Posts Tagged tom cairney

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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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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Hull City 2 Manchester City 1

It’s now indisputable: the present Hull City are a totally different proposition to the team that couldn’t beg, borrow or steal a win for such a long stretch at the back end of last season. More steely at the back, even without Michael Turner; a midfield that has some ball-playing craft as well as graft; and two strikers up front that even top teams struggle to keep a lid on.

It’s important not to overstate our mini-revival, or jinx it, as this was our first win for months, we’re winless away from The Circle and we’re just a few points above the drop zone. But there is a real feeling we’ve turned a corner, particularly as a very tricky set of games are behind us and Phil Brown is wisely sticking with a formation and a line-up that seems to be working well, rather than just working hard.

And just as we fully deserved to take a point off moneybags Chelsea on Tuesday, no one connected to even more megabucks Manchester City could argue they were unlucky to go home pointless today.

From the off, the Tigers were more aggressive and dictated the pace of the game. At times Citeh’s centre-back pairing just could not handle Jozy Altidore, who is becoming ever sharper now he’s a settled part of the team rather than a bit-part player, and both of them picked up bookings for hauling our American boy down on the edge of the box.

He looked emotional as he celebrated his first Premier League goal in the first half – slotting home from the edge of the penalty area after being teed up by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink – and the relief of finally getting off the mark should lead to a few more goals before the season ends.

Teenage sensation Tom Cairney impressed once more with his awareness and composure on the ball. Suddenly we don’t seem quite so desperate for Jimmy Bullard’s return to the midfield, as hugely important as that will be, though it may be ambitious to expect too much of Cairney yet.

At the other end of the age scale, two old warhorses proved they still have the legs for three games in seven days, with Vennegoor of Hesselink dominating the aerial battle and George Boateng the best player on the park even if you ignore his winning goal, lashed home from outside the box. ‘Feed the Boat and he will score’.

What of the other City on display? Well, they finally took the upper hand for a 15-minute spell after their goal, Emmanuel Adebayor bundling in during a goalmouth scramble, and spurned a couple of good openings as the ball was lumped towards our goal in the dying stages. But for the most part their players put in the type of moody, lethargic shrug of a performance you’d more readily associate with Dmitar Berbatov at their cross-city rivals.

Just as the officials didn’t spot Rio Ferdinand’s elbow to Craig Fagan’s face off the ball against Manchester United, today they missed Stephen Ireland slapping the same player in the face which could have warranted a straight red. There may be some retrospective disciplinary action, as in the Ferdinand case, but having Ireland banned when Man City play our relegation rivals won’t help us in any way. Though judging on his performance today, his replacement couldn’t possibly be any worse.

You can buy the most expensive players in the world, you can fire managers, but you can’t shake the feeling that Manchester City are still years away from being a team to challenge for trophies.

As for Hull City, things seem to be clicking nicely thank you very much.

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Hull City 1 Chelsea 1

If our Premier League stay is to end in three months’ time, then I’m especially thankful for this night.

For while those of us who trek to away games have seen a triumph at Arsenal and draws at Chelsea and Liverpool, this was the first time our home crowd had seen us take a point off a Big Four side.

It was something joyous for 23,000, not just 3,000, City fans to share in, unmatched since our Premier League bow against Fulham 18 months ago.

OK, we didn’t pouch a much-needed three points to haul ourselves out of the bottom three, but at times we threatened to rip the guts out of the Premier League leaders.

It was all led by the dogged, strong and pacy Jozy Altidore and intelligently conducted by not-Wolves-bound Stephen Hunt with assured, ball-hungry youngster Tom Cairney in the midfield playmaker role.

Of course, there were several other spells when Chelsea splayed the ball round at a cracking lick and we looked vulnerable to a sucker punch goal.

But we never stopped closing the Cockneys down or putting bodies in the way, from George Boateng blocking and mopping up in midfield, through the unflustered back four, to on-form Boaz Myhill palming out several cracking goal-bound efforts.

Cheating Chelsea captain john Terry received a predictable jeer every time he touched the ball and sparked some rousing choruses from the East Stand to boot.

All fantastic, bawdy fun but needless to say it did not affect the loverat’s concentration as he continued to play it simple and assured. Even so, Altidore had a dynamite 20-minute spell where he had the full measure of his upcoming World Cup opponent and Terry received a booking for hauling him down.

Our goal came as Hunt delivered an inch-perfect dead ball from a corner following several disappointing efforts earlier in the game. His teasing delivery was met by Stephen Mouyokolo, who’d ducked away from his marker around ten yards out, and a firm header on target gave Petr Cech little chance.

Chelsea’s reply came in confusing style, with referee Mark Clattenberg awarding them a free-kick for an unknown infringement on the edge of the box when the action had already switched to a tangle of bodies well inside our penalty area.

Relief that we’d not conceded a spot-kick was short-lived, however, as Didier Drogba’s free-kick was effortlessly slotted it into the bottom corner through a crumbling wall.
City’s players appealed that a) it was supposed to be indirect but went straight in and b) the ref had not whistled for Drog to take it.

Whether there was truth in either of those protests I’m not sure, but had the nearest two players in the wall not jumped out of the ball’s way the shot would have bounced harmlessly out.

Outside of the goals, there were gilt-edged chances at either end. Antony Gardner squirmed free from a floated Cairney free-kick but from his location inside the six-yard box could not direct his header on target.

