POSITIVES are hard to glean for Hull City right now.
Rock bottom of the Premier League and with just one win in 16 league outings, the Tigers are strongly fancied to suffer a second relegation in three seasons come May.
Amid this doom and gloom, however, there have been moments to savour for the KCOM Stadium faithful.
Reaching the League Cup semi-finals is one, especially as next month’s double-header against Manchester United will be the Tigers’ first appearance at this stage of the competition.
Performances over the last four games have also been a big improvement, even if a solitary point from the 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace is all Mike Phelan’s men have to show for it.
Then there is Harry Maguire, who with each passing week is growing more and more accomplished at the top level.
“Harry has performed very well in the position he’s in now,” admitted head coach Phelan. “At the start of the season, Harry was firmly in the plans to start, but then got injured.
“He missed a lengthy period, but he is now gaining momentum. He has taken on the challenge pretty well.
“Harry is still young and needs to improve certain things, but it has been a big jump from where he was.”
Maguire joined Hull from Sheffield United in the summer of 2014, just a few months after playing for the League One Blades against Steve Bruce’s men in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
He was brought in as one for the future and someone who would feature heavily in Hull’s Europa League adventures. Alas, a third qualifying round exit meant first-team opportunities were hard to come by and Maguire was sent on loan for four months to Wigan towards the end of that first campaign in the East Riding.
Now, though, Maguire is developing into a fine talent and one who supporters were pleased to see had his contract extended by 12 months last week.
On a player who was again in good form against Manchester City on Monday, Phelan added: “Harry is another asset that this club has got and it is important that if you want to be progressive then you have to get these assets on your side and on improved contracts.
“He is very comfortable on the ball with two good feet and his appreciation of the game is a little bit different. He is very proactive in dealing with the ball coming forward. He is a definite plus.
“Harry is enjoying his game now. He has had his moments when he has been a little bit concerned over when he would get a game, but we have spoken about that and now he has got the opportunity to perform.”
There is no doubt Phelan and his players need help in the transfer window.
January’s Africa Cup of Nations means Ahmed Elmohamady and Dieumerci Mbokani are likely to be away for at least a month once Monday’s trip to West Bromwich Albion is out of the way.
Phelan added: “We lose a right-back and we lose a striker. It is a blip we will have to take care of. Hopefully, (Abel) Hernandez will be back by then.
“We need to add to that, but we knew the African Nations was coming. Other teams are suffering the same, but they might have more options than us.”