Allan McGregor – 6
Made one fine save at close range from a corner but otherwise untested even when Burton did have a small spell of pressure in the first half. He had no chance with the goal. It was nice to see him distribute the ball quickly to his full backs after the break.
Ola Aina – 6
Was left exposed by Jarrod Bowen in the first half and it led to a good battle with the lively Lloyd Dyer. The winger, who had a trial with City in 2006 after leaving Millwall, ghosted past Aina at times. Aina has all the physical requirements of a modern full-back but looks too casual at times. He did start to get to grips with Dyer though and as the game went on was able to show his talent going forward – which is vast and growing. He made the crucial second goal and then had a blast on the right wing turning Dyer inside out and providing crosses.
Max Clark – 7
Brought a confidence into the game having survived a tough test last week and was much improved. He didn’t have anywhere near as much to do but with Grosicki showing no interest in covering him – he did it on his own. He was up to the physical battle and got forward well into good crossing positions.
Michael Dawson – 6
An unremarkable game for the skipper. He still looks distracted by marshalling those around him and it lead to gifting the ball to the opposition in our half again. Very solid in the air but had a battle around the box with their powerful forwards. In the second half, he had his slippers on and puffed away on his pipe.
Heard a great tale of Daws’ leadership of the club recently. Young goalie Charlie Andrew joined the squad for the game against Ajax. He had his own boots but Daws asked him his size and then went around the players to get him some brand-new ones. Sam Clucas donated a pair of his. Daws is a top man.
Michael Hector – 8
Promising last week, outstanding this. Won everything in the air, read the game brilliantly and used the ball beautifully. He almost popped up with a goal his performance really deserved. I’d already be asking what it will take to keep him. He’s composed and intelligent and physically has everything. He can be a complete centre-half.
Sam Clucas – 8
Another all-action midfield performance which we could probably do without until the transfer window closes. He’s emerged as real leader in the squad and keeping him is vital. His use of the ball was smart, he’s always in the right position and we saw his lung-bursting running turning defence into attack. His part in Hernandez hat-trick goal was outstanding. He cut the ball out near our box, played it into Bowen and ran beyond him, then stumbled through a challenge, raced away from their midfield and slid a perfect pass through for Abel to score.
Markus Henriksen – 7
Started the game brightly. He was neat and tidy in possession and not afraid to get into a tackle. He smashed the bar with a shot which made the first goal. When Burton switched to 3-5-2 and started to get numbers around us in midfield, he faded out of the game for a while but as we got on top, he came into it again. I still feel there is so much more to come from him in the attacking third but this was his best outing for us by a mile.
Jarrod Bowen – 7
Carries the ball beautifully and that was crucial in drawing two nasty fouls from Jackson Irvine who was sent off – massively changing the game. He can pass the ball much better and has to work back to help out his full-back – though he’s nowhere near as bad as Grosicki – but he had a field day with all the space available in the second half and was a real threat coming inside and left space for Aina to exploit. Worth persevering with his flaws because he’s going to be a top player.
Kamil Grosicki – 7
What an afternoon he had. His pace absolutely roasted Naylor twice early on and caused them to tuck him inside as a third centre back and change their system. From one of those breaks we had two men in the box but he shot from a tight angle and it was saved. That’s his biggest problem in a nutshell. He doesn’t make the right decision around the box enough. Went through on goal and rounded the keeper only to hit the side netting, under pressure, which will go down as one of the worst misses of the season. After a quieter start to the second half, he then popped up with his first City goal with a nice header. Has to work harder but his pace is frightening and it’s really important that we keep him – whatever anyone says.
Fraizer Campbell – 7
Worked hard for the team again and did the running wide so that Hernandez could prosper in the centre. Should have had at least three assists having put chances on a plate for Hernandez, Grosicki and Diomande with superb play – his backheel to set up Hernandez was magnificent. Didn’t have many chances of his own. This is a nice partnership but a big striker as an alternative would be nice. We saw that in the second half as we put in plenty of crosses that Campbell just wasn’t big enough to meet dangerously.
Abel Hernandez – 8 (Man of the Match)
There was an article recently by The Mirror listing ten players to watch in the Championship this season. Having scored twenty goals in this division only the season before last; that Hernandez didn’t feature showed it up for the ill-informed rag it was. If anything made it look stupider still, it was this performance. Abel’s working harder than I’ve seen him in his City career and forming a nice understanding with Campbell but importantly he’s as sharp as anything. He missed his best chance yesterday and still walked away with the match ball. His first and second goals were those of a goal poacher, anticipating what might happen and being in the position to put the ball in the net. The third was sublime play from Clucas and outstanding running off the ball from Hernandez.
It got me thinking about just how good his record in the Championship is – given Steve Bruce used to pull him off every game. Here’s the answer:
Abel Hernandez has played 3281 mins in the Championship (exc. Stoppage time). Equivalant to 36.4 games and scored 24 goals. #hcafc @HullCity— Rick (@HullCityLive) August 12, 2017
David Meyler (for Clucas) – 5
Still mega-rusty but getting crucial game time. Gave the ball away a few times after his introduction but as the game petered out, it was a useful, low-pressure environment for him to settle into.
Adama Diomande (for Hernandez) – 5
Made an absolute cock of a golden opportunity to impress the manager.
Seb Larsson (for Grosicki) – 6
Just a cameo for the Swede on debut whose set pieces will come in handy given Grosicki’s were abysmal. Should have scored but smashed a shot against the keeper when anywhere else would have been a goal.
Leonid Slutsky – 8
Named an unchanged team, unsurprisingly, and two up front at home made plenty of sense. Frailty crept into the first half performance after an excellent start but he steadied the ship at half time again and the game was won in 15 minutes. He then sensibly rested three crucial players ahead of a big game on Tuesday but his team never let up in attack. Only they’ll know how they didn’t score 7, 8 or even double figures.