Hull City Preview - Away, 29th March
If anyone out there predicted that this Saturday`s clash with Hull City was going to be as crucial as this at the beginning of the season, then I want some of what they were on. In all seriousness however, they could probably do a better punditry job than Alan Hansen!
This weekend`s game is massive for both clubs. The Tigers sit in third, just a couple of points ahead of the Hornets, if Hull win, they can really start to look toward automatic promotion whilst Watford should be all but consigned to the Play Offs for the second time under Aidy Boothroyd. Whilst all those within a cigarette paper of promotion are losing their heads, Phil Brown`s side have remained remarkably consistent, winning at the Walkers and at the Hawthorns recently; two things Watford haven`t and probably won`t manage [at this rate].
Instrumental is Hull`s rising fortunes has been Manchester United loanee, Frazier Campbell. Signed earlier in the season as a relatively unknown, the 20 year-old won his first England U21 cap as recently as Tuesday and with 13 goals in just 26 starts for the Tigers [yes math people, 1 in 2], Campbell is hot property. At the other end of the career scale is the man whose been sold, loaned or released almost as many times as Trevor Benjamin, that despite being in possession of a fine goalscoring record. During his 16 year professional career, Dean Windass has racked up 197 league goals in 554 starts for nine clubs. His career started at the age of 21 at Boothferry Park with Hull City, a club he`s now signed for three times. In his third spell in Humberside, Windass has amassed 75 goals in just over 100 starts for the Yorkshire outfit. Coming complete with Premiership experience too, the 38 year-old is the perfect, brutish foil for the nippy Campbell.
Another veteran of the game can be found in the midfield. Likable Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha is the record goalscorer at the African Cup of Nations, a Bolton terrace hero and now the former Nigeria captain is pitching up at the KC Stadium. Despite a wealthy pedigree, clubs including PSG, Bolton and Fenerbahce, Okocha has been restricted to just 10 starts this season. One-time Hull hero Stuart Elliott has gone the same way after helping the Tigers to two promotions and survival, he`s now at Doncaster on-loan.
The man now occupying the creative role in the Tiger's midfield is the exciting Dean Marney. Signed from Tottenham, via a loan-spell at Norwich, the 24 year-old has matured into a consistent performer and a vital cog in Phil Brown`s Hull blueprint. Five goals may not be a huge return from the winger, but it`s taken him up to seven in his short Hull career, but his contribution is more in the chances he lays on for team-mates as an unselfish playmaker; that despite his belting effort in the 5-0 demolition of Southampton a fortnight ago.
Former Derby gaffer Phil Brown has been particularly successful at rescuing players from the scrap heap as well as picking up talents and Richard Garcia was certainly rescued from life in League One by brown. The Aussie wideman-cum-forward was signed from Colchester who are this season doomed for League One after leaving Leyton Orient and before that, West Ham. Despite spending most his life in the capital, the tricky Pom has settled in well and has been a regular with 34 league and league cup starts this term.
Former Hornet Wayne Brown was collected from Layer Road too having spent a couple of decent seasons in Essex. Signed for 450k, Brown has been re-born with a more sensible skinhead than that receding fluffy mop that we endured and is a regular at centre back but has been lacking a partner.
That is where new-boy Neil Clement comes in, an added benefit is the competition he provides for Andy Dawson at left-back, whilst hard-as-nails youth Simon Walton is also capable of playing at the back.
What I didn`t mention earlier was that Brown`s somewhat impress mix of scrap and youth are held together by someone who was left on the scrap-pile after a poor spell at Derby…the manager himself, who`ll be equally determined to prove his worth in the game…
STOP PRESS: WEST BROM LOANEE NEIL CLEMENT HAS BEEN RECALLED FROM HIS LOAN SPELL BY HIS PARENT CLUB
Lee; DeMerit (c), Bromby, Shittu, Sadler; Smith, Williamson, O`Toole, McAnuff; Ellington and John.
Myhill ; Ricketts ,Turner ,Brown ,Dawson ; Garcia ,Ashbee (c) ,Marney ,Pedersen ; Windass and Campbell.
Come on you 'Ornsss!