WITH two of the Premier League’s bottom four having sacked their managers within the past week, Mike Phelan could perhaps be forgiven for feeling the pressure at Hull City.
The Tigers head coach, however, insists his focus is solely on tonight’s game with Everton and the ongoing attempts to strengthen his squad when the January transfer window opens.
Carl Jenkinson is wanted by City and a loan offer has been submitted to Arsenal for the full-back, while enquiries are understood to have been made for a couple of strikers.
Getting these deals done is Phelan’s priority and not worries over his future following the recent dismissals of Swansea City’s Bob Bradley and Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace.
“I don’t see anything untoward,” said the Lancastrian when asked if he saw any similarities at Hull with the circumstances in south Wales that led to Bradley’s dismissal after just 11 games in charge.
“If we look at it logically, we are trying. It has been the case from day one that we are up against it.
“I know Bob. I spoke to him many times when I was an assistant manager. He is a good guy with a good idea of the game. When you take on a football club that is struggling, you need to be able to do your job.
“Results determine the moods of individuals but, deep down, every manager wants the opportunity to have time. Eighty-odd days doesn’t seem too long to get ideas across but we know that the Premier League is all about the money and the business.
“Here, we are trying to plan ahead and plan forward. We are trying to get some continuity and some more confidence.
“It is just a case of: ‘Let’s get on with it’. There is no point dwelling on what has gone on, you can only look forward to the next game.”
Hull’s poor summer of recruitment at a time when there was uncertainty over a possible takeover has been badly exposed over the past few months.
Phelan’s squad cannot be faulted on endeavour and, particularly over the last four games, attacking intent. But an inability to make any signings until the last 24 hours of the summer window left huge gaps in quality that hard work alone has been unable to plug.
Supporters, even those critical of Phelan’s tactics at times this season, recognise this and the last three games have ended with Hull being applauded from the field despite having nothing to show for their efforts.
“The fans are still behind us,” added Phelan. “We had a terrific atmosphere against Manchester City (on Boxing Day). That was probably helped by the travelling supporters turning up but our fans turned up en masse.
“It was a good fixture because endeavour came from on the pitch and off it. It was pleasing to see a stadium that was full and to hear the better songs that are sung for a change.”
On the Tigers’ plight at the foot of the table following last May’s promotion, Phelan added: “I feel for the players, the club and the supporters, because a lot of hard work has gone into getting into this division.
“A lot of hard work is still being done by people here to try and stay in it. We are supporting the players the best we possibly can and the players are supporting the staff by putting in their efforts.
“But there comes a time where we need to push on, show our credentials and get some points on the board. If we can do that and get a little bit of a run going, things can change for us.”
City’s resources will be stretched further after the January 2 trip to West Bromwich Albion due to the Africa Cup of Nations meaning Ahmed Elmohamady and Dieumerci Mbokani could be missing for up to five weeks.
With Moses Odubajo out for the season, Elmohamady’s absence will leave Hull without a recognised full-back – hence the attempts to get an early deal done for Arsenal’s Jenkinson.
Abel Hernandez will miss both fixtures over the New Year holiday period through injury along with Alex Bruce and Allan McGregor to underline the need to strengthen in the window.
Asked if any deals were on the verge of being done, Phelan said: “I’d like to say ‘yes’ but I can’t because I have not had any real answers from the other clubs.
“I have got one or two in mind. We will keep trying to press the right buttons and see whether we can. I can only bring them to the table and after that it is up to other people to get them over the line.”
On Jenkinson, Phelan, who is unlikely to follow up interest in Manchester United’s Matty James due to midfield being an area Hull possess strength in depth, added: “There are a few others in the hat for Carl but I would love him to come here. I have spoken to the staff at Arsenal and I have been encouraged by it.”
Last six games: Hull City DDLDLLL Everton LDLWLW.
Referee: J Moss (West Yorkshire).
Last time: Hull City 2 Everton 0; January 1, 2015; Premier League.
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