LIVERPOOL face Hull City at Anfield on Saturday and it is already being billed as a big test of how far the Reds can realistically go this season. We spoke to Ian Waterson from Hull fanzine City Independent to get the latest on the opposition.
Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I’m one of two co-Editors at City Independent. Originally a paper fanzine, before transcending to our online abode, typically the residency of our old school supporter base — although not exclusively.
What are Hull’s best and worst moments against Liverpool, in your living memory?
Bloody hell, they all occurred in one game I think! Our first season ever in the Premier League — after patiently waiting just 104 years for it, mind — the trip to Anfield in the 2008/9 season was memorable for the best and worst of reasons. Racing into a 0-2 lead, we were almost lauding it at your gaff and briefly, fleeting thoughts of “Does league football ever get any better than this?” drifted through my mind at half time. Cue Steven Gerrard, though. The first was offside, the second was a foul. In our eyes, anyway. Still 2-2 wasn’t bad for a first top flight attempt, eh? Nice to (finally!) beat you 1-0 at our place during our last foray in the top flight, too.
The team have had a decent enough start to the season, are you confident they can keep it going?
Been way above expectations, to be fair. Everyone — including us — had us down as a shoo-in for relegation. It seems that, despite all the off-field turmoil still going on, the siege mentality materialising among the caretaker boss, the players and the fans is keeping the wolf from the door on the pitch. For now, at least. Can’t say I’m ultra confident it will continue, but at least we finally woke up literally hours before the deadline day alarm went off, to snap up six new signings. Therefore, we’ll see.
What is the feeling like among the fans, given how it’s gone so far?
Before a ball was kicked, you would think we’d been relegated, never mind promoted. The current owners (the Allam family) continue to stink the place out and fans are willing for someone, anyone, to take over the club, that’s how desperate the situation has become. There’s masses boycotting the club at the minute until they leave — see the Wembley play-off no show by the fans for proof.
Considering the owners said they’d sell the next day if they couldn’t get their ludicrous ‘Hull Tigers’ air-brained idea past the FA, it’s been the longest 24 hours known to man — and boy have the toys come out of the pram. The fans are suffering all manner of indiscretions since. Indeed, boldly claiming, “I’ll give the club away for free”, it begs the question; just what are they are playing at? Interested parties continue to come and go. It’s a nightmare that never ends.
How have fans reacted to the news that Mike Phelan is being offered the manager’s job permanently?
To be honest, who would come with our ownership situation? At least Phelan wants the job. He hasn’t done much wrong, either. There will not be many City fans who would grumble at the appointment, so it’s the logical choice, if nothing else.
What do you make of Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp?
Personally, I like him. Great for the league and love the brand of high tempo attacking football he wants to induce. I’d have him at our club in a shot. Heard from a few friends at your end of the M62 who say he’s good at talking the talk, but can he walk the walk? I’d be prepared to go along for the ride to find out, if in your shoes.
And what are your thoughts on the Liverpool side, based on what you’ve seen so far?
Impressive. Probably only a couple of signings away from actually challenging for the title? At least you won’t die wondering.
Who do you think will be the key players in Saturday’s game?
For us, David Marshall or Eldin Jakupovic in goal will need a blinder. Curtis Davies has been in excellent form in defence and he’ll need a stormer, too. If Abel Hernandez gets a sniff of goal, he’ll need to take it. For you, where to start? If all your attacking players could have an off-day, that would be nice.
Where do you expect both sides to finish the season?
Let’s not kid ourselves, we’re seven points into ‘Project 40’ so, as cliche as it is, anywhere above the dotted line will be a success for Hull City in our first season back in the Premier League given our off-field shenanigans. As for you, surely anywhere in the top four is a decent result?
Finally, can you make a score prediction for the game?
Hate this, I really do. You’re in form, I’m expecting a tonking to be honest. So I’ll just leave it there…