Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Hull City 2 Blackpool 3
Two home games in four days. Two defeats. Six utterly appalling goals conceded. Welcome back Hull City. Oh how I missed you. Anyone of a nervous disposition should log off the computer now, go for a long walk and attempt to erase this mess from their memory. I take no responsibility for any heart attacks or suicides suffered while reading this.
With James Chester absent through injury, Steve Bruce chose Paul McShane to play as the third centre half. It was a brave choice and as the other ten sunk to his level, it's one SB will get away with. Olofinjana was fit to start in midfield meaning Paul McKenna returned to the bench. Pity.
Tigers: Amos; McShane, Faye, Bruce; Elmohamady, Dudgeon, Olofinjana, Quinn, Koren; Aluko, Simpson.
Following a quiet opening 12 minutes in which Blackpool kicked the ball long and City moved the ball without purpose, the visitors were gifted the lead. Taylor-Fletcher played a terrible through ball straight to Faye who miscontrolled and allowed Delfouneso to take possession. The ball went wide in two passes, Osbourne in acres of space behind our left wing back crossed unchallenged to Matt Phillips who stroked home from 12 yards. He's only their biggest danger; why would any of the three centre halves bother to mark him? [0-1]
It took a while for the Tigers to respond and by the time we started playing, we were lucky not to be two down. Gomes harmless looking pass towards Delfouneso became a golden opportunity as Faye slipped. Delfouneso headed for goal but as he shaped to shoot, Alex Bruce arrived with a terrific challenge. City settled after that and started to move the ball quicker and work positions on the left Dudgeon and Quinn both got in behind but made a mess of things once there. Quinn's next attempt was better; his deflected cross, just too high for Koren, was headed behind by Baptiste with Simpson planning a scissor kick. The referee had already come in for some stick from the stands for his inconsistency and shoddy use of the advantage rule. He then raised the bar spectacularly.
Elmohamady crossed from the right, Aluko lost his marker and steadied himself for a free header from 12 yards when he was blatantly pushed in the back. Everyone thought it was a penalty except the two morons with the power to give it. There was no question of the ball being out of playable distance. There was no question of "simulation". There was just no chance of it not being a foul. The ref could possibly hide behind being poorly positioned but the linesman was perfectly placed. In line. 20 yards away. Nothing obstructing his view. Bottler. Unquestionably.
The anger felt by the home side did at least lift the atmosphere a little. Minutes later, Sone Aluko lifted the roof off the place. Aluko picked up the ball in midfield, drove at the defence, found himself 25 yards out towards the left edge of the box, ignored the runners and lashed a shot that swerved inside the near post beyond the desperate clutches of Gilks [1-1]. The Tigers just about deserved that for the way they responded to going behind. City stepped on the gas with half time approaching and forced a flurry of corners. We should’ve gone in ahead as Aluko broke from midfield again, dinked a beautiful ball over the top for Simpson who stayed onside but made a woeful attempt to control the ball. Massive opportunity missed there. Alex Bruce limped off, adding to our defensive woes, and was replaced by Rosenior. Half time came and went in a flash and City took the lead within two minutes of the restart. Blackpool were pinned back from the off but set about breaking down their right. Joe Dudgeon flew in with a super tackle that sent the ball into space on the wing. Aluko was alert to it, picked up the ball, headed for the box and slid across a lovely near post cross that Quinn flicked into the far corner. Great tackle by Dudgeon, great run by Aluko and great timing from Quinn [2-1].
