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Opinion

Radford a Hull hero despite sour end

19 Mar 20, 8:59AM 0 Comments

Written by Callum Walker

Photo by Getty Images

Lee Radford’s achievements should not be undermined, but the time was right for his dismissal

A coach with back-to-back Challenge Cups under his belt may well have been guaranteed the job for life before the advent of Super League. But, with just three wins in their opening seven games in 2020, Hull FC are underachieving – and they always seem to have done in the top flight.

2006 has been their only Grand Final appearance and that ended in a 26-4 defeat to St Helens. But, year after year, the Airlie Birds are predicted to do big things in the league, and fall short. FC finished sixth in 2019, just outside the play-offs, but recruited heavily going into this season with the likes of Ligi Sao, Manu Ma’u and Mahe Fonua all coming through the door ahead of 2020.

The “throw-money-and-hope-for-silverware” attitude from chairman Adam Pearson worked in 2016 and 2017 as Hull won at Wembley for the first time in their history and then recorded consecutive triumphs after losing their previous eight at the venue. But, a 38-4 thrashing at home by Warrington in early March was the final straw for Pearson, who parted ways with Radford immediately following the game and live on Sky Sports.

That in itself was a damning indictment of the ruthlessness of owners, but many Hull fans had been calling for Radford’s head weeks before the firing. The manner in which Pearson did it – with the players in the dressing room and unaware of the decision – rankled a number of pundits and others in the Rugby League fraternity, but, ultimately, Radford could hardly complain.

Pearson’s backing of his club – both financially and physically – effectively gives him the power to do as he likes, but the former Hull City chairman has given Radford his support through a number of tough seasons including an eighth-placed finish in 2018. With Pearson far from reaping the rewards of his investment, the time came to part ways. And, Radford himself fully understood.

Seven years as a head coach is a long time in sport. Comparing with the likes of the English Premier League, Eddie Howe and Sean Dyche – of Bournemouth and Burnley respectively – are the longest serving managers with seven years to their name. Sport takes no prisoners; even Claudio Ranieri – who guided Leicester City to unbelievable Premier League glory in 2015-16 – lost his job in February 2017 following a run of poor results.

Sport is a results-based business and, despite Radford’s cup-winning success, he simply has not delivered in the league. Pearson had clearly had enough; can anyone really blame him?

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