Hull City Season Preview 2013-14
A second place finish in the Championship last season will see Hull City return to the top flight in 2013-14.
After a two year stint in the Premier League between 2009-2011, the Tigers are back in England’s top division. However, Steve Bruce’s side could struggle to do anything more than survive by the skin of their teeth.
To date, Hull have brought in seven players in this window. George Boyd, Maynor Figueroa and Steve Harper have all joined on free transfers while Danny Graham has signed on loan.
Allan McGregor, Curtis Davies and Yannick Sagbo have joined the club for undisclosed fees.
Out of these players, four of them have Premier League experience. Figueroa has been a main player in the Wigan side for the past few years and veteran ‘keeper Harper knows all about the Premier League, having been with Newcastle for 20 years before his release this summer.
Striker Danny Graham had a successful 18 months with Swansea but failed to net in 13 games at Sunderland. However, fellow Geordie Steve Bruce will hope to get Graham’s form back. Curtis Davies has had spells with Aston Villa and Birmingham.
So far this summer, Bruce has convinced two defenders, one midfielder, two ‘keepers and two strikers to join his side. However, to improve the team he may need to add some more experienced faces.
Bruce is experienced at this level, having managed clubs such as Birmingham, Wigan and Sunderland in the Premier League. He was fairly successful at them, but does he have what it takes to establish Hull in the division?
Some strengths of the ex-Man Utd defender are that he is an experienced manager at this level of the game, which will count a lot when trying to acquire the right player for Hull. He will be able to convince players to come to his club.
Bruce has a track record of bringing in good, foreign players. He was the man who brought Antonio Valencia and Wilson Palacois to England.
The man who got Hull back to the Premier League has only been relegated once. The team was Birmingham but he managed to get them straight back up into the big time.
Bruce showed at Sunderland that he can transform a struggling team into an average mid-table unit. This was proved at Sunderland when, in his two full seasons there, he guided the Black Cats to 13th and 10th place finishes.
However, Bruce could have finished that season even higher as Sunderland were sixth going into the New Year when Bruce lost all of his strikers. He should have bought someone in the window but failed to do so, which takes us onto the Premier League winning players’ managerial weaknesses.
Steve Bruce failing at Sunderland was that, in the summer after a 10th place finish, he failed to improve the squad and signed players from relegated teams.
These players did not prove good enough and he was sacked a few months into the season, with his club languishing just above the relegation zone. Also, his tactics can sometimes make fans scratch their heads.
At other clubs previously, Bruce would play players out of their positions and created weaknesses in the team when they did not need to be created. The manager could have bought a right back, for example, in the transfer market rather than play a winger there.
Bruce also fails to differ in his approach play when attacking sides. For example, at Sunderland, the tactics would always be to play the goal kick to Elmohamady on the right wing for the Egyptian to try and flick it over to the striker in the centre.
Teams soon got used to these tactics and easily fought them off. Also, there was no variation in set pieces to catch out the opposition.
Hull could surprise a few when it comes to their strengths this season. The Yorkshire team look decent going forward. They can choose from Aluko, Graham or Sagbo to lead the forward line.
If fit and high on confidence, Graham could bag eight to ten goals for Hull and with players such as Aluko, Sagbo, Brady, Koren and Elmohamady also capable of grabbing goals, it doesn’t look like Hull should be suffering on that front.
Overall, the Tigers have a pretty decent forward line and midfield. Ex-Sunderland midfielders Ahmed Elmohamady and David Meyler should keep the engine room ticking over.
Meyler, before his knee injuries, was a regular in the Sunderland team and will provide good defensive cover whilst also getting into attacking areas. If used correctly, Meyler will be link between defence and attack and will be the main man for the Premier League new boys. He will be their key player this term.
Furthermore, Hull should be OK in the goalkeeping department.
Likely first-choice Allan McGregor has something to prove after seeing his career go down hill since moving to Besiktas. In his prime at Rangers, he was getting linked with some big clubs. At 31, he is an experienced and useful ‘keeper.
A place where Hull may struggle is their back four. In their defensive line, they don’t have much Premier League experience or quality so they need to add in that department.
Their full backs have experience but not necessarily quality in Maynor Figueroa and Curtis Davies. They are well covered in centre back with James Chester, Liam Rosenior, Abdoulaye Faye, Alex Bruce and Paul McShane.
How much Premiership experience do these players have?
Not a lot, or at least not as much as midfielders George Boyd, Robert Koren, Stephen Quinn and Robbie Brady do. However, these players are all likely to provide goals this season.
If Bruce adds some more quality and Premier League experience to his defensive and midfield ranks, Hull should get to the ‘magic 40-point mark’ and stay up just.
Despite the negatives, overall, Bruce is a good and experienced manager and Hull should be okay. For this reason they will probably finish just above the relegation zone come May.
With some new additions to strengthen the squad like recognised Premier League players, the Tigers should survive their first year back.
James Hailstone’s 2013-14 prediction: 17th