Then late on, Chelsea sub Daniel Sturridge latched onto a flick and stroked a shot towards the bottom corner before it was somehow batted out by Myhill.

That shot sneaking in would have been par for the course in our clashes with the Big Four, usually typified by a cruel twist of luck at the end of a spirited performance.

Fortunately, this night proved to be exceptional in every sense of the word.

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Hull City 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 2

January 31, 2009: Hull City face West Bromwich Albion at The Circle in a relegation six-pointer, taking the lead deservedly twice only to be pegged back twice due to terrible defending.

January 30, 2010: Hull City face Wolverhampton Wanderers at The Circle in a relegation six-pointer, taking the lead deservedly twice only to be pegged back twice due to terrible defending.

So nothng’s changed over these 364 years? Not exactly. The personnel was different: only two City players started both games, Dawson and Mendy. Wolves were undoubtedly more of an attacking threat than West Brom. And we were beset by problems which meant a draw in this instance wasn’t actually that bad.

With Kamel Zayatte ruled out with ankle problems, Amr Zaki not fully fit and Craig Fagan being injured in the warm-up, Phil Brown had to change both his defence and attack from the ones he’d have intended to field. Furthermore, Tom Cairney was making his debut, Stephen Hunt was trying too hard to show his loyalties lie firmly with his employers and not his suitors Wolves and Seyi Olofinjana was sat on a bench in Nigeria, watching the Africa Cup of Nations.

Despite the problems, I thought we put in a performance that just about deserved three points. It was refreshing to see not one but two strikers on the pitch, Jozy Altidore and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, the former creating both goals and creating a one-on-one for himself which hit the keeper’s legs, while the latter superbly opened the scoring from the edge of the box and looked dangerous in the air all game.

The problem with having 2 up front, and 2 wingers as well, is it places a huge burden on the 2 central midfielders to deal with the packed opposition midfield. George Boateng battled admirably but as an attacking midfielder making his Premier League bow Cairney understandably looked a little lost when balls needed to be cleared or tackles made.

And as the game wore on Wolves increasingly won the midfield battle and managed to push several of them forward to join their lone striker in attacks. Both goals conceded came from positions where we could easily have cleared two or three occasions, but from the midfielders just as much as the defence.

An option for Brown when we’d taken the lead again could have been to shore up the midfield and go 4-5-1, perhaps with someone like the hard-working Richard Garcia joining Cairney and Boateng in the middle, but I’m pleased he didn’t. He chose to stick with an attacking set-up, presumably reasoning a third goal would kill them off, and I’m not going to criticise him for that having seen so many ultra-defensive tactics from him.

This game wasn’t a must-win. It was a must-not-lose, and we keep just one point behind Wolves, the team we’re most likely to be able to overtake. Keep in touching distance with them for the next two games, against Chelsea and Manchester City, and with the return of Jimmy Bullard and the full fitness of Zaki we’ll be in with a strong chance.

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Wigan Athletic 4 Hull City 1

Hull City slipped out of the FA Cup with a disastrous second-half performance at the four-fifths empty DW Stadium, turning round a 1-0 half-time leading into a 4-1 thumping.

Phil Brown made his intentions to avoid a replay obvious with his team selection, packing the midfield with players with attacking intent and barely a thought for tackling back.

So we were either to blow them out of the water with an attacking blitz or would be overpowered in the middle. For a while it looked like the former but once Charles N’Zogbia entered the fray and tore Zinedine Kilbane apart, it was the latter.

The feeble attendance was widely derided in the newspapers, but in Hull City fans’ defence the weather going across the Pennines was scarily bad, yet a reported 1500 away fans turned up to watch a bunch of fringe players and out-and-out reserves. It was the Wigan public who failed to show – but let’s be honest, watching Hull City reserves is hardly a crowd-puller anywhere, let alone in a small town like Wigan with loyalties split between rugby and football.

DW Stadium

The view from the Hull City end of a virtually empty DW Stadium

Thought: It’s high time that the draw for the FA Cup third round was changed. So many clubs draw a side in the same division as them, and who wants to keep playing the same side over and over? We’re not Scotland. The ‘magic of the FA Cup’ isn’t in Premier League team V Premier League team; it’s seeing a big team going to a tatty ground in a small town to play on a sloping, greasy surface against players who put in the best performance of their lives.

And for fans, it’s a welcome chance for some variety, the thrill of the unexpected, visiting somewhere new. In the first and third rounds only, the FA should have two pots – highest placed teams in pot A, lowest in pot B. A team from pot B – which in round 3 would be a lower-league or non-league side – would always be pitted at home against a bigger team. For all other rounds, it’s the normal open draw.

Back to the match. Songs-wise, the fact that there were few if any of the usual daytrippers among the City contingent meant it was a good atmosphere, with plenty of airings of odes to former heroes. It’s been suggested that cup games from now on are deemed ‘retro song days’, though with our cup record that amounts to two games a season.

Of the players, young Tom Cairney impressed again – almost as much as Peter Halmosi stank. Apparently, the stench of Halmosi was so bad, grounds staff had to spray Febreze wherever he’d been on the pitch. That amounted to a four-metre square out wide because the odious man doesn’t do running or tackling back for a measly £20k a week.

The day Halmosi – or as I prefer to call him, Ryan Williams with hair gel – exits our club, we’ll be dancing on the streets of East Yorkshire.

Watch highlights of the match here.

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