BARRING something akin to a Christmas miracle, Hull City will head into the festive season in the relegation zone.
The Tigers sit three points adrift of fourth-bottom Middlesbrough, but a goals against column that reads 35 – the second-highest behind Serie A side Cagliari in Europe’s top five leagues – means Mike Phelan’s men could only escape this weekend via a quite bizarre series of results.
Having been in the bottom three since October 22, Hull will not be unduly fazed by remaining there until at least Boxing Day night and Harry Maguire insists the squad truly believes the new year will bring a rise up the table.
“We have been down there a few weeks now,” said the Tigers defender. “We have had chances to get out, better chances than going to White Hart Lane this week.
“But now we have another big game on Saturday. We dust ourselves down and we know West Ham is a place where we can get something.
“If we play with the same mentality and same positive attitude (as against Spurs in Wednesday night’s 3-0 defeat), but take our chances, I am sure we can get some points.”
Hull may have slipped to a sixth straight defeat on the road, the club’s joint worst in the Premier League, but there were grounds for optimism in their display against Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
Hugo Lloris pulled off three vital saves from Jake Livermore when the hosts led by just one goal and there was a welcome ambition about the Tigers’ play that had been conspicuous by its absence in the abject 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough on December 5.
“Everyone wrote us off, but I honestly believe that on another day it could have been very different,” added Maguire. “On another day, we could have scored two or three goals. We have to use that positive in the West Ham game.”
Less pleasing for Hull was letting in another three goals.
“We have conceded six goals in our last two games,” added Maguire.
“That isn’t good enough. But, despite that, we have looked a lot better as a team.
“If we can tighten up at the back as a three (-man defence) then we can turn it round. We know we need clean sheets. That is what will keep us in the Premier League.
“It is tough in this division but six goals in two goals isn’t what we aim for. That has to change. But we have plenty of positives to take into Saturday.”