Not many teams will have as different halves to a year as Hull City did in 2016.
Starting the year top of the Championship, the Tigers had to settle for a playoff spot after results turned in the early months of this year and not for the good. An absolutely amazing goal from Mohamed Diame in the Playoff Final saw a return to the Premier League at the first time of trying.
A disappointing and quite nightmarish summer followed with the resignation of manager Steve Bruce after disagreements with owners and board members about money available for transfers. Then, amid all the chaos, a strong start to the Premier League season included an opening day win against Champions Leicester City.
However, up to the current moment in time, the Tigers’ have struggled to find their feet in the top division of English Football, picking up 12 points in 18 games this season at the bottom of the table on goal difference. Below is a review of the entirety of 2016 with a recap on the summer period and transfers in the middle.
Played: 6 Won: 6 Drew: 0 Lost: 0 Scored: 15 Conceded 2
January saw the Tiger’s progress to the fifth round of the FA cup and pick up the maximum of 12 points in the league. Starting on New Year’s Day with a strong 1-2 win at Queens Park Rangers, the Tigers would go on to only conceded once more throughout the month. A 1-0 win in the FA Cup at home against Brighton was followed with two more home wins in the League, 2-0 against Cardiff City and then a dominating 6-0 win against Charlton Athletic.
Another away win in the League, this time a 0-1 win against Fulham before rounding off their best month statistically of the year with an away 1-3 win against Bury in the FA Cup. This win set up a nice away tie that replicated the 2014 final, against holders Arsenal.
Played: 6 Win: 2 Drew: 3 Lost: 1 Scored: 3 Conceded: 1
A busy February started with a 0-1 defeat at future Champions Burnley, followed a week later with a bounce back 0-2 win at Blackburn and a 0-0 draw against fellow promotion rivals Brighton. Arsenal were next up for the Tiger’s in that fifth round tie at the Emirates Stadium and Hull earned a home replay with their second 0-0 draw of the month.
Ipswich, another team in the playoff hunt were up next and once again, the Tigers picked up another away win, this time 0-1 at Portman Road. To finish the month was a home visit of Sheffield Wednesday, which brought another 0-0 draw. Despite being top of the League at this stage, this result started a six game winless run.
Played: 5 Won: 0 Drew: 2 Lost: 3 Scored: 2 Conceded: 8
The worst month, statistically, prior to the summer started with a narrow defeat away at Birmingham City and that set the precedent for the rest of this month in the League anyway. Afterwards, the FA Cup replay with Arsenal took a different turn with the Gunners powering their way to a 0-4 win at the KCOM stadium, leaving Hull with just the league to focus on.
Tight 1-1 draws at home with strugglers Milton Keynes Dons and Nottingham Forest dropped the Tigers to fourth in the League, a position they would stay in for the remainder of the season. To finish the month, an away defeat at Middlesbrough all but condemned Hull City to the playoffs.
Played: 8 Won: 4 Drew: 2 Lost: 2 Scored: 14 Conceded: 11
The beginning of April saw a brief turnaround in form with a 4-0 home win over Bristol City before a crushing 0-4 defeat away at Derby. A 2-2 draw with Huddersfield did spark a bit of end of season form with the Tigers winning four of their remaining six fixtures.
Two 2-1 wins, firstly at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers and secondly away at Reading. Leeds United were next at home and a second 2-2 draw of the month was the result there. The Tigers were back at home in the following game, beating Brentford 2-0. However, the month ended on a poor performance and a 0-1 defeat at already relegated Bolton Wanderers.
Played: 4 Won: 3 Drew: 0 Lost: 1 Scored: 9 Conceded: 3
The last game of the regular season saw the Tigers close out in style with an impressive 5-1 home win against Rotherham. The Playoffs bought a matchup for Hull that didn’t fair them to well during the season, Derby. However, a storming first half performance in the first leg saw Hull return home with a strong 0-3 advantage. Despite a 0-2 defeat in the second leg, Hull progressed to Wembley in search of promotion this time against Sheffield Wednesday.
The game on the Hallowed Turf was nicely poised at 0-0 before Mohamed Diame stepped up for the Tigers to hit home a belter from about 30 yards. Hull City were promoted back to the big time and had the summer to build on their promotion winning squad.
The Summer window
However the summer didn’t go as planned, Hull were struggling for players with only 13 fit professionals available for selection. Then Bruce left the club after disagreements with the owners regarding the lack of money available for transfers which left the Tigers’ front office frantically searching for players and a permanent manager. Not the ideal start to the season, however up stepped Mike Phelan to take temporary charge.
Then, in the final week leading up to Deadline Day, deals were finally made and did help improve a depleted list of available players after the summer hit with injuries seemed to spell a bleak, short tenure in the top division. Goalkeeper David Marshall has been probably the most influential signing, keeping the majority of the Tigers score lines at a respectable number, excluding heavy 5-1 and 6-1 away defeats to Liverpool and Bournemouth respectively.
Will Keane began to start some games without finding the net before a horrible injury in the 2-1 home win against Southampton at the beginning of November that will cause him to miss the remainder of this season. Fellow striker Abel Hernandez suffered a serious injury in that game as well so loan signing Dieumerci Mbokani has taken over the striker duties. However he is also yet to score for the Tigers. Another player brought in on loan was Markus Henriksen.
In January, City have the option of making his move a permanent one but he is also yet to fire this season for the Tigers in eight games. James Weir, who joined the Tigers with Keane from Manchester United, is yet to feature at all.
