Brown's borrowed time at Hull runs out
Published 23:00 15/03/10 By David Anderson
The man who serenaded the Hull fans with Sloop John B finally fell overboard yesterday.
Phil Brown, 50, had been on borrowed time since his new chairman Adam Pearson succeeded his staunch ally Paul Duffen at the end of October and the axe finally fell after Saturday's last-gasp defeat to Arsenal.
Pearson broke the news to Brown yesterday morning, putting him on gardening leave when he reported for training, and Sam Allardyce's former protege says he leaves with his head held high.
"I'm obviously very disappointed with the club's decision," said Brown, who was appointed by Pearson in January 2007. "I'm also very proud of my achievements, especially having led the team into the top-flight for the first time in the club's 104-year history ahead of schedule."
Brown, the most successful manager in Hull's history, had won just one of his last 15 league games and Pearson and owner Russell Bartlett felt they had to act now to give them any chance of staying up.
Brown was not helped by the bust-up between Jimmy Bullard and Nick Barmby in a car park near the Humber Bridge, witnessed by shock members of the local WI. But insiders say it was not the final straw.
The seeds of doubt had been planted a few days before in a dreadful performance in a 5-1 defeat at Everton. Pearson had begun sounding out about Brown's management - and potential new men - in the aftermath of that surrender.
Brown saved the club from relegation from the Championship in 2007 and then led them to promotion via the play-offs 12 months later.
Hull then made a remarkable start to life in the Premier League, taking 20 points from their first nine games.
But form then deserted them and after a humiliating first-half showing at Manchester City, Brown lectured his players on the pitch.
Hull only survived relegation on the final day of the season, leading to Brown's rendition of Sloop John B to the KC Stadium faithful.
Relegation would be a financial disaster for the Tigers and they are in debt with a wage bill of around £39million.
Pearson said: "It may come as a surprise to some people and I admit it's a brave one, but I just felt we needed a change because results have been poor and, despite the fact the players are still battling, we're running out of games.
"We needed some fresh impetus. I spoke to Phil and he took it like the professional he is when I informed him of my decision.
"I'm looking for an experienced manager, someone who can come in and manage to get the wins we need to stay in the Premier League."
Brian Horton and Steve Parkin are in temporary charge until Pearson finds a new manager, with Alan Curbishley their main target. Terry Venables is also a shock contender if they fail to land the former Charlton and West Ham man.
Venables, 67, fits Pearson's profile of being experienced and available and the former England and Barcelona boss kept Middlesbrough up in 2001 when he was brought in as a firefighter to help Bryan Robson.
El Tel has been out of management since being sacked by Leeds seven years ago.
Iain Dowie and Mark Hughes are also under consideration, although Hull's financial constraints make a successful bid for the former Manchester City boss unlikely.