There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst the Hull City fan base right now, after the departures of three very popular players: Liam Rosenior, Paul McShane and Stephen Quinn.
No one was under any illusions that there would be departures following relegation, but we expected those scrambling for (or being pushed towards) the exits to be the highly paid and long contracted who wouldn't fancy slumming it in the Championship. Figuring themselves too good to not be playing in the top flight, despite not pulling enough of their own weight to ensure Hull City were still there too (Tom Huddlestone, I'm looking at you).
Instead we've lost exactly the sort of players needed for a Championship promotion campaign, and we know they are that sort because they were part of our 2012/13 promotion. In each case with Rosenior, McShane and Quinn, we've let a highly committed, hard working and team first orientated player slip away and it feels like we've thrown away the babies and kept all of the bathwater.
Some effort was made to keep hold of Stephen Quinn at least, he was offered a new deal, but evidently felt that the deserved love was shown a little too late. Steve Bruce clearly rates Quinn, and why wouldn't he? Quinn is tenacious and highly flexible, having been deployed in a number of roles during his time in Hull, but the manager never felt he deserved extended runs in the team, or maybe he just felt he had to play the overpriced but underwhelming signings he made post-promotion.
When called upon though Quinn has shone, you cannot fault his application, he's a willing runner with no little skill and deserves to have been utilised more in the Premier League. I'd argue that his finest game for Hull City came in the FA Cup final when he caused Arsenal real problems, he can cut it at the higher level, the manager just restricted his opportunity to. Time will tell, but there is a feeling we've made a grave error letting Quinn join a Championship rival.
Another player that some feel has been poorly treated is Paul McShane, who is a bonafide cult hero for Hull City fans. He's another one who like Quinn, always gives it everything. Not the most technically accomplished defender but he's always made up for that with work rate, guts and determination, and for that he is loved on the terraces and evidently in the dressing room, though again like Quinn, not entirely by Steve Bruce.
In fact early into 2014/15, McShane found himself on the naughty step and made to train with the kids, with some speculating that McShane had made public his feeling that Alex Bruce is preferred not on merit, but because of nepotism. After a public apology the rift between player and manager was healed, temporarily at least, and McShane was called upon in the final part of the season as Bruce Snr. realised his expensively assembled flops didn't have the heart for a relegation fight and so he turned to those that did, which is for the most part, the remaining players who had helped the Tigers reach the Premier League in the first place.
In his last performance for Hull City he was named man of the match against Manchester United, typifying the attitude he displayed over six years by carrying on manfully despite a cut to the head and a deep thigh gash after an encounter with Maroune Fellaini. McShane had the head cut bandaged and the thigh wound stapled shut and soldiered on.
The spirit that kept Hull City up and took them to an FA Cup final in 2013/14 was largely attributed to a core of committed British and Irish players, a core that Steve Bruce decimated with subsequent transfer windows, and has now mostly jettisoned following relegation. Quinn and McShane were integral components in that core, and seeing hard working pros who care leave while those you suspect are only here for the wages remain is quite upsetting for some. It leaves many rather nervous about what 2015/16 holds in store for Hull City, despite the bookies being convinced we are promotion material.
However the season pans out, I'd expect both Quinn and McShane to be vocally appreciated when the Tigers and your lot meet.