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West Ham Utd v Hull City

Filed: Tuesday, 27th January 2009
By: Preview Percy

We next return to league action for Wednesday’s Live on Sky match when we entertain Hull City.

Hull made a decent start to life in the Premier League and won six of their first nine games at the top. After their ninth match they found themselves in third place, a position that saw talk of Europe on Humberside that was only slightly tongue in cheek. However, since that sixth win, a 3-0 home win against West Brom, they have taken a dip in form, winning only one of the 13 matches since 25th October.

That last victory came in early December when they emerged 2-1 winners at home to Boro’ despite going 1-0 down with only 10 minutes left on the clock. That win was followed by a 2-2 draw at Anfield in which they let slip a 2-0 lead in a match that saw Steve Gerrard get two fellow professionals booked with his diving antics. Again. Since then it has been downhill all the way for the Tigers who have lost their last five league matches.

The only bright spot has been their cup form where they eliminated Newcastle (after a replay and a “coming together of heads” between Messrs. Brown & Kinnear) and Millwall. In the next round they face Sheffield Utd, whose hypocritical chairman is presumably preparing a case to have Hull thrown out of the cup for not having the right number of seats in the KC Stadium after Millwall’s oh so misunderstood support indulged in a spot of impromptu stadium redevelopment last weekend.

Prompted by the slump in league form, manager Brown hasn’t been sitting on his hands in the current transfer window, although a deal to sign John Arne Riise is apparently a non-starter. Hull stated that they couldn’t afford the transfer fee sought by Roma, though they didn’t comment on Riise’s potential wages which were plastered all over the interweb thingy last year.

Hull’s most recent signing was former Hammer Jimmy Bullard who arrived last week on a deal worth a reported £5m. Kevin “Zinadene” Kilbane also arrived during the window for a fee of about one tenth of that paid for Bullard. Also now on the books on a permanent basis is Kamil Zayatte. The 23 year-old has now completed a full transfer from Swiss side Young Boys having spent the season thus far at the KC on loan. A proper transfer seemed unlikely at one point with that old football cliché “personal terms” proving the stumbling block. However, the two sides managed to come to some agreement, hopefully without heads having to “come together”.

On the way out, striker Marlon King, who was on loan from Wigan, departed in the general direction of Middlesbrough in an attempt to tick another “Crap Town” off his list of places to see. King’s departure was attributed to a “difference of opinion” between him and the boss over team selection – presumably he thought he should play and Brown didn’t.

Also on the way out are former Bolton midfielder Stelios, who took an Easy Jet flight back to Greece having only made one start since arriving on Humberside in September, and veteran Dean Windass who has gone out on loan to Oldham. Windass is the subject of a campaign by supporters to be granted the honour of “Freeman of The City of Hull” alongside the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. There are some that think that the granting of such an award to a journeyman striker serves only to trivialise the honour, pointing out that, unlike Tutu, Windass has failed to make a stand against the Human Rights abuses in Zimbabwe. There again I don’t recall Tutu ever making any public statements on the disgraceful standards of refereeing in this country or grabbing the testicles of an opponent and at least Windass actually comes from Hull.

Against Millwall they started with Tony Warner in goal, though Myhill is expected to return on Wednesday night, especially as Warner didn’t exactly cover himself in glory on occasion at the weekend. The defence features Michael Turner who Hull supporters were touting for England honours earlier in the season. Though the calls were a tad optimistic (especially given the competition in the centre of defence) Turner did have a good start to the season and is a danger from set pieces if he is not marked properly, as we found out to our cost up at the KC Stadium last year. He also hails from just around the corner from where I am sitting right now and, to this day, when he returns to London he gets his haircut at the very same venue as your correspondent, though our mutual hairdresser would only comment that “he’s a very nice man” when questioned for the purposes of this preview.

Kilbane was missing from the line-up at the weekend having appeared for Wigan in the 3rd round tie that they somehow managed to lose against Tottenham but he is likely to start against us if their line-up against Arsenal is anything to go by. Bullard was similarly cup-tied but is likely to make his Hull debut. Against Arsenal they went with a five–man midfield leaving Cousin as a lone striker and it wouldn’t be that much of a surprise to see them line-up in similar fashion at the Boleyn on Wednesday as they endeavour to halt the league losing streak that sees them sit one place and two points (on 27) behind us in ninth place.

In truth, during a normal season one would have though that we would both be safe enough in eighth and ninth at this stage of the proceedings. However, they are only six (and ourselves only eight) points away from the drop zone and, given the closeness of the middle to bottom section of the table, you’d want to be on a better run of form than they find themselves in at the moment.

We, of course, are in the midst of a decent spell, and even our traditional fallibility against lower league opposition failed to materialise at the weekend when the performance was described by most observers as “professional”. Confidence should be high and even the refereeing ban on awarding us penalties seems to have been revoked – though Mr Mason obviously took things a little bit too far up at Hartlepool at the weekend in that respect.

There have been a couple of personnel changes of course. Mullins has left for Pompey in an attempt to get more than 15 minutes a match and, at time of writing, we seem likely to sign Savio Nsereko from Brescia, though as I write the deal hasn’t been completed and the striker is unlikely to be available for selection on Wednesday. We can expect to see a return for Neill and Upson (though the worrying part of me is still wary of the fact that the latter is not Cup-Tied at the moment) and, even if the Savio deal goes through on time I’d still expect Zola’s current preferred XI of Green, Neill, Ilunga, Collins, Upson, Behrami, Collison, Noble, Parker, DiMichele and Cole to start the match.

The good run that we’re on coupled with the poor form of the visitors means I have a good feeling for this one (traditionally the kiss of death!). Though the arrival of Bullard is likely to give them a bit of a lift, there seems to be a more optimistic air about the playing side of things at the Boleyn at the moment – something that even the departure of Bellamy doesn’t seem to have dented, though we’ll need this Savio chappie to have a similar turn of pace to the departed Welsh ingrate if our forward line is to continue to progress.

Quibbles aside, I’ll go with the tempered optimism theme and go for a 2-0 win to us as long as we can keep Turner and Bullard quiet at set pieces.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: n/a

Danger man: Jimmy Bullard Free-kicks from outside the box are always a worry with him around.

Look out for: Michael Turner’s superb hairstyle!

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.

Your Comments

by Preview Percy
03:31PM 27th Jan 2009
''Thanks Andyinyorkshire - though my reference to Humberside was more of a geographical reference to the general area of Kingston Upon Hull rather than to the Metropolitan County that was put to sleep in 1996. Just don't get the lot down here started on the subject of whether Barking is in Essex!

Thanks also Mr Kaye - the Fulham correspondent who informed me that Bullard had played against Sheffield Wednesday is writing our 100 lines as we speak!''

by AndyInYorkshire (HCFC)
12:38PM 27th Jan 2009
''Nicely written piece, only minor error in that Humberside is now defunct for over 10 years now, welcome to put Yorkshire, East Yorkshire or even East Riding of Yorkshire :).

Looking forward to the game tomorrow!''

by rob kaye (HCFC)
12:05PM 27th Jan 2009
''Hull supporter here. Looking forward to visiting tomorrow, and thanks for the good read.

Jimmy B. wasn't cup tied BTW. Depending on which report you believe he either didn't sign in time or had a stomach bug (or both).

I've got to look on the bright side and say we will get a result. Why bother coming if I don't think that? I'm not too confident though.''

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