Apropos of nothing… here’s some end of season grades

Funny old game isn’t it? (soz for the Saint and Greavsie cliché this early)

You spend half the season being driven mental by good, bad and indifferent performances, you’re a gibbering wreck at 2-1 up for the last twenty minutes of multiple games, you upset your neighbours/other half/dog when a last-minute equaliser deflects in off Sean McLoughlin’s arse, you watch the FA cup third round draw like the Albanian entrant to Eurovision watches Northern Macedonia’s results get announced and then….

It’s over.

And you’re just like that meme of Mr Bean in the field, wondering what normal people do on a Saturday, but at the same time knowing that the answer is “massively waste their life”.

But here we are, we’ve got play-offs I guess, and some Prem games left to laugh at teams going down, there’ll be a couple of dull England games and then comes the real slog. Pretty much a month of nothing.

Now, according to my “8 types of City fan on Twitter” blog a couple of years ago

Our fans will cope with this in many different ways.

The two sport splitters decide they preferred Rugby League or Yorkshire Cricket the whole time, the drink connoisseurs get drunk and the flat earthers will retweet Matt Le Tissier. But, if none of them really floats your boat, maybe you can waste ten minutes of your life reading and then disparaging my end of season grades. (send your hate tweets to @thelikesofhull)  Happy offseason everyone! Here’s some meaningless grades that you may or may not agree with.

Recruitment C-

I’ll start as I mean to go on. Despite the large strides made off the pitch and with re-energising the fan base. This was more miss than hit, particularly in the summer. It just wasn’t realistic in terms of the league we were in and some pretty big investments, in either wages or fees were underwhelming.

Now before you throw your jagerbomb at me whilst dressed as Tinky Winky, hear me out…


Figueriredo was a disaster and three centre backs we already had were much better.

Sinik was homesick and didn’t work at all.

Woods was no more than ok, and was phased out under Rosenior.

Tetteh flashed but was made of glass.

Traore was already broken and was tidy for the last 10 games.

Baxter didn’t really work this time. Injuries hurt him too.  

Sayyadmanash was also injured too much and scored one goal.

Pelkas disappeared far too much and really didn’t make enough impact.

Vale was way off.


Estupinan whilst not perfect did what he was paid to do and scored goals.

Seri wasn’t at it every week but he was what we paid for, a little Rolls Royce.

Tufan got used to the league and got fit and is a proper player.

Christie was a home run, without injury he’s player of the year.

If you add the Rosenior recruitment in Jan it’s still a mixed bag. Darlow is hopefully the keeper for the next five seasons plus, but Ebiowei showed little of his ability and Connolly got struck by the injury bug. Simmons should prove a long-term asset.

The one thing the recruitment proved was that we had multiple players at the club who were far better than they thought. See Alfie Jones, Sean McLoughlin, Lewie Coyle, Regan Slater etc. There’re lessons to be learned here. And the summer needs a better return than a 30% success rate for sure.

Ownership B+

The reason this isn’t an A can mainly be found in the above section. The ownership made some emotional signings and got a little too involved first time around. Fair play they seem to have learned a lesson and Liam definitely seems to have a clear deck to play with this summer. They also seem to have realised they didn’t get the right person in Shota, and are now a bit savvier.

They really have done a lot right, and given us a solid basis to build from. The fans relationship with the owners is mended, and there’s more through the gate than in a long, long time. They also have a massive like-ability factor. Let’s hope that can be sustained because when free travel or match offers can’t be, the Hull population can be awfully fickle at times.

There’s a whole lot of work to do now in terms of infrastructure, with the council on the surrounding land, with either re-uniting or restarting another Ladies set up etc. I really do hope they’re here for the long term and invest in such a way that the club grows to become a sustainable top league prospect.

As much as Acun and Tan have done right (and they really have), I think in terms of some of the reps and fan-based liaison they can improve. It’s been a little murky in terms of clarity and the whole fan base is my outlook, not just little pockets. They need to stick to clear structures of communication and be completely transparent, because if they can do that, I genuinely think that’s the way to galvanise this current fan base even more.


