Welcome To Hull (Hell)
Newcastle v Hull – Ben Cooper gives us the lowdown on today’s visitors to St.James’ Park.
Welcome to Hull (Hell);
Who Have They Bought:
Hull spent more than we did in the summer as the owner looked to market the Tiger brand across the world. £11.5million went into the Spurs coffers for average midfielder Jake Livermore and solid central defender Michael Dawson.
In defence, £2.5million youngsters Harry Maguire and left back Andrew Robertson could both be involved, as will loan signing Gaston Ramirez and record signing from Palermo, Abel Hernandez, the Uruguayan scored and hit the bar on an impressive debut last week against West Ham.
Facially challenged £7million midfielder Robert Snodgrass has a long-term injury but heavyweight Mohamed Diame from West Ham should play, who along with Tom Hundredstone and rotund loan purchase Hatem Ben Arfa should mean that anyone wanting to get round the Tigers midfield will need to get the bus to Elswick or ring a dinner bell in the SJP staff canteen to clear a hole through the middle.
Ben Arfa’s departure from Tyneside has put pressure on all concerned. Rumours of a punch up with Alan Pardew have had some pointing the finger at the officially “under-fire manager”, weight issues meaning others are more content to question Ben Arfa’s commitment or perhaps personality issues highlighting the splits in team morale and the power some players hold in the dressing room.
Either way, in a team lacking goals, letting creative players leave for nothing without replacing them is foolish and an admission of the limitations in the management if players of a certain ‘style’ can’t be motivated. Apart from anything else, Alan Pardew does not need Hatem Ben Arfa at SJP today so it is just as well he is ineligible to play under the terms of his loan move. I would have loved to see him play today, judging by the photo of him signing for Hull, apart from anything else he seems to have grown a giant left ear.
Who Manages Them:
After two years as manager of Hull City, Steve Bruce has calmed the waters of a team which had suffered relegation and lost four managers since the turn of 2010.
Bruce has a good track record of that initial stabilisation across his managerial career and since he got Hull promoted back to the Premier League in his first season, the Tigers finished 16th last season and reached their first ever FA Cup Final in May, followed by their first ever European foray three months later.
Throughout his career Bruce has got on well with awkward bosses, none more difficult than current Hull owner Assem Allam, who seems as equally determined to lose any support for the Humberside club as our own money-hoarding, tat-retailing Megaplod.
Bruce is also a Geordie so you’d think he’d be an ideal, if rather snug fit, in the SJP hot-seat which will shortly be vacated by Alan Pardew if results don’t improve for the black and whites. Not so for some supporters, it is hard to see the man who was at Manyoo for a decade, frequently seemingly supporting the reds in our battles with them since, and one who managed the Mackems, being anything other than a disaster at NUFC.
His personal history aside, he’s never won anything as a manager, never finished higher than mid-table in the Premier League and the Tigers’ first ever European campaign ended before the Europa League group stages with an undistinguished knock out by Belgian waffles Lokeren.
With mediocrity like that, perhaps he is perfect for our own thrilling brand of “affordable Premier League football.” Bruce has distanced himself from any such managerial skulduggery: “I have only been at Hull a couple of years and they have been really good. They gave me the chance to get up and running again and for that I will always be grateful,” he said this week, which roughly translates as “see you next week in The Strawberry lads.”
A Special Mention For:
Poor old Alan Pardew. Not only is his possible successor here today in Steve Bruce, along with his nemesis in Hatem Ben Arfa, but it’ll be the first time he has met David Meyler since sticking the nut on him in March. Not that it was much of a headbutt of course, it was about as committed and effective as most of our team’s performances since then.
How Will They Do This Season:
I have a feeling Hull will struggle this season though it is just a gut feeling and not based on anything other than a case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’. Hull have a decent enough squad but at NUFC we know how detrimental an early season dumping out of Europe can be, especially after a historic end to the previous season and any early season impetus has already been lost on Humberside.
Their new signings can change that of course and if Steve Bruce stays as manager he may want to stop tinkering with his formations, the 3-4-1-2 he played at Villa was catastrophic. Bruce himself said: “we never laid a glove on Villa”, ironic really because Bruce himself is starting to look like Bagpuss after taking a fifteen round battering by Professor Yaffel.
(Photo – Steve Bruce and Arsene Wenger talking shop)
Hull’s attacking prowess should at least mean that an open game is on offer at SJP, especially because Steve Bruce knows that if they attack us they can score. The Tigers did that last season and won 3-2, Robbie Brady hammered us down the wings and their strikers looked lively in an entertaining if pointless game for the TOON.
After that defeat Alan Pardew said: “Third gear is not enough in this league against any side”.
After 4 league games this season he knows now that second gear, first gear and neutral won’t get you anything other than a point against Palace either. There can be no excuses of off-field protests for our misfiring players and management today. Our players need to pull together and put in a performance whether they are experienced or young, whether new or bedded in, whether playing or coming on as a substitute. For them this game is about three points on the pitch, nothing more.
As for what happens off the pitch, well they all need to get used to it or get out; Ashley, Pardew, Carver, the players, all of them.
This is Newcastle United. This is what it is like. For better or for worse there is no other place to be.
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