THE recriminations following Hull City’s relegation will begin in earnest now in what promises to be a defining week for the club's immediate future, yet there is no doubt in the mind of George Boateng who is to blame for the performances which have cost the team its top-flight status.
To coincide with the chairman Adam Pearson’s revelation that Phil Brown could make a sensational return to the club in the summer, Boateng took the opportunity to launch a blistering attack on Iain Dowie’s predecessor and made it clear it was his former manager who is to blame for the demise.
Boateng has confirmed what the whole of football suspected, that Brown’s infamous rant at his squad on the Eastlands pitch on St Stephen’s Day, 2008, was the catalyst for his own downfall. Boateng will leave the club in the summer because his contract expires, but not without making his feelings clear on who should take responsibility for a situation that could well see Pearson and the owner Russell Bartlett now opt to put the club in a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) next week in an attempt to manage crippling debts of £36m.
Boateng said: “I can take you back to December a year and a half ago, when we played at Manchester City away, that’s when all the problems started.The team felt disrespected that day, the team didn’t feel appreciated, we were sixth in the league and we had lost two consecutive games. We didn’t feel like we deserved to be treated like that. We were treated like a bunch of kids. It had an effect on me and all the players. We covered it up by saying outside it didn’t affect us, but it did and it took a long time to recover from that.
After the Liverpool defeat Phil Brown sacked the whole canteen people for a week. We were not fed for a week.We had to train there with no food and then after training, drive and get food from a petrol station.Those things don’t help, they affect the team. We didn’t feel appreciated by the manager. We were not together enough.”
Even Brown’s serenading of the crowd following survival last season did not escape Boateng’s wrath and he added: “ Last year we survived only by luck. I will just say this: did you ever see Alex Ferguson do that? If Newcastle had got a draw at Villa, we wouldn’t have made it.”
Darren Bent’s 25th goal of the season in the seventh minute was enough to confirm Hull’s fate on Saturday. Just to compound their misery Jimmy Bullard missed a 41st minute penalty before being substituted and Jozy Altidore was sent off for headbutting Alan Hutton, his last act in a Hull shirt before returning toVillarreal. Hutton was also dismissed for his role in the melee.
Hull’s directors, along with Bartlett, will meet today to discuss the most sensible way forward financially, with administration the last resort.
This could still be inevitable in the long run, however and the immediate future of Pearson remains in huge doubt. He admits the team has not been good enough and will consider his own position unless a sensible plan to reduce the club’s debt is put in place.
He said: “I am obviously very disappointed, but the squad has not been good enough.We have to accept that and take it on the chin because realistically we have been in relegation form for 18 month.The debts are not very palatable. They can be managed and we have to see if the repayment of them can be restructured.”
Hull City (4-4-2) Duke; Mendy, Mouyokolo, Gardner, Dawson; Barmby (Fagan, 62), Bullard (Cairney, h-t), Boateng (Cullen, 76), Geovanni; Altidore, Folan. Substitutes not used: Myhill (gk), Kilbane, Sonko, Olofinjana.
Sunderland (4-4-2) Gordon; Hutton, Turner (Ferdinand, h-t), Kilgallon, Richardson; Campbell, Henderson, Meyler, Malbranque (Bardsley, h-t); Jones (Cana, 60), Bent. Substitutes not used: Carson (gk), Da Silva, Benjani, Zenden.
Referee: L Probert (Gloucester).
Man of the match: Malbranque.