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Hull in danger of collapsing

last updated Tuesday 03rd March 2009, 9:27 AM

Hull Manager Phil Brown
Hull Manager Phil Brown

When Hull were a breath of fresh air to the Barclays Premier League, they were scoring goals and making friends and Geovanni was the best Brazilian in the Premier League, despite the millions paid out at Manchester City.

The free-transfer signing - ironically from City - was all the rage. Free-kicks, long-range goals and a personal Goal of the Month competition on Match of the Day.

Now Hull are collapsing as they rapidly head back in the direction of the Championship and their Brazilian talisman is now leading the way in a different competition . . . Top of the Strops.

Temper, temper: Geovanni snubs Phil Brown as he is replaced by Nick Barmby (above), then loses his temper in the dugout (below).

Substituted by Phil Brown during a 2-1 defeat at home to Blackburn Rovers on Sunday, Geovanni so upset his manager with his sideline tantrum that Brown wished aloud that his playmaker would 'fail a drugs test'.

Hull are in freefall and Brown admits it is 'the biggest test of his career'. And they travel to in-form Fulham tomorrow night in desperate need of points after a disastrous run which has reaped just one victory in 18 Premier League outings.

Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce, who guided Brown during his early coaching days at Blackpool and Bolton, warned that his former apprentice must tackle the fear factor currently gripping the crisis club.

Allardyce said: 'Winning becomes a habit and unfortunately losing becomes a habit, and fear can overtake you.

'Hull had no fear in the early part of the season and the goals were flooding in and results were coming, now it's not quite as easy for them. Once it comes and it goes, you can't keep making excuses.'

Brown, who bizarrely gave his players a very public half-time dressing down on the pitch at Manchester City in December, was warned by Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer that he was in danger of losing the dressing room.

'They will only have been talking about one thing on the bus,' said Shearer at the time. He was right.

Geovanni looked stunned when he was replaced by Nicky Barmby on Sunday, while the KC Stadium erupted in a chorus of boos and jeers over the decision, and the Brazilian refused to acknowledge his manager as he stomped to the dugout.

Marlon King, who scored five goals before Christmas, left after a bust-up with Brown after he was omitted from January's home match against Arsenal when the Gunners won 3-1. He is alleged to have sung 'I gotta get out of this place'. He will not be the only one singing the ditty if Hull are relegated.

Yet how different it all was just a few months ago. A thumping 3-0 win at West Bromwich in late October took Hull to third place, and although the pessimists in East Yorkshire were having none of it, some were getting carried away and even started to talk about European qualification. And that includes Brown and his chairman Paul Duffen.

The reality today is that Hull are just three points above the relegation zone. They cannot score and have forgotten how to defend.
Bad luck: The loss of new signing Jimmy Bullard through injury has been a big blow for Hull.

In fairness, the Hull manager has not been helped by a long-term knee injury to Jimmy Bullard and the £5million gamble to sign him at the start of the year - not to mention his massive wage - has backfired in spectacular fashion.

Signing the midfielder who kept Fulham up almost single-handedly last season did look like a shrewd piece of business. Now it seems like the kind of transfer deal which could ultimately kill a football club.

Indeed, injuries to other experienced campaigners like George Boateng, Barmby and Anthony Gardner have not helped at various stages in this campaign, either, and the loss of form of men like Geovanni and the failure of Manucho, signed on loan from Manchester United in January, has done nothing to improve a dire situation.

However, Brown is trying to stay upbeat despite the internal strife and his club's dismal change in fortunes since their brilliant early campaign. He said: 'There are 11 games to go, we are still in a positive predicament compared to when we lost six on the bounce.'

The romantics in Hull - and not least the man himself - would love to see striker Dean Windass return from his loan spell with Oldham and perform his Roy of the Rovers act once more.

He scored the play-off winner at Wembley which gave Hull their Premier League status, as well as the goal the previous year which kept Hull in the Championship.

But Windass, who says he would walk back to Hull to play his part for the club he loves, has been told his loan at Boundary Park will not be ended prematurely by Oldham chief executive Alan Hardy.

So like every desperate Hull supporter, the striker who is 40 next month will have to watch from afar and see if his efforts last season were all in vain.

Source Colin Young at Daily Mail
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