Pearson declares war on Hull City midfielder’s agent

I’ve not bought a matchday programme for years, but for some reason did for the Arsenal game and found an eye-popping column from Hull City chairman Adam Pearson in it.

In an extraordinary slating, Pearson hit out at the ‘unlicensed advisor’ representing rising star Tom Cairney, saying that he ‘only has his own interests at heart.’

Youth team graduate Cairney only made his league debut at home to Wolves on January 30, but quickly became an integral part of the side, bagging his first league goal in the 5-1 thumping at Everton.

However, he was left out of the 18-man City squad which suffered the heart-breaking injury-time defeat to Arsenal, apparently as a result of this contract dispute.

In the column, Pearson wrote: “The club… will not be held to ransom by agents who do not have the best interests of the club at heart.

“Young Tom Cairney’s advisor is unlicensed and therefore the club is unable to deal with him which makes things difficult to conclude.

“An unlicensed agent makes negotiations very difficult as the club is not permitted to talk directly to them.

“An intermediary can be appointed such as an FA licensed solicitor but this just adds to the confusion with another unnecessary party who doesn’t know the player getting involved.

“The intermediary in this case is a non-FA registered solicitor who just acts a front for the unlicensed advisor.

“It could therefore be difficult to reach a satisfactory conclusion to Tom’s contract extension at this particular time which is a shame as Tom has done well in recent weeks and deserves a new deal.

“Unlicensed agents and advisors really are the scourge of the modern game! Why they just don’t allow themselves to be licensed and regulated is beyond me, although I suppose the answer is pretty obvious in that they only have their own interests at heart, much to the detriment of the club, player and the game in general.”

It’s rumoured that Cairney’s agent is demanding £15,000 to £20,000 a week, while Pearson wants an incentivised deal which increases the more he plays.

Whatever happens as Cairney enters the last year of his City deal, Pearson’s clear hostility to this agent is going to make the already difficult negotiations even more tricky.

Pearson hasn’t done much wrong since he returned to City but this column – presumably intended to force Cairney to choose another advisor – seems like a gamble that could backfire.

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Hull City 1 Arsenal 2

Message to Arsenal by Hull City supporters

Note to Arsenal - no diving, no stamping, no spitting and no hoodies.

Ouch. Even writing the scoreline is like a dagger through the heart. This was not an unexpected defeat but it was a cruel one nevertheless. It leaves City essentially four points adrift from safety but hopefully with a welcome injection of confidence that has ebbed away after successive spankings at West Ham and Everton.

City reverted to the 4-4-2 system which has served them well in home games, but early on looked stretched in the middle with Craig Fagan and Dean Marney on the wings rarely getting involved in play. In fact we looked overwhelmed in midfield and unable to close them down quickly enough, leaving Andrei Arshavin loose to fire the Gooners into an early lead.

It was looking like a real hiding was in the offing, but against the grain Marney looped a superb ball over the Gooners’ defence for Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. He had the simplest of chances six yards out but Sol Campbell dragged him to the floor before he could shoot. Referee Andre Marinner couldn’t avoid awarding a penalty but unfathomably bottled sending off the former Notts County player.

Jimmy Bullard tucked the spot kick into the top corner to make it 1-1 and the equaliser instilled belief in the players and the fans that we could take a point or three from this game. That optimism remained right until the referee located his red card and sent off George Boateng – rightly so by all accounts – and we were down to 10 men from the 44th minute to the 100th.

Early in the half, another City disaster as Kamil Zayatte was worryingly stretchered off, adding to our selection problems at centre-back, though Liam Cooper is fit again to stop us needing to recall Ibrahima Sonko or playing Zinedine Kilbane out of position (though what his proper position is, I haven’t a clue).

A combination of comedic Arsenal shooting and stout City defending prevented the visitors from even having a second half shot on target until the 89th minute, though several ballooned 80 yards over the bar. One from Arshavin is believed to still be in orbit.

There followed the board going up to indicate six minutes of injury time, two minutes into which a desperate long-range Arsenal effort was feebly patted down by Boaz Myhil and their striker made no mistake from the open goal.

Added to the own goal winner he scored for Blackburn Rovers , the very saveable two goals that went past him against Bolton, and the bad mistake which led to Everton’s crucial third goal last week, it’s not been an impressive few months for Bo since he salvaged a point at Spurs with a heroic performance.

On the way home, I heard various Arsenal fans label City a dirty side and part of the conspiracy that’s out to injure all their players. But aside from Boateng’s recklessness, I didn’t see any evidence of that – in fact the horrible challenge that saw Zayatte leave on a stretcher was the only one that had me wincing. Remember that, in the league table of the Premier League teams who are fouled the most, Arsenal are apparently only second – it’s Hull City who are on the receiving end more than anyone.

