Late goals. The story of Hull City’s season so far. No less than 15 points had been dropped from winning positions from August onwards, so when Gary Hooper notched home in the 85th minute at Hillsborough on Saturday it was an all too familiar feeling for Tigers fans. These late goals had been the downfall of Leonid Slutsky and an even later rare equaliser from Michael Dawson wasn’t enough to save to save the bubbly Russian his job. It had felt as if from Sheffield United away at the start of November that Slutsky had been on borrowed time. He appeared out of ideas, a broken man and even questioned the character of his players. His departure had felt inevitable for a few weeks. Hull City were looking for their fifth head coach in 17 months.
Fast forward five days and a variety of names had been linked with the job from Simon Grayson to Gary Megson, but Nigel Adkins was bookies favorite from the very start. This was probably down to the fact he had been in attendance for a few matches this season already and has a good working relationship with the Allam family. His appointment however had supporters split. Rave reviews from Southampton and Scunthorpe United fans was countered by warnings from the Reading and Sheffield United faithful. Judging on his recent job at the Blades, Adkins may seem like a poor appointment but his over the top positive approach to management may just be what this current defunct of confidence squad needs. Adkins says that he would like his players to be able to play football in an environment where they can thrive and be happy and if any club needs a bit of a boost and feel-good atmosphere around the club, it is Hull City.
On paper the Tigers have a squad with a plethora of talent and Wolves aside, are competing against 22 other average Championship sides. In my opinion, they really should be pushing a top six finish with players like Polish international Kamil Grosicki who on his day is arguably the best player in the league, Seb Larsson who is captaining his nation at the World Cup in Russia next year and surprise package Jarrod Bowen who is enjoying a season beyond what he would ever have been able to imagine earlier this year. Adding to that, the players suffering from long-term injuries such as Abel Hernandez, Moses Odubajo and one time England international Ryan Mason, it is definitely safe to say the East Riding of Yorkshire club have underachieved this season. A contributing factor to this under-achievement is the burnt bridge between supporters and the Allam family, however with Adkins emphasis on togetherness, team spirit and “everybody pulling in the right direction”, it is hoped that for the 90 minutes on a match-day the supporters get behind the team and don’t let the off field problems affect the performance on the football pitch.
Overall, I believe that for Hull City, short-term success is the priority right now and that means staving off the threat of relegation and when compared to poor Sunderland, Burton Albion and Bolton Wanderers sides, the Tigers will stay up. There are other factors of course such as whether other clubs come sniffing in the January window for Bowen and Grosicki but with influential players returning from injury, goal scoring exploits that put them second in the ‘goals for’ column and a manager with four promotions in the English game under his belt, I believe Nigel Adkins will be able utilize this squad to its full potential and ultimately keep the Tigers in the Championship for another season.
Hull City fans, do you think Nigel Adkins is the right man for the job? Leave your opinions in the comments below!
featured image by Sky Sports