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Hull City v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 4th November 2011
By: Preview Percy

When we popped over to see Preview Percy he was in the gardens of his rest home putting the finishing touches to an effigy of Mike Dean to throw on a bonfire. The strange thing is he didn't actually realise it was Guy Fawkes' Night this weekend. Here's the mad one's look at this weekend's visit to Hull City. As ever John Northcutt pops in at the end with some statistics...

Our next jaunt sees us traipse up the A1(M) and M62 to visit Kingston Upon Hull where, unsurprisingly, our hosts will be Hull City. 3pm kick-off which is, of course, just as it should be.

Our opponents are nicely tucked in at the moment in 6th place with 24 points from their 14 matches thus far this season. That’s 4 points and places behind us, though they do have a game in hand. Their latest outing saw them surprisingly go down 2-1 at Barnsley, missing a penalty in a defeat that was their first reverse in the league since 20 August. It’s not a bad position to be in considering that they lost three of their first four league matches and also went down 2-0 at home to Macclesfield in the League Cup. In the League, at home their six matches this season have produced four wins (against Reading, Portsmouth, Cardiff & Watford) and two defeats (to Blackpool and Palace).

Nigel Pearson is the man at the helm. He’s been there for just under 18 months, taking over from ex-Hammer Iain Dowie, who was in charge for the last few months of 2009/10 after Phil Brown had been placed on “gardening leave”. Pearson came in from Leicester City so may have dodged a bullet if recent weeks there are anything to go by.

The big pre-season news on the personnel front was the departure of ex-Hammer Jimmy Bullard who was, not to put too fine a point on it, sacked. It was no secret that the Tigers had been concerned about the player’s salary, based as it was on levels of largesse that may have looked good in the Premiership but were less appealing to the club after relegation. Alleged events during and following a pre-season trip to Slovenia saw the club seize the opportunity to lighten the burden and off Bullard went to Ipswich.

In goal their first choice this season has been Adriano Basso, a Brazilian who spent most of his time in England at Bristol City. After 5 years at Ashton Gate he signed a short-term deal at Wolves that kept him there from January until the end of the season though he failed to make a league appearance. After the expiry of his Molineux contract in May he decided that he liked the colours so much he would sign for Hull. He is there on a one year deal with the club having the option to extend if all goes well. It’s a strange thing with Brazil and goalkeepers. For all the great players they’ve produced over the years, they’ve never been that great between the sticks. Those of us old enough to remember the 1970 Brazil World Cup side will go all misty-eyed at the thought of Pele, Tostao, Jairzinho and the like, but will cough embarrassedly and look at our feet at the mention of Felix the ‘keeper.

Sorry off on one of my senior moments there for a bit. Basso was replaced in midweek after just over an hour by the Hungarian-born Peter Gulacsi, who is on loan from Liverpool. Basso has a knee problem according to the Hull Daily Mail, a paper that regularly carries a series of front page headlines complaining about the influx of jobseekers from the West Riding of Yorkshire and the effect that they have on house prices. I expect.

There’s a Hammer’s connection in defence where Liam Rosenior plies his trade at right back. Liam is, of course the son of Leroy who spent four years with us in the late 80’s/early 90’s and wore boots made of gold if the song is to be believed. Rosenior junior has had spells at Bristol City, Fulham, Torquay (loan), Reading and Ipswich (loan) before signing a short term deal with the Tigers just over a year ago. The change in club ownership in January enabled Hull to offer a more conventional two and a half year deal. He managed to pick up a few England U21 caps whilst he was of age and played in the 2007 European U21 Championships in which England lost a penalty shootout 13-12 to the Dutch. Rosenior scored his, for the record.

Andy Dawson is the club skipper. He’s the brother of Spurs’ Michael but he would probably not thank us for bringing that up. So we won’t. Another brother, Kevin, plays for Chesterfield which is infinitely less embarrassing for him. Dawson (A) is one of the players that had played in all four divisions for the club. He’s another one to have successfully done the Soccer AM Crossbar Challenge, which, nice as it is, is scant consolation for seeing a sibling depart for N17. He’s not played a major part in proceedings this term, managing just three league starts before a knee injury in training put paid to any thoughts of an extended run in the side.

Also in defence they have Jack Hobbs who, for you youngsters out there, was one of the greatest opening batsmen in history. Hobbs was the second cricketer (after Sir Don Bradman) to receive a knighthood but had a quiet time of it after passing away in 1963. He resurfaced in 2004/05 at Lincoln City, impressing Liverpool enough while he was there for them to shell out £750,000 for the player. He spent some time on loan at Scunthorpe and then Leicester, with whom he won promotion from the 3rd Division in 2008/08. His loan deal was made permanent soon after and he remained with the Foxes until this February. However, the player found it difficult to break into the first team with Sven preferring to splash the Thai owners’ cash on new defenders rather than select long-deceased cricketing legends in his back four. Hobbs moved to the KC Stadium on loan in search of first team action and the deal was made permanent in the summer. Though Hobbs’ defensive partnership with former Man Utd youngster James Chester is well regarded by the Hull faithful, I’m afraid that it’ll have to go some to beat the one he had during 1924-30 with Herbert Sutcliffe, a pairing which most of us regard as the greatest opening partnership of all time.

In midfield they have Paul McKenna. A former DJ, he spends now spends his time giving seminars on neuro-linguistic programming and, of course hypnosis. He played against us for Preston in the 2005 play-off final, you may remember it was his free-kick that Stephen Bywater had to save after Jimmy Walker had gone off injured and the little “near spill” was followed by a collective sigh of relief matched only by the one we all gave out last week when we found out El Haj Diouf was on his way to Doncaster. McKenna signed for Hull in the summer having had a couple of years at Forest and, should he play on Saturday it’s probable that none of us will remember a thing about it. Those of you who smoke however will probably have given up by ten to five.

