Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Tag: Hull City

Come Hull or high water

A frankly bizarre story yesterday, with Hull City, and their colourful (that colour predominantly being orange) manager Phil Brown, playing their part in some sort of Samaritian-esque fable.

Brown decided that he would take his players for a walk, as part of his efforts to turn around what has been a poor start to the season. I’ll let Phil himself take up the story:

“I have been up on the Humber Bridge many times. I walk over the Humber on many nights in the week. I was born on the river [Tyne] and I get strength from the river.

“We were looking for clarity up there. Did we find it? Absolutely. When you are jogging you cannot speak, when you are walking you can.”

But clarity was not all they found.

“We walked across the Humber Bridge on Wednesday and saved a girl actually.

“She was considering her future, shall we say, but you never know whether somebody is just standing there until they jump. But there was no need to be up there unless you were a football team looking for inspiration. Maybe she must have seen us and thought ‘at least it’s not that bad’. Well for me in particular – not the players.

“She was claiming she was 40-plus, but she looked a lot younger I tell you. Nobody said she was going to jump. She was contemplating her future, but so was I. In the end she tootled off back to wherever she had come from. I’d sweet-talked her out of it.”

Brown then completed his fable with a lesson. I can’t tell if he is mad, some sort of benevolent genius or a modern-day Confucius.

“The bridge was built with modern-day engineering so that when an ill-wind blows, it gets stronger. The weight bears down harder and it becomes a sturdier structure.”

I have something of a soft spot for Hull and hope they stay up, and hope that Phil Brown sticks around. He certainly makes the Premier League a more interesting place, and it’s good to see that eccentricity can still survive in sport. And after this week’s events, he’s a bit of a hero, really.

Fernando Torres and the stolen moment

Ha. I realise that the title sounds a little like some sort of twisted Mills & Boon novel. But then, this is something of a love letter to ‘El Nino’. His performance on Saturday, scoring a hat-trick against the hapless Hull, was a thing of beauty. While he can score scrappy goals, that wasn’t his method on this occasion. Each goal was taken with phenomenal grace, poise and thought.

And that’s what makes Torres such a fascinating player to watch. He is not purely instinctive. He doesn’t such prod at the ball, or find himself in the right place at the right time. On Saturday, each time he got the ball before scoring he still had plenty of work to do. And each time, he seemed to have just that little bit more time than anyone else on the pitch.

Like all truly great players, he seems able to ‘steal’ a moment in order to make the right decision. With a single touch, shimmy or pause he puts himself in control. Slow-motion replays show him at his best. He has that ‘stolen moment’, that split-second pause, where he can process all the information before him and plot his course. And then with absolute calm, execute it. No panic, no unnecessary rush.

The perfect moment to illustrate this was when Torres rounded the Hull ‘keeper Myhill. A lesser player would have snatched at the chance. Torres’ thought and skill made the likely outcome, of a goal, a certainty.

The confidence and presence of mind it takes to do this is almost unfathomable, and as Hull found out to their cost, almost impossible to defend against.

What I’m looking forward to in the Premier League this season

The hype and the expectation will soon be over – the Premier League kicks off tomorrow. Here we go again, then. As a Liverpool supporter I have already braced myself for another season of dissapointment, essentially playing a trick on myself to save heartache further into the season, and to make any sort of success a nice surprise.

So, beyond wall-to-wall football, what am I actually looking forward to?

Well, I think we could be looking at an even closer title battle. Last season showed just how narrow the margins of error are. Liverpool lost only two games, but didn’t win the title. It wasn’t the ‘big four’ games that decided the title, it was winning week-in, week-out against the smaller teams. So, essentially, every game matters from day one. This could be the most competitive title race yet.

How Manchester City progress should be fascinating. I’m not convinced they will gel right away, but Mark Hughes has done a good job of bringing in some proven Premier League would should settle soon enough, so they do seem the great unknown quantity.

The relegation fight could be fiercer than ever too. Hull and Stoke showed last year that you just can’t write off any team coming up. And Newcastle showed anyone can do down. And this year there are so many clubs who conceivably could get relegated. Taking a quick look at the Paddy Power site, seven teams are 4-1 or worse (down to odds-on) for the drop. There are probably ten or eleven clubs who will be looking at getting the mythical forty-points-for-safety before worrying about getting into Europe or anything fancy like that.

Finally, World Cup year. Everyone is going to be out to impress.

So, I’m strangely optimistic about this season. Hopefully no one team will run away with it, and no team will stay rooted to the bottom, and things will stay interesting. How do you think this season will pan out?

It’s started already? The new football season begins

It’s hard to believe that the new football season has already begun. With post-season internationals and pre-season friendlies it doesn’t feel like there’s been any real break from last season, even without an international tournament this year.

Plus, these are the ‘phoney war’ weeks, with transfers still taking place, teams still being tweaked and the real competitive end of the season still a long, long way off. With sunny skies and the cricket still in flow, there is a certain unreality about August fixtures. There needs to be at least a few games before we see just what the stories of the season might be, such as Hull’s amazing run early last season, that essentially kept them up.

Not that the Premier League has begun of course, but that’s not to say there wasn’t interesting events elsewhere.

I suppose the result of the weekend has to be Colchester’s 7-1 thrashing of Norwich at Carrow Road. Such a heavy home defeat for a newly regulated side, and supposed ‘big club’ of League One was quite the shock. How do you pick yourself up after such a dreadful result, one that saw Norwich fans leave before half-time, with a couple of them throwing their season tickets at manager Bryan Gunn (a little premature, chaps?). Also, how will Colchester build on this, and how annoyed are they that the focus has been on Norwich’s collapse, rather than Colchester’s performance? Probably not that annoyed, but still…

Also, the Sven Show began in style for Notts County with a 5-0 win. How long do we think that will last?

And finally, to put things in perspective, another football death. Espanyol’s captain, Daniel Jarque, died of a heart attack on Saturday, aged 26. A truly shocking and tragic death, but this sort of thing seems to be becoming more and more common. I wonder what research (or at least thought) is going into the possible reasons for this increase in young players dying, and what preventative measures can be put in place.