Sunday 21 January 2018

Hull could be the worst prepared side in modern era

Hull caretaker manager Mike Phelan has been entrusted to keep the club afloat. Picture Credit: PA News
Hull caretaker manager Mike Phelan has been entrusted to keep the club afloat. Picture Credit: PA News

Samuel Stevens

The eve of a new Premier League season is supposed to bring blinkered hope and optimism. Hull City supporters, however, are struggling to smoke out a single reason for optimism from the embers of shambolic pre-season.

This time of year often inspires bouts of hyperbole but to say Hull are the worst prepared side in Premier League history would almost be generous; indeed fans have found several less diplomatic ways of describing their plight. Their voice will again be heard during a series of protests planned for this weekend.

Read More: Ireland assistant boss Roy Keane among the early front-runners for Hull vacancy

Ahead of the curtain-raiser against champions Leicester City at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday, The Independent looks at the good, the bad and the ugly of Hull City's disastrous summer.

The good: The talent is there, albeit sparingly

If you weren't aware of the cloud looming over Hull, the starting line-up for the pre-season clash against Torino in Austria last week offered little indication of their strife.

Mike Phelan, the caretaker manager entrusted with keeping the club afloat, named a strong line-up including Abel Hernández, Tom Huddlestone, Curtis Davies and Andrew Robertson. In truth, it was the only side he could have possibly clubbed together.

Even a cursory glance at the substitutes' bench, however, pointed to a bleaker picture. While the Tigers have made great strides to secure a Category Two academy in recent seasons, they won't have been expecting the likes of Josh Tymon, Jarrod Bowen and Greg Olley to be making their first-team bows just yet.

The bad: No manager, no signings and just 13 players.

With no manager, not a single new signing and just 13 fit senior players for Phelan to choose from, barely 20,000 people will be at the KCOM Stadium for the clash against Leicester this weekend.

Losing Mo Diamé to Newcastle United, a tier below them, proved a damaging indictment of their predicament.

It is worth pointing out that two of the eligible players to play this weekend are reserve goalkeepers. Injuries to Michael Dawson, Allan McGregor, Alex Bruce and Moses Odubajo have taken their toll but should have been compensated for by new arrivals.

Efforts to sign Hal-Robson Kanu have fallen flat. Bruce, the most successful manager in the club's history, understandably thought the quagmire was too bogged before a ball had been kicked.

The ugly: Supporters' anger boils over yet again

The eyes of the world will turn to East Yorkshire for the opening match of the Premier League season to witness a planned stadium-wide "red card" protest aimed at the Allam ownership.

Dr Assem Allam remains ill while his son Ehab runs the operation in his absence.

A ticketing scheme which provides affordable options to the majority but also seems to exclude children and old age pensioners has rankled locals.

Some supporters consider the club's very existence - at least in its current form - to be under significant threat.

Irish Independent

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