Hull City were able to deliver the goods last night in a scenario where only 3 points would have been enough. It wasn’t always a pretty game for the spectator but there were goals galore and the Tigers showed a commendable degree of steel to dispatch a disappointing Middlesbrough outfit. Results around the grounds went in City’s favour as Crystal Palace and Swansea both lost. Nonetheless, they will be brought back to reality as they face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. With that in mind, I suggest five reasons while Marco Silva’s side can be quietly confident going into Saturday’s game and beyond:
There are goals in this team:
It was an issue that really hindered Mike Phelan during the first half of the season but with a change of personnel and attitude; The Tigers finally look capable of scoring a few goals. Wednesday’s 4 – 2 victory was their biggest of the season so far. Moreover the goals came from two strikers, a winger and centre-back (who thinks he’s a striker!). My point is that they are scoring goals across the pitch which reflects on a tactically astute team. While goals will inevitably be harder to come by against Pep Guardiola’s giants, the fact is that Hull are now capable of creating chances.
There is a no fear approach:
Lesser teams could have easily crumbled in City’s last two fixtures. Taking into account that only victories over West Ham and Middlesbrough would suffice, it’s a testament to the self-belief that Marco Silva has instilled in his team over recent weeks. It’s a type of mindset that should stand them in good stead for tough away days such as Saturday and beyond. Nobody is expecting a miracle cure for City’s dreadful away form but slightly improved performances could allow them to pick up vital points that make the difference come May.
Team chemistry is strong:
Let’s be under no illusions, when Silva arrived in January he had a ship that was on the verge of sinking. The departures of Jake Livermore & Robert Snodgrass left huge voids and the new Manager had little time to recruit the players he wanted. As it is the likes of Kamil Grosicki, Lazar Markovic and Oumar Niasse visibly showed that they are on board for the team’s great escape last night. The players resemble happy figures and are fighting for one another. The fluidity of the side is ever improving too with Sam Clucas doing a stellar job in the middle during Tom Huddlestone’s enforced absence.
The Tigers stock is rising:
You can approach this topic from two angles really; one is that against bigger sides Hull have nothing to lose as nobody expects them to win anyway, thus taking the pressure off. The other is that given Silva & City’s meteoric rise into the media spotlight recently, other teams are having to take note of the threat the Tigers now pose. The list of superlatives that have come their way on programmes such as ‘Match of the Day’ recently do not go unnoticed.
Momentum is building:
I cannot emphasise enough how crucial it is when I say City are coming into some good form at the right time. Swansea’s 3 – 1 defeat to Spurs last night from a winning position was a hammer blow to their hopes. Even Swans Manager Paul Clement couldn’t hide his disappointment in the post-match interview. Crystal Palace too also threw away a vital lead against Southampton. With Sunderland and Middlesbrough seemingly down and out and Swansea two points away, each Hull point from now is the building block to safety.
By Callum Thompson