September 12th 2020. The day the footballing world has been waiting for. The Premier League and the EFL announced in July that the 2020/21 season will be underway very shortly. Ahead of the new season, I have decided to take a look into the future of the 24 teams making up League One for the new campaign, with an in depth look at what each team has to offer for the coming year. Eleventh on the list, is Grant McCann’s Hull City:
The 2020/21 season will be Hull City’s 177th in their history, and their first back in League One. Their last venture outside of League One was their most recent League campaign, with the Tigers finishing bottom of the Championship for the 2019/20 season. The last time Hull City played in League One was the 2004/05 campaign, when Peter Taylor masterminded a 2nd placed finish that year, nestling just behind Luton Town to make the jump into the Championship. Since that promotion season back in 2005, Hull City have spent 10 seasons in the Championship, whilst also spending five seasons in the Premier League. A side usually known for bouncing back and forth between the top two divisions, have now found themselves going in the wrong direction. The Allams will be hoping that the Tigers can bounce back at the first opportunity, but sides like Sunderland, Ipswich and Portsmouth know how hard it is to get out of League One.
Grant McCann is heading into his second season with Hull City, having taken over Nigel Adkins at the end of the 2018/19 season. McCann’s managerial career began back in 2016, when he was appointed the new manager of Peterborough United, after spending a few years previous with the club as a player. He left the club in February of 2018, after a string of poor results. In June of the same year, he was snapped up by Doncaster Rovers and spent a year with the Yorkshire side, guiding them to the play offs. He left his position with Donny to make the jump up to Hull City in the Championship, and they looked a good bet for the play offs in January, but after the sales of Kamil Grosicki and Jared Bowen, the club fell of the wagon and dropped all the way down to 24th and suffered relegation on the final day. In an interview with BBC Sport, McCann revealed how he is desperate to win over the Hull fans after their torrid relegation campaign.
Since the start of the 2019/20 season, Hull City have used three separate formations across three competitions this season. The most used of those was the 4-2-3-1, which was the squad set up for 47 of the 50 games. So, for the squad set up, I will be looking only at the 4-2-3-1. All of the formations were found using Transfermarkt.
26-year-old George Long was the first-choice goalkeeper for Hull City last season, playing 46 times across the season. The back up to him was Matt Ingram, a summer signing from Championship side QPR, who played four times last season. All stats supllied by WhoScored. Long’s contribution last season was a struggle in an incredibly tough campaign, making 116 saves from his 45 league appearances.On the right-side, the only recognized right back for Hull last season was Eric Lichaj, with Leo Silva playing a few games there but is more of a midfielder. Lichaj played 30 times last season, getting two assists in that time. Stats wise, Lichaj made 65 tackles and 33 interceptions last season, proving that he was a capable defender despite Hull’s very poor season.On the left, 25-year-old summer signing Callum Elder was the first-choice left back for Hull this season, making 30 appearances and getting three assists. The backup for Elder was Stephen Kingsley, with the Scotsman playing eight times last season. Also, there was Brandon Fleming, with the 20-year-old playing seven times last season, with only the one assist. In terms of the stats, Elder made 55 tackles and 22 interceptions in his 30 league games. Fairly similar to Lichaj.In the centre of defence, 23-year-old Reece Burke was Hull’s most capped central defender, playing 38 times last season without scoring a goal. Jordy de Wijs was the partner for Burke this year, playing 35 times and scoring twice. Summer signing Ryan Tafazoli played 19 times for Hull last season, scoring once and getting two goals. Matthew Pennington joined the club on loan from Everton, after a spell out with Ipswich the season before. Pennington played 16 times for Hull this season, without scoring a goal.Academy product Robbie McKenzie played 12 times for Hull last season, also without scoring a goal. Angus MacDonald featured only five times last season. Stats wise, Reece Burke made 42 tackles and 44 interceptions in the campaign. Compare that to Jordy de Wijs, who made 53 tackles and 65 interceptions. De Wijs looks like the more defensively sound centre back last season.In the middle of the