Obstructed View – Reflections on the Hull (H) Game

Great news everyone! If Ronald Koeman decides to chuck in his Everton towel, our new Manager was sitting two rows behind me yesterday in the UG. Chances are you won’t have heard OF him, but those around certainly HEARD him. Everything was wrong, from the team line up, to the way we played, to the lack of support for the striker, to the Board, everything. After a passage of play with Everton trying to unpick the Hull lock, he shouted “It’s all so negative”. The irony wasn’t lost on anyone around me. And then he left after 79 minutes. He certainly knew what needed to be done – everything. Dear God, what a waste of £39 mate

But the rather better news was that after an itchy-scratchy game, in which for large periods we flattered to deceive, we still ended up 4-0 winners and glided in to what I’m calling joint 5th. And we also had another young Blue goalscorer to applaud, as Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored his first senior goal for the Club, a cool finish of an excellent move from the back, with two incisive passes to complete the task from first Barkley, then Davies, and then the Park End net rippled with Dom’s goal.

Meanwhile, Romelu Lukaku got the applause of the majority of the faithful, as well all hope he’ll stay a while longer, but just to tease us about what we might be missing, he slotted two more goals to boost his ever-growing tally. His adoration of the Gwladys after each goal and at the end of the game, only served to underline how much he loves it at GP, but we all know that football is a fickle business and he may be on his way to a regular CL-starting Club unless he buys in to the ‘project’. I don’t want to dwell too much on the ‘will-he-won’t-he-stay’ saga, enough has been written by many before me, and many will write after as well, but if he goes, then hey ho, we’ll buy another, and just spend our days wondering what might have been had RomDom been a ‘thing’ for longer. Perhaps it never was a ‘thing’, and RomDom is akin to calling us The Ev, so let’s leave it there shall we……

Anyway, we want you to stay Romelu, as I know you’ll be reading this…..

What could we make of yesterday?

Once again, the 5th best defence in the League, if solely judged by goals conceded, contrived to make it look, based on appearance alone, the worst. Far too much space for Hull’s wide full backs, a comedy mix up between Williams and Joel that nearly resulted in another Ibrahimovic Moment, and insufficient closing down. Admittedly, defending set pieces, our Achille’s Heel of recent seasons, seems to be more secure at the moment, but we can’t afford to be giving opposition players so much time and space out wide because better teams than Hull (and we’ve got a few of those coming up when the season resumes) will ruthlessly exploit our frailties, as Spurs did earlier this month. But we can’t change the personnel now, and we probably won’t change the system too much either, but if there were any lingering doubts over whether wholesale changes in personnel at the back, especially in the central areas, those must surely have been expunged as Hull made our weaknesses all too clear. Maybe moving to a 3 will help, maybe one of those needs to be Holgate rather than Accident In Waiting Mori so that we have a bit of pace back there, but somehow we have to appreciate reality and do something about it; mainly in the summer. One candidate might be Hull’s Maguire, who despite looking more like that irritating 6th Former (year 12 or 13 for the younger audience), who was always good at whatever sport you played, and despite shaving was still only about 16, who actually handled Lukaku better than many have managed this season. His frailty appears to be pace, but he’s 24, has decent ball-playing skills whilst knowing when to lump it, and I could see him as a back-up. I don’t see Van Dyk joining us – another Rom in waiting – maybe Keane will be, well, keen, and maybe we can persuade one or two others with proven ability and not just potential. Given where we are as a Club, and where we want to get to, we have enough “potential” sitting in the U23s; what we need to buy in the summer is proven ability, otherwise we may be doomed to another season of hanging on the coat tails of European places, rather than being in the mix and competing for the title and the CL places that result.

A word for Valencia. Beautiful. Anyway, enough of my Spanish travels, what about the loanee of the same name. Most would say he’s no full time prospect, but his running between the lines of an admittedly static Hull defence, and the slipping of the ball for Lukaku’s first, shows he’s no bad option up front alongside the big man. Time will tell if he gets yanked back and kept by the Unhappy Hammers for next season, but if not, I’d think he’s worth a few quid to actually buy him. Depends on who he’s going to be playing alongside of course. Pleased he got another goal too from a sublime clip over the line from Rom.

So the international break means we can spend far too much time worrying about ‘The Contract’ and whether we can finally break a hoodoo with a win at Big Stand. It’ll be what it’ll be. For Rom to prove to potential suitors that he can do it against the best opposition and not just Hull or Bournemouth, he could do with slotting a few in front of the Kop on April 1st. He would then, corny, cliched and predictable of course, be no one’s Fool.

Ross Crombie

 

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