SLUTSKY CARES – AND IT’S BEST HE STAYS

The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY -

LEONID Slutsky is an emo­tional char­ac­ter, as far from the stoic Rus­sian stereo­type as you can imag­ine.

Yet even by those stan­dards, his sad, stark as­sess­ment of Hull City’s ca­pit­u­la­tion to Sh­effield United made for un­com­fort­able view­ing.

No spirit. No con­fi­dence. No an­swers; his words were a litany of in­ad­e­qua­cies bereft of hope or mit­i­ga­tion. More than one per­son in the Bra­mall Lane me­dia room won­dered if Slutsky was tac­itly beg­ging for the sack.

Two days ear­lier, I’d sat in his of­fice at Hull’s train­ing ground for a pre-ar­ranged in­ter­view. I’d been told in ad­vance that Slutsky was a cap­ti­vat­ing guy, jovial and good-na­tured. He gave me seven terse min­utes, and was vis­i­bly dis­in­ter­ested.

Fair play. In his po­si­tion, the last thing I’d have wanted to do is blather on about fall­ing out of trees or knock­ing about with Ro­man Abramovich.

Nev­er­the­less, it was il­lu­mi­nat­ing – es­pe­cially in light of what tran­spired at Bra­mall Lane. For all the early op­ti­mism, Slutsky is now de­press­ingly aware of the mess he in­her­ited.

Un­pop­u­lar own­ers who want out. A mass sum­mer ex­o­dus. A sum­mer of botched trans­fers that left a patch­work squad of kids and age­ing for­mer in­ter­na­tion­als.

Of those, only Michael Daw­son is a nat­u­ral leader. With all due re­spect to Sh­effield United, the way they col­lapsed sec­ond half stank of a side in big trou­ble.

In hind­sight, I don’t think Slutsky was putting his head on the block last week­end. He was sim­ply too up­set to play the diplo­mat, es­pe­cially in a for­eign tongue.

And that is why Hull fans must hope he hangs around. Slutsky ev­i­dently cares about his work and is des­per­ate to fix Hull’s prob­lems – even if they aren’t of his mak­ing. Both his ea­ger­ness to end our in­ter­view and his un­fet­tered mis­ery at United at­test to that.

With Jan­uary in­vest­ment un­likely, what would any new coach do? Hav­ing a man who knows the play­ers and hurts like a sup­porter is prob­a­bly the best hand of a bad deal. Make no mis­take, though – the Tigers are in a rel­e­ga­tion fight.

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