Tag Archives: Hull City

A most unlikely of likely seasons for Hull City

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On May 14th 2017, Hull City Football Club were relegated from the Premier League. Not so surprising for most that the Tigers eventually succumbed to their pre-season prediction of falling through the trapdoor but that it took so long to do so should be something of note.

Rewinding back all the way to July in their preparations for the season to come, I caught the friendly between Hull and Mansfield Town. Steve Bruce had a bare bones squad, filled with youngsters and missing spots on the bench along with Peter Odemwinge on a trial, that only just scraped past a League Two side with a 1-0 win.

To add insult to the many injuries they had coming into the evening’s game, Michael Dawson had to be taken off in the first half.

This also went down as Bruce’s last game in charge, leaving three days later due to a lack of funds in the transfer window.

In came, well, no one. Bruce’s assistant Mike Phelan was promoted to caretaker manager while the owner continued to keep his purse strings tight as the team kept weltering. Without enough new faces to supplement the stricken and no injection of quality needed for top flight football, it always looked like it would be an impossible season for the club on the Humber.

They started shockingly well, winning their first three games in all competitions, which included a victory on the opening day against reigning champions Leicester City. A late defeat to Manchester United, however, saw the spiral down the table with heavy defeats of four, five and six goals.

Phelan was initially promoted to full-time manager, only to see himself replaced by Marco Silva in late January. The Portuguese was an unpopular appointment with some sections of the media, questioning his experience despite winning the Portuguese Cup with Sporting and the Greek title with Olympiacos.

Hull City v Manchester United - EFL Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg

 

 

What he did within the time he had was astounding to say the least.

 

To start with, he saw two of their best players sold. Robert Snodgrass was shipped off to West Ham United, the Scotsman still standing as the club’s top scorer some five months on, while Jake Livermore saw his chance to flee south to West Bromwich Albion.

Saying that, they did pull in more faces than in the summer but most came in the form of loanees. Lazar Markovic, Oumar Niasse and Andrea Ranocchia were all bundled through the door in the last few days of the window, with Kamil Grosicki making a permanent switch from Rennes.

However, the rag-tag group was brought together and started playing football on both ends of the pitch.

Before his arrival, Hull had scored just 17 and shipped a staggering 44 goals this season. While the scoring hasn’t moved an enormous amount, the Tigers have two more goals in three less games, their defence has almost taken on another personality altogether.

They shipped just 29 in their last 17 games, not spectacular numbers but a drastic improvement from before. They added three more clean sheets to the one they had right at the start of the season, which shows that they were in an upwards trajectory.

Gone were the days where they would mix between a 4-3-3, 4-5-1, 4-4-1-1 or even a 4-3-2-1 for what seemed like what position the sun was in the sky. Silva gave them a 4-2-3-1 base to work from, instilling graft and when a little bit of zest was needed, a switch to 3-4-3 seemed to do the trick.

 

He grew their relatively solid home form, where they have only lost to the top six excluding Tottenham Hotspur (who visit on the final day), Stoke City and Sunderland, the result that killed their hopes.

They also played in a more adventurous, do-or-die kind of way. The wingers were swashbuckling, everything was with commitment and they would go down swinging, shown by their eight defeats under the Portguese were by more than one goal as they left themselves a little open in the pursuit of a comeback.

In fact, that’s what became their Achilles heel all season long. Only four of their 21 defeats were by a single goal, showcasing that they could never keep it close even in games they were playing well in.

The manager gets plenty of plaudits and will rightfully have interest across Europe this summer. Whether a spot in the Premier League will open up for him is debatable but with a number of attractive options in France, Italy and even with FC Porto at home, he could be under new employers soon.

Some of the players showed enough to stay as well. Sam Clucas showed both quality and effort, Harry Maguire is finally filling in the promise he showed at Sheffield United a few years ago, Andrew Robertson has looked like a left-back for a bigger club for years now while both Markovic and Grosicki glimpsed enough quality to get interest from elsewhere too.

In the end, the disappointment for the fans will be that up until that Sunderland game, they really had it within their own hands. In reality for most, who thought it could be a Derby 2007/08 scenario, they’ve done much more than many could have even imagined.

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Why video refereeing will work in football

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Mike Dean did not have the best of days on Monday night, to say the least. Source: The Mirror

Somewhat lost among the regular spiel during a match day weekend of referee rants and manager meltdowns was two instances where technology in football made a big difference. In two games, Hawkeye confirmed goals that otherwise were not caught by officials pitch side.

At the Etihad, Burnley clawed themselves back into the game after Ben Mee’s header was confirmed to have crossed the line after a scramble. The other instance was even more significant, with Gareth McAuley’s header against Hull City was not denied on the line and gave the Baggies their first lead in the game.

Both almost seemed like the norm, which is why there was no real talk about it. So, if that has significantly helped football, why can’t video evidence be used to aid referees in a similar manner?

There’s no getting away from it, Mike Dean had a bad day at the London Stadium on Monday evening officiating West Ham United versus Manchester United. Sofiane Feghouli’s red card is very harsh (it has since been rescinded), Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s goal was offside in both phases and with a couple of unpunished fouls, along with a deliberate handball that was given but no booking, it almost turned farcical.

Now avoiding the silly talk about Dean’s enjoyment of the limelight or how he seemed to never recover from the early red card, which all are slightly unfair shots at his character, let’s talk about how we can assist them. Without video evidence, none of these debates would have been brought up in the first place but with them there, there shouldn’t really be an excuse from the footballing hierarchy not to use them.

It would not take a dramatic amount of time to check them, the videos are available for TV companies in a heartbeat and after a few different angles, 95% of decisions are fairly clear cut. With an experience, official either at the game or a team based somewhere, it should be something that any major league or international competition could start quickly.

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This goal would not have stood if it wasn’t for Hawkeye in football. Source: The Sun

There have been a few trials at international friendlies, with incredibly interesting results. It was used in France’s 3-1 win against Italy and with the use of VARs (video assistant referees), they helped make sure a Djibril Sidibe challenge was not worth a red card within 10 seconds.

10 seconds. That’s all it took.

Some commentators say that the managers should have challenges as well, similar to the system used in the NFL. If they get the first challenge right, they get to keep it but overall over the course of the game, an NFL coach can only make a maximum of three challenges which is dependent on that first call.

Mixing that in with the referee being able to check things that quickly and it could turn things that can completely change a team’s season into the norm. With everything checked quickly and then given an extra time to look at them because of a challenge would completely clear any doubt over the referee’s decision, although some will still refuse to accept it.

The old guard will argue that the game’s gone to pot and with machines aiding it now, it’s not long until it’s completely out of pub talks forever, but they’ll soon get over it. The sport is continuing to modernise, even if it’s still vastly behind some sports in certain areas, and finally implementing these ideas would really help.

In fact, it will really help the officials the most. For how scrutinised they are, they can only give what they have seen on the field and especially when you only get one shot at it, then it’s almost a thankless task to have an absolutely spotless game.

This needs to happen as soon as FIFA and The FA can get it off the ground. It might seem a little hyperbolic but people’s jobs are at stake in this results-based business and the fact that it could change from the wrong decision should not be a factor in 2017.

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