Now onto the record signing, Ryan Mason. Having found the net once this season, in the EFL cup win against Stoke City. However, since that game, Mason has failed to convince fans he is worth his club record fee, with some below par performances having been restricted to substitute appearances and he very rarely completes a 90 minutes.
Played: 4 Won: 2 Drew: 0 Lost: 1 Scored: 7 Conceded: 3
Hull City returned to the Premier League in style with an opening day win over Champions Leicester City, beating the Foxes 2-1. The problems off the pitch were overshadowed by small successes on the pitch. Week two saw the Tigers win again, this time away at Swansea City, scoring two goals on the counter attack to take a 0-2 win back to Humberside. The third week saw the Tigers enter EFL Cup at the second-round stage, away at Exeter.
A potential banana-skin game for Hull City however they came through unscathed. The first defeat of the season came at home courtesy of a last minute Marcus Rashford tap in on a very wet Saturday evening at the KCOM stadium. All in all, though, this was a very good start to the season for the Tigers as Manchester United escaped with a 0-1 win.
Played: 4 Won: 1 Drew: 1 Lost: 2 Scored: 5 Conceded: 11
Burnley were the first test after the International break which brought the first draw, 1-1, of the season. Despite this promising start, Arsenal were also in some pretty good form, demolishing the Tigers 1-4 at the KCOM. However, the cup form continued as the Tigers were drawn against Stoke City, where they would pick their only win of the month in a 1-2 win which included a Ryan Mason winner. The coming weekend would bring a similar result as to that against Arsenal the week before as City travelled to another in-form title contender, Liverpool. The Reds would dominate the game having 32 shots on their way to a convincing 5-1 win. Hull were starting to struggle.
Played: 5 Won: 1 Drew: 0 Lost: 4 Scored: 3 Conceded: 12
Another title contender for Hull to deal with, this time the resurgent Chelsea who were beginning to improve under Antonio Conte. A modest 0-2 defeat saw Hull’s confidence decrease and, then after October’s International break, a humiliating 6-1 defeat at Bournemouth saw Hull’s position in the League decrease as well. The Tiger’s then faced Stoke for the second time this season, this time at the KCOM in the League.
This time saw a different outcome as a Xherdan Shaqiri scored one of the goals of the season on his way to a double as Stoke left Humberside with a 0-2 win. Back in the EFL Cup meant back to winning ways as the Tigers saw off championship opposition Bristol City 1-2 meaning the Tigers’ progressed into the fifth round.
To end the month, a spirited defensive performance wasn’t good enough as Michael Dawson put through his own net in the 82nd minute as Watford stole a 1-0 victory at Vicarage Road. One bright spot to come out of this defeat was the Premier League debut of young local talent Jared Bowen in the 89th minute.
Played: 4 Won: 1 Drew: 2 Lost: 1 Scored: 4 Conceded: 6
The month started well for the Tigers as they picked up their first league win since August in a comeback 2-1 win against Southampton. Unfortunately, Will Keane and Abel Hernandez both picked serious injuries which will keep them out for a lengthy period of time.
After the final International break of the year, Sunderland picked up a vital 3-0 win over the Tigers in a game which City had more shots and had more possession of the ball. Next up was a visit of West Brom to the KCOM and the points were shared with the game finishing 1-1.
Lastly in November, Newcastle made the trip to Humberside for the EFL Cup fifth round game. The game finished 1-1 after extra time however, the Tigers proved that they were the better team, beating the Magpies on penalties. This result means a two legged tie with Manchester United is to come in the New Year.
Played: 5 Won: 0 Drew: 1 Lost: 4 Scored: 3 Conceded: 11
December turned out to be not so festive for Hull City as they only picked a solitary point from the five games played so far, not counting the Everton game. A narrow 1-0 away defeat to Middlesbrough for the second time in 2016 was followed by a brilliant match where Hull City were leading 3-2 going into the final minutes before a late Crystal Palace equaliser restricted Hull to another draw.
Tottenham was up next and yet again the class of a team pushing for a European spot defeated the passion of the relegation battlers, as Spurs ran away 3-0 winners. Another defeat, this time away at the London Stadium and a rare win for West Ham. The Tigers were the better team against their fellow strugglers but too many missed chances proved that it wouldn’t be their day.
This defeat ensured the team would be bottom at Christmas in a position that could become impossible to turn around if results don’t turn around soon. Boxing Day saw Manchester City visit the KCOM and, despite being contained for over 70 minutes, Manchester City walked away with a comfortable 0-3 win.
Hopefully, 2017 will start as well as 2016 did because if results don’t pick up, changes could be made at the club regarding players, staff and board members. Hull do need a striker who will get them ten goals at least between now and the end of the season because it is apparent that Mbokani and Adama Diomande aren’t going to be good enough to keep Hull from heading straight back down.
The defence is finding its feet and the return of Alex Bruce soon will add depth in the defensive positions. A creative midfielder who can play alongside Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone would also be welcome as the Tigers are lacking a confident ball carrier. Huddlestone is also the subject of interest from Crystal Palace so a backup plan will be needed if he does depart.
Hull City’s next 6:
Everton, Home, 30 December 2016
West Brom, Away, 2 January 2017
Swansea City, Home, 7 January 2017, FA Cup Third Round
Manchester United, Away, 10 January 2017, EFL Cup Semi Final first leg
Bournemouth, Home, 14 January 2017
Chelsea, Away, 22 January 2017