Of course no look at the Hull midfield could pass without mention of Nicky Barmby, and this is it.

Up front is another Leicester asylum seeker (the Hull Daily Mail must be set to explode) in the form of Matt “Matty” Fryatt. Fryatt arrived during the January transfer window, the negotiations conveniently being completed just after the two clubs met each other on New Year’s Day. His was the penalty miss that contributed to the defeat to Barnsley in midweek.

Fryatt was partnered by Aaron McLean in midweek. McLean is a Dagenham boy who has a spell with Grays Athletic on his CV, as well as 5 caps for the England C team that surprised us by existing a few weeks ago when we were looking at Brighton. He’s the brother of some popular singer whose songs can probably be heard spewing out from some youth’s mobile telephone on a bus near you, unless you clump the offender over the head with your walking stick. Apparently. McLean picked up a calf injury in the Barnsley match and faces a late fitness test.

They could also have Martyn Waghorn, currently on loan from Leicester, available up front depending on how a hamstring problem reacts, as well as Dele Adebola, the veteran Nigerian who seems to have played for everyone in the league, except Leicester.

So what about us? The loss of Winston Reid is a definite blow. The combination of the step down a level plus a manager willing to give him a run in the side has done wonders for his form and confidence and he's definitely been on the “most improved” list this season. Central defence is one area where we were short of cover to begin with – even before the current spate of injuries. We're now down to Tomkins and Faye as recognised first team centre-halves – and Faye has been nursing a hamstring for a couple of weeks now. All of which means that the manager has been desperately scouring the “loan” pages of football's version of Exchange & Mart.

Elsewhere, as Carlton Cole returns to fitness he has passed his knee problem on to John Carew, though the Norwegian has apparently been fit enough to train. Lansbury is out for weeks yet, Taylor is a couple of weeks away, Demel? Who knows? Throw in Bentley – who we may never see again – and this is an injury list of major proportions. I note from Tuesday's programme that the players have been using cryotherapy chambers to recover from matches. Sitting in a cold room at minus 184 (fahrenheit – none of your metric here thank you) for three minutes is supposed to aid post-match recovery. However, knowing our luck the door will stick and we'll become the first team to lose players through indoor hypothermia or frostbite.

Tuesday was majorly disappointing for a number of reasons. It was depressingly reminiscent of those days of 2003/04 and 2004/05 teams came to the Boleyn with eleven behind the ball and we lacked the nous and intelligence to break them down. We lacked the width which might have helped – too often Sears and Faubert were to be found inside just at the point when Nolan or Noble might have wanted to play the ball out into the space on the wings.

Also disappointing (in my opinion) was the manager's reaction to the result which, with his habitual use of statistics, sought to prove that we had played Bristol City off the park and that only desperate defending had kept us from running up a cricket score of Hobbsian proportions. In fact Mr Allardyce went as far as to use the word “outstanding” to describe the performance. It was anything but and, to be honest, I found the implication that anyone who thought we'd struggled didn't have a clue what they were talking about slightly patronising – and I get enough of that here at the Avram Grant Home For The Bewildered without having to read that sort of thing in my morning paper thank you. Since stats seem to be in vogue at present here’s a number to chew on: 1 – the number of real saves that David James had to make on Tuesday night.

Things will, of course, be different this weekend. As the home side Hull will obviously be on the front foot which, if the manager's comments this week are to be a guide, will lead to us sitting back and defending in depth. Anyone see the irony here?

Prediction? Well “respect the point” has been the buzz-phrase all week, though the manager did think a win wouldn't be out of the question. That may be the case but my gut feeling is that we'll pick up a draw from this one – 2-2 then for me, which, as ever, means that that is the one score it cannot possibly be.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met: The last time we visited the KC Stadium in November 2009 the result was a bizarre 3-3 draw,inspired in part by the usual dire performance from ref Mark Clattenburg. Franco and Collison gave us a 2-0 lead before two from Bullard – with assists from Clattenburg – and one from Zayatte saw them go into the interval with a 3-2 lead. Da Costa restored parity in the second half. We won the return in February 2010 as an inspired performance from Julien Faubert gave us a 3-0 win. Behrami and Cole were also on the scoresheet.

Referee: Nigel Miller – another first time for us ref. None too popular about the Championship if you happen to google his name.

Danger Man: Matt Fryatt – top scorer with 4 goals and will be wanting to put the costly midweek penalty miss behind him.

Daft fact of the week: The Ye Olde White Harte pub in Hull is said to be the place where the English Civil War started, when officials meeting there banned King Charles I from the City. It seemed a rather pointless exercise – a bit like banning someone from Chernobyl – especially since professional football in the city was nearly 300 years away leaving little reason to go there in the first place. However, umbrage was taken by Charles and it all ended in tears, having a spaniel named after him being little consolation for having his head removed from his body.

Stat man John: Northcutt's corner

Bad boys: sent off

Billy Bonds H 1970-71 (LC)
David Kelly A 1989-90

They played for both

Jimmy Bullard, Stuart Pearson, Dennis Burnett
John Dowen, Robbie Stockdale, Stephen Bywater,
Richard Garcia, Cliff Hubbard, Matt Smailes, Nobby Solano,Alf Fenwick, Tony Weldon, Mark Noble, Alan Taylor.

Away Friendlies

March 1967 4-1 Hurst 3 Sissons
May 1973 3-5 MacDougall 3

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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