Premier League: Hull Survive Despite Losing To United

If you haven't noticed, things aren't going so well for the Hull City Tigers. Assumed to be relegation candidates before the current Premier League season started, the Tigers are living up to that billing in spades.

Their most recent misadventure, a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield, is not disappointing for Hull in terms of result (a win over a top four opponent away was never going to a likely proposition) but in the nature of that beating that they took. Hull's battle to stay up will be more about getting points out of matches with clubs like Birmingham (to whom they've lost) and Bolton (whom they've beaten) than doing well against the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea.

But the Liverpool defeat on top of some other recent poor results has lit the burner under Phil Brown, and the Hull manager is staring to feel the heat. For most Americans, beyond those who have fully taken to Hull as passionate fans, the question of Phil Brown's potential sacking might now matter if it weren't for one rather large question:

If Brown is fired, what happens to Jozy?

Jozy's not going anywhere, of course, and should be with Hull for the balance of the Premier League season. But if Brown, the man ostensibly behind the acquiring of the young American on loan from Villareal, is no longer manager, where does that leave Altidore's prospects for playing time?

Altidore has yet, and may never, entrench himself as a first team choice for the Tigers. He entered this weekend's match as a late-game substitute for Geovanni, at a point in the action when the outcome was well decided; with several more experienced forwards options available, spot minutes may be the best that we can expect for Jozy. Managers in peril tend to rely more on seasoned players they're familiar with than unknown youngsters for whom consistency is still an issue; it's also unlikely that would change under a new manager, since a new man would probably do the same in an effort to save the club from relegation.

Either way, it's a tough time for American fans tracking Altidore's progress, and it shows not signs of getting better. He can still make his mark at Hull, and the hope and belief is that he can be a starter in the Premier League before too long. Unfortunately, it's difficult to see a path that leads there at the moment, and perhaps we should (and some certainly did) have seen the problems coming. Clubs bound to struggle cannot afford to wait on young talent, no matter how much potential there might be, while their chance of remaining top-flight slip away with every dropped point.

The World Cup is rapidly approaching, and Jozy Altidore is already a prominent part of the US National Team. The more time on field, especially for a player of his age, the better; at twenty years old, Altidore cannot afford to be wasting away on the Hull bench when so much of the American hopes in South Africa will be tied to his performance.

Phil Brown has received the dreaded (I'm required by the sportswriters' code to describe it as "dreaded") vote of confidence from Hull's chairman, which probably means he'll receive his walking papers shortly; even if he doesn't, as a manager under fire from multiple angles, he's not likely to take chances or be experimental. Would a replacement, either a caretaker or a newly installed permanent manager, be more likely to put Jozy on the pitch?

Maybe Jozy's just damned either way.
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