Season Preview: Hull City

Last updated : 13 August 2009 By Andy Beill
How did you fare last season?
We got off to a flying start, mainly because of some great tactical decisions by Phil Brown and the impact of our new signings. We struggled from January onwards when we lost important players, Brown's tactics weren't coming off, and the players' confidence went completely. We didn't do enough in the last couple of months of the season to stay up, but neither did three other teams.

How do you expect you'll do this season?
With the signings we've finally managed to bring in we should have a team capable of competing. Until we see how good they are it's hard to predict whether we'll finish closer to the bottom or the middle of the table. An early season win to restore confidence could prove vital.

A run-in of games against Portsmouth, Fulham, Stoke, Burnley, Birmingham, Sunderland and Stoke before Liverpool on the last day looks similar to last season. Hopefully we will rise to the test this time.

What have you done in the transfer market this summer? Which of your new signings are you expecting most from?
We were publicly turned down by some of our targets but we've made five signings so far, with a couple still to come in before the transfer window shuts.

Stephen Hunt gives us the option we need on the left, and will hopefully weigh in with some goals too. We'll be expecting him to deliver fairly quickly having played at this level before.

Strikers Jozy Altidore and Kamel Ghilas sound promising but they're untried as yet in England. One more signing will be made in this area, probably from abroad as well.

Seyi Olofinjana adds much needed competition to the midfield, where we will be without Ian Ashbee and Jimmy Bullard for a while yet.

Steven Mouyokolo is likely to be a backup defender. We still require a right-back after selling Sam Ricketts, and may need to replace our best player Michael Turner if he is sold as well.

Where do you think you'll need to strengthen in the January transfer window?
Our squad should be complete by the end of this month. Brown may want a new goalkeeper for the second half of the season if neither Boaz Myhill or Matt Duke have made the position his own by then.

Have you any promising youngsters breaking into the team?
Midfielders Jamie Devitt and Tom Cairney showed promise in the Asia Trophy matches. Forward Ryan Kendall is making himself noticed with goals in the reserves. Centre back Liam Cooper was the one to watch this time last year but wasn't risked in the Premier League.

Have you got the right man in charge of the team? Will he still be there at the end of the season?
Phil Brown's achieved his goal in each of his three seasons at the club so criticism from our own fans - probably restless more than anything - is unwarranted, and from the national media is ill-informed. Even if we went down, he's the only man who's ever led us to promotion to the Premier League before so would logically be the man most likely to do it again, but circumstances would dictate. The chairman seems totally behind him, but you never know what chairmen will do.

Is the club being run well? Are you likely to be singing 'Sack the board' any time soon?
They've made a sizeable transfer kitty available without risking the club's health by throwing money away. The chairman can be a bit naïve in some of the things he says to the press, although he has only been in the game for two years. The club is gradually distancing itself from the fans, but sadly that's just the way football's going.

Which team do you most want to beat and why?
We owe Arsenal revenge for the manner of our FA Cup exit last season, and would also simply love a repeat of our greatest ever league result. There's little to like about Stoke and we should have taken more points from them last season. We also have something to prove to Sunderland reserve Fraizer Campbell.

Who do you think will win the league?
I think it's quite open this year. Neither United nor Liverpool look like they'll be as strong as last season. Chelsea have a good enough squad to win it but could miss their chance if Ancelotti doesn't deliver straight away.

Manchester City have a good squad but will the team spirit be there if they don't settle straight away?

Arsenal look interesting if they use the money they've raised from sales to strengthen further and could be an outside bet.

Who do you think's going down?
I won't pretend Hull City aren't contenders but we're by no means alone. Portsmouth's team is now much weaker, and Wigan have lost their best players too as well as their manager. Wolves lack experience, as do Burnley who also have a suspect defence. Birmingham's signings look like gambles. Blackburn and Bolton are unlikely to be in for especially good seasons. Stoke are no sure thing, nor are Sunderland despite the money they've spent. And will there be surprise strugglers, like Newcastle and Tottenham last season?

Wolves, Burnley and Portsmouth are the three I'll go for.