Tuesday, 30 March 2010

He's bang on the Marney

It remains as fashionable in Hull as Henley T-shirts and holey jeans to scorn Dean Marney. Yet three games into his latest unheralded comeback, the hardworking midfielder could now become a crucial component of a relegation-threatened team.

The problem that Marney has always had since arriving in the summer of 2006 is that he doesn't live up to expectations. He was a successful graduate of the productive academy at Tottenham Hotspur and had scored a particularly famous goal against Everton which was dug out on YouTube over and over again by City fans from the moment he signed. But he has never been that player at the KC Stadium.

But he has something. More myopic members of the Tiger Nation see little in him. More rounded members of the same club notice at the very least his workrate - which has always been tremendous, irrespective of his or the team's form - whereas a sizeable handful also notice his inability to hide. There is a confidence issue with Marney but at least his way of trying to gain in confidence is to stay in the bearpit and keep trying, rather than hide away and look for a hug behind closed doors.

Of the current 20 or so players in regular contention for a place, Marney is, along with Richard Garcia, the least well regarded. Yet these two will remain solid performers when the chips are down for far longer than some of their gifted, higher-paid colleagues. They have both become emotionally attached to a club that gave them a new route into the Premier League when their nurturing clubs - Garcia was from the even more renowned West Ham United academy - decided they couldn't quite cut it. City made them into Premier League players again and, having lost that status once in their formative years, they don't fancy losing it again.

Marney's long cross for Craig Fagan to score the second goal against Fulham was described as a "peach" by a couple of Sunday hacks and was praised by television pundits. Yet the consensus of the less forgiving standing arms folded at the back of each home stand gave Marney little credit for vision or execution. Essentially, it was a fluke. This does Marney a disservice, especially as his confidence at having such an active assist in such a mightily crucial goal should, given the sort of player he is, help him develop his game further just when City need players with heart and belief to lead the charge out of the bottom three.

Lest we forget that three Hull City managers have now selected and praised Marney, while a further gaffer of even more reputation - the one beaten by City at the weekend - was rumoured to be interested in the player during the January window. That Marney didn't go to Fulham and play for Roy Hodgson was neither here nor there; the point was that a genuine connoisseur of football with a thirst and knowledge almost unmatchable among his peers saw the good in a player that the Tiger Nation has at best undervalued, at worst really disliked, during his time with the club. But when the final knockings on this season sound, Marney is one of those who'll still be working, still trying, still showing the desire to be part of the Premier League scenery, repaying the club that lay before him his path back into the big time. For this, he should be afforded proper credit.