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Gareth McAuley

Grant McCann deserves some aid to boost Tigers

Gareth McAuley


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Grant McCann

Grant McCann

PA

Grant McCann

Grant McCann was obviously doing too good a job at Hull City, so the owners decided to throw in a mid-season obstacle to give him a greater challenge.

Just over two months ago, Grant was being lauded as a top manager in the ultra-competitive Championship, Hull were a few points outside a play-off spot and Tigers fans were content.

Yet the loss of their two best players - Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen - during the January transfer window has sent Hull on a downward spiral.

Grosicki and Bowen had combined to score 22 goals for Hull this season.

From promotion hopefuls to relegation contenders, the Yorkshire club are just four points off the drop zone.

Grant has been left to pick up the pieces and when I watched Hull in their 1-0 defeat to lowly Barnsley last week they looked a team short on quality, confidence and were totally deflated.

Grant's had to throw a bunch of kids into the team and their inexperience shows. Sure, they can show great enthusiasm - but enthusiasm alone will not win you a football match.

The Hull fans have turned on the Ulsterman and the criticism levelled from the terraces when I was there was horrific - truly disgusting.

Those supporters really do have short-term memories because it really does prove how important those two players were to his team and how a side like Hull can't afford to lose any type of quality when they have little in reinforcements.

The Hull hierarchy will argue the transfer fees, especially Bowen for a fee rising to £22million from West Ham and the fact Grosicki was going to be out of contract this summer, were too good to turn down.

But was it good business sense to let two players go on transfer deadline day when it doesn't give Grant enough time to bring in replacements?

Maybe the owners felt Hull were safe. That relegation wouldn't be an issue and they'd be satisfied with a position around mid-table.

Well unless Hull suddenly pick up they are in serious trouble and fighting for survival from here until the end of the season.

Hull chiefs should have seen this coming and they have placed Grant in a terrible predicament.

Hopefully Tigers fans will see the bigger picture and if they avoid relegation this season, then Grant will be allowed to rebuild in the summer.

Knowing Grant he will meet the challenge head-on and be working hard to reverse the slide - out to prove that he should still be regarded as a top Championship manager.

One player who needs to start firing for Grant is my good pal Josh Magennis.

Since returning from injury at the start of the year, Josh has been afforded plenty of game time up front for Hull but there have been no goals to show for his efforts.

Josh desperately needs to score a goal. His confidence is low, he has seemingly taken on the burdens of the club and that has affected his style of play.

With Bosnia and Herzegovina on the horizon for Northern Ireland in just a matter of weeks, Josh can't afford to go into that game without having found the net since just after the last international match in November.

Hull and Josh urgently need to click - for the sake of poor Grant.

Time for Irish League clubs to come in from the cold

When the lights are on, cash is burning.

So I really don't understand the delay to finally implementing summer football into the Irish League season.

Surely the deliberations have gone on long enough. I'm well aware how important it is for any new procedure to be discussed at length and then agreed, but sometimes we need more action and less talk.

Otherwise another year will have gone by and we'll be stuck in the same traditional format.

In my view, introducing summer football into the Irish League can only be positive.

Running costs at a stadium and training facilities would be cut down straight away.

It must cost clubs a small fortune to operate their floodlights for games and training during autumn, winter and early spring months but that could be greatly reduced with a change in season.

Attendances would surely be boosted especially through families, which are the lifeblood for any clubs. In recent months I've been going to games in the freezing conditions and to be honest I've been counting down the minutes to the end of the game so I can return home and get warmed up. It's no fun playing in those conditions and tough for fans to bear the elements when watching from the stands - even if you have plenty of layers on.

If it was a pleasant evening think how many more kids would be interested in going. People may stay on after the match and go to the social club rather than rushing home - earning extra money for the club. I'm no marketing or commercial guru but having games played in better weather with the fans able to enjoy the experience must give the club more opportunities to make the most from their fanbase.

Then from a playing point of view the pitches and conditions are much better and of course those sides in European football would likely be better prepared for the opposition they come up against.

Obviously I've heard about players worried about their holidays during summer months but that doesn't wash with me. When you play football at a certain level you have to make sacrifices and missing out on holidays is part of that.

I remember when I was called into my first Northern Ireland squad I had a holiday booked and paid for. I wasn't on particularly good money at the time so I could ill-afford to let it go, however that's what I did and missed out on a holiday. The sooner summer football comes in the better for the Irish League.

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Windsor Park was packed with 23,000 fans when Carl Frampton beat Luke Jackson in 2018.

Windsor Park was packed with 23,000 fans when Carl Frampton beat Luke Jackson in 2018.

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Windsor Park was packed with 23,000 fans when Carl Frampton beat Luke Jackson in 2018.

Get Jackal to Windsor

I'm not sure Carl Frampton's promoters realise the pulling power of The Jackal in Northern Ireland.

I understand the delay in naming the venue for Carl's world title fight with Jamal Herring on June 13 is because there is a fear Frampton will not sell out Windsor Park and therefore they may opt for the SSE Arena.

They believe that Carl's last fight at Windsor in the summer of 2018 was only filled to capacity because Tyson Fury was on the card.

What utter nonsense.

As someone who has been fortunate to watch Carl fight all over the world, I'm convinced his fan base would easily sell-out Windsor Park.

Carl unites a divided society and has built up a devoted following. When you mix that in with fans who just want to see a decent boy from Northern Ireland do well, then you'll be well oversubscribed for Windsor Park.

I've already had loads of people ask me about tickets - the interest will be huge and for a fight of this nature, it simply must be staged at Windsor Park.

Those in charge, please take note.

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Craig Stanfield

Craig Stanfield

Craig Stanfield

Craig will be a huge loss to the Irish FA

The death of Craig Stanfield is a huge loss to the Irish Football Association.

When I heard Craig had passed away last weekend at just 50 years of age, I was shocked and saddened.

Craig was integral to the running of football in Northern Ireland in terms of registration and discipline and introducing the new Comet system but it was at international level where I had the greatest respect for him.

He was the match night manager at Windsor Park, looking after logistics, and played a key role in making sure all the players' needs were catered for during Euro 2016 in France.

I know his professionalism, ability and work ethic had Craig held in the highest esteem by the players, coaching set-up and those who worked under him.

My thoughts are with his family and friends.

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