It was all going so well for Grant McCann and his Hull City side. After Tom Eaves’ late winner against Doncaster Rovers at the start of December, Hull were top of Sky Bet League One - four points clear of Lincoln City and five clear of Peterborough United.
Fast forward three league games, and the Tigers are only one point better off than at the start of the month. A draw at Oxford United followed by defeats by Shrewsbury Town, Blackpool and Portsmouth have left the Tigers second with the potential of sinking lower due to other results.
McCann - “It’s a blip”
David Burns from BBC Radio Humberside asked McCann in his post-match press conference whether the Northern Irishman had genuine concerns about his side, or whether it was just a blip - to which McCann defiantly proclaimed, “It’s a blip, it’s a blip... we’ve stated the season really well, we’re in second position in the league... we know if we win the next two, we’ll be two points a game and in promotion form.”
“People will be concerned because of how well we’ve started. When you lose three in a row there will be questions asked, of course. I completely understand that... let’s see where we are at the end of the season.”
That may not be what Tigers fans want to hear after a third straight defeat in the league, but McCann is right in what he says. City lost only two games in fifteen before their recent form - against Fleetwood Town and Swindon Town - so despite their poor recent form, they are still touted as promotion candidates by the bookmakers.
Tigers miss their midfield dynamo in Honeyman
“He was close to making the game, it’s still not right. He possibly would have featured against Sunderland if the game was going to go ahead, but he’ll be definitely back for the Lincoln game.”
That was one area of his post-match press conference that Tigers fans will have been positive about, as George Honeyman is an integral part of Hull City’s play. The midfielder has been an ever present this season until the last two games, as he is currently out with an injury.
Honeyman has provided seven assists this season - more than any other player - as well as scoring two goals. It is not just these numbers and stats that are important, however - but his all round play. The energy he brings to the midfield is something the Tigers have missed over the last two games, not to mention his set piece delivery.
Corners did not go past the first man on more than one occasion against Pompey, and although there is the argument that a player automatically becomes better in the eyes of the fans when he doesn’t play in a defeat, one has to wonder if the midfielder would have made a difference if he had played.
Has the KLP saga unsettled the dressing room?
One particular point that Tigers fans have an issue with is the Keane Lewis-Potter situation. Currently contracted to 2022, talks for a new deal have stalled over recent days mainly due - according to McCann - over a disagreement about the length of contract. There are also unconfirmed reports about Lewis-Potters’ current deal and the fact that he is not in the starting line up due to these unsolved contract talks. Burns again asked the question after the Portsmouth defeat, but McCann was resolute.
“I think I’ve said everything I needed to say on it, and the club won’t be making any further comment about that situation,” he said. “It is what it is at this present time, there’s been no change. The club have made that point now, so we’ll see.”
This will not be music to the ears of any City fans hoping that “one of their own” - a young player who emerged as one of the few shining lights last season, and started in good form this season - is no closer to agreeing a deal. However, with ten days until the Tigers next play, perhaps the rest will rejuvenate the squad and they will return to their previous form when they play Lincoln City on 29th December at the KCOM Stadium.