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End of the road for Phil Brown? The remarkable rise and fall of Hull City boss

29 Oct 2009 08:13:45

End of the road for Phil Brown? The remarkable rise and fall of Hull City boss

Earlier this month, Phil Brown claimed to have saved a girl from jumping off the Humber Bridge. The Hull boss just dropped it in, as casually as you like, when discussing a stroll across East Yorkshire's famous landmark to clear the air with his team. 'We walked across there. We saved a girl, actually - considering her future, shall we say,' said Brown. 'We were looking for clarity. Did we find it? Absolutely. When you're jogging you can't really speak. When you're walking, you can. So that's what we did.' Dead man walking?: Brown serenades the crowd after Hull win their relegation fight  Phil Brown fighting Hull City axe as money men warn of £23m relegation disasterHull must raise £23m to stay afloat if they go down, say Tigers' accountants A year ago we might have read such a comment and smiled. But, 12 months later, it was just plain ridiculous. Brown's journey from also ran, to miracle-worker, to object of fun and derision has been remarkable, mirrored by the fluctuations in Hull's fortunes on the pitch. In May 200 , Brown became the first manager to take Hull into the top flight of English football, courtesy of 1-0 victory over Bristol City in the play-off final. It was a fairytale. After 104 years of mediocrity, flirting with relegation from the League and financial meltdown, Hull had reached the promised land. They became many people's second team and Brown, now 50, was a hit. Cocky, ambitious and flamboyant, he put two fingers up at the established order. The permanent tan, the daft earpiece, the obvious ego, the soft South Shields accent and the goatee he grew in September to raise money for a cancer charity Everyman. We loved it all. Brown had compensated for his disastrous spell at Derby, where he won just seven of his 33 games, by taking Hull into the big time. A 2-1 opening day win over Fulham last season set the trend for victories over Newcastle, Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham and West Bromwich. Brown had the audacity to go to Arsenal and employ an attacking 4-4-2 formation, prompting a 2-1 victory that made Arsene Wenger feel 'physically sick'. Grounds for concern: Phil Brown gives his team talk on the pitch at Manchester City Brown pored over ProZone analysis, broke down the season into quarters with specific goals and won the Barclays Manager of the Month award for September. Before Hull went to Manchester United on November 1, a game they lost 4-3, they were two points above the champions. You couldn't have scripted it better. But then the manager started talking about a 'Phil Brown team' and Premier League sides became savvier in dealing with Hull's shock and awe tactics. On Boxing Day, with Hull 4-0 down at Manchester City - after Brown had given his players Christmas Day off - the manager gave his team a half-time dressing down on the pitch. City lost 5-1 and Brown had turned himself into a laughing stock. The tan, the earpiece, the ego? They weren't endearing any more. We were laughing at him, not with him. A touchline altercation with Newcastle caretaker boss Joe Kinnear followed in January and Brown made a fool of himself at Arsenal in March, after watching City lose 2-1 in the FA Cup. Happier times: Hull City's manager Phil Brown and Dean Windass celebrate promotion He accused home captain Cesc Fabregas of spitting at Hull assistant manager Brian Horton and then, bizarrely, told Radio 5 Live the next day that Fabregas, who was injured, should not have been representing Arsenal wearing jeans and a hooded jacket. Yet, somehow, despite Brown's diminishing popularity, erratic behaviour and Hull's abysmal form - just three league wins in 2009 so far - Hull stayed up. Not only did Brown get City into the Premier League, he kept them there. Before he arrived at Hull in October 2006, the city was famous for floods, fish and rugby league: now people associate it with football. Brown, the man, will continue to polarise opinion, but Brown, the manager, deserves to continue his journey with the club he took to the Premier League. If that means relegation, then so be it. Brown's great ally, Paul Duffen, has gone, but the new man in charge, Adam Pearson, appointed Brown in the first place. Perhaps they can haul Hull out of the doldrums again. In October 2008, Hull fans thought their manager could walk on water. A year on, after Brown claimed to have saved that girl's life on the Humber Bridge, some suggested he might have done well to swap places. At the very least, he has earned the opportunity to regain their respect.  Phil Brown fighting Hull City axe as money men warn of £23m relegation disasterHull must raise £23m to stay afloat if they go down, say Tigers' accountants  Explore more:People:Phil Brown, Cesc Fabregas, Dean Windass, Paul DuffenPlaces:Newcastle


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