So we can now add the name ‘Hull City’ to that of Stoke and Wolves, in our list of home fixtures when we somehow conspired to drop points, when victory seemed the easier option.
I just could not foresee Hull being able to do this to us. Whilst it is obvious that we struggle to break down teams that come to White Hart Lane with little or no intention of attacking, Hull didn’t seem to have the credentials to come and get a result.
This was only Hull’s fourth clean sheet of the season, with the others achieved against the likes of Blackburn, Portsmouth and Bolton. What’s more, this was Hull’s first clean sheet away from home.
It’s easy to shrug your shoulders and just say that Myhill had an inspired game and we could have easily won 5-0 on another day. It’s true that he had a brilliant match, but with better finishing, one of those chances should have gone in.
Having watched several replays of the saves, you realise that most of the stops Myhill made were from shots aimed very near to him. On some occasions (such as Keane’s first shot from a rebound) this was due to brilliant positioning on the part of Myhill. Other missed opportunities were due to poor finishing.
When put through in the first half from a great ball my Modric, Defoe should have hit the ball with his left foot but opted instead to stab it with his right. Keane should have reacted with more intent with his second chance from a rebound and if Crouch had managed to put more direction on his last minute header, then even Myhill would have struggled to save it.
It wasn’t all down to poor finishing. Without Lennon we were reliant on Huddlestone, Kranjcar and Modric to pull the strings and lacked pace in midfield. Modric was the best of the bunch, but Huddlestone couldn’t pass through the defensive masses and Kranjcar had a poor game in which he almost gave away a goal, after a sloppy pass gave Hull an opportunity.
Only Bale provided pace on the flanks. With Kranjcar and Modric both inclined to drift infield, we needed penetration and overlapping runs from our full-backs. Corluka was never going to provide that, so why wasn’t Naughton given a chance down the right?
In attack, Keane seems to be dropping deeper and deeper, as he searches for his lost form in the middle of the park. We might as well play with five proper (in-form) midfielders than field Keane at the moment, or better still against this kind of opposition, start with Crouch.
Keane has started against Stoke, Wolves and now Hull. As is now the way in almost every game he plays for us, he was substituted in all of them. The results when he plays are there to be seen. How many more chances is Harry going to give him?
No poor result is complete without some fingers to be pointed at the referee. Martin Atkinson should have given a penalty when Andy Dawson fell on the ball and handled it. He should have also taken some action regarding Hull’s blatant time-wasting.
If he’d booked one of their players early on in the game, then they wouldn’t have been able to get away with it throughout the match. In total he added on 10 minutes, which tells it’s own story. It also makes you realise why Manchester United get so much injury time in their matches. They’re up against teams playing like this every week.
What made this result worse was the fact that during the whole match I had to suffer a running commentary from two young idiots sitting behind me, who made Beavis and Butthead seem like Stephen Fry having a chat with Melvyn Bragg. It was all spoken in a patois that makes me think that one day I’ll have to move out of London, if I don’t want my children to sound like morons.
Somehow amidst this terrible result, we actually managed to rise a place in the league, due to Liverpool, City and Villa, also dropping points. We can’t keep relying on the failures of others though and have to surmise that at some point, one of them will get their act together and put together a run of results.
You can’t help thinking that come the end of the season we’re going to be looking at games like this and wondering what could have been. Luckily, there is a antidote to our disappointment against Hull. Under normal circumstances we’d consider a home win against the Tigers and an away draw at Liverpool to be a very successful week. Having drawn our first game, victory at Anfield would restore the equilibrium.