Arveladze D

Rosenior B+

Don’t employ your mates, covers the first three months of the season. After navigating a largely McCann/Darnborough recruited team to safe standing last season, Shota bless him never really showed he’d learned from the experience. Even with lots more talent and a decent chunk of luck (the home wins against Bristol, Norwich and Cov all made you think that higher powers might be looking out for us) we never really got going at all. And if those home wins were the highs, the lows were brutal. From the gung-ho stupidity of West Brom away, to the belly rubbing softness shown at QPR with the catastrophic implosion at Swansea in-between, it really was ugly. We were a disorganised, unfit shambles and by the time we sacked him, we really could have been in serious trouble.

But cometh the hour and all that. From day one Liam had the team ten times more drilled, disciplined and planned, even if it wasn’t sexy football, it was hugely more professional.

He’s been crystal clear and pragmatic in interviews, he’s brought in younger talent to be involved and in the process found at least one absolute gem. He brought in coaches and staff around him that amplified his vision. If the worst thing you could say was that we should have been more direct and not played out so much, when he had huge chunks of talent missing, I’m really not sure we can agree on football.

Not since the heady days of Brian Horton’s arrival in 1984 have we seen a such young, hungry manager, that matches the image and outlook of the club and community he serves. He’s not been perfect and nobody is, but he’s been very, very bloody good. And he’s exactly what we need.

Players grades and a sentence or two

Just read this back and realised it sums up our season, the more you go forward, the less success we had. Need so much more from our attackers next year…

Matt Ingram B

Imperfect but solid. A great back up and challenger to any keeper.

Nathan Baxter B-  

Injury robbed him of his chance this year.

Karl Darlow A-

Came in and won points. Had the very odd wobble but was also outstanding over and over. Sign him.

Brandon Fleming C-

Not a choice of the new boss, didn’t shine at Oxford, a shame.

Callum Elder B-

The Brewdog king exits stage left, never amazing, but solid enough. Goes with most of our best wishes.

Lewie Coyle B

Came on strong at the end after Cyrus Christie’s injury opened the door, I’d like to see him stay.

Cyrus Christie A-

Imperious for three quarters of the season. Get him fit and we’ve got a cracker.

Sean McLoughlin B+

Macca is a seven out of ten pretty much every week. No nonsense and brilliant on that left foot.

Alfie Jones B+

Same as Macca, love him and he deserves a decent extension. You can go up with lads like Alfie.

Tobias Figueriredo D

Just didn’t ever recover from a shocker of a start. Was a goal conceded on a stick at times.

Jacob Greaves B-

Not the season he’d have expected. Can’t knock that fact he did such a good job at left back but could be one we move on as he won’t lack admirers.

Ozan Tufan B

When he got fitter and to the pace of the games he was a delight. Scored goals and his touch and vision is as good as anyone post Huddlestone.

Jean Michael Seri B

Had the odd game where it passed him by, but on the whole, he was very good, wonderful on the ball, proved he’s still got it.

Ryan Woods C

Came in and at first steadied the boat a little. Not the flavour that Liam likes apparently and was on the bench mainly.

Adama Traore B-

Had to wait a long, long time to see him but he was decent when we got him fit. Look forward to seeing him next year.

Regan Slater A

Just love him. Works like a lunatic, has some really top end quality. Sheffield United’s greatest ever piece of stupidity of all time.

Greg Docherty B-

In and out. I thought he deserved a little better at times. Scored the goal of the century at Blackpool. Might be another that could go but I’ll be a little sad to see it happen.

Xavier Simmons B

Clearly one for the future. When he got the chance he looked the part.

Dogukan Sinik D

Didn’t settle. Didn’t want to be here. D.

Dimi Pelkas C-

Frustrating as hell. Clearly has so much ability but it so rarely happened for him here.

Oscar Estupinan B+

We could and should have been in the deep brown stuff without his goals early. Faded somewhat. Not sure he’s here next year.

Ben Tetteh C+

Was injured just too much. When fit and ready he suggested he could have this league on toast. Nowhere near often enough though.

Ryan Longman C

Like so many others he just didn’t do enough. Again, I’m not convinced he’s Liam’s cup of tea. He’s a tryer is Ryan but it’s not really happened for him here. 

Allahyar Sayyadmanesh C

See Tetteh, Longman, Pelkas etc. Hamstring injury killed him and he has running uphill ever since. Just hasn’t produced enough goals and assists despite the obvious ability.

Malcolm Ebiowei C

Came in as the new big thing. Flashed some brilliance, then really didn’t. Again, it just didn’t work.

