While the Premier League title race could well depend on whether Liverpool value their joint-record 18 championships more than they dislike Chelsea, at the other end of the table, Hull’s decision to replace Phil Brown with Iain Dowie reached its inevitable conclusion on Saturday. The equally hapless Brian Laws saw his Burnley side also fulfil their potential, thus ensuring there wouldn’t be any relegation drama on the final afternoon of the season, what with Portsmouth’s fate having been sealed a long time since.
Among those celebrating safety is Wolves boss Mick McCarthy, whose fielding of a weakened team at Man U earlier in the campaign, immediately followed by a vital victory over Burnley (who, it’s hard to credit, had beaten United under Owen Coyle) ultimately proved a shrewd call. However, having made Wanderers harder to beat, the former Irish gaffer’s top-flight credentials will be judged in a different light next term given that the club’s rudely healthy finances should hand him decent money to spend for the first time as a Premier League manager.
Speaking of which, Stephen Hunt, whose absence through injury during the run-in was a big blow to Hull’s survival chances, has a relegation release clause in his contract and most people would have anticipated he’d move to Molineux (which nearly happened in January) this summer, enabling him to reunite with his best friend Kevin Doyle. However, Newcastle are now reportedly keen on the Clonea-Power man and a switch to St James’s Park would be seriously tempting.
Such is the burning hole in Hull’s books (debts totalling £36m) that they can’t countenance keeping him (Hunt’s wages are around £35,000 a week), and it’s speculated that they may even move to try and bring Brown back from gardening leave.
Phil should certainly have topped up his tan since being put out to grass in March, which will at least save on the sunbed bills.