pitch, Leo da Silva Lopes was the most used midfielder this season. Silva Lopes played 44 times for Hull last season after his move from Wigan, socring twice and getting four goals. Playing in the attacking role for the majority of the season was George Honeyman, a summer signing from Sunderland, with the attacking midfielder getting one goal and three assists from his 44 league games. Jackson Irvine played 36 games for Hull last season, before the mid-season break was implemented, not playing afterwards. Scored twice last season. Daniel Batty was another midfielder who played a fair amount last season, picking up one assist from his 33 appearances.Multi-million signing Kevin Stewart played 28 times for Hull las year, scoring twice and getting one assist. Attacking midfielder Jon Toral stepped onto the pitch 16 times last season, scoring once and getting three assists. You can see the problems that Hull had. Loan signing Herbie Kane was bought in from Liverpool in the winter, making nine appearances and scoring twice. A decent return for the youngster. Finally, Peterborough’s Marcus Maddison also joined on loan in the winter, scoring once in his seven appearances. Stats wise, da Silva Lopes had a 75% dribble completion rate, which was very good considering he attempted 60 dribbles, and had a 74% pass accuracy rate. A good season for the youngster. George Honeyman struggled in front of goal, having only a 61% dribble completion rate, but did have a 77% pass accuracy rate. Good at distributing the ball.On the wing, Hull’s star man was Jared Bowen, with the 23-year-old making 32 appearances and scoring 17 goals before a January move to West Ham United. Hull missed him more than anyone in their history. Josh Bowler was a summer loan signing from Everton, playing 31 times this season, but only scored once and getting one assist. Not good enough. Kamil Grosicki was another standout player for Hull before his departure in January to West Brom, playing 30 times and getting eight goals. Another massive miss. Hull’s most promising academy star is Keane Lewis-Potter, who played 22 times for Hull last season at the age of 19, getting two goals and two assists.Winter signing Malik Wilks played 19 times after his move from Barnsley, scoring five times. Stats wise, you can only really look at Bowler after Bowen and Grosicki’s departure, to see how much they missed them in attack. Bowler had a 37% success rate from his dribbling, and a 72% pass accuracy rate. Wasn’t good at all when it came to his attacking running, proving that Bowen and Grosicki were head and shoulders above the rest of the Hull squad.In attack, summer signing Tom Eaves was Hull’s leading forward this year, with the ex-Gillingham man finding the net eight times from 44 games. A good return for someone making the step up in my opinion. Deputising to him was Josh Magennis, another summer signing, this time from Bolton Wanderers. Magennis played 32 times last season, scoring five goals and getting two assists. Winter signing James Scott was also part of the squad, with the ex-Motherwell man getting one goal from his seven league games. In terms of the stats, Tom Eaves had 55 shots from his 40 league appearances, but did win over 50% of his aerial battles, which is a rarity for a striker.
With the club being relegated, they were bound to be needing a few new signings to replace the players that didn’t want to be labelled as a league one player. Before the window was opened, Hull City confirmed the permanent loan signing of Malik Wilks from Barnsley, and the permanent signing of Festus Arthur from Stockport. Once the window was opened, Hull acted quickly to fix the right back spot for the new season, with Fleetwood’s Lewie Coyle joining his hometown club for an undisclosed fee. Coyle was a key player for Fleetwood last season, and will look to help Hull get back into League One. Another right back bought in by McCann is Josh Emmanuel, with the young back joining after his release from Bolton Wanderers. Hull’s third signing of the window was Blackburn’s Richie Smallwood, with the 29-year-old midfielder joining after his release from the Championship side.With three players coming in, a few players have also left the club as well. Angus MacDonald has just been announced as a new signing for Rotherham, whilst Will Mannion has joined up with Cypriot side Pafos FC. Hull released a lot of players at the end of the season, with club captain Eric Lichaj, vice-captain Jackson Irvine, Markus Henrikson, Nouha Dicko, Kevin Stewart, Jon Toral, Robbie McKenzie and Stephen Kingsley all departing. With the contracts of loan players expiring to, it meant that Matt Pennington, Josh Bowler, Marcus Maddison and Herbie Kane have returned to their parent clubs.
The Problem Areas?
