Ninety minutes of anxious pocket-fiddling Smartphone score-checks, frustrating a goal-denyinga off-side calls, agonizingly glaring missed opportunities, hope-lifting red card decision and then that shattering second goal elsewhere. All together a difficult day for a Hull City fan, with Premier League relegation written all over it.
The 0-0 stalemate between Hull City and Manchester United, on the final match-day of the season, saw Steve Brucea s Hull relegated from the Premier League, and the visitors hold onto their fourth-place, to qualify for the Champions League play-offs. A day, the Hull City faithful would quickly want to forget, but not until at least a whole year of zero top-flight football.
The K C Stadium buzzed with excitement and aggression as the teams lined up, the home crowd strongly behind their team in hopes of avoiding relegation, only possible with a victory over United and a result elsewhere, which would hopefully go their way. When Steve Bruce named the same eleven that played against Tottenham, Louis Van Gaal made two changes, with the surprise exclusion of Marouane Fellaini for Angel Di Maria and a change of personnel between the sticks. Unlike Louis van Gaala s pre-match predictions, David De Gea didna t even travel with the team to Kingston, as Victor Valdes started for the first time in United colours.
From the very first whistle, Steve Brucea s Hull looked the far better side, as the home team ran at United down the right flank, with the ex-United winger Robbie Brady flinging in a flurry of quality balls into the box, forcing Valdes into action within the second minute, from a powerful header by Dame Na Doye. But it was United who came close to scoring first, Wayne Rooney hitting the woodwork in the third minute, from the edge of the penalty box. For the next half an hour it was all Hull, as the Tigers with more than 55 percent of the possession, found the back of the net twice, only to be ruled off-side both times. The first, sloppy work from Valdes, failing to collect a ball properly, as it fell kindly for Paul McShane who headed it towards goal and the flagged Na Doye pounced on it, to find the back of the net. The second, a sensational through ball by the excellent Brady, flicked in again by a flagged Hull player, McShane this time. The Tigers continued to press, keeping the pressure on United, when in the 23rd minute Van Gaal lost Di Maria to a suspected hamstring problem, bringing on a rare Adnan Januzaj. With clever trough balls and lofted high balls, Hull kept troubling United and it looked like Van Gaala s men never turned up for the game, every player on the pitch lacking in incentive, with terrible first touches and sloppy passing. Only once the half-hour mark was crossed did United start finding possession with more ease, with Hull looking a bit fizzed from all the initial running. Then Ander Herrera started to find his stride again, making all the 40-yard runs into the box, to shoot twice, both ending wide off the post. And by the 45th minute, United created their first proper chance, with a cream of a ball from Young, only to be snuffed by an unlucky Herrera at the back post. Rooney and Rojo linked up well in the final minutes of the half, only to hit the brick wall defense of the Tigers, United thus ending the half with zero shots on target and by far the lesser side on the pitch.
With the other relegation significant match, between Newcastle United and West Ham United also ending 0-0 at half-time, the second half would go on to decide the tales of their next season for both Hull and Newcastle. Hull City started the second-half brightly and within the first minute David Meyler found himself in front of goal with a volley on his right foot, only to skew it wide and waste another glorious opportunity for the Tigers. It was Uniteda s turn next, when a horrible back pass by the Hull defenders found its way to Juan Mata, who teed it up perfectly for Herrera, but the impeccable Michael Dawson saved the Tigers yet again with a superbly timed sliding tackle.
When the 54th minute saw a breakthrough for Newcastle from a Moussa Sissoko header, it was still even at Hull as United finally made the sensible change of bringing in Fellaini into midfield, for the out-of-position Young. And by the seventieth minute, United had eased into their comfort zone with 65 percent of possession and Hull seemed to have given up with the news of the Toons leading at St Jamesa Park, slowly settling over the K C Stadium. The timely double change for Hull got the team back on their feet again, a low-cross send in by the substitute Sone Aluko finding Nikica Jelavi a s flicking right foot, only to be denied once again by an equally brilliant Valdes save. It was Van Gaala s turn to add fresh legs as Mata was called off to bring on the quick James Wilson, when yet another twist in the tale presented itself. Fellaini received the marching orders, a straight red, for a ridiculous foul on McShane, which eventually would take the medical staff seven minutes to patch up. The rejuvenated Tigers went at the 10-man United with all they got, only to find themselves in similar positions as earlier, yet not managing to score. The 85th minute and ita s another goal for Newcastle, and ita s all but over for Hull City, as they play out the rest of the game to finish 0-0. Disappointment all around, as Hull City played some amazing football only to be relegated and United continued their dismal form to end the season with a flat display with any positives at all, in very short supply.
Glory at St Jamesa Park, as Newcastle avoids relegation. Misery at the K C Stadium as Hull City is pushed back down to the Championships next season. Mike Ashley, all smiles delighted, applauding the players like never before. Assem Allam, quite the contrary yet applauding, grim faced. The Toons. The Tigers. The Wheel of fortune.