Marco Silva facing uphill task to turn Hull City’s toxic season around

Marco Silva facing uphill task to turn Hull City’s toxic season around


Only three sides in the last 20 years have avoided relegation having been bottom of the Premier League at Christmas.

This season it is Hull City, who have to defy the odds to avoid the drop.

It has been a rotten return to the top flight for the Tigers. A threadbare squad, mounting injuries and off-field issues have seen the club spiral towards relegation.

Mike Phelan had been in charge after Steve Bruce left the club in July following a series of disagreements with the board. Following a 3-1 defeat in their opening game of 2017 at West Bromwich Albion, however, Phelan was gone too.

The former Manchester United assistant worked under near impossible conditions and left the side having won just three of their first 20 games in the league.


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Once again, the club was looking for a manager. It took them just two days to find Phelan’s successor, indicating they had sounded out a replacement while he was still in the job.

As the news broke that young Portuguese coach Marco Silva was to take charge at the KCOM, most Hull fans quickly searched his name on google, looking for some hope.

They found information on a bright young manager, finding his way in the game. The former Estoril, Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos manager has a promotion, top-flight title and domestic cup to his name at just 39.

In terms of left-field appointments it can be seen as a progressive choice by the much maligned Ehab Allam and co who run the club. The appointment has caused plenty of debate, however.

Former Arsenal man Paul Merson went on a prolonged rant about the decision taken by City on Sky SportsSoccer Saturday which has become a viral sensation. Citing the availability of British managers such as Gary Rowlett, the infamous pundit bemoaned it is always a foreign manager while Phil Thompson asserted it was baffling.

Success stories such as Mauricio Pochettino and Claudio Ranieri in recent years somewhat dismantle the rather inward-looking and lazy view of these ex-pros.

Regardless of the pros and cons of Silva’s appointment, what cannot be argued is the tough task the Portuguese coach has inherited at the Yorkshire side.

Given we are now in January, the quality and more importantly the strength of the squad has been in full focus. Ahead of the EFL Cup semi-final first leg at Old Trafford, Silva had just 15 fit senior players to pick from and could only name six players on the bench.

Phelan only had 13 players to pick from ahead of their back to back wins at the start of the season. Despite a flurry of signings on deadline day, the squad is still imbalanced and ill-equipped to survive in the top flight. Key players like Robert Snodgrass are unhappy and linked with moves away from the club, the last thing Silva needs.

Goals have been in short supply. Hull’s forwards have failed to find the back of the net, with Adama Diomande scoring twice in the league and Abel Hernandez once. Their forward line needs bulking up. Oumar Niasse could be on his way out of Everton after Hull City moved to take him on loan but it is a gamble.

The atmosphere is toxic at the club. In Silva’s first game in charge, just 6,600 fans were in attendance as supporters boycotted. Issues such as concessions and a proposed name change have seen fans turn on the owners. Silva needs all the support he can get from the terraces but problems out of his control could put pay to that.

After a week at the club, Silva is liked by many Hull fans. His flawless English and willingness to play out from the back has slightly lifted the mood.

“Maybe in May the miracle will happen here,” Silva asserted in his first press conference.

It is hard to argue that miracles must happen if his dream move to the Premier League is not going to end in relegation and more criticism of his appointment.

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