CRISIS, what crisis?
Listing after five defeats in their last eight league matches, featuring just one win, Hull City were in the equivalent of the footballing dock ahead of Saturday’s game, with the goodwill of Tigers fans towards their affable manager receding by the game and patience wearing noticeably thin.
Noticeably downcast, complete with a hang-dog expression after Hull’s late loss to Preston last Tuesday, Leonid Slutsky – whose side were jeered off at the end – will have been feeling a whole load better four days on.
He witnessed his Hull side not just win and produce a balanced and complete 90-minute performance, but also make a Championship statement on home soil. City of culture, city of goals.
Tigers supporters have seen their side now fire 18 goals in six league matches at the KCOM, with Hull’s tally of 22 in 11 league fixtures being the joint-highest in the Football League. They also possess the Championship’s joint top-scorer in Jarrod Bowen, with seven goals.
Six different scorers arrived on the scoresheet, something Hull had not managed in 78 years, while Fraizer Campbell turned back the clock with his first Hull goal at home since April 26, 2008 to spark the Tigers’ regal rout.
A live arts show was aired on national radio from the city on Friday night and the entertainment and enlightenment continued the following day.
It was Sunderland chief Simon Grayson who recently said that Bowen and Kamil Grosicki were the best wingers in the Championship on their day and given Saturday’s cast-iron evidence, it was hard to dispute that.
The pair combined energy and endeavour with no little quality and, after being put in the shade to some extent by Bowen this term, Grosicki came to the party and shared in the limelight.
Kamil is a unique player. The manager spoke in pre-season about the cherry on the top. Kamil is that. When Kamil fancies it, he’s the best player in the league, hands-down.David Meyler on Hull City team-mate, Kamil Grosicki
It was a vibrant display buttressed by the experience and nous of two senior men in David Meyler and Seb Larsson. While the likes of Bowen, Grosicki and Campbell were front of house, the two seasoned midfielders were the goods at the back.
Meyler said: “We hit the ground running from the start and wiped the floor with them for the best part of 90 minutes.
“In previous games we have let ourselves down, but also the manager as well. He has been a breath of fresh air. We got to perform for ourselves and him. Playing for 45 minutes in this league is not good enough.”
Directionless and decrepit, Birmingham showcased just what a big job that new manager Steve Cotterill has on his hands.
Indeed, it must have been awfully difficult for him to resist the urge to head into the dressing room at half-time – after watching on from the stands before officially starting work on Monday.
The half saw Blues trail 3-0 and it was no exaggeration to say the deficit could have been double that, as Hull carved through the visitors’ non-existent midfield like a knife through butter.
Cast as slow-starters of late, Hull emphatically dispelled that charge in a glorious first half.
Reservoirs of sagging confidence were replenished, with Hull not looking back from Campbell’s landmark moment.
Meyler dispossessed David Davis to slip in Campbell, who burst clear before steering the ball low past Tomasz Kuszczak.
It was soon 2-0 when Emilio Nsue tripped Campbell and Meyler’s spot-kick was as resounding as Hull’s first-half display.
The afternoon started to assume nightmare proportions for Blues when man-of-the-moment Bowen crowned his newly-signed deal with an instinctive third, surging clear before drilling home a confident low shot.
With the game effectively over as a contest, Hull temporarily dimmed the lights for a spell in the second half before finishing off in illuminating fashion.
Grosicki got the goal he deserved with a clinical drilled finish after good work by substitute Nouha Dicko and the polished Pole was involved in a breathtaking team goal to make it 5-0, finished off by Markus Henriksen.
With Blues on the canvass, Grosicki set up Larsson for a sixth against his old club before Sam Gallagher’s deflected header provided a token consolation.
Hailing Grosicki’s impact, Meyler said: “Kamil is a unique player. The manager spoke in pre-season about the cherry on the top. Kamil is that. When Kamil fancies it, he’s the best player in the league, hands-down. When he’s bang at it, he’s unmarkable; unplayable.
“I said to him after: ‘You’ve done well but I need it Saturday, Tuesday’ because if he’s bang at it, it gives us a great opportunity.”
Hull City: McGregor; Aina, Dawson, Hector, Clark; Meyler, Larsson; Bowen (Weir 82), Toral (Henriksen 69), Grosicki; Campbell (Dicko 70). Unused substitutes: Mannion, Mazuch, Tomori, Irvine.
Birmingham City: Kuszczak; Nsue, Morrison, Dean, Collin; Maghoma (Cotterill 61), Davis, Gardner (Vassell 45), Ndoye, Boga; Jutkiewicz (Gallagher 61). Unused substitutes: Trueman, Roberts, Grounds, Gleeson.
Referee: S Duncan (Northumberland).