Dowie the dictator: “It wasn’t a democracy, it wasn’t a debate. It was me telling them what we are going to do.”

SIX days ago, Iain Dowie decided to clear the air with his relegation-threatened Hull squad.

He called them together, in the wake of a 4-1 home defeat by Burnley, and told them exactly what the devastating effects would be if they dropped into the Championship.

It was a “no-holds-barred” meeting in which he reminded them of their responsibilities, not just to the club but to the wider Humberside area.

Dowie’s tell-it-like-it-is approach seemed to do the trick. He dropped keeper Boaz Myhill, put in reserve Matt Duke and took a chance on teenager Tom Cairney in midfield as the Tigers gained a creditable draw at Birmingham, only their fifth away point of the season.

Dowie confirmed: “We had a meeting on Tuesday. It was a nitty gritty meeting where a few homes truths were told.

“Too often you tread on egg shells. I didn’t think it was a week to do that with the players. It was a week to tell them how it is.

“It wasn’t a democracy, it wasn’t a debate. It was me telling them what we are going to do.

“With the cosseted lives they have, they sometimes forget the impact of their actions. You lose 60, 70 jobs if you go down in an area that is deprived anyway.

“It is a working class area and they demand to see the lads put a shift in and the second half we didn’t do that enough against Burnley.

“I got them all in my office. People like Nick Barmby, Andy Dawson and Ian Ashbee have been at the club since it was in the lower regions and it has come an awful long way in a short time.

“We’ve got people like Kevin Kilbane and Dawson who are proper lads. They care deeply about being a Premier League footballer. The good thing is we got the response we wanted at Birmingham.”

Dowie added: “If we can keep this club up, it will be very important for the whole region and that is the key element for me.

“It is an area that can sustain a Premier League club. The infrastructure is there, the ground is good, all those things.

“It would be a very good achievement. We now need to respond to a very good away point with some points at home.

“They are a good bunch of lads. Whether we have the quality to stay up, we will see in the next four games we have.”

Dowie admits that Hull’s ability to keep further clean sheets will be pivotal to their survival chances.

He said: “Look how many clean sheets we’ve got away from home. It is very poor. I think we’ve got to base it on clean sheets. That is a key issue.

“I don’t think we are set up to go gung-ho. Look at our record. We have conceded goals. It is two clean sheets in four games and it is important we can continue that sort of thing.”

Birmingham, in contrast, are already assured of another season in the top flight despite failing to win any of their last seven matches.

But boss Alex McLeish still believes the club’s achievements this season are on a par with anything he has experienced in a career which saw him enjoy major success at Rangers as a manager and Aberdeen as a player.

He said: “I still feel this is the equivalent of going for honours, what we have done this season. That is why I keep driving the players on, to try and get to 50 points, to get beyond 50 points, and we’ve still got games to do that in.

“Relatively speaking, this is as good as anything I have achieved.”

McLeish has sympathy for Dowie’s plight having gone down with Birmingham in his first season in charge two years ago.

He said: “It is horrible. The thing that stopped us from stepping up was the home draws.

“In the 13 home games I had that season after coming in midway through, there were eight draws, four wins and one defeat and that was against Chelsea.

“We travelled away feeling vulnerable and not believing in ourselves. It is almost like you needed the opposition to score a goal before we would start reacting.

“It is a tough place to be but Hull came out, set their stall out, have a lot of experienced players, and a draw was a fair result.”

It was a meritorious result for the Tigers against a team who are unbeaten at home since September. The problem for Dowie is that Hull are still in the bottom three, but at least he has the comfort that three of their remaining four games are at home.

MATCH RATING: ** – an important point for Hull, but still a tame affair. The stats tell the story. Both sides managed only five shots on target between them.

REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne and Wear) 7 – You hardly noticed him which is high praise for the man in the middle.

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