Phil Brown's Reincarnation Gives Tigers New Stripes

James SkerrittContributor IFebruary 11, 2010

HULL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06:   Phil Brown the manager of Hull City during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Manchester City at the KC Stadium on February 6, 2010 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

I have never read the Bible, and likely never will. However, if the events at Hull City this season are to show anything, it must be that despite the inherent flaws of their manager, he and the Tigers can be reincarnated and shake our beliefs about them to the core.

Like Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson, and John Edwards, people have their own vices and addictions which threaten to undermine them as the pinnacle figures of their profession. These vices can manifest themselves in sex addiction and alcoholism, but we often fail to recognise those who are addicted to fame, fortune, and popularity.

Instead, the mainstream media obsesses over Paris Hilton and Katie Price, casting them in the spotlight, covering all angles of their lives, ignoring the fact that they live for the attention they receive, and become frustrated when the camera lens switches to other popular figures in our society.

Last season, Phil Brown was as guilty as the Hotel Heiress and the reality TV star. After securing promotion to the Premier League far more quickly than Chairman Paul Duffen expected, Brown set out to maintain the Tigers' place in the top flight, ensuring that the spotlight remained on him in the process.

Hull City's spectacular start to last season merely fortified his belief that Hull City could challenge for Europe, and that he would be integral to such an endeavour.

It was only until Hull lost to Manchester City in spectacular fashion in late December  that the wheels on the Phil Brown train began to buckle. Rather than praising his opponents, Brown abandoned civility, descending into a tirade of self-indulgence, lambasting his players for producing a performance that was "unacceptable for a Phil Brown side."

The slide continued and the players on whom Brown depended for success lost faith in him. Hull would win just two of its remaining 19 matches, narrowly avoiding relegation.

Hull's poor form did little to force Brown into changing his managerial style or his persona in front of the cameras. In a defeat to Blackburn in March, star player Geovanni kicked a water bottle following his early substitution. Brown responded by telling reporters that he hoped the Brazilian would fail his scheduled drugs test and declaring rightly that he wasn't bigger than the football club.

Sadly for Geovanni, he failed to realise that this position belonged to his perma-tanned manager.

Brown's addiction to the spotlight, it seemed, would never be abated. Like a heroin user, he needed his fix, flashing his pearly white teeth on countless television programs and running to every camera. This was demonstrated on the last day of the season against Manchester United when he grabbed a microphone and sang to the crowd, lapping up the applause whilst his courageous players were left to reflect on the narrow escape.

It took the departure of Duffen and the arrival of Adam Pearson to be the catalyst in Brown's change of character. No longer addicted to the attention of the press, he switched his concentration to team affairs. Unsurprisingly, Hull City's fortunes have since improved.

In the management of Stephen Hunt and Jozy Altidore, Brown has been able to reinvigorate the team. Through their individual talents, their record at Kingston Communications Stadium has seen a marked improvement over the previous season. Chelsea, Stoke City, Everton, and Manchester City have all become victims to Hull's new-found resilience and ability to convert key chances.

In last night's defeat to Blackburn, Hull were still able to show fight and spirit, despite the rather harsh dismissal of George Boateng. They made Rovers work hard for their narrow victory, a sight that was seldom seen merely a year ago.

Fans of the Tigers now have cause for optimism. Brown's reincarnation and their improvement in the last third will forge a foundation for key games that lie ahead. Apart from games against Arsenal, Everton, Birmingham, and Liverpool, Hull will face the rest of their remaining schedule dueling with teams who, like them, are keen to avoid relegation

Hull's ability to avoid the drop will depend on Brown's key figures. Hunt and Altidore possess an abundance of strength, which has been coupled with the shot-stopping ability of Boaz Myhill and the defensive ruggedness of Paul McShane and Boateng. New signing Amr Zaki will also give the Tigers a much needed boost in pace, despite previous behavioural indiscretions at former club Wigan.

Unlike Tiger, Mel, and the Edwards before him, Brown has shown that people can escape the vices and addictions that challenge their ability to govern their lives and create positive success in the world around them. Whilst there is hope for the previous three, Hull's manager has abandoned the thrill of popularity and attention and rediscovered that the art of managing rests in focusing on the team. Their success at home this season has been built on improving their confidence and utilising tactical skills.

Hull's future looks promising and hopefully with their good team spirit and a bit of luck they can escape the demons that used to plague them, and in so doing, avoid the drop. Only time will tell, but the Tigers look to have discovered their stripes and, seemingly, their trust in their perma-tanned manager.