Hodgson's helping hand

Image: Merson: hope for Hull

Paul Merson told Soccer Saturday that Hull had little trouble overcoming a weakened Fulham side.

Selection left Cottagers there for the taking, says Merse

Hull City 2-0 Fulham
Soccer Saturday analysis

Paul Merson watched Hull hlland Iain Dowie his first win in charge - but felt Roy Hodgson gave his opposite number a helping hand. A goal in either half from Jimmy Bullard and Craig Fagan gave the Tigers their first win in six Premier League attempts, that saw them move level on points with West Ham in the relegation battle, although they remain in the bottom three. But while there were celebrations all around at the KC Stadium, Merson believes Hodgson contributed to his side's downfall by selecting his starting side with more than one eye on the upcoming Europa Cup tie with Wolfsburg. "I'd say the only fluke about it was the team that Fulham picked," he told Soccer Saturday. "That was the result, them leaving out there three best players by a country mile to be fair - (Bobby) Zamora, (Damien) Duff and (Danny) Murphy - I bet Iain couldn't believe his luck when that team sheet came through. "Hull were comfortable, very comfortable. Boaz Myhill never had a save to make to be fair. Without Zamora Fulham were never going to be a threat. I do like Clint Dempsey and Zoltan Gera but they were a bit lightweight up front without Zamora's presence. "It was a great result for Hull City - but I am sure there will be a lot of talking about Fulham's team." Dowie had called for passion and commitment before the game and although Merson expected more from them from kick-off, Hull did get the crucial breakthrough. And again they had some assistance from their guests, this time in the shape of Chris Smalling, whose clumsy challenge on Jozy Altidore allowed Bullard to blast home a penalty against his former club.

Struggling

"Hull didn't start great," said Merson. "I thought they'd really go at them strongly, with a really big temp to get the crowd buzzing but they didn't really do that. But then, all of a sudden they got a penalty. "The lad Smalling is struggling. I've watched him since he signed for Man United and he's been absolutely struggling badly. It was a bad decision; he didn't have to dive in, he tried to get on the other side of Altidore but got the wrong side and brought him down - and he was lucky he never got sent off. "To be fair to Jimmy Bullard he can take a penalty! The keeper went the right way, but it was straight into the top corner and two goalkeepers wouldn't have saved it." "Then they kicked off the second half, the ball comes in from Dean Marney and it's a great header from Fagan, absolutely outstanding. He's drifting back, but nods it the other way back over the keeper for 2-0 and that has just settled Hull. "Fagan was absolutely outstanding today - it must have been the best he's played for Hull."

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