Thursday 23 November 2017

Paul McShane hails Mike Phelan's impact at Hull

Hull City's Michael Dawson (right) and Paul McShane celebrate as Aston Villa's Joe Cole acts dejected after the Barclays Premier League match at the KC Stadium last night
Hull City's Michael Dawson (right) and Paul McShane celebrate as Aston Villa's Joe Cole acts dejected after the Barclays Premier League match at the KC Stadium last night

Rory Dollard

Hull's players have anointed newly-arrived Mike Phelan as the Barclays Premier League's first "assistant manager of the month".

Phelan began work as Steve Bruce's right-hand man just a week ago but his arrival has coincided with an immediate upturn in form for the Tigers.

Having spent the majority of his coaching career hunting silverware alongside Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Hull's relegation battle represented unfamiliar territory for Phelan.

But he has thrown himself into the task and the initial results, a surprise 1-1 draw at Manchester City at the weekend followed by Tuesday's crucial 2-0 win over Aston Villa, have helped Hull climb out of the bottom three.

And Phelan's early impact has not gone unnoticed among the players.

"Mike's been really good already, we've just been saying in the dressing room he's going to win the first assistant manager of the month!" defender Paul McShane said

"He's done very well, the sessions we've had with him have been really good.

"He's brought something new and different to the group and training has been intense.

"It's been tough but the lads are really putting it all in during training and that's showing out on the pitch.

"It's been a great few days because if we didn't back up what we did at City it would have been a waste. But we've built on that result and got the three points at home."

McShane's return to action has been another common theme in Hull's last two performances.

The club's longest-serving player appeared to be heading for a January exit after being sent to train with the Under-21s by Bruce for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, but relations have thawed and McShane has ousted Curtis Davies from the side.

He admits he expected to leave and is delighted to be back in favour.

"Football, it's mad, it's a crazy game sometimes," he said.

"I thought I'd played my last game for Hull. I was prepared to leave in the transfer window.

"But I didn't want to go, no way, it felt wrong to think about going, and now it's great to be back playing, especially in a couple of good games with some big results."

The flipside of Hull's renewed optimism is starkly evident at Villa, who dropped into the bottom three after finding no response to goals from Nikica Jelavic and full debutant Dame N'Doye.

Villa are winless in 10 league outings and have scored just once in their last eight.

They turned in a timid display at the KC Stadium and were warned by boss Paul Lambert afterwards that they were now playing for their top-flight careers.

Right-back Alan Hutton is hoping that descending into the drop zone can jolt the squad to life.

"It's very difficult to take, Hull was a big game for us so to be beaten 2-0 is hard," the Scot said.

"You're always aware of the table and maybe slipping into the bottom three is the kick in the backside we need.

"We have been playing well but not getting results and we need to change that quickly.

"We all know we have to do our bit to get the goals, it's a team game and we'll take that on the chin as a team.

"There's pressure on every game now because we need to get going."

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