Blackpool were on the ropes. City dictated possession and were making all the running. Interestingly, when we attacked on the right, Liam Rosenior would overlap Elmohamady, with Dudgeon slotting in as the third centre back. It worked well and we created several openings down the right but crossed everything onto the head of Baptiste. He headed Quinn’s volley over after he’d cleared Elmohamady’s cross to Quinn in the first place. Then the last of another batch of corners was cleared to Olofinjana and his cross headed over by Faye from a difficult angle. You felt the Tigers needed a third goal while they had the momentum. Blackpool were rubbish but they’ll always finish strongly and have game-changers on the bench. We didn’t score while we were on top and as Blackpool started to hold on to the ball, we passed increasingly poorly, the ball didn’t stick up front and the crowd started to sense the impending danger. Blackpool sent on Kevin Phillips; what a great option to have off the bench. A harmless looking free-kick was awarded to the Seasiders close to half way. What am I saying? This is Hull City. Goal kicks are dangerous at the moment. The ball was lobbed into the box, no-one bothered to mark their giant centre halves; Ian Evatt headed the ball across and some combination of Kevin Phillips and Joe Dudgeon bundled it over the line. Pathetic marking. Nick Barmby’s team of dwarves didn’t concede goals this sloppily [2-2].
A draw was probably a fair reflection of the game and a point wouldn’t have been the end of the world, even though 1 point from 6 at home isn’t a great return on two winnable fixtures. Rosenior was worked in again on the right and his cut back lashed way over by Jay Simpson. It was similar to Blackpool’s first goal albeit a slightly harder chance due to their defenders actually reacting to the striker’s movement. It was a poor finish though. As the pitiful crowd of 14919 watched on, City hit the button marked “TOTAL SELF DESTRUCTION”. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last but while it’s one thing to watch a rag-bag collection of nomads being rubbish in black and amber, it’s a million times more frustrating to see good footballers being likewise. Another Blackpool hoof forward skimmed off the head of Faye. Amos charged out to save a corner but Kevin Phillips beat him to the ball. Instead of quickly retreating into his goal, Amos decided to stand up to Phillips who chipped the ball over him and Dicko overhead kicked it into the empty goal [2-3]. What a complete and utter shambles. McLean replaced Dudgeon as Blackpool expertly saw out the remaining seven or eight minutes. If Nick Proschwitz isn’t worth chucking on in a situation like this, he isn’t worth having.
There were hardly any boos at the final whistle. The crowd were too deflated to bother. The goals knocked the stuffing out of us. Just as they did on Saturday. And as on Saturday, it was all self-inflicted. The man of the match was Paul McShane. That cheered me up no end. In a game where the opposition scored three of the easiest goals they’ll ever score, someone gave the man of the match award to a centre half. Whoever it was has a cracking sense of humour. What takes it from hilarious to terrifying is that there were only one or two City players who actually performed better than him. Aluko was terrific again. He didn’t deserve to be on the losing side, he was by far the best player on the pitch. Stephen Quinn’s industry is there for all to see but he makes excellent runs time and again, arrives where he’s needed and passes the ball well too. Aside from the spell either side of half time, the two wing backs were well below their best. Simpson again struggled to get hold of the ball and everything bounced off him in the second half. Abdoulaye Faye was a lion three weeks ago. He’s not even a lemur now. Olofinjana shows some quality in possession from time to time but is an absolute waste of space when we don’t have the ball. Steve Bruce talks about his presence in the air defending set pieces but he hasn’t headed anything ever. I can’t recall a game in which Robert Koren was so ineffective. He played in Simpson in the first half after Aluko had dummied McShane’s pass. Otherwise he barely touched the ball in the attacking third.
So what to do next? Many will want a change of system, I’m sure. The problem is that without reinforcements, a change of system means playing two centre halves, one or both of whom are McShane, Faye or Bruce, depending on Chester’s fitness. That scares the life out of me. It also doesn’t matter if you play two, three, four or five defenders if you make the sort of mistakes we have. If no-one takes responsibility for situations; if people aren’t organised; if something as simple as controlling the ball or kicking it into touch is too difficult; you’ve got no chance. We need McKenna’s influence in the midfield for starters, regardless of the system. He’ll help keep the ball and get it back when it’s lost. Regardless of whether Bruce is fit for Saturday, we need a centre half. These three are an accident waiting to happen. The lack of pace is frightening. Otherwise, I wouldn’t panic too much. We look an attacking threat. We’re generally moving the ball well and we have good movement across the front. We need to tweak things defensively to cut out the mistakes. I’d still look for evolution rather than revolution for the weekend.
Where has the Hull City of two weeks ago gone? Is it still there in some form? Someone find it for Hillsborough. Please.