Hull City: A Team Divided By a Captain's Comments
After the defeat to Sunderland at the weekend, a result that made it almost a certainty that the Tigers would be playing Championship football next season, club captain George Boateng made some provocative comments in his post-match interview.
"After the situation with the team-talk on the pitch at Manchester City everybody tried to stay together and say that it wasn't a problem, but it was," Boateng told Sky Sports.
"After that we found it difficult to have confidence in the manager at the time, Phil Brown.
"That killed the confidence of everybody in the team. People will say 'why did you not say anything?' but he was our manager."
Boateng didn't totally lay the blame on Brown's shoulders, saving a small portion for his teammates, but it gave the appearance that the team would not have been relegated if Brown had not reprimanded the team on the pitch at Eastlands.
However, is it solely at the feet of Phil Brown that the Tigers have been relegated. From Boateng's comments you would certainly think so, but what are Boateng's motives, and do his remarks reflect the opinion of the rest of the Hull City team?
When Dean Windass, who played in the Eastlands' match, was asked about its effect on the team, he said, "People have asked that question on a numerous of occasions and the answer is no."
Windass continued, "At the end of the game nobody mentioned it—or on the bus on the way home. It's what Phil wanted to do that day, it was just the media who took it and dragged it on a little further."
Windass' comments seem to differ greatly from Boateng's, so is this just Boateng holding a grudge for 18 months against Brown. Both Windass and Boateng were sacrificed after that day because of the abject display put on by the Tigers.
It can only be surmised why Brown singled out Windass, Boateng, and Geovanni, but it may have been because as senior players they should have shouldered more of a responsibility for the team's awful display.
I have no doubt that it was humiliating for Boateng to be sacrificed for his part in the performance, and it is debatable whether Brown used the right tactics or not, but as a "professional" footballer Boateng should hold up his hand and accept that in part he was responsible with his teammates for that display.
Ultimately, when the team crosses the white line it is out of the manager's hands with the exception of substitutions to effect the outcome of a tie. Boateng's recent comments show a lack of class, and by squarely laying the blame for everything at Brown he is denying his part in the club's current situation. As the holder of the captain's armband, he has a lot to answer to.
It could also be surmised that Boateng is angling for a renewed contract for the new season, as his runs out this summer. Boateng was openly praising Iain Dowie, the Tigers' temporary managerial consultant, for his management style, but under Dowie the team's performances didn't improve one iota from Brown's Tigers.
If anything, the lack of inside knowledge from the new incumbent of the Hull City hot seat is part of the reason for the team finally receiving the final nail in the coffin.
Dowie has brought back into the fold players that Brown had discarded as not good enough for the Premier league, players that Tiger-nation said had been put on the "naughty step" by Brown. They include Folan who, despite his two goals against Portsmouth, was never truly up to the pace of the Premiership and was played at the expense of the American Jozy Altidore.
Altidore for all his tender years was at least up for the fight and would give defenders trouble when running at them. That was something that Folan could never do.
However, there is no doubt that Brown is at least culpable in the the club's current situation but for Boateng to lay the club's relegation this season on an incident that happened the season before is tenuous at best.
It would be interesting to ask the opinion of Paul McShane, Stephen Hunt, or even Jimmy Bullard who were all signed by Phil Brown after the Eastlands' incident if they agree with Boateng?
Is their silence a sign that they, or the rest of the team, agree with him or that they have more respect for the situation than to "put the boot in" after a season of poor displays from all of the team with only a few exceptions.
There is only one thing that can be truly gleaned from the current situation. The happenings at the K.C. Stadium are far from rosy and whoever comes in for next season, whether it is Dowie, a return for Brown, or a new manager, will have their work cut out to forge a team out of what remains of a thoroughly demoralised Hull City team.
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