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Have Hull had their Phil?

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Robbo Robson | 12:21 UK time, Monday, 2 November 2009

I'll say one thing for Phil Brown - at least he's not walked already. (Keegan would be off with his ball tucked under his arm and a damp hanky dabbing his eyes.)

When the new chairman tells you you'll be in charge for the next game but refuses to go any further, you must know what's coming. That's not a vote of confidence, is it? It's a vote of indifference.

It's been a long while since that foil-wrapped chocolate orange of a manager has shown us his sunnier side. He arrived radiating all the vibrancy of a terrace packed with Dutch supporters but nowadays he looks more like a tangerine mouldering in a fruit-bowl.

Hard to believe that this time last year the Tigers were doing Grrrrr-eat!!! And Phil was waxing lyrical on Match of the Day 2 when he wasn't prowling the touchline with his groovy mouthpiece-thing like he was less a football manager and more an X-Factor choreographer.
Phil BrownPhil Brown does karaoke to celebrate Hull staying up last season
But it's been three triumphs in the last 10 months now. Good for the average married man, but a poor return for a Premier League football club. And a bit longer since he sat his players on the pitch at half-time and refused to hand out the orange segments and the squash.

I don't think you get the best out of a set of players by telling them off in front of 20,000 people. He couldn't have done much worse if he'd have armed them with pick-axes, chained them together and sent them into Hull city centre to dig up the roads.

To be fair to Brown, I felt really sorry for him at Turf Moor on Saturday. I'm not saying the ref was biased, far from it, but even the most partisan Burnley fan must admit that every decision went against Brown's men.
The penalty was not so much nailed-on as stuck to the wall with an old bit of chuddy. The push in the wall that denied Geovanni a goal was nowt. And the challenge that earned the same player a second yellow looked a lot worse than it was.

Mind you he wasn't alone in feeling a tad aggrieved this weekend. Must have summat to do with the postal strike but how come all the cards came at once on Saturday? The Premier League saw more red than the late Keith Floyd on all-day cooking spree.
Some of the red cards were correct - just about - but most of the dismissals were for the sort of thing men of my generation grew up doing. Degen, for example, was just going in for the late slide tackle. What's wrong with that?

The slidey was the absolute summit of defensive moves when I were growing up. Indeed, the longer the slidey, the greater the tackle. You'd wake up to find the rain had all but waterlogged the school pitch and you'd salivate at the prospect of a 15-yard full pelt slidey on the opposition's nippy little winger.

Don't even think of doing that nowadays. Chances are your studs'll be up and you'll look like you're trying to flay your opponent's shin-bone.

Both Degen and Geovanni's challenges resulted from some obvious frustration. There was a time when a ref would simply take a player to one side, let him sound off for a bit and then warn him of his future conduct. Nowadays the official books a lad for just getting a bit narked.

Bilyati... Biltiya... Billita... the Russian lad at Everton's challenge was a bit two-footed. Kenwynne Jones's push in the West Ham left-back's face got its inevitable reward, even if Ilunga reacted like he'd just been in a close clinch with Mike Tyson. The fact that Jones, not a small lad, towered over the prostrate Congolese like he was ready to crush him between his thumb and forefinger didn't help.

But a little push is nowt, really. It's the sort of 'handbags' nonsense that has rugby followers sneering at the effeminateness of the modern footballer. You hear pundits shaking their heads and saying 'Well, he raised his hands' but for Gawd's sake on that basis every goalscorer in the country should be off the pitch (which might mean extended runs in the first team for the likes of Heskey and Voronin, mind you).
Jamie Carragher about to be sent off by Lee Mason at FulhamThe moment Jamie Carragher knew he was heading for an early bath
Carragher was sent off for not being sent off earlier. Both he and Cuellar paid the price for making the fatal mistake of getting a toe-end to the ball. Kovacs was probably culpable. The ridiculously spelt Jlloyd Samuel ('Jlloyd' makes him sound like some eczema-inducing industrial adhesive) was a definite sending-off.

But on weekends like this it does feel a bit too bloomin' easy for the ref to spray his cards around like a maxed-out creditor rather than applying a bit of nous to the business of running a football match.

While Liverpool looked like the biggest losers this weekend - and let's face it once Torres was withdrawn, rightly, you knew the game was up for them - but I think Spurs fans will be licking their wounds most.

I tipped Spurs for a top four finish at the beginning of the season. If only football were played on paper, cos 'Arry's squad looks good on that. But Arsene's 11 must've cost way less than Redknapp's and they gave the White Hurt Lame side a right drubbing.
There's still hope for 'em but without the absent tiny gremlins Defoe, Modric and Lennon they're half the team.

And David Bentley, one 45-yarder notwithstanding, is slowly diminishing into a kind of Brylcreemed mannequin. If there are still people out there who think the lad Beckham is a lazy publicity-seeker you only have to look to Spurs's right flank for the truth:
Beckham - Hard Work = Bentley.

As for Phil Brown, the job centre beckons - so here's hoping that Tango launch a new promotional campaign soon.


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