Toothless Tigers toiling in ruthless relegation battle
Hull City, 5/4 with Coral to be relegated, face a daunting task of securing Premier League survival after severely deficient displays this season and a frenzy of devastating injuries.
The Tigers have plummeted into the drop zone after picking up just two victories in their last 15 league games, a poor run which has also seen them go an incredible 10 outings without a win.
However, Steve Bruce’s men have been extremely unfortunate this term, having been tarnished by constant injuries to key senior players over the course of the campaign.
A record of four wins and 11 defeats, along with many vital absences, has hurdled hapless Hull to 18th spot in the table, one point adrift of safety.
It doesn’t get any easier for Bruce’s side in this season’s unforgiving top-flight relegation scrap, with the struggling Tigers soon facing a trip to the Etihad, as well as crucial meetings with four of the bottom seven in their upcoming fixtures.
Hull hover only a point from safety and currently hold the division’s third worst attacking record, managing only 20 goals this campaign, six of which have come from sidelined top scorer Nikica Jelavic.
For a coach who usually likes to freshen up his squad wherever the chance arises, Bruce has been amazingly quiet, showing a possible lack of backing in this year’s transfer market. Hull have been linked with Tottenham Hotspur winger Aaron Lennon and Benin international Rudy Gestede as potential newcomers to the Yorkshire outfit.
If things are to change at the KC Stadium, Bruce may need to make the most of his connections with Manchester United, in a bid to obtain some talented young players on loan with a lack of funds seemingly at his disposal.
The Tigers boss already has former Red Devils pair James Chester and Robbie Brady in his stuttering squad, but a series of knocks have kept the duo on the sidelines. Young Old Trafford stars such as Jesse Lingard, Paddy McNair, Will Keane and Tom Thorpe could bolster the former United players’ attacking and defensive attributes, as the Hull boss searches for a positive reverse in form.
Bruce’s injury-plagued outfit received another fatal blow recently, with the club confirming Chester needs an operation and will be out for up to 10 weeks, after dislocating his shoulder in the 3-0 loss to West Ham United last time out.
As well as the 25-year-old centre-back, Abel Hernandez, Jelavic, Andy Robertson, Liam Rosenior, Gaston Ramirez, Robert Snodgrass and Mohamed Diame have all faced lengthy spells on the treatment table.
Hull’s heavy injury load is reminiscent of Sam Allardyce’s last season, when his Hammers side were tested to the limit following a catalogue of injuries to top players. Allardyce was forced into selecting a variety of youth players in his FA Cup clash with Nottingham Forest last January, when his injury-stricken side were hammered 5-0, their biggest third round defeat since 1926.
Bruce faces a similar scenario this term, with his recognised senior squad members being struck down by serious blows. The various casualties have caused the manager severe headaches, with problems occurring both in attack and defence.
The Tigers have failed to score in three of their previous five league matches, and have conceded 10 strikes in the last seven outings, proving that Bruce is struggling to deal with the constant flow of long lay-offs.
Although Hull have been unlucky with injuries, Bruce’s future has come under scrutiny and is now the subject of much speculation. The former Sunderland manager was recently linked with succeeding Alan Pardew at St James’ Park but instead opted to remain at the KC Stadium, despite immense pressure surrounding his position.
Bruce’s side will host Newcastle United in their next outing with the toothless Tigers targeting vital points as the search for survival continues. Hull are odds-on 4/9 to avoid the drop this season.