AS adverts for a football club that is up for sale go, this made a pretty persuasive case.
Hull City, after a chaotic and troubling summer, chose the optimum moment to record one of their most unexpected victories in many a long year.
With members of a Chinese consortium bidding to buy the club watching from the directors’ box, the Tiger stunned champions Leicester City thanks to goals from Adama Diomande and Robert Snodgrass.
It meant a winning start to what every pundit without exception had tipped to be a long and miserable season of struggle following the shock departure of Steve Bruce and the subsequent failure to land either a new manager or any new faces.
More importantly, the afternoon gave Dai Yongg and Hakwen Xi Liu, the consortium leaders who earlier in the week had toured Hull’s Cottingham training base, an insight into just what potential City possess if the club can be put back on track.
Forget the anti-Allam graffiti that was daubed on the outside walls of the re-named KCOM Stadium by some moron(s) overnight on Friday or the peaceful protests held both inside and outside City’s home before kick-off.
Forget, too, the thousands of empty seats for the visit of the champions that served as a vivid illustration of the yawning chasm that has opened between owners and supporters.
These fractures can be repaired almost as quickly as a couple of the offending messages on the back of the North Stand were painted over ahead of the lunchtime contest.
Instead, what Saturday underlined was just what makes Hull City such an attractive proposition for any would-be buyer. Character and spirit are woven into the club’s DNA, as caretaker manager Mike Phelan made clear in the wake of masterminding the first major shock of the new Premier League season.
“It either kills you or cures you,” said the 53-year-old when asked about the club’s rotten summer. “You either take it on or you sulk about it – and we haven’t time to sulk.”
Time, of course, is exactly what City do not have much of if the squad is to be strengthened sufficiently to cope with the rigours of a full Premier League season. Just 16 days remain before the transfer window closes and a lot of lost ground has to be made up.
Still, any prospective signing is probably much more minded to join the Tigers today than he was before the weekend. Thanks to the deserved three points taken off Leicester, it is clear there is something to build on at the KCOM.
Phelan deserves immense credit for that. Not only did Bruce’s former assistant manage to keep things together throughout a tough pre-season but he also came up with a game-plan to stun Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes.
With Jake Livermore having to be drafted into the centre of defence, City could have been vulnerable against an attack whose pace ripped apart opposing defence after opposing defence en route to lifting the title last season. Phelan’s answer was to make sure Hull’s backline sat deep enough to restrict the space for Jamie Vardy, Ahmed Musa, Demarai Gray and Riyad Mahrez to run into.
As a result, Curtis Davies, Hull’s only fit centre-back, was rarely more than 30 yards from his own goal, other than when pushed forward at set-pieces. The deployment of Sam Clucas as a holding midfielder was also inspired, as he provided the energy and bite in the tackle to disrupt a Foxes side now shorn of N’Golo Kante.
Throw in the surprisingly lively Diomande, a fringe player in his first injury-plagued season at Hull but the scorer of the new Premier League season’s first goal, and City were full value for the points.
Diomande struck in first half stoppage time with an acrobatic effort that saw the Norweigan get the final touch after Abel Hernandez had also connected with the ball following Kasper Schmeichel’s save to deny Davies.
City’s opener came after a fantastic double block by Eldin Jakupovic and Livermore that left, first, Christian Fuchs and then Vardy scratching their heads in disbelief that the ball had not found the net.
Those two 44th-minute efforts, though, were the only times the visitors had threatened in the first half so when Ranieri’s men were awarded a penalty just 14 seconds after the restart it seemed cruel on the Tigers, especially as replays later showed Tom Huddlestone’s foul on Gray had been outside the penalty area.
Mahrez made no mistake from the spot but City would not be denied and, after Hernandez had been thwarted by Schmeichel, what proved to be the winner arrived on 57 minutes.
A poor throw from the former Leeds United goalkeeper handed the visitors possession and the ball was worked to Ahmed Elmohamady. His cross was half-cleared but only as far as Snodgrass, who did the rest with a sweet left-foot shot.
Leicester tried to respond but there was to be no denying City a victory with potentially much more value than just three points.