Posts Tagged wigan athletic

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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Write off Amir Zaki at your peril

Hull City’s loan deal for supposed ‘bad boy’ Amr Zaki (or should that be Zaky, as his official website calls him?) has certainly ruffled some pundits and opposition fans.

Here’s an example of the mainstream opinion, courtesy of Lou Macari’s column in the Stoke Sentinel newspaper: “Amr Zaki, who disgraced himself by going AWOL at Wigan last season, reckons he can persuade some mug to take him back into the Premier League for another extortionate pay day. And he reckoned right, thanks to Hull City.”

Or how about this foaming-mouthed contribution from blogger Jason Mellor on Fanhouse: “Desperate times call for desperate measures, but surely Hull City aren’t that desperate?… Self-centred players such as Zaki bring absolutely nothing to the table…”

Blimey, that’s some spleen being vented there. So what exactly has evil Amr done to provoke such a reaction? Well, he was late returning to Wigan Athletic from international duty with Egypt. Four times. And… er, that’s it.

Let me first be clear. To be tardy in coming back from international duty is bad form once, and pretty inexcusable four times. However, Zaki is hardly alone in doing so – off the top of my head I can think of Madjid Bougherra (twice) and Roque Santa Cruz, while no doubt a Google search would offer up dozens more names. Robinho even sneaked out of a training camp to celebrate his birthday in Brazil. You could say it’s a common concern for managers in signing foreign players.

So which pundits and bloggers are forming a torch-wielding vigilante mob to drive ‘disgraces’ like Santa Cruz and Robinho out of Britain? None. So how many times is it acceptable to them to go AWOL after international duty?

Anyway, Zaki is out of the international picture at the moment, so he won’t have the chance to accidentally-on-purpose miss his flight and stay at home with friends and family for a few more days. Even if he is called up, Egypt only have one international lined up during his Hull City loan spell, and that’s against England at Wembley. So there’s no reason for him to fly back to Egypt for a game at all and no reason to stay on too long afterwards.

Importantly, the Zaki of early 2010 is a fundamentally different character to the one of 12 months ago. Then he was topping the Premier League scoring charts with 11 goals before the turn of the year, officially ranked by Fifa as the world’s best striker with 29 goals in 48 internationals, and being linked with eight-figure transfers to the most glamorous clubs. It’s not too difficult to imagine how that would inflate someone’s ego and make them think they can get away with bending club rules.

Now he returns a chastened character, written off by all and sundry and with a last chance to prove himself in the Premier League. Mess it up and he’ll almost certainly be one of those misfit players that bums around countries like Qatar, China and Kazakhstan, maintaining his big salary but with no challenge or profile.

I don’t think he wants to see the last decade of his career to dribble away like that. I believe he’s determined to show he’s got the goals still in him, and in so doing to fire Hull City to safety. He’s started well, talking a good game in the Hull Daily Mail (‘There have been many things written about me in the past. I want to prove that I am a good player but also a good man’) and moving his family to Anlaby within days of signing. Many players would see out a five-month deal staying in a hotel.

Finally, a word about Zaki’s biggest critic – his former Wigan manager Steve Bruce. From declaring he’d made a massive mistake in only signing him on loan instead of permanently, Brucey changed his tune and declared him ‘the most unprofessional player he’d ever worked with’.

Wasn’t that a bit OTT when at the very same time Bruce had a certain Marlon King on his roster? Surely missing a few flights can’t possibly be viewed by anyone as more unprofessional than being jailed for sexual assault?

I’ve just typed 700 words justifying why Zaki will be a masterstroke signing for City, but I should have just posted this link to a video showing his 10 league goals for Wigan. Poaches, penalties, scissor kicks, half volleys – this guy knows how to score.

Amr Zaky 10 Goals with Wigan Athletic from Amr Zaky on Vimeo.

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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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