Thursday, 24 September 2009

Carling Cup 3rd Round: Hull City 0 - 4 Everton - 23/09/2009

So, this is what happens when you pick a strong team full of experienced first-team players. No, not Hull City, but Everton. Despite their interest in an extra trophy this season, the Toffees selected a team of stars for the trip to KC whereas City opted dismally for the usual array of lads and reserves.

And humiliation was the outcome.

Phil Brown may not care about the Carling Cup, nor the fact that City haven't got past the third round for more than 30 years, but the people paying money to watch certainly do. Given that City's first choice line-up was so woeful against Birmingham at the weekend, and evidently needed more gametime to get to know each other better, the ideal opportunity presented itself with Everton's visit.

Brown blew that chance by playing almost an entirely different side, many of whom won't get anywhere near the teamsheet at Liverpool on Saturday. Quickly it was obvious that Everton were not only going to win, but would do so by as comfortable a margin as they could choose for themselves.

Some of the Everton team were returning from injury, but they were still household names. Quickly they took the lead when Yakubu, who has been out for nine months, aimed a clever shot beyond Matt Duke's left hand after Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's perseverance on the edge of the area made room for the big striker.

Bilyaletdinov then swung in a tidy free kick for Jo to head home with some nonchalance, and soon it was three when a breakaway caught Peter Halmosi out of position and Dan Gosling was left with freedom and time to thump a conclusive shot past Duke.

Tie already lost, the question now was just how many Everton felt like putting away. Brown had picked the usual youngsters and no-hopers and as the cries of "sort it out" rang out from a despondent, shellshocked Tiger Nation, he didn't move from his position in the technical area.

Tom Cairney, who played so well in the last round, had City's long awaited first reasonable chance when he volleyed a Bernard Mendy cross goalwards only for it to be deflected over the bar. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink then headed wide from a Cairney corner. And then the half time whistle shrilled. Not exactly worth 15 quid, you could say.

The cavalry arrived for the second half as the dying George Boateng and the totally overawed Nicky Featherstone were replaced by Paul McShane - which allowed Mendy to get forward - and Dean Marney. For the first ten minutes City had a real go, even though the damage was done and Everton were more than happy to mop up the danger. Vennegoor of Hesselink won a header from McShane's cross but aimed it too high, then Mendy played a good one-two with Nick Barmby but saw his shot blocked as he progressed into the box. Kamel Ghilas, whose enterprise and effort put many others to shame, skewed a shot well wide from a decent position, and then Vennegoor of Hesselink took Ghilas' fine centre but again, City were foiled by some timely defending.

The next goal was inevitable, and Everton waltzed up the other end and scored it. Barmby fouled Leon Osman on the edge of the box, and when Leighton Baines' shot squirmed through the wall, it landed at Osman's feet and the job was quickly done.

City kept going, albeit because they had no real choice in the matter. Marney hit a vigorous long range drive which Tim Howard had to gather above his head and then Kevin Kilbane, on for the quiet Barmby, could only direct pretty much a free header from a Ghilas corner back to the corner taker himself. Marney, McShane and Mendy then combined with admirable optimism on the right for an eventual ball in which Cairney met on the volley and thumped right into the face of Johnny Heitinga.

Late on, Ghilas almost got the reward for his endeavour with a low shot which hit the pot, then McShane missed out twice - first shot blocked, second one over the bar - after fine work from Ghilas left Howard out of position entirely.

The positives are few, but the display of Liam Cooper at the back and especially Cairney in the midfield gives City hope for a decent future, wherever that future may lie. Given our lack of cohesion among the senior team and the limited chances anyone would give the Tigers at Anfield, it would do no harm to deploy Cairney in a Premier League game this weekend. The lad has vision, wants the ball, is unfraid to shoot and clearly has an appetite for playing which some of his betters in the squad may wish to recall when analysing their own contributions to the team. Ghilas was as excellent as excellence can allow in a team badly beaten, and the Tigers side generally seems to be a better thing when McShane is in it.

But this was a woeful, horrid night of football, a nadir for Brown as his star wanes ever more with each bad selection, each considerable setback, each treatment of the fans by the club as a whole as little more than morons who belong in a darkened room. The Carling Cup may not be anybody's priority, but City's manager approached the match with little regard or respect for anyone at all - opponents, fans, or the unmotivated players he chose to sling out there. And now a fair few think his time should soon be up.

Hull City: Duke, Mendy, Zayatte, Cooper, Halmosi, Boateng (McShane 46), Featherstone (Marney 46), Cairney, Ghilas, Barmby (Kilbane 65), Vennegoor of Hesselink. Subs not used: Warner, Geovanni, Cousin, Fagan.

: Howard, Hibbert, Baines (Neill 62), Distin, Heitinga, Bilyaletdinov (Agard 84), Gosling, Rodwell, Osman, Yakubu (Fellaini 46), Jo. Subs not used: Nash, Duffy, Cahill, Saha.