Aaron Connelly B-

At least when he did play he looked the part. If you told me he’d play 35 times next year I’d sign him.

Tyler Smith C

Can’t see he’ll be here next season. Scored a couple of nice goals, but didn’t grasp the nettle at Oxford on loan.

Harry Vaughan B+

Came in at the end like a breath of fresh air. Got the Bowen and Lewis Potter comparisons which didn’t seem to bother him at all. Potentially very special.

Have a good boredom month everyone. I’ll see you next season!



6 unpopular takes on City and one on football overall

I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling to generate content a bit at the moment. I’m doing the series “The Boy was a larker” for the HCST newsletter and I can do that for days, as there’s so many great players of the past I can wax lyrical over but I’m not exactly sure why I’m so lacking on the current product though. I mean things are going quite, well aren’t they? We don’t lose much and should be pretty steady, we have an ace gaffer who I think could genuinely have us there or thereabouts next season and it’s all a little less hectic than it was in the early months of the new ownership.  Maybe, just maybe I find myself swimming against the tide recently though and maybe it’s my pedantic soul, but I just don’t align that much with opinions that swim around the internet in 2023, some City related, some not. So, I thought… ah go on… I’ll give you them. I know this might trigger a bunch of people, but such is life, we all don’t think the same… and I’m not even certain I’m right… (no… really… I am)

Anyway… here’s six unpopular opinions about City and one about football in general. I’d love to hear yours so please send your hate tweets to @thelikesofhull on Twitter. Cheers.

1.We really are massive name snobs at football.

Ok, why are we doing so many backflips for new players signed who played abroad when there’s lads right in front of our faces that deserve better? Yes, some of the signings have done very well (see Estupinan, O and Seri, JM) and some have flashed quality and had moments (see Tufan, O) but some have massively underwhelmed or straight up been average (see Figueredo, T and Sinik D). The defence has been largely saved from the verge of farce this season down to the super sexy names of Alfie Jones, Sean McLoughlin, Matt Ingram, Cyrus Christie and Jacob Greaves, Cyrus has quite rightly scored the plaudits, but the other four have been really consistent, and yes that isn’t flashy, but neither was Andy Dawson, Peter Skipper or Michael Turner and last time I looked they did ok. We are going to need a core of players that get this league to get out of this league. Give the less fashionable players a little more love please.

2.I don’t hate Leeds United.

There. I said it. I think it quite often and it needs establishing. If you’re from Leeds or North Yorkshire, fill your boots. Although their ground is minging for away fans, the noise is way above the average in the Premier League and it usually adds a little to even an “ok” game. I don’t love them, or want them to win, but I don’t want anyone else to. Here’s the thing, I don’t like Hull based Leeds fans, and I find them as comical as I do sad, especially the ones that remember where they are from for Rugby Leeeeeeague, but not football. That’s who I want to lose, those fans, I want them to spend loads of money chasing success up and down the M62 and fail miserably. But to me that’s a totally different thing to the actual club and current team. I care no more or less about them than I do about Plymouth Argyle or Ipswich Town. Just another team.

3. “Once a tiger always a tiger” is a massive contradiction and a load of old cobblers.

When players leave or tweet about baking a cake, you can bet your mortgage that a ton of twitter followers will use the above phrase and blow smoke up the exit hole of said player. This saying is nonsense. Jimmy Bullard is not always a tiger and neither is Terry Dolan or even league winning manager Grant McCann in the view of many. So, it’s blatantly not true. Yeh sure, “Once a successful tiger that left in fairly positive circumstances and hasn’t had their hard drives taken away or spread flat earth theories, always a tiger” isn’t quite as catchy but it’s also much more accurate.

4. If the current investment doesn’t work and get us out of the league, will those who say “we have our club back” hang around?

This is something I’ve thought for a while. The current owners are pretty likeable. They’ve done a lot of good PR things, and listened to the fan base, even elements of the fan base that may hold some “interesting” views. We’ve rolled the dice this year (and let’s be honest, not done that much better than last year’s team who were on much less money to this point) and will probably roll again next year. But if this doesn’t work, and we don’t hotfoot it to the high life, what then? We’ll surely have to find some significant savings and offload. It could and probably would unravel. Just remember this if it does. Lots have come back because of the return of concessions, well priced options and new era. But let’s be honest, some have just because we’ve signed some big names and they think we’re on the up. Let’s see where they are if it all goes a bit Derby County.

