Christmas is a time for cheer and merriment but it’s not been a particularly upbeat time for City fans as the new regime under Nigel Adkins struggles to ignite.
That said, this isn’t a time for City fans to become too downbeat over their remnants of Xmas pudding. Despite the ongoing threat of relegation, Hull have competed in all the games they’ve narrowly lost or drawn. Statistics don’t tell the full story but games against Leeds and Derby on Boxing Day showed that the Tigers edged both possession and shots in total. With the transfer window looming, what can the new Gaffer do to help turn around a season that has all the potential to blossom from terminal decline.
Midfield tenacity: If there’s one thing that’s been lacking since the beginning of the season it’s some physicality and panache in central midfield. The Derby game is a great example as former Tiger Tom Huddlestone edged the midfield battle. David Meyler led the way until injury forced him onto the side-lines earlier in the season, however, you have to question his overall quality.
Since then, new recruit Jackson Irvine has shown great endeavour but ultimately lacks the physical presence. City fans can’t expect another Jake Livermore but somebody with those credentials who’s able to carry the ball forward and make things happen is desperately needed. If not, play will continue to break down with speculative balls and the defence will be put under further pressure.
Creativity lacking: Closely linked to the midfield woes mentioned above but across the pitch there’s a desperate lack of creative spark. Granted, injuries have began to bite but there’s still a huge amount of quality in the side. Kamil Grosicki remains an isolated figure in the Tigers team simply because he’s the only player prepared to take on the opposition. He continued to give the Rams defence a hard time on Boxing Day. However, without outlets to link-up with, his hard work often came to nothing. Young fullbacks Olna Aina and Fikayo Tomori showed flashes of creativity but their priority remains in defence. Adkins has highlighted this area as one to strengthen in January and you’d like to think Grosicki will have competition in the ranks soon enough.
Play two forwards up front: If any of you were lucky enough to hear Dean Windass speak after the game, he highlighted a key point. While Nouha Dicko continues to work hard up front, it’s a tough ask expecting him to do everything on his own. Naturally, Windass stated with two strikers that more opportunities will follow in and around the box. While Adkins will have primarily focused on defensive solidarity, his side desperately need goals. While Abel Hernandez and Will Keane are some way off fitness, the Tigers already looked more dangerous once Adama Diomande entered the fray. Until new recruits arrive, maybe it’s time to give Diomande another chance alongside Dicko?
Fullbacks need more protection: It’s been an age-old issue for Hull since Grosicki’s arrival but Aina & Tomori for all their enthusiasm continued to look vulnerable on the counter-attack against Derby. Grosicki has repeatedly stated that his game is hindered by tracking back but frankly these are the basics of the game as a winger. Anybody who’s played the game knows you must have a good understanding with your fullback, particularly if they’re inexperienced as Hull’s are. If this issue isn’t addressed, Adkins’ side face opposition targeting the same areas.