Brown backs Hull to avoid drop

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The Independent Football

Manager Phil Brown is desperate to turn Hull's fortunes around on the pitch - and hopes the club's new chairman can do the same in the boardroom.

Paul Duffen stood down as executive chairman this morning after pressure mounted on him and Brown following the club's poor start to their second season in the top flight, which has seen them take just eight points from their opening 10 games.

Brown was reluctant to comment on the departure of his good friend, but admitted: "The game's about change and as far as I'm concerned, nobody saw Paul's resignation coming.

"It's happened and I have to respond to it, and my players have to respond to it, by putting in a good performance on Saturday."

The club's accounts - finally released this week, five months behind schedule - showed borrowings of £22million, prompting accountants Deloitte to predict the Tigers will have to raise £23million to balance their books should they be relegated, and £16million if they survive.

That added to the pressure on Duffen, but his statement this morning read: "Football is a results business and in the same way that I enjoyed the successes of the previous two seasons, so I must take ultimate responsibility for the disappointments of 2009."

But Brown claimed: "I don't think it was on football results, I think it was on the business of football and unfortunately that's the case.

"It's difficult to separate the two but one does tend to run a business as well as a football club, and I run the football side of things."

The under-pressure Tigers boss is perceived to have lost a major ally with the exit of Duffen, who this afternoon backed him to continue in his role and guide the club out of their difficult period.

Duffen took ultimate responsibility for the dismal start to the campaign, telling talkSPORT: "Phil is the manager of the team on the pitch, but at the end of the day it's on my watch. I (was) the chief executive, ultimately responsible for the success on the pitch, and I don't see why football club executives shouldn't be accountable.

"Phil is a football manager; he's a football guy and has been in football all his adult life. So he knows full well that success on the pitch will be the thing that gives him job security, the same as any manager.

"I certainly believe that Phil has got a great chance of making the squad around him into a successful Premier League team. I'm therefore very happy, in a situation where the results have been disappointing in 2009, to step up and say, 'I don't believe it's Phil's problem'.

"I'm very happy to say that I've been the chief executive and chairman of the football club and I'm prepared to take responsibility. Get off his back, give him a chance and I'm sure that he'll pull through."

Brown insists his position remains strong and that he enjoys the backing of majority shareholder Russell Bartlett, claiming: "There's a very strong relationship between myself and Russell."

Reports have linked former chairman Adam Pearson, who resigned from a similar role at Derby yesterday, with a return to the KC Stadium, but Brown remained tight-lipped on that issue.

The 50-year-old Tigers boss focused instead on playing matters, adding: "You'll have witnessed a training session (this morning) that was worthy of a changing room that's going through a change in its life, which is obviously the resignation of the chairman.

"It's not their responsibility to replace the chairman, it's their responsibility to get on the field of play on Saturday and perform for the team.

"From what I've seen here today, it looks like they're up for the challenge. Only time will tell.

"This situation is another challenge, or another chapter, in the life or the history of Hull City. There might be speculation about my position, Paul Duffen's position, but I keep on looking at that league table and we're still in the Premier League.

"I've been on trial every day of my life. It's the deal. I have responded to every challenge that's come my way and I will continue to do that.

"I'm confident that we will be a Premier League club at the end of the season."

Brown, as well as Duffen, has seen speculation mount over his future, with former Tigers striker and fans' favourite Dean Windass calling for him to be "moved on" in an interview this morning.

The manager admitted he was "very disappointed with Dean Windass' comments", but added: "Not surprised, just disappointed."