Listening to the radio, Arsene Wenger had amazingly actually seen the penalty incident and gave a fair and honest assessment of his initial reaction and then how this had changed upon watching replays.

Shame the travelling Arsenal fans – who took a collective vow of silence from the moment our equaliser went in until their last-gasp winner – couldn’t show as much class as their manager, as they cheered and waved goodbye to Zayatte as he was carried off.

City fans, who earlier had warmly applauded a Gooner song about Aaron Ramsey, retaliated to their heartlessness with a rendition of ‘There’s only one Ryan Shawcross’, the Stoke hothead who crocked Ramsey.

It’s clear Arsenal fans want it both ways – they’re disgusted at anyone fouling one of their players, but when it happens to a player for another team they revel in it.

For City, taking anything from this game was always a longshot. The real action now switches to Portsmouth next Saturday. Be there if you can.

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Reasons to be cheerful – and fearful

Consecutive debacles at West Ham and Everton no doubt led every City fan to ponder whether we’re going to stay up this season. I believe we will, or at least we should.

Let’s compare the attacking options we have compared to those from 12 months ago. Now we have Jozy Altidore, Amr Zaki, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Kamel Ghilas. Last time round we had Daniel Cousin and Manucho. For both seasons Geovanni, Nicky Barmby, Craig Fagan and Caleb Folan remain the same.

Now who is more likely to bang in enough goals to keep us up – a combination of Altidore, Zaki, Vennegoor of Hesselink, Ghilas, Geovanni, Barmby, Fagan and Folan, or Cousin, Manucho, Geovanni, Barmby, Fagan and Folan?

In midfield, we’ve put Stephen Hunt, Tom Cairney and Seyi Olofinjana into the mix, Jimmy Bullard looks set to play a greater role than last season, and lost only Ian Ashbee through injury. So we’re clearly a stronger proposition in the centre of the park too.

At the back, the loss of Michael Turner and to a lesser extent Sam Ricketts undoubtedly weakened us. However, Paul McShane and Stephen Mouyokolo have by no means been disastrous additions, while Kamil Zayatte has improved and we teased more of a contribution from Antony Gardner this season than last. Meanwhile our goalkeeping options of Boaz Myhill and Matt Duke remain constant.

Overall, who could deny we have a stronger squad than last season? And with many more players who have survived the intense pressure of scrapping for our lives than our main two challengers, Wolves and Burnley, too.

We may not be great, but we have more than enough quality in the squad to stay up. If we’re relegated, it will largely be down to our manager not prising enough out of a superior squad than he did last time, and being outsmarted by Mick McCarthy, Brian Laws and Avram Grant.

In other words, success or failure is down to how well Phil Brown fares over the next 10 games. Yikes.

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Everton 5 Hull City 1

Football people tend to overexaggerate the importance of one or two results. Arsenal lose a game and the pundits pronounce they have no chance of winning the title. A couple of weeks and wins later, they’re backtracking.

Or take Manchester City, where Roberto Mancini goes from genius to gormless and back again every few games. And just think of how ‘must-win’ home games Hull City didn’t win last season yet we still stayed up.

Every team has performances which convinces their fans into believing they’re world beaters. And every team has those shockers which have the same supporters questioning the manager, the chairman, half the team and the bloke who served you at the refreshments counter.

The Everton away game was one of those absolute stinkers, devoid of virtually any positives, save for Tom Cairney’s first league goal and Jimmy Bullard’s reintroduction to the side, as ineffective as he (and the rest of the team) was.

Returning home from Goodison after this mauling on Sunday, I couldn’t feel much lower. Now the dust has settled I’m trying to put this result in perspective, for it’s only a few short weeks since we turned over Manchester City and deservedly drew with Chelsea.

The boring truth is we have our bad and good days – the difference between safety and relegation roughly boils down to having one more good day in 38 than three other teams in the league.

Picking over the corpse of this game is still too painful, so I’m going to end this blog post there and look ahead instead to the final ten fixtures of the season. Four good days will probably be enough to keep us in the top flight for another year, no matter how dire we are in the other six matches.

A positive result against Arsenal will be a massive boost, but a poor one doesn’t mean we’re finished.

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Finding Hull City stuff in the unlikeliest of places

Due to the lack of Hull City action, I made the most of the football-free weekend and took a relaxing trip to the Lake District.

Actually, it wasn’t totally lacking football as my debut visit to Ambleside took me to the Homes of Football gallery, which displays and sells stunning photographs taken by Stuart Roy Clarke.

Even if you have not heard of him or the gallery, chances are you’ve seen some of his Hull City photos, such as the supporters’ club hut at Boothferry Park.

