I had a good feeling about Boxing Day. Our recent performances, coupled with Man City’s slightly dubious defence gave me enough confidence to back the victory to City. Hull City, in case you need clarification, though there is clearly only one City. Isn’t there Ehab? I hope you had a miserable fucking Christmas – you may have money but you don’t have heart.
Before I go into one, let’s talk about the game.
I actually went to a home game. Apologies for being a scab but you know how much Margaret Thatcher means to me (there goes 90% of my readership). Clearly I wasn’t the only one willing to break the picket lines as there was easily a good 32,000 people in attendance.
It was a family day out. Leave me alone. At least I didn’t buy anything whilst there. Oh apart from a t-shirt – but it does mistakenly have those immortal words “Hull City” on it. I know, I was astounded too. Must have been a manufacturing error.
We lined up with our best team and our best formation. No lack of attacking intent, with Mbokani, Snodgrass or both remaining up front when Man City attacked.
Mbokani really has grown on me. He is quite an outstanding presence up front in terms of his physicality. Being under the cosh at times, we really do need someone that can hold the ball up and win us free kicks, which he did time and again. Sure, he gave a few free kicks away too as his physical challenges did sometimes infringe into foul territory. I do hope he gets to partner Hernandez when he returns to full fitness.
Huddlestone again bossed the game. He really seems to be enjoying a new lease of life under Phelan, having more freedom to pass the ball with both style and substance. Why he was taken off was another matter that I may mention later.
Defensively, Harry was immense. Combining blockbusting tackles with foraging runs, it is easy to see how the crowd favourite was man of the match – it is interesting, and possibly quite telling to the nature of those from Hull that there is a repeated pattern of central defenders becoming fan’s favourites – Jobson, Cort, Dawson, Davies, McShane…ahhh crap who did we sell for that ridiculously low sum to Sunderland? Over and over, our heroes are often central defenders.
Prior to the season, and part way through too, I had my doubts about Harry’s ability to step up to the level of Premiserable League defending, but the 3-5-2 system seems to suit him perfectly too, allowing him his runs up front, forgiving him a positioning mistake or two.
The game itself was a closely fought encounter for 70 minutes. Some good defending from City, and some not so good defending from the other City.
Man City did have some intricate passing patterns at time but it really did look as though we might hold out. Pretty but ineffective – quite how Mohito has transformed from minty cocktail to Man City striker is beyond me. I wouldn’t take him on loan.
There were a few scares, one excellent corner in the first half which deserved someone to be on the other end of it, one 6 yard scramble that somehow nobody could put away, and then a shot against the post in the second half, oh and a bizarre miss – at least it looked bizarre from where I was sat.
But we had chances too, notably one that was cleared off the line. Oh for a striker.
And then we took off not only Livermore, but more importantly, Huddlestone. Two players that had been controlling the game. And Ryan Mason came on.
I do not like to be too critical of players though I did once hurl large amounts of abuse to Robert Dewhurst and nearly got punched for it, but I fail to see where Ryan Mason comes in. He is far too lightweight to be a Hull City player, I don’t see the fight or the stamina in him. I do see a good footballer, albeit rather hidden and obscure right now, but he isn’t going to get the time and space he requires. Maybe he will come into his own in the Championship if we go down, or maybe he will be able to do a job as right wing-back – he can certainly put a cracking ball in.
But bringing him on for Huddlestone was the wrong move. The momentum changed. Everyone around me questioned it – so why do it? Huddlestone didn’t look especially tired. Was there an injury? For me, it was a bad decision that contributed hugely to losing the game.
And then of course, there was a bad decision by Robertson leading to their penalty. And then it was game over very quickly.
I admire how we continued to try to attack and for 70 minutes it was an excellent presentation of why I believe that we can still stay up.
Kudos to the crowd for delivering a good atmosphere (though if you have a 4 year old with you please ask them not to kick the seat in front of them the whole fucking match next time)…half of the north stand deserves particular credit for keeping the Man City fans often rather quiet.
We do have a remarkably ‘easy’ run-in with only one of the big clubs to play from March onwards (I don’t count Tottenham on the last day of the season as they’ll have long given up).
But we do shortly have a run that goes Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal. We really could do with a win prior to that just to keep in touch. Yikes.