also has a tremendous atmosphere, the picturesque walk between Putney Bridge tube and the ground and we always manage to find somewhere rather decent to grab some pre-match grub and a few over-priced beers.

Despite the pleasant surroundings and the hosts’ lowly position in the Championship, this was always going to be a test. I’ve questioned our squad after recent away games. The last two I’ve been to, Rotherham and Preston, were collectively atrocious. They had be doubting whether this City team had the balls for the fight in the second tier and whether Steve Bruce was the man to get the best out of them. They answered some of those questions with a resilient but low quality showing at QPR and this was another test today.

City 4-4-2
Allan McGregor
Moses Odubajo – Curtis Davies – Harry Maguire – Andy Robertson
Robert Snodgrass – Jake Livermore – Isaac Hayden – Sam Clucas
Abel Hernandez – Mo Diame

It’s fair to say this wasn’t a particularly pretty away performance either. The team was unchanged from the drubbing of Charlton at the KC last week but was unrecognisable. It started brightly enough with Hernandez exploiting space in behind a high Fulham back line. He raced onto a lovely ball from Robertson bent around right back Richards and in to space but as he advanced into the box, he was looking around for support and over-ran the ball into the keeper while he waited (and waited). Not long after Diame slid him through again, this time centrally and in on the keeper. He wasted the chance which was as good as you are ever going to get when Lonergan dived to his left to save. He shouldn’t have had a sniff though.

Fulham took over after that as we ceded possession too easily too often and struggled to contain theirs. They played some fine, fluid football with Kacaniklic, Christensen and ex-Tiger Tom Cairney making a narrow three behind Dembele and swamping our midfield. We struggled to cope with the movement and it led to many fouls that saw Livermore booked and Hayden and Odubajo lectured more than once. We worked hard to track the runners but it was tough. Fortunately, for all their very tidy football, Fulham don’t create much. Maguire and, particularly, Davies deserve credit for a diligent, intelligent and brave display but the hosts will also kick themselves for over-playing and not producing enough crosses or shots.

The referee was a bit erratic. He missed a blatant foul on Cairney by Hayden early on, let Garbutt off with a talking to for a very cynical trip on Diame and gave Odubajo a long lecture when he’d just made his first (innocuous) foul of the game. I worried he would cost us at some point. Another great prediction!

We got to half time level courtesy of a brilliant piece of defending by Odubajo. Dembele fed Cairney in the box and he trickled a shot goalward that McGregor could only get a fingertip on. It looked for all the world like Kacaniklic was following up to tap into an empty net by Odubajo strained every sinew to get across and flick the ball up onto Kacaniklic and over the bar. Moses was easily my pick of the City players. He defended excellently throughout, made good tackles wide, tracked runners, swept up smartly behind his centre halves and produced the two key moments of the game.

Half time: Fulham 0 Hull City 0

The third quarter of the game was quiet both on the pitch and in the stands. City didn’t improve much after half time and Jamie O’Hara hit a volley just wide that would have punished the malaise.

Up front Hernandez was feeding off scraps. He made runs and gambled on hopeful balls including a couple that Ream misjudged badly, but there wasn’t a lot for him to work with. He had a shot blocked from a Robertson cut back after the Scot had linked nicely with Hayden on the left but that was his only sight of goal. They continued to have the better possession without penetrating. Scott Parker controlled the game. He was tremendous pulling the strings in the middle of the park and produced one or two vital interceptions going back towards his own goal. He’s 35 these days and on borrowed time but this was a little throwback to that short period when he looked the best English midfielder in the top flight.

The game swung City’s way not long after Parker departed but I don’t think there’d been long enough for that to be the reason. Five or ten minutes earlier, Tom Huddlestone replaced Hayden and that was much more of a game changer. Huddlestone was impressive in his cameo and his ability to keep possession and to stretch play with ease quelled their threat. After Maguire had flicked a header from Snodgrass’s free kick just wide, Hernandez had curled one way over and Odubajo had finally picked up a booking – we broke the deadlock.

Huddlestone launched an attack down the left and Clucas and Robertson combined but Robbo’s cross was way long. Odubajo picked it up on the right, Snodgrass drew the full back to the edge of the box and Odubajo attacked Christensen, skinned him, made for the bye line and the Dane clumsily took his legs away. The ref had no hesitation pointing to the spot. Hernandez took it, in front of the City fans, and via the outstretched arm of Lonergan and the post, found the net [0-1]. Given the news that league leaders Middlesbrough were losing at home to Nottingham Forest the atmosphere in the corner of the Putney End was already jolly and it soon reached fever pitch.

Allan McGregor secured the win with a tremendous save from a Jamie O’Hara free kick. City showed a bit of naivety in stoppage time turning down opportunities to take the ball into the corner to go for a second goal. Diame was guilty of coughing up possession and he also forced a save from Lonergan after collecting Clucas’s pass and brilliantly slipping the defender. Elmo, on for Hernandez, couldn’t tap in the rebound. It didn’t matter.

Full time: Fulham 0 Hull City 1

As mentioned, this wasn’t pretty – just like our last away win at QPR. It was vital though. The sort of away win promotion contenders grind out. I slaughtered City and Bruce for doing the exact opposite against poor teams in December so they deserve plenty of credit for doing so since, and doing so as part of a terrific five match winning run that has propelled us back to the top of the table and into the next round of the FA Cup.

Those promotion credentials are going to be tested in the next month with a trip to Burnley and the visit of Brighton looking particularly tasty. I’m over my period of doubt. Bring them on!

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