How Did The Season Go?
Hull City’s only aim this season was to avoid relegation and, as everyone quickly realised, it was going to be close to impossible. Ex-manager Steve Bruce quit in July, having appraised the year ahead of him and realised that there was no way to save this sinking ship. Replacement manager Mike “Yes, Fergie” Phelan was well-known to the players and the staff beforehand, having previously been Bruce’s assistant, and he did well (briefly) in creating a siege mentality in the dressing room and maintaining the tight bond between his players, but it was not to last. He was sacked in January, and that seemed to be that.
The last few months, however, have seen the most miraculous escape nearly happen – and while it ultimately hasn’t, ‘nearly’ is a lot better than seemed possible five months ago, and Hull’s fans have had a hell of a ride since then. The latest manager, the unforgivably foreign Marco Silva, almost pulled the most remarkable rabbit out of a hat, and while British football punditry spat its dummy out in frothing rage at yet another one of them young, good-looking, intellectual immigrant-types coming over here and stealing all our jobs, Jeff!, Hull’s fightback was frankly amazing.
While it’ll be no consolation to the Tigers, who now face another few years scrapping in the Championship, Hull’s performances since January have been enough to guarantee Silva immediately continued Premier League employment: Watford, West Ham and Southampton have all been strongly linked.
Hull’s future is bleak: the owners still want to sell and seem reluctant to invest any more money in the club; the manager, the only really good thing about them at the moment, will leave to make his fortune after this game; the handful of players to emerge from this season with any credit are either on loan and will leave, or will hand in transfer requests after the final whistle and move back to the Premier League to fight relegation again next season with any one of a handful of clubs.
Meanwhile, Hull will presumably repeat their feat of starting this season with no committed owners, no contracted manager, a laughably small playing squad and no real idea what they’re doing. This proved to be far too big a handicap to make Premier League survival possible, and it wouldn’t be too big a surprise were they to spend next season battling relegation to League One.
For the majority of the first half of the season, Mike Phelan played an almost hilariously defensive 3-5-1-1 system designed purely to keep the score down and avoid embarrassment each week. After taking over, Marco Silva went back to basics with an extremely flat, extremely boxy 4-4-2 which helped his players recover a semblance of defensive cohesion which also allowed for attacking dynamism. With that hurdle cleared and his players more tactically flexible, Silva moved on to experiment with 4-3-3 and a 4-4-2 diamond, with decidedly mixed results.
Regardless of the formation or Hull’s attacking aims, packing the centre of the pitch and minimising the opposition’s chances of passing towards goal has been Hull’s principle aim all season, while this current team looks to use the invention of Kamil Grosicki and Andrew Robertson and the power of Oumar Niasse on the break.
Up until the last few weeks there was an admirable solidity to this team, but somewhat unexpected defeats to Sunderland (0-2) and Crystal Palace (0-4) have shown them to be ultimately as weak as ever, not to mention confirm their relegation. There’s nothing in their setup to suggest they can contain Tottenham.
Kamil Grosicki is pretty great.
Andrew Robertson will overlap all day and is an effective crosser of the ball from the left flank.
Oumar Niasse isn’t anywhere near as useless as Ronald Koeman’s treatment of him would have us believe.
Marco Silva’s made Hull better than they had any right to be, and he’s going on to bigger and better things.
They’ve got a nice, atypical kit.
I could spend all day listing Hull’s many deficiencies, but we’ll keep it simple: they’re massively inferior to Tottenham individually, collectively, tactically, physically and technically. Even following their massive step up under Marco Silva, they’re light-years behind Mauricio Pochettino’s team and, following their relegation, they’ve got nothing to play for and almost all of them will be thinking more about where they’ll be playing their football next season than the game at hand on Sunday.
Lazar Marković, Evandro and Abel Hernández are all out, along with longer-term absentees Ryan Mason, David Meyler and Harry Maguire. We should expect a 4-4-1-1 with an emphasis on keeping the midfield packing and preventing Tottenham from putting together quick passing combinations in and around the box, with Niasse spending long periods isolated up front.
Spurs are going to end the season in style here. Another thumping win and a golden boot for Harry Kane. 4-0.