People often talk about a mixed season but Hull City have had probably the most mixed of mixed seasons. After picking up just four wins between August and the start of December, the Tigers have lost just four games ever since.
Between the beginning of December and the middle of January, Hull won seven out of eight games, reverting to their inconsistent selves over the past couple of months. Currently, 12th in the league, unlikely to trouble either end of the league table, the culmination to this bizarre season probably can’t come quickly enough for many Hull fans.
While this season, as a whole, will go down as a disappointing one for the Tigers, there have been some signs that next season could be a more productive one.
That said, much of that will come down to whether Hull can keep their better players at the club – something that won’t be easy considering how this season has gone. The likes of Jarrod Bowen, Jackson Irvine and Kamil Grosicki have all been loyal servants to Hull in recent years, but all three will be the subject of interest from clubs in the summer, as they were in January.
The same can be said for a number of players in this squad, and the battle for the Tigers is to convince those players they can match their ambitions. While a play-off place is still technically achievable for Hull this season, priced at around 20/1 with the latest football betting odds, it’s probably fair to say much of the management’s focus will already be on next year’s plans. The question is whether those plans involve those players who will likely attract sizeable bids from rival clubs in the summer.
In Nigel Adkins, Hull has a manager who has not only guided teams from League One into the Championship but from the second tier of English football into the Premier League; which he achieved with Southampton in 2012. While his time at Hull might not have gone the way he would have liked so far, if he is backed in the transfer market this summer, Adkins has all the tools to lead Hull to a genuine promotion bid next season. That might be a big if, though, and much of next year’s hopes will depend on whether he is indeed given the funds to strengthen.
Leeds have shown this year that you don’t need a complete overhaul to compete for promotion. Aside from a couple of new players, the squad Marcelo Bielsa has turned into title challengers since his arrival is the same one that ended last season 13th in the table under Paul Heckingbottom. Hull might be a different club entirely to Leeds, but there is a spine in this team that is good enough to be competing at the top of the table if they have the right sort of players around them. Bowen and another one or two may have to leave in the summer, but if Adkins can use that money to bring in players that know this league, that disappointment may be worth it.