David Haimovich writes about the current situation at Hull City
With the Premier League returning to action this week, it is most likely to think that most of the teams are well prepared and have assembled their desired squads. One club that seems to fall short in preparations is Hull City.
It was all looking fine for the “Tigers” until an announcement came out of the blue. After four years, Hull City and manager Steve Bruce part ways. At first, the decision to part ways was unexplained, two days later an open letter to the fans from the manager was published.
Bruce had his ups and downs during his 4-year spell with Hull. He was appointed as manager of the club back in June 2012 after Hull missed on a playoffs spot in the 2011/2012 Championship campaign by 8 points. In his first season in charge, he led the club to automatic promotion to the Premier League through a 2nd placed finish. Life back in the Premier League wasn’t a stroll in the park for Hull, managing to avoid relegation by 4 points and to finish 16th, the pill was sweetened by a fantastic cup run seeing The Tigers reach all the way to the final only to lose to Arsenal . The following season wasn’t one to remember for Hull fans. failing to embark on a European tour after being eliminated by Belgian side Lokeren in the Playoffs stage and succumbing to Premier League relegation. The rest is known and puts Hull in the phase it is in today.
Prior to the announcement to part ways, on July 20th, another statement came out of the Yorkshire club. The club was up for sale since 2014 after an application by the current owner, Assem Allam, to change the club’s name to Hull Tigers was denied by the Football Association. The statement has clarified speculation regarding the club’s future owners as it was said, that no further talks will commence until the closure of the summer transfer window, in order to not harm transfer business.
Bolstering the squad with more players became crucial after several first team players suffered injuries. The likes of goalkeeper Allan McGregor who’s been out since May with a back problem, defensive duo Alex Bruce and Moses Odubajo, and joining them lately is captain Michael Dawson with a knee injury that will keep him out for three months.
It took three more days for the club to announce on July 23rd the sudden departure, by mutual consent, of Steve Bruce. The departure came after Bruce was known to be interviewed for the vacant England national team job and whether that is the reason behind all of this is still unclear. reports that Bruce was not satisfied with the club’s involvement in the transfer market surfaced up as well.
A fallout with the owner, Assem Allam, doesn’t seem likely. Back in April this year, Hull’s supporters protested against the owner who at the time was lying ill in hospital. While the fans wanted him out, he had Bruce’s backing. The manager said that it is inappropriate to hold a protest at a time like this, moreover, he defended the amount of money the owners invested into the club .
Bruce’s open letter to Hull City supporters clearly delivers the feeling that he wasn’t so keen on leaving, as quoted from the letter :” My biggest regret is having to walk away but it was a decision I had to make for the sake of the club”.To Hull supporters, it is confusing, as they might think that for the sake of the club the best option is that of the manager who took them back to to the Premier League will stay, for at least another season. The truth behind the situation will probably unfold sometime in the future, but certainly, this is not a position that looks good for Hull.
Troubles seem to follow Hull even outside of England. On Tuesday, August 3rd, the club was set to step up its pre-season preparations with a tour in Austria. When first team coach, Keith Bertschin, arrived at the airport ready to depart with all of his belongings, he was told that his services are no longer needed. It is no surprise that Bertschin was dismissed, following his strong relationship with Bruce, working with him in the past at four other clubs
Bruce’s assistant manager, Mike Phelan, took over as caretaker manager until the club will appoint a new manager. The name that is now being strongly linked is former West Ham manager Gianfranco Zola. Reports also indicate that the club showed interest in acquiring the services of Wales manager, Chris Coleman, following an impressive Euro 2016 campaign, only to be turned down by the Welsh Football Association.
Hull’s pre-season results saw them win five, draw two and lose one. Taking a closer look at their opponents reveals the true picture with none of them even close to Premier League level. The toughest opponents Hull faced were Championship sides Barnsley and Nottingham Forest, ending in a 2-2 draw and a 2-1 win respectively.
Hull’s first real test saw them lose 2-1 in the conclusive match of their pre-season tour against Italian side Torino, who finished only 12th in the last Serie A campaign. After that, Hull will be facing the reigning champions, Leicester City, at home for the opening fixture of the new Premier League Season, who will be eager to get back to winning ways after losing to Manchester United in the Community Shield.
With the new season upon us in just a few days,things aren’t looking good for Hull, the squad is the second shortest among all of the Premier League clubs, taking into consideration that Hull will feature also in the FA Cup and the EFL Cup (The new name of the League Cup), additions to squad size and quality are a must, and there’s still time to dive into the transfer market. The money is clearly there to be spent thanks to Hull’s win in the richest game of football.
The club is continuing to provide more headlines with the fans arranging a protest against the owners in the opening match of the season vs Leicester City. Looking at Hull’s fixture list adds worries too, besides facing the Champions on day one, a clash with Manchester United is awaiting on matchday three with back to back meetings with Arsenal and Liverpool at the end Of September, followed by a visit from Chelsea straight after. If the current situation doesn’t improve, Hull will be struggling from the start of the season, resulting in their opponents opening a gap which could seal their fate very early. Hull-elujah.