Uncertain times follow Hull's relegation - Interview
Friday, 18th Aug 2017 14:22 by Clive Whittingham
Relegation from the Premier League, a fire sale of players, injuries to key members of the squad left behind, and ongoing boardroom wrangles are all combining at Hull City says Peter Johnson from the club's supporters' trust.
Hull made a better fist of the Premier League than I thought they would given the pre-season, how would you assess the campaign?
PJ: We missed a big opportunity to establish Hull City in the Premier League last year. Mike Phelan may or may not be a decent manager but after a disastrous pre-season he made a bright start then was a victim of our owners' antics. He was on a hiding to nothing. However the players 'gave their all' and put in some good performances. The squad was low on quality and despite some decent loan acquisitions Marco Silva didn't quite achieve the 'miracle' to keep us up. We finished the season dispirited and after a few months working with vice chairman Ehab Allam, it seemed manager Marco Silva couldn't get out of the Club quickly enough and off he went to Watford, with Russian Leonid Slutsky appointed as his replacement in the summer.
Another raft of departures this summer, can you summarise who's gone and who's arrived and what you make of the business done?
PJ:Around 18 players left the KCOM in the summer to add to the high profile departures of Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass last January.
The Hull City team is unrecognisable from that relegated from the top tier. The many loanees returned to their parent clubs, plus Harry Maguire, Tom Huddlestone, Curtis Davies, Andy Robertson, Ahmed Elmohamady and Eldin Jakupovic have been sold and despite Slutsky's statement that the 'Supermarket is closed' we fear others may exit.
Our owners the Allams have absorbed money from parachute payments and big fees received. But they have spent very little of note, just a collection of loanees and low key signings. So there are currently several inexperienced youngsters getting a chance to prove themselves, look out for Jarrod Bowen, a promising attacking player. Kevin Stewart was signed from Liverpool for £4 million but is yet to figure due to injury.
Leonid Slutsky seems like a bit of a character, how was his appointment received and what are your impressions so far?
PJ: Leo Slutsky is a breath of fresh air and the fans really like him. Most realise he has a tough task on his hands, particularly after the serious injury to star Uruguayan striker Abel Hernandez against Wolves this week. He is very down to earth and good fun, but of course fans of the men in Black and Amber hope his positivity and good humour lead to good performances on the pitch.
How was pre-season and how have you played in your opening games?
PJ: Pre-season was reasonable considering the mass exodus of players and several new arrivals. We began the 2017/18 Championship season with a good point at Villa on the opening day, beat Burton 4-1 at home then lost at home 2-3 on Tuesday to a very impressive Wolves side.
What exactly are the Allams trying to do at the moment? Is it asset stripping and trying to rake some money back in? Looking for a buyer? Is it malicious because they weren't allowed to buy the ground and change the name? What exactly is going on?
PJ: You have summed it up well!! They are currently recouping money and since the FA ruled against their name change request three years ago they seem to have a deliberate policy of antagonising and dividing our fanbase. Their decision to remove concessions and rush in an ill planned membership scheme is one of many reasons why around 2000 fans boycott games and won't return until the Allams leave.
And is there an end to that in sight?
PJ: We understand there is regular interest in buying Hull City AFC but deals seem to collapse at the last moment.
Star players and weak links in the current side?
PJ: Michael Dawson at centre back remains a consistent performer. I've already mentioned the promise of Jarrod Bowen. But with Hernandez injured the crowd pleaser is Polish winger Kamil Grosicki.
We are short of full backs at the moment and have players playing out of position, so we're vulnerable down the flanks. Sam Clucas is the subject of £10-15 million bids at the moment but if he plays at Loftus Road his all round game and industry often impress.
How do you think this season will go?
PJ: We have to be realistic. To bounce back to the Premier League we needed to buy quality players. That isn't going to happen so with the likes of Ryan Mason and Abel Hernandez facing lengthy lay offs, to challenge for the play offs would be a good season for us.
Much will depend on Slutsky's ability to blend together some good pros, promising youngsters and loan signings into an effective unit. We also need to ensure we hold on to some of the quality players who still remain at the Club, Hernandez, Grosicki and Clucas are good examples.
The Twitter @HCAFCTigerLink, @loftforwords
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