Bored to the point of not caring

STEVE GEDGE Well, that was a game to savour, wasn't it? For the second weekend in a row I was willing the game to end, not, as at Portman Road, for City to hang on for a frankly undeserved point, but just to end the utter tedium.


Well, that was a game to savour, wasn't it?

For the second weekend in a row I was willing the game to end, not, as at Portman Road, for City to hang on for a frankly undeserved point, but just to end the utter tedium.

Never have I been so bored at a home game before. As forgettable matches at Carrow Road go, this one will take an awful lot of beating.

Even a couple of days on, there's only one moment of the whole afternoon that really sticks in the mind - the over-the-top reaction of the Hull bench to their injury-time equaliser.

Jeremy Goss's equaliser against Bayern Munich, Milk Cup semi-final goals, any of the three at home to Wolves in the play-offs - none of these were celebrated with quite as much vigour as Michael Turner's late, late, late goal.

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The joy it rought from the Hull backroom team probably hasn't been seen since April 1993 when Manchester United beat Sheffield Wednesday with a goal that wasn't so much injury-time as extra day from Steve Bruce that had Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd cavorting about on the pitch in an equally joyous manner.

At least that was a goal which put United on course for their first title in 26 years - the importance of Hull's effort on Saturday wasn't quite in the same league; earning a point against a side little better than themselves.

But as injury-time blows go, I have to say that I wasn't as hacked off as I might have been in the past, for the simple reason that City didn't deserve to win. Hull are a struggling, out-of-form team that even the Canaries' current collection of misfits ought to be beating. That they couldn't claim maximum points against the decidedly average Tigers was, in its own way, even worse that the total no-show for a local derby the week before.

And, in a similar shrugging of the shoulders manner, personally I'm not that fussed either about Peter Grant's post-match comments about supporters - badly chosen words perhaps, but I'm prepared to believe that they were borne of frustration after seeing yet another 1-0 win for his motley charges torn from their grasp.

Up to a point, it's true that supporters can lift a side, and have a part to play in such underwhelming fixtures as Saturday's.

But a lot of factors can contribute to the weekend mood at Carrow Road - which was such that you could have cut the atmosphere with, ooh, let's say the bluntest of spoons.

A hangover from a previous poor result, not especially great weather, nondescript opposition, a total lack of entertainment from two poor sides - any of these individually would be enough to take the edge off the atmosphere at Carrow Road. On Saturday, however, all of those factors were combined to create the same sort of buzz for one of this season's array of quality reserve fixtures - except maybe the likes of Stevenage or Oxford would bring an away fan or two to enjoy a rare visit to Carrow Road.

In his heart Grant must now know who he wants to build a side around, and who is surplus to requirements. But because of the numbers he's been left by his predecessor, for the moment he has to soldier on with line-ups like Saturday's, a fact which may well have added to his annoyance at Hull's great escape.

And when the fare's as ordinary as it was against the Tigers, the atmosphere is going to be flat. But, unlike certain games last season I didn't hear any booing or heckling of players during the game, only a negative reaction at half and full-time. People weren't creating a lot of noise, true, but it's worth saying that they weren't coming out with outright criticism.

If there are no new signings by the end of January, then perhaps that might change. But I'm happy to wait until the transfer window and see what develops. Which is why I'm not too bothered that a whole raft of deadline-day loan signings turned up at Carrow Road at the end of last week.

I'm fed up with mercenary, in it for the money Premiership players turning up at Championship clubs with no real commitment to the cause.

And while loan players have made a difference to City's recent history, it must be said that for every Darren Huckerby or Peter Crouch there has been a Zesh Rehman or Elvis Hammond coming to Carrow Road. I'm not for a moment suggesting that either of these two came here for a mid-season break in Norfolk, but the money spent in the past on short-term partial fixes like that would now be much better invested in a permanent signing or two come January 1.

Because, boy, do we need it. Creative inspiration was totally lacking on Saturday, and had we been facing any side much further up the table the game would have been out of reach long before Robert Earnshaw's goal.

City's next three visitors to Carrow Road - Leicester, Sheffield Wednesday and Southend - have away records no better than Hull's, but if there isn't a marked improvement on Saturday's showing then you can see the same sort of outcome resulting in the weeks ahead.

Never mind the return of Croft or Chadwick, and the arrival of any January signings, these games will really determine just how close to the top six City can get.

If they play as poorly as they did on Saturday, sadly the only thing we may have to look forward to in the weeks ahead is more lavish celebrations from the visiting dugouts.

But if City reacquaint themselves with the meaning of the word 'passion', it might yet instead be the home management and fans having something to cheer about.