Ten points off the automatic promotion places in the English Championship this season with three games to go, Hull City have a place secured in the playoffs this season with still the chance of winning promotion to the Barclays Premier League. The big question should be whether this campaign can be deemed as good enough as a whole for the club? The disastrous relegation from the top tier last season realistically for the money spent and the squad the club possessed should never have happened. At the beginning of the current season on paper this Hull City side possessed the best squad in the division and should have at the very least gained promotion automatically. There are many games in the Championship as everyone is aware and the competiveness of the division is documented every single season, but when you see a manager especially with the experience of Steve Bruce chop and change players more regularly than sticking with a settled team you can see the problems straight away. Compare this to two of the clubs who are fighting it out for a place in the top two, Burnley and Sean Dyche has a settled first eleven and rarely disrupts his selection, Chris Hughton at Brighton is the same keeping key areas of the pitch the same as and when he can do so.
During the summer of the 2014/15 campaign was the start of when I felt the Hull needed a new man at the helm, to keep the club in the division was a great achievement but to improve and move forward the club needed to unearth a new identity especially for some of the players that was at the club at that time. Last summer Hull seen a lot of quality come through the KC Stadium doors, Mo Diame signed from West Ham, Michael Dawson signed from Tottenham, young Andrew Robertson from Dundee Utd, Uruguay international Abel Hernandez, Tom Ince, Robert Snodgrass and two big loan signings Hatem Ben Arfa and Gaston Ramirez. They had some unlucky injuries which all teams suffer but the failings to integrate such talent with an already talented group of players’ shows a real inept ability from the manager Steve Bruce. Moving forward to the current campaign and as a squad the club didn’t lose too much, in fact adding a fully fit Robert Snodgrass, the hard working Sam Clucas, Moses Odubajo, Shaun Maloney and the two Arsenal lads on loan Isaac Hayden and Chupa Akpom this squad had more than enough capabilities of gaining an instant return to the Premier League.
Taking into consideration the mental and physical conditions needed to compete in the Championship, no club has any right to think they can take the league by storm and win it comfortably, but surely a squad full with international players and players with so much experience at the highest level of the game should be achieving a lot more than just a playoff position. The team has faced some adversity with issues surrounding ticket packages from fans but this cannot be used as a distraction for the players, the big question the Hull fans should really be asking is why when the club started drifted away from the top three clubs in the league did the board stick with Steve Bruce. Derby made an instant change as soon as they felt their grip at the top end of division slide away and now they done extremely well to achieve their own playoff place despite looking a frontrunner also for automatic promotion. Looking at the top three clubs in the division all locked on 87 points at this stage of the campaign is a fantastic achievement, but surely when you look at all three of the squads compared to the Hull squad, the Hull players individually are of a better quality, the big difference between the Hull players and the players for each club respectively has to be the consistency. Often in football especially the modern game the criticism is that managers are sacked too early and not given enough time but looking at the big picture for Hull, we have certainly gave too much time to Steve Bruce.
What happens to this team if we fail to gain promotion via the playoffs? The most likely outcome will be that Steve Bruce will walk out before he is maybe pushed out the door. With this will be the inevitably that this group will be dismantled, the players in the class of Andy Robertson, Ahmed Elmohamady, Abel Hernandez, Tom Huddlestone, Mo Diame, Robert Snodgrass, Jake Livermore and others will no doubt emerge on the radar of the bigger clubs, and the Tigers will be back to square one, trying to regroup for yet another turnover of players for the club. The frustration watching what has transpired over the course of the season has been the tactics and the post-game comments from the manager. Since when did we not play our 3-5-2 system, our squad in essentially more suited to this system now than ever before? Going into big games with Sone Aluko leading the line, no disrespect to Aluko but he is not a prolific goal scorer. Why sign Nick Powell and not play him in a more advanced position? Why haven’t we started Ahmed Elmohamady in every game? Just some questions I have asked myself especially during the second half of the season. Then we listen to Steve Bruce comment on more than one occasion that ‘we must be better’, well surely it is up to Bruce to make sure that we are better.
The departure of Steve Bruce I believe will happen this summer, whether Hull gain promotion or not, the lure of another Premier League club will attract his attention or the opportunity to manage such a big club like Aston Villa might take him to Villa Park. The priority though is Hull needs a change and needs a new direction, and since last season needs a spark, an injection of pace or a player with a genius brain, an area we have majorly lacked under Steve Bruce, well they had Ben Arfa but Bruce failed to manage the player. My instincts last season leaned towards a foreign manager, this would have been ideal for the players and still believe the same for next season whether the next campaign is in the Premier League or the English Championship.