LEONID SLUTSKY was a surprise visitor to Hull Fair earlier this week.
The Russian, manager at Hull City since June, popped along on his own to one of the highlights in the city’s annual social calendar and even had a go at winning a prize on one of the stalls.
Not too many Championship managers would have spent Tuesday night as Slutsky did – but his reasoning was simple. He wanted a taste of what life is like in Kingston-upon-Hull and a better understanding of what makes the locals tick.
This determination to get under the skin of the city and its football club is why the players have taken to the 46-year-old, even if, as goalkeeper Allan McGregor revealed yesterday, he did not invite anyone else from the Tigers along to the Fair.
“He went on his own,” laughed the Scotland international. “I can’t believe he never texted us about it.”
Slutsky’s start to life in the East Riding has been far from straight-forward.
The summer transfer window started in sluggish fashion, certainly in terms of new arrivals, and results have been distinctly average, at least until the 6-1 hammering of Birmingham City before the last international break.
But the Hull head coach has proved a popular figure with players and supporters. McGregor added: “We get on really well and he is a lovely man, always talking to the players. We need to buy in to what he is bringing to the club.”
That victory over the Blues lifted some of the gloom that had descended on the KCOM Stadium following Hull’s slow start.
It also means Hull can approach back-to-back away games against Norwich City and Barnsley with a spring in their step as Slutsky looks to plot a charge towards the play-offs.
I said when we lost at Derby that it was better to lose 5-0 once, rather than 1-0 five times. It is the same situation when we win. It is better to win five matches 1-0 than one 6-1.Hull City goalkeeper Allan McGregor
“The Birmingham game has set the standard,” he added. “Against Birmingham, we showed our maximum level and we had a good result. It was the optimal combination.
“I understand it is very important to get some wins in a row. Not only one against Birmingham.
“I said when we lost at Derby that it was better to lose 5-0 once, rather than 1-0 five times.
“It is the same situation when we win. It is better to win five matches 1-0 than one 6-1.
“The next matches are important and we must have a good series (of results). We have two away matches. Especially in the Championship these are more difficult than other leagues, but we are really ready to start winning games. I hope we can keep our levels the same as against Birmingham.”