5. I don’t want KLP back, although it was quite funny we asked.

Keane Lewis Potter surprised me a little this summer, he was surely going to get another improved deal, he was playing for his hometown club and then the club matched his ambition. I think agents were agents though and he was determined to leave, which is his right but it kind of killed a bit of that hometown boy reputation. It felt early to leave and you kind of figured he wouldn’t get much playing time. Well, look who won the pony…  he hasn’t. I think he’d have flown this season and if he’d have given it just one more year (or even six months) his star would have risen so much further, plus this could put us right in the mix right now. It did give me a wry smile when we asked Brentford about him coming back on loan though, yes, yes, I know it makes me a bad person and all that. But it really did.

6. All rise King Elder, the player that ran rings around the fan boys and won.

“Once a tiger always a tiger”, Jeez, we can’t even be half decent to those who ARE tigers. Yes, he may have had a few beers and said things were a bit rubbish, yes, he maybe shouldn’t have done, but hands up who hasn’t said a few loose things after a beer? He’s human, players are just us, but they’re much, much better at football. The overreaction of the fan boys with Turkish flags in their bio was as hilarious as it was out of all proportion. Then, an injury or two, and look who’s back in the team? He’s a solid champ player, he looks like he should be opening the batting at the MCG and I love him, someone give him a golden brewdog can immediately. What a guy.

7. I wanted Sheffield United to beat Wrexham. Because Welsh teams should be in their own league and cup.

This one really is a little out there. I don’t like Sheffield United very much at all, I’m old enough to remember them celebrating at Turf Moor and 10-year-old me always swore to hate them. But I laughed and laughed when ten men United spoiled the day of Ryan Reynolds and Wrexham. I have no idea why historically Welsh teams play in the EFL (the clue is in the first letter) but there’s plenty of them and they could easily form a bit of a more rubbish Scottish Prem, Cardiff City, Swansea, Wrexham, Newport County, Merthyr Tydfil, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, all the big names.

 They don’t like England, they don’t like English teams and they live to watch England lose. Go form your own league and save us three hundred-mile round trips whilst you’re at it. I’ll never understand why they’re in our league, you don’t have Swiss teams in Serie A, or Portuguese teams in the Primera League. Plus, their champions could go in the prelims for the Champs league, go on boys, you know it makes sense, make the plunge lads and all the best, send us a postcard etc.

Thanks for reading folks. UTT.


I can help falling in love with you…

Unpopular opinion I know…

I’ve been wrestling with this topic for a while and I know that by writing it, I’ll inevitably get some criticism, or disdain, or probably both but after really sitting down and giving it some thought over Christmas I’ve decided to go ahead with it, because if you like the blogs or not (and a lot of you kindly have said some really nice things) I think I’m fairly well known for being both quite balanced and honest.

I went to the Blackpool game on Boxing Day with my cousin that I’ve watched football with since we were kids. It was fine, I mean, we were neither awful or great, but it’s early days for the new manager and he’s largely managing players he didn’t bring in. It was nice seeing my Uncle before the game and a few of the supporters trust in the Clarendon pre-match.

We’ve been on a good run since and I honestly think we’re in good hands with Liam Rosenior. He’s a bright and articulate manager, who is clearly a good coach, he connects with the City and although I highly doubt he’s a teacup thrower, I think he’s a strong minded individual who is going to do things his way. If players are prepared to graft and adjust (see Tyler Smith) they’ll fit right in, but if not, I get the impression he’s prepared to wave goodbye. Good for him, these are principles that I think you can build a really strong a committed team with.

Blackpool was only I think the third game I’ve been to this season, although I’ve seen a lot more on TV. I’ve been a bit unlucky that I was unavailable for two London based games in Watford and Millwall, but that’s not an excuse. I’m just not really enjoying it as I once did. The question I’ve been mulling over in the past few weeks is why? I’ve been watching City for pretty much 40 years, (the first long run of going was after Don Robinson saved the club in 1982) there’s certainly been worse times. So what’s the cause of my malaise? I’m not one hundred percent sure to be honest but I think it’s a mix of things, some club related, some not.

