At the start of this season Mike Phelan had an impossible task on his hands. With a very unsettled summer behind them Hull City went into the season with a paper thin squad and despite beating Leicester and Swansea in the opening few weeks by November they looked dead certs for relegation. This began to change when Marco Silva was appointed manager in January. As we enter April, City are still in the relegation zone but they have looked far more likely to survive since Silva took over.
There are many things to admire about Marco Silva. He talks with passion and intelligence about the game and within a couple of games he had clearly got his message across to the players. The team went from an unorganised rabble to a well drilled unit who looked far less likely to concede sloppy goals. Silva also made some shrewd signings in January despite having a minuscule budget to work with in terms of the money spent by some Premier League sides.
There is one aspect of Silva’s tenure as Hull City manager so far that has been arguably the most impressive. He has managed to turn the KCOM Stadium into a fortress. His first game in charge was a 2-0 win over Swansea in the FA Cup at the KCOM and since then his side haven’t been beaten on home turf. Following Saturday’s 2-1 win over West Ham, City have taken 13 points from a possible 15 at home as well as beating Manchester United in the second leg of the EFL Cup Semi Final at the KCOM. This represents a remarkable turnaround as before Silva’s Appointment City had only picked up 9 points from a possible 30 at home under Mike Phelan.
This upturn in home form is no coincidence as Marco Silva has a quite remarkable record at home over his short managerial career. He hasn’t been beaten at home in 37 games a run that spans 3 years and 4 teams Estoril, Sporting, Olympiakos & Hull. He clearly knows how to set his teams up tactically at home and knows how to absorb pressure for long periods before hitting teams on the break as they did against Liverpool.
To be balanced here it must also be stressed that City have taken just 1 point from a possible 15 away from home since Silva’s appointment so he still has plenty to work on with his team when they travel away from the KCOM Stadium.
Everyone knows there are certain things you have to get right as a team promoted from the Championship attempting to survive the difficult first season back in the top flight. One of those things is home form, if you get your home form right you will have a great chance of surviving. Just look at Burnley who were also promoted last season. They have a remarkable record at Turf Moor but can’t win an argument away from their home ground. Their brilliant home form however sees them set to survive comfortably and since Silva’s appointment Hull City’s home form has been just as good if not better than Burnley’s. If Silva can marry this home form with a couple of gritty results away from home his side will have a good chance of survival come May.
Next up for Silva’s side is the visit of fellow relegation battlers Middlesbrough. The visitors are without a Premier League win since mid-December and are really struggling to score goals. Despite this being a relegation 6 pointer Hull City must go into the game as favourites and the players will surely be confident of a victory at fortress KCOM.