SLUTSKY CARES – AND IT’S BEST HE STAYS
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.