Let’s start with the City related reasons. Yes we were terrible earlier this season, but I went to the entertaining (albeit a little fortunate) win against Norwich, and that was fun. You can level a few criticisms towards the new owner, but his intentions are on the whole good I think and he’s certainly trying to be more fan orientated than the previous regime. He’s backed the club in terms of signings, although like early Adam Pearson you get the impression he’s got a little too close to the goings on pitch side. The crowds are better and even though we are as I write in the wrong half of the league, there’s enough evidence to suggest we won’t stay there.

I think my first strike though this year was QPR away. I went as it was London and met my mate Rich Skipper (son of Pete) before the game. We’ve communicated quite a bit since I did a blog on his Dad so it was nice to see him in person. Now the City performance that day was dire, essentially we were dead and buried inside the first 55 minutes and 3-0 down. But that wasn’t THE problem. There wasn’t a nice atmosphere that night, and I’m no shrinking violet. I’ve been at City games in the last 40 years that have got decidedly hairy. But this was different. It was in a word, pathetic. A group of youngish lads simply focused on some QPR fans and rang out a set of stale, hackneyed cliched songs about Jeremy Kyle, and fat people, and general misogynistic claptrap. It was irrelevant to the game, it gave the players no support, it was just, to quote Brian Laws “naff”.

We scored that day with about seven or eight to go. Tyler Smith. I didn’t see it, I was walking towards the tube station, bored of a tame performance and feeling pretty despondent about our brand of “support”. Now I can understand here if you don’t agree, at least with my sentiments, as it’s not the first time I’ve seen City fans be a bit embarrassing, and I doubt it’s the last, so maybe it’s me that’s changed a little bit. Like several of us might have changed since lockdown. It just didn’t seem fun anymore, we’ve only got a finite amount of time to do other things that aren’t just working and existing and that night was kind of the epitome of what I’d rather not do. Pay for an expensive rail ticket, an expensive seat, watch a tepid City team and be seemingly in a minority that wasn’t really interested in an overweight QPR fan and his daughter.

Yet attendances are going up. So maybe I am wrong. Like I alluded to earlier, I think there’s been some miss-steps by the new owner, but I can genuinely see what he’s doing and I think he’s learned some quick lessons. I think the whole “holiday” thing was a little divisive, with it being a little bit more about who you were, than being an actual loyal fan. Now I couldn’t think of much worse than going away like that, but I think we could all think of a City fan in our lives that would have loved to have gone and probably deserved it. I know I can. It’s maybe a modern thing and it’s more important to have those go who would be upwardly mobile in sharing the experience rather than just the ones who have gone week in week out forever. On one level it was successful, and good PR though, a little like the owner turning up at a local pub.

Again I have mixed feelings about this. Sure, interact with the real fans, and that sort of gesture is appreciated, but maybe pop to Pearsons once a season, The William Gemmell, The Clarendon, The Dugout etc. It’s not about one set of fans, it’s about all of them, it’s somewhat of a slippery slope to select fans who are “important”. They all are. And again this isn’t about me, I have no desire to ruffle the hair of the owner and say “thanks for saving us mate”. I’m happy to let others do that. We’re all just fans, I think some of the twitterverse in particular have lost sight of this in recent months. We don’t have to agree or look at the team or the club in the same way. It’s probably best we don’t.

The last bit is on me. I’ve coached football a lot in the past and somehow post lockdown, got dragged back into it. I’ve done some scouting of lower league football for a mate as he’s starting his football management career, it’s a process I’ve actually really enjoyed, probably more than I thought I would. This isn’t on City, I think there’s a few of us that since 2020, had to find something to do to stay sane, and that’s took us off the beat and path a little. So that’s not City, it’s just life I guess.

I saw a mate at the Clarendon on Boxing Day and he’s an exile too. We were talking about the fact that although Reading has the atmosphere of the Deli counter in Waitrose, the area on the outside of the stadium is very good. It’s got big outside bars, a huge screen showing the lunchtime game a plenty going on. It’s a real lesson to us in developing the site around our ground. Anyway I said I’ll go to that game and meet him. Forty odd years isn’t going to just end, and me punching the air like a div in my front room yesterday as we scored three quick goals at Wigan would suggest I’ll always care. I’m just not sure if it’s as much. And although some of those reasons are personal. I’m not sure I’m entirely alone.

Thanks for reading. UTT