There were signs at Old Trafford that City are adapting on a more consistent basis to dining at the Top Table in the Premier League as we more than held our own against Manchester United, and when Kamil Ghilas scrambled a shot past Van der Saar, from our vantage point it looked to have gone in. Unfortunately the ball rolled agonisingly the wrong side of the post. That would have meant parity with less than a quarter of the contest to go.
But such is life in this League. Wayne Rooney decided he’d had enough of watching the lumbering Owen and the selfish Berbatov holding his team back and responded with an imperious 12 minute hat trick to complement his first half strike to re iterate, in my mind at least, that he is the best Englishman to play the game since Paul Gascoigne.
It was never a four niller, as we had plenty of time to cogitate upon as this wretched winter caused us to take two hours to get out of Manchester.
Wolves at home. Must Win. Relegation Decider. All the old clichés were drawn upon by the Fourth Estate and this seemed to transmit itself onto the pitch. Not that we minded too much as a series of errors made for an exciting, end to end affair as defenders in particular treated the ball as if it were a hand grenade with the pin pulled out.
The nadir, mistakes wise, was reached by Anthony Gardner. The England capped centre half was put in Queer Street by the otherwise solid and reliable Stephen Hunt who inexplicably back heeled the ball back off the side line and straight to an opposing forward, Kevin Doyle.
Due the chronic lack of cover provided at right back by the lamentable Paul McShane, Gardner was forced to enter the six-yard box and Doyle’s speculative cross ended up in Myhill’s net as Gardner attempted to clear. It looked ugly but resulted from a lack of confidence in those around him.
I always look around the team in the wake of an o.g. to see who has the cohones to reassure the culprit. Up stepped Stephen Moyocolo. Fair play. He has come under heavy criticism (mea culpa) after a shaky start to his career in a Tiger’s shirt but he has worked hard and now looks to have sussed out the ruffty tuffty nature of English football and his goal last night capped a good week for the lad.
McShane’s lack of awareness caused Wolves second equaliser to materialise as he failed to close down the attacker who netted from the edge of the box.
If we were honest, no one was expecting what unfolded at Walton Street last night. Chelsea have the look of Champs this season so for us to secure a score draw was an incredible achievement.
We started brightly but I feared that long periods without the ball would kill us fitness wise and we could expect Chelsea to capitalise in the final quarter.
Not a bit of it.
Tom Cairney, 19 and a product of our youth system completely bossed Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack in the centre of the park.
He is calm, assured and uses the ball intelligently. If he can stay grounded and continue to play with the right attitude and work rate he will play for England (although he has represented Scotland at junior level). He reminds me of Liam Brady with his use of the ball, and of Manu Petit with his engine, work rate and ability to make the ball work for him by keeping it simple.
Brown and the Management Team need to nurture the boy. This is no hyperbole even by my standards. He has the potential to go all the way and we need to be the vehicle by which he achieves his goals in the game.
The idea of Bullard and Cairney working together with Ashbee as their enforcer is a tantalising prospect, and if they can unleash the mercurial Zaki on a regular basis then we may have just stumbled on something.
Altidore has been a brilliant, bullocking and all action Number Nine and just needs a goal to boost his confidence. He complements Zaki’s pace and ability to play off the shoulder of the last defender and I am hoping that the Egyptian is preferred in the starting eleven in front of the willing but lacking in stamina Venegor of HessleRoad.
Last night exemplified why we were always so desperate to play in the Premier League.
World-class players, a full and pumping stadium and City playing on a par with one of the best teams in Europe. Dreams can come true.
Hull City; Boaz Myhill, Andy Dawson, Anthony Gardner, Paul McShane (Kamil Zayatte, 90), Steven Mouyokolo, Craig Fagan, Stephen Hunt, George Boateng, Tom Cairney, Jozy Altidore (Kevin Kilbane, 86), Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (Amr Zaki, 66)