With a fair few players leaving, Hull have a much smaller squad to work with this year. They still have George Long and Matt Ingram in goal, so have two very capable League One goalkeepers to work with this year. On the right, with Eric Lichaj’s departure, Hull acted quickly to bring in Lewie Coyle and Josh Emmanuel. They have two very decent League One right backs to work with. On the left, with Stephen Kingsley’s departure, it leaves Callum Elder and Brandon Fleming to work with. Again, two very good left backs for League One. At centre back, Hull have a host of options to work with. Reece Burke, Jordy de Wijs, Ryan Tafazoli, Sean McLoughlin and Festus Arthur are with them this season, although de Wijs is expected to leave in the summer, and Reece Burke shouldn’t be playing in League One.In the middle of the park, Hull have lost a lot of players. Marcus Maddison and Herbie Kane have gone back to their parent clubs, whilst Jackson Irvine, Jon Toral and Kevin Stewart have been released. Still with the club is Leo da Silva Lopes, Daniel Batty and George Honeyman, whilst Richie Smallwood has signed on for the season, and Max Sheaf has returned from a loan spell at Cheltenham. On the wing, Hull have Keane Lewis-Potter, Malik Wilks and Martin Samuelson to work with, after Bowler’s return to Everton. Going forward, Hull have Tom Eaves, Josh Magennis and James Scott. Looking at that squad, it is for me one of the best in League One. The only areas that will need working on will be postions that need filling if players are to leave, because the squad is big enough to cope this year. However, maybe another winger is needed for Hull, and possibly someone to battle George Honeyman this season. If de Wijs and Burke are to leave, centre back could be a area to look at also.
I’m not suggesting by any means that I am a scouting guru who has an extensive knowledge of the world of football, but I do like the process of the transfer windows, and trying to be someone who can identify talent when it becomes available. For each team, after identifying the problem areas, I want to try and see if I can find any players for a specific set of positions who could be suited to each club, based on previous transfer years and the club’s reputation surrounding incomings:
- Centre/Attacking Midfielder –
Greg Docherty – Rangers – 23 y/o – Transfer FeeDocherty has been linked with Hull in the last week or so, and it looks very likely that he will be joining the Yorkshire side soon.Robbie Gotts – Leeds – 20 y/o – Loan DealBeen linked with likes of Blackpool, Huddersfield and Hull in the last few weeks, needs to get first team football now that Leeds have been promoted.Herbie Kane – Liverpool – 21 y/o – Loan DealSpent last season on loan with Hull, would be an excellent addition to the squad in League One. Scott Fraser – Burton – 25 y/o – Free AgentReleased by Burton in the summer, and has been linked with a move to Hull City in the past. Has been interesting Sunderland a lot recently, and if a move to the Championship doesn’t pan out then he could go to Hull.Jack Roles – Tottenham – 21 y/o – Loan DealSpent season with Cambridge. 5 goals in 23 games. Excellent midfielder who deserves a step up to League One. Ravel Morrison – Sheffield Utd – 27 y/o – Free AgentReleased by Sheff Utd in the summer, spent some time with Middlesbrough last season. May need to drop down a few divisions to get some football.
- Winger –
Randall Williams – Exeter – 23 y/o – Transfer FeeHave had a bid rejected for the winger in the last week, may come back in for him if they throw some money at them. Josh Bowler – Everton – 21 y/o – Loan DealStruggled in the Championship, but might find his feet in League One for the new season. Knows the club well.Duncan Watmore – Sunderland – 26 y/o – Free AgentReleased by Sunderland in the summer. Played games in the Premier League for Sunderland, but needs a career restart.Marc Pugh – QPR – 33 y/o – Free AgentReleased by QPR in the summer, playing 31 times for them last season. Would probably drop down to League One to get some game time.Stephen McLaughlin – Southend – 30 y/o – Transfer FeeGot four goals and six assists last season for Southend, probably deserves the jump back up for League One. Would be a solid back up for Hull.Bez Lubala – Crawley – 23 y/o – Transfer FeeDeserves to make the jump up to League One this season, getting 12 goals and 3 assists last season.
It’s always difficult to tell how each team is going to fair in the new season, because we haven’t seen many signings nor the influence of pre-season friendlies. Just by going off how each team is expected to deal with the current COVID-19 financial troubles, and what each team is capable of doing under much greater restraint right now, I think that Hull will be one of the favourites to go straight back up. Even with the links of de Wijs and Silva Lopes making the move away, they still have a very solid League One side this season, and should be pushing for automatic promotion. What do you guys think? How do you think Hull City will fair in the new season? Will Grant McCann get his side straight back into League One? Or will the suffer the same fate as Sunderland and Ipswich? Let me know in the comments below and make sure to follow All Out Football on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.