Many people tipped them to go straight back down without as much of a whimper, but Hull City have impressed many with their sturdy displays so far this season.
It got off to a worrying start, going two goals down away to Chelsea in the first half that could have gone very bad if the Blues had converted more of their opportunities, including a penalty. But then, they had a second half that has so far defined their season, they continued to play in the way they wanted to and remained calm to keep the score as respectful as possible whilst also posing a threat.
Currently in 12th on eighteen points so far, Hull have pulled some excellent results in the first half of the season. Wins against the teams around them (Norwich, West Ham, Sunderland), solid draws (Everton, Cardiff, Aston Villa) combined with some terrific wins (Liverpool, Newcastle) have given the side a platform to avoid relegation if they maintain the course in the second half of the season.
Steve Bruce has done a superb job with a relatively average group of players that he added to in the summer with a bit of Premier League quality. Tom Huddlestone is my pound-for-pound bargain of the summer transfer window, he’s brought a steady calm to Hull’s midfield, always available to take the ball and keep the side ticking on by doing all the uncelebrated things no-one likes doing.
Jake Livermore has been excellent on loan, linking with Huddlestone well who he played with at Tottenham whilst also being a link with the front players when the Tigers break. Also an underrated addition is Curtis Davies, a solid mid-level Premier League centre back that has just given them that bit of solidity next to the less experience James Chester and that all important top flight know-how that really adds to a team like Hull City.
The addition of Maynor Figeroua at left-back and the real development of El Mohhamedy as a right-back have also helped, keeping the team solid whilst also giving them a nice attacking edge most smaller sides don’t have. Others have made the step up nicely, Robbie Brady and Sone Aluko have that no-fear attitude, tormenting defences with their skill and speed whilst also contributing with goals.
This all circles back to Steve Bruce, he’s really shown his coaching credentials that were so hurt when he was sacked by Sunderland. His team are hard to beat, which is one of the toughest things to achieve when you’ve just been promoted, whilst also posing a bit of a threat when going up top. The only thing I think he’s done wrong was not getting Shane Long through the door, he would have added that perfect counter-attacking edge and they would have won more games than they already have.
It will get tougher for the Tigers as teams begin to try and stop the way they like to play and it’s not the ideal team to come from behind, but there are so many positive signs from the team many thought were goners. With maybe one or two more additions in January and avoid any off-the-field hoo-haa, Hull could continue to ply their trade in the top division of English football.