Myhill has drive to keep Hull on road

Like his team, City's goalkeeper has come a long way and he believes their journey is far from over
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The Independent Football

Boaz Myhill joined Hull City in December 2003, since when the California-born Wales international goalkeeper has made 229 League appearances for the Tigers. Asked whether any of those matches did not matter, in the sense that the outcome could not affect City's destiny that season, Myhill scratches his head.

"There was one season when we won promotion with, I think, four or five games remaining and we could relax. Otherwise, we've always been fighting for promotion or against relegation until the very end."

And winning out every time. Myhill nods. "Yes, so far it's always worked out. But one thing's for sure. Life here's not been boring."

But today, in the words of the City manager Phil Brown, comes undoubtedly the biggest match of them all. Actually, given that Hull could be beaten by Manchester United and – as long as Newcastle lose at Aston Villa – still stay up, some might argue that last season's play-off final defeat of Bristol City was bigger still, but Myhill would not be among them.

"You can't let yourself think for a second that what might be happening somewhere else might get you out of trouble, and we won't," insisted Myhill. "It's all about us, and what we do. People might say we've only won one of our last 22 games, or whatever, and that we don't deserve to stay up, but it's about 38 games, and what we achieved in the first part of the season means we've earned this chance to hear the final whistle and know we're safe, without having to ask what happened at Villa."

At the beginning of the season Myhill made a similar point about himself, admitting that he did not know whether he was good enough to play Premier League football, but having won three promotions, he had surely earned the right to try and prove he was. With one game remaining, does he think he has been good enough?

"Ultimately I think I have, though that's not to say I haven't made mistakes," he said. "We all have, and we've all learned a lot. I've certainly discovered a lot about myself. I missed 10 games when the manager changed the team around, brought in Matt Duke, and that wasn't a good feeling.

"I honestly didn't think I'd done much wrong, but it was one of those things and I tried to use that time constructively and intelligently. It's been a mental adjustment as much as anything. You're up against very good players in every game, which means there will be periods when the opposition are on top and you have to work incredibly hard just stay in the game.

"Then there will be times when the goalkeeper is out of the game, but even then you have to be constantly alert because when the balls do come into the box, the delivery is so good. Picking and choosing when to intervene is key, and again, experience is a factor."

On Thursday evening, Brown took his squad to the splendid new theatre on Ferensway, in the city centre, where, with characteristically excellent timing, John Godber's Hull Truck company have revived Alan Plater's play Confessions of a City Supporter.

While full of jokes and local references, the nuances of which might have escaped the likes of Geovanni and Manucho, none of the players can have come out without a greater appreciation of just how important it has been for a city often unfairly denigrated in the media to have their football team in the Premier League. "That was my team talk, there and then," said Brown, and there can be no doubt City will not lack for motivation.

Whether they have the quality to beat even a much-changed Manchester United is of, course, another matter. One tabloid on Friday put up the back page headline: "United's third team too good for Hull", and the odds are they will be.

Brown came close to acknowledging as much: "Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland might have fears about what will come out of United's changing room, but let me tell you, I do as well," he said, but at the same time he suggested that City's draw at Bolton last week was the closest they had come to replicating their early-season form for months.

However well City play however, however hard they work to close down United's ball-players and pressurise unfamiliar defenders into making mistakes, Myhill is aware that in all probability he will be the key figure.

"If selected I'll do my best, like I always do," he said. "Hopefully the experience of the last nine months will help. All I can promise is that if it doesn't work out, it won't be for want of trying."