Ownership, managers, players, you name it, Hull City have made a mess of it. It’s fair to say the past few months have been stressful for the Hull faithful.
As Hull fans, we don’t ask for much. To be treated as fans rather than customers, for the owners to be realistic and ambitious, and for the manager and players to give 100% for the shirt.
With a takeover apparently imminent, six new additions to the squad, and with the side sitting pretty in the Premier League after three games, could we be close to a rare harmonious period for the club?
After a week of the local press reporting that a takeover of the club is now apparently in its final stages, and with last weekend’s international break, attention quickly turned to strengthening our threadbare squad in the final few days of the transfer window, and Mike Phelan and Co certainly did not disappoint.
No less than six new signings were announced in the space of two days, with David Marshall, Ryan Mason, Will Keane, James Weir, Dieumerci Mbokani and Markus Henriksen bolstering the smallest squad in the Premier League.
While it is probably fair to say none of these signings, bar perhaps Mason and to a lesser extent Marshall, strengthen our current first XI at this point, the fact the club managed to bring in six solid Premier League players in the final few days of the window was crucial.
It’s a cliché, but it’s true – the Premier League is a marathon not a sprint, and a deep, experienced, squad is imperative if you are to have any chance of ensuring Premier League survival.
England international Mason has cost the club a reported Hull record transfer fee of around £12.5m, and becomes the fourth Spurs player in just three years to join the Tigers. While I must say I think we have paid over the odds for the box-to-box midfielder, that is unfortunately the market we are in, and is representative of the state of modern football at this moment in time.
Even at £12.5m, Mason unquestionably adds genuine Premier League quality to City’s midfield, and at the age of just 25, he has bags of potential, and I would be amazed not to see him in the starting line-up in the centre of the park against Burnley on Saturday.
The signing of goalkeeper Marshall is another solid signing. While he takes City’s tally of goalkeepers up to four, for me, he will undoubtedly become City’s number one goalkeeper for many seasons to come. With Allan McGregor out with a long-term back injury and Dušan Kuciak seemingly unfancied by the management, fans’ favourite Eldin Jakupovic has been the club’s only fit and trusted senior goalkeeper.
While I believe Jakupovic will retain the number one jersey for Saturday’s trip to Turf Moor after a phenomenal start to the season, I also believe it is only a matter of time before Scotland international Marshall becomes the club’s first choice.
The two most unexpected signings of the summer for City were that of Will Keane and James Weir. Brought in for a combined fee of around £2m, it’s difficult to know if these gambles will pay-off for the Tigers, or if both were brought in simply to make up the numbers.
Keane, a centre-forward who had been at United from the age of 11, shone at Under-21 level for the Red Devils, however, after a series of knee injuries has struggled to convert his prolific goal-scoring into the senior game following loan spells with a number of Championship clubs.
While United Under-21 captain and midfielder Weir has only ever tasted two minutes of senior football, coming on as a late sub in United’s 3-2 win over Arsenal at Old Trafford last season.
It’s difficult to see either of these two immediately breaking into the first-team, however, it’s worth remembering that this was also the case with the likes of James Chester, Corry Evans, Joe Dudgeon and Robbie Brady, all of whom arrived from Warren Joyce’s Under-21 United side with no reputation, but went on to have good, and in the cases of Chester and Brady, fantastic Hull City careers.
With the added input of a certain former United assistant manager, who knows, these two might just be fantastic finds.
Mbokani and Henriksen were the clubs final two signings, and once again are difficult signings to read. Striker Mbokani, who spent last season on loan at Norwich City, certainly offers genuine competition up-front, and has a decent goalscoring record wherever he has been.
His work ethic and physical nature also provides him with the opportunity of becoming Abel Hernandez’s perfect strike partner, hopefully solving City’s age-old Achilles heel of not being able to find the net.
While creative-midfielder Henrikesen provides caretaker boss Phelan with options, as he can play across the midfield, as well as in the number 10 position. The former AZ Alkmaar man, who won the side’s Player of the Year award last season, has been likened to former City legend Robert Koren, and again, while perhaps not being a regular fixture in the Tigers’ starting XI in coming weeks, he will certainly provide some much needed flair in the middle of the pitch as the season wears on.
With the Chinese takeover set to be completed before September is over, Phelan is set to be named as permanent manager this week, and finally a squad that fans believe has a chance of competing in the Premier League season this season, things are starting to look up for the Hull City faithful.
Bring on Burnley!