Stuart Roy Clarke's Boothferry Park hut photo

Prints of about a dozen of Clarke’s Hull City photos are available at about £50 each, although each one is limited to 50 copies some others have sold out. You can order the prints online, but I would thoroughly recommend a visit to browse their bricks-and-mortar shop if you’re ever in the Lake District.

in the downstairs gallery, I enjoyed reminiscing about the terraces and eccentric scenes from football before it was all-seater and sanitised – compare the beautifully atmospheric photos of the old grass bank behind the goal at Springfield Park, Wigan, for instance, with their new DW Stadium and weep.

I also stumbled upon two great discoveries. Firstly, there’s this six-foot papier mache Hull City figure, carrying a club holdall.

Hull City papier mache figure

I suspect it’s meant to be a coach or manager, but as it’s crudely fashioned I’m not sure who it is. Even so, it’s done in a charming way, and to be confronted with a Hull City statue made out of paper mache on the other side of the country is a great surprise.

Secondly, their shop sells individually hand-painted Subbuteo figures made in the likeness of famous footballers. Stocks were low, but among the ten or so items still left on the shelf were these little fellas – one-inch high versions of Jimmy Bullard and Geovanni, complete with proper hair and skin tones, the right kit and the name and number on the back.

Jimmy Bullard and Geovanni Subbuteo figures

They’re not bad likenesses, in my opinion, though Bullard would look more accurate with longer hair and a knee brace. That, I suspect, would involve more than paint.

Making further enquiries online, it seems there’s a company, Shoot First, which specialises in painting and selling these Subbuteo players. And as well as famous stars, you can buy personalised figurines made depicting any other players – or even yourself. All for less than a tenner.

Big hint for any non-football fans who happen to be reading this – getting your loved one immortalised as a Subbuteo figurine would be a flicking great present.

NOTE: I’m not gaining financially from this post, I just like the stuff I’ve written about.

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Hull City Reserves 3 Wigan Athletic Reserves 0

I didn’t go to this match, but hundreds of City fans did to see Jimmy Bullard’s goalscoring return to action in the reserves match at North Ferriby.

And fortunately one of them, DaveHullCityFan, filmed Bullard’s control, flick and volley into the corner of the Latics keeper’s goal.

It’s recorded nearly 70,000 views so far, while my similarly shaky video of Amr Zaki’s reserve team goal a few weeks back notched up similar traffic.

With the rise of good quality videos on mobile phones, hopefully we’ll get to see more of these. So if you’re going to a reserve or junior game, keep your camera handy as you never know if you’ll catch something interesting.

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West Ham United 3 Hull City 0

A thoroughly miserable afternoon where I can only think of one bright spot – out-of-his-depth winger Craig Fagan has hopefully made his last appearance for Hull City.

Let’s rattle through this game quickly as no one wants to dwell on it. The first 15 minutes saw City in a woeful mess with barely anyone managing to put a foot right.

This included the move which saw a terrible throw by Boaz Myhill eclipsed by a much worse ball by Andy Dawson to Tom Cairney, who was dispossessed and within seconds the ball was in the net in front of the City travelling support. Three minutes in and we’d already managed to shoot ourselves in the foot.

However, despite their early domination West Ham failed to score a second, thwarted by some wayward shooting and a superb Myhill parry on the goal-line, and City gradually settled into the game, finishing the half the better side. City went closest when a neat interception and sidestep from George Boateng on the edge of the box saw him lash a left-foot shot that their keeper did well to stop.

The second half began with City looking in control, keeping possession for long periods and stroking the ball round. And just as an equaliser looked likely, Fagan, already on a yellow card, lost out in a tussle and decided to drag his opponent to the ground. The action happened on the touchline near the half-way line so there was no imminent danger – Fagan just lost his cool and deserved his second caution.

And, with 10 v 11, the game passed firmly back into West Ham’s control. The points were sealed when a fabulous slide pass from midfield evaded Antony Gardner and was slotted home by Carlton Cole.

By the time of their late third goal, three substitutes had been made, Gardner had been stretchered off with a worrying leg injury putting us down to nine men.

So, any positives? Once he’d tried two dives which failed to kid the referee, full debutant Amr Zaki started to look lively and a goal threat. He wasn’t as effective as Jozy Altidore, however, who replaced him in the second half. George Boateng and Stephen Muoyokolo can be content with solid performances.

Several other players – Stephen Hunt, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Gardner immediately pop into my mind – were well off their best. Meanwhile Fagan, Dawson and Paul McShane did nothing to appease those detractors who think they’re not good enough for the Premier League.

Though our home form is good and the league is tight, realistically we won’t stay up this season if we don’t pick up some points away from home. We now have 15 days to plan a first away win in a year at Everton. Not having to carry a passenger in Fagan will do us no harm at all on this score.

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