Doomed Hull turn to Dowie to save their season

Hull City today announced the appointment of former Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie as their new boss, replacing Phil Brown who was placed on gardening leave on Monday – effectively sacked in all but name.

Dowie has been out of work since leaving Newcastle United at the end of the 2008/09 season, where he was part of Alan Shearer’s coaching staff but could not keep the Magpies up. The former Northern Ireland international has also led Oldham Athletic, Coventry City and Queens Park Rangers in two brief spells. A well-travelled striker in his playing days, Dowie featured for no fewer than nine clubs but was arguably best known for his time at Southampton, where he scored 30 goals in 122 games, and also West Ham, for who he netted 13 times in 81 appearances over two spells. Dowie finished his playing career with QPR in 2001. Whether the 45-year-old is the man to keep Hull up remains to be seen. The Tigers face an uphill battle to preserve their Premier League status, having just nine games to claw their way out of the bottom three. They currently sit 19th in the table, level on points with Burnley a place above but three points adrift of Wolverhampton Wanderers in 17th. Dowie’s first game in charge of the Yorkshire outfit is a vital relegation clash with bottom side Portsmouth on Saturday, at Fratton Park. City Chairman Adam Pearson had wanted a new manager in place before the weekend to give his club a fighting chance of taking an important win from the fixture with the south coast side.

Pearson finally settled on Dowie as the man to replace Brown after names higher up the shortlist – including Alan Curbishley, Terry Venables, Gary Megson and Mark Hughes – distanced themselves from the position. Curbishley and Venables were reluctant to take a role until the end of the season, Megson faced complications relating to his pay-off from leaving Bolton Wanderers last year while Hughes was content to wait for a higher-profile job after leaving Manchester City before Christmas. Portsmouth’s Avram Grant was also a name in the frame but Pompey would have been loath to lose their manager to a relegation rival.

It was at Crystal Palace that Dowie’s reputation as a manger was solidified, working wonders at the Selhurst Park outfit in taking them from 19th place in the Championship to the play-offs and the Premier League. That was in 2004 however, and since then Dowie’s career has been one of disappointment, lasting just a few months at Charlton and failing to take Coventry out of the mid-table quagmire of the Championship. Dowie is also one of numerous men to sit in the manager’s chair at QPR, but in his last stint at the west London club he took charge for just 15 games. The posting to Hull then is earned on the back of his success with Crystal Palace but that was over five years ago now, and the Eagles were relegated at the first time of asking. Hull have turned to a manager with no track record of survival and one who has not held a managerial position since leaving the R’s in October 2008. Dowie may have been the best manager willing to take the job however, given Hull’s perilous position, but that alone is a worrying sign for the Tigers. Compared to the managerial appointments of sides around them this season, Hull’s choice of Dowie is slightly more inspiring than Burnley’s ill-fated move for Brian Laws.

Dowie does not have much to work with at the KC Stadium, with Hull’s squad distinctly lacking in quality in key areas, particularly defence and attack. Kamil Zayette and Steven Mouyokolo, the Tigers’ centre-back partnership in recent games, lack the mental discipline of Premier League defenders and lose focus too easily, while the trio of Amr Zaki, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Jozy Altidore offer strength and hard running but little else. The midfield is one of the stronger of the relegation candidates but without Jimmy Bullard – who has missed a large portion of the season through injury – offers little creative inspiration. Achieving safety for Hull is a massive task and in truth, Dowie looks no more or less able than Brown to do it – but that says more about City’s situation than the respective merits of either the new boss or his predecessor. Dowie famously coined the word ‘bouncebackability’, and both he and his new charges now need to show it.

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