Hull City: an optimist’s survival plan

hullartPhoto: K G Stone

Alan Fulcher* is a Wearside-based Hull City fan whose belief that the Tigers can stay up was shaken but not destroyed by what he calls a “bugger of a result” in Wigan v Arsenal. Salut! Sunderland‘s links with Alan began when we ran a piece (after Phil Brown’s sacking) that was essentially affectionate towards the club but which he found condescending, not least since we had little to shout about ourselves at the time. Alan was promptly invited back to preview this weekend’s game in our Who Are You? series: it’s a big match for us as we seek to put earlier woes behind us with a storming finish, but even bigger for City as they fight desperately against relegation …


Let’s start with the obvious one: what’s a bloke in Sunderland doing supporting Hull City?

Dead easy, I have lived in Washington since 1992, but was born in Kingston-Upon-Hull and lived there until 1973. Always support the team where you were born; there’s more than enough ‘Glory Hunters’ around football!

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From Hull and Hell, Good Lord Deliver Phil Brown

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This first appeared a couple of days ago, but deserves a bump back to the top because of the quality of the ensuing debate.

Phil Brown is a Mackem, he’s passionate and he led Hull City to heights few of their fans can realistically have expected to see. He has done questionable things – the dressing down for his team on the field at Eastlands was amateurish, Sloop John B on the pitch embarrassing, not talking to local radio absurd – but overall he can hold his head high. Jeremy Robson, a Sunderland fan exiled in Canada, puts in a few words for the man who must now choose between becoming events and entertainments manager of the local WI or using his gardening leave to profitable horticultural effect …

There’s a certain irony, isn’t there, with clubs (and the associated manager) overachieving. Chairmen are rarely happy with a single miracle and want a second (or in Hull’s case a third following promotion and then avoiding the drop). Football managers really ought to be careful what they wish for.

Phil Brown got Hull City somewhere they’ve spent their entire existence dreaming about (see nicksarebi’s Flickr photo of that grand day at Wembley). Now he’s got the sack.

No Jock Stein, or Brian Clough is Phil, but he’s effectively become a victim of his own success.

Personally I think he got dead lucky when they went up. (Our own) Fraizer Campbell looked the business down there on loan.

Allied to Michael Turner and an ageing Barmby and Windass who gave everything for him he managed to get them up against all odds. There’s an argument of course which says that regardless of who the manager may be, come the end of the season there will be three teams go down and three go up.

That’s just the way it is, and the line between success and failure is very thin indeed. The play offs to all intents and purposes mean that line is removed altogether. The ultimate spin of the wheel that turns losers into winners.

Maybe the Hull board should have been grateful and been content with a swashbuckling adventure of a season in the top flight and accepted that they will eventually drop to their normal level sooner rather than later, but no the miracle maker is deposed to tending his allotment while the likes of Brian Horton (previously not considered good enough to manage Hull any longer, together with Steve Parkin; (who was sacked at Rochdale not so long ago) are handed the reins.

I quite like Phil Brown. He’s one of us. If they were going to sack him it should probably have been earlier in the season or in the summer for my money. I’m not saying that he has done a particularly good job at Hull City during his time in the Premier League, but what exactly did the board expect other than a battle against the drop?

The only players that were prepared to sign for him were those drinking in the PL’s last chance saloon, (McShane, Kilbane, Boateng and the permanently injured Bullard) who weren’t wanted by other top flight clubs or who were comparatively larger fish in other very small ponds such as Cousin and Vennegoor of Hesselink.

The teams that Brown put out were as good as could reasonably be expected.

Bigger names were unlikely to want to sign for a club of Hull’s stature when the statistics against them remaining in the top flight for more than two seasons makes grim reading, not just for Hull City, but any newly promoted club. It’s even worse for the club that gets up via the play offs.

There’s a long list of managers who were considered to be the best thing since sliced bread at the post promotion party. Billy Davies, Owen Coyle, Tony Mowbray, Nigel Worthington, Alan Pardew, Danny Wilson, George Burley, to name a few that ultimately became the victims of their own success in getting unfancied, less wealthy teams promoted against the odds.

Their various moments of glory were fleeting and most of them were relieved of duty when results started to falter. Phil Brown is just the latest name on that list. All of these managers were rather like Icarus. They flew too high and too fast. Owen Coyle’s real mettle will be tested during the run in to the end of the season. In three seasons he will be the manager at Old Trafford if you believe some observers. He’s equally likely to be driving a milk float; truth be told.

There are those who point to Phil’s half time rant at Eastlands and attribute this to Hull’s fall down the table. Results after the Man City game and even in the second half were no worse and no better than those which went before. The depth of Hull City’s problems are yet to be revealed and they have not departed with Phil Brown.

Hull City are in what appears to be a particularly unenviable financial position if various media reports are to be believed.

Maybe sacking him and saving his salary is the long and the short of it. It really doesn’t seem like footballing sense to me.

If I were a Hull fan, I’d be seriously concerned at having Messrs Horton and Parkin in charge as no long term successor appears to have been scouted ahead of time. A kneejerk reaction is one thing, To have little idea why your knee is jerking is a completely different matter.

I will personally miss Phil Brown’s sun tan, microphone and the fact that he always seems to say just what he thinks. That’s what you get with a Mackem.

Recognition for Sunderland’s Spurs reject (and Hull hero)

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Real fans, real opinions. Sounds a bit like us, but it’s footballfancast.com, which lists 10 success stories from the Premier season so far – “men who’ve done a lot better than anticipated and have an enhanced reputation as a result”. We’re happy to pass the news on with due credit to the site in question …

Guess which club has two players in the list. And guess which position in this unofficial mini-league is awarded to one of those players. Think “striker not as good as my missus, says cuddly ‘Arry” and “defender whose departure broke Hull hearts”.

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