Season Preview 14/15: HULL CITY

by Back Page Football

Robbie Brady HullHull City accomplished the goal for any recently promoted side by staying in the Premier League in their first season (four points above relegation), with a notable victory over Liverpool and a Christmas period mauling of Fulham particular highlights.

With this in mind, and of course an FA Cup Final appearance for the first time in the club’s history against Arsenal in May, an air of satisfaction would be duly deserved for the Yorkshire club. This excitement can only be added to with the addition of Europa League football this time round, the first time Hull will have ever competed in European competition.

However, it was not always rosy at the KC Stadium with constant speculation surrounding the owners and rumours about a potential name change to “Hull City Tigers” were never far away. Indeed, the club’s own website is now hullcitytigers.com.

Although the name change is still in an appeal stage at the minute it looks like this particular news item will run into the coming season and rear its ugly head once again. With the promise of midweek action to compliment the blood and thunder of Premier League football, and the addition of new signings, an exciting season is in store.

Last season: 16th

Odds: 1000/1

Players in: Jake Livermore (Tottenham, £8m), Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City, £7m), Tom Ince (Blackpool, compensation), Harry Maguire (Sheffield United, £2.5m), Andrew Robertson (Dundee United, £2.85m)
Players out: Matty Fryatt (Nottingham Forest, free), Cameron Stewart (Ipswich, free), Paul McElroy (Sheffield Wednesday, free), Mark Oxley (Hibernian, loan), Joe Dudgeon (Barnsley, loan), Conor Townsend (Dundee United, loan)

What’s new?

Europa League football for one. The forthcoming second leg of their tie with Trenchin (the first leg was a 0-0 draw, with a special mention to Tom Huddlestone’s incredible double miss) could really have a massive effect on the club’s season.

Larger clubs with greater financial power and squad strength and depth have struggled to cope with this now notoriously difficult double act. If they do qualify for the group stages, it will be interesting to see how the Hull management team will treat the competition.

Steve Bruce is of course the manager this season again. Bruce is now part of the furniture in the Premier League but never quite knowing what decorative furnishing he is with experience with several clubs in the league. On the transfer front, I think Hull have strengthened in the area where they lacked most: attack. Between January and the summer so far, by adding Shane Long, Nikica Jelavic, as well as the newly recruited Robert Snodgrass and the yet to prove himself I’m talking to too many clubs at once Tom Ince, they could potentially form a decent Premier league standard outfit up front.

Hulls joint top scorers in the Premier League last season were the January signings Long and Jelavic with a dire four goals each. With the added creativity now behind them, I don’t think it is an unrealistic target for both to get into double figure this season.

Jake Livermore has also made himself a permanent fixture in the Hull dressing room after applying himself very well in the previous campaign. Two other players added to the squad have been plucked from a lower level, with a total of over £5 million spent on capturing both Harry Maguire from Sheffield United and Andrew Robertson from Dundee United. It will be interesting to see how they fare as this could be a future indicator for other Premier League clubs to take a chance on talent from the lower levels. In terms of major departures, there was only one name of note, that of Matty Fryatt.

Key Player

Tom Huddlestone; some love him and some loath him. I prefer to take the former approach. A midfielder who is comfortable off either foot, keeps Hull ticking over. Not blessed with pace or excessive amounts of mobility, it’s the ease at which he plays which always gets my attention. He can be accused of taking too much time on the ball but in a moment where pinpoint distribution is needed, he really is an exceptional passer. This ability could be more effective this year with new additions Snodgrass and Ince injecting some additional pace to the team.

One to Watch

Robbie Brady, and it was such a shame from a Hull point of view that this guy got injured pretty early in the season after an encouraging start to the campaign. His name has been floating around now for a few years and I think his lack of form after a hernia operation really contributed to the bluntness showed by Hull in attack.

A tricky winger who likes to play on the left (unlike new club mate Snodgrass), he has the ability to cause a lot of right backs problems. He is also blessed with a lovely left foot which encourages him to take set pieces and penalties. If fit and playing, he could be a bold shout for many a fantasy team.

Season Prediction

It is always difficult for a team in its second year in the league to kick on and try to establish itself as Premier League mainstay (basically try to emulate Stoke City). I would consider a successful season for Hull to again remain in the top tier and expect the to finish 14th in the league. With a relatively strong defensive set up already in place and increasingly creative attacking options, I can see Hull pulling off a surprise or two through the course of this season.

BPF Prediction: 14th

Written by: Edwin McAree

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