ON THE day Hull City rejected what is likely to be the first of several bids for talisman Robert Snodgrass during the transfer window, new head coach Marco Silva admitted the club has to try to bring new faces in as soon as possible.
The Tigers take a break today from what has been a miserable Premier League campaign when Swansea City head to the KCOM Stadium in the FA Cup third round for what will be the 39-year-old’s bow in English football.
A trip to Manchester United in the League Cup semi-final first leg then follows for the Portuguese on Tuesday, but his thoughts will surely not stray too far from the task of keeping Hull in the top flight, something Silva yesterday likened to a “miracle” that “can happen”.
If that is to be the case, Snodgrass, the club’s top scorer with seven league goals to his name, is surely destined to play a major role – which is why West Ham United’s unsuccessful £3m bid was so unwelcome in the East Riding.
The Hammers, who also want Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe, are expected to return with an improved offer, but face competition from a host of other clubs including Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.
Hull’s resolve, therefore, is likely to be tested to the full over a player whose contract runs until the summer of 2018.
Silva is yet to see the Scot and his team-mates in competitive action live, but the Portuguese is in no doubt that the squad needs strengthening to give the Tigers a fighting chance of staying up.
“When I spoke with the owners, they know what we need and what is important for the team,” he said. “I have confidence in our players, but it is clear we need to improve our roster because, when you look, we have one, two, three, four problems.
“For the Swansea game, we have 15 players and we need to call up players from the Under-23s. The owners know and I know what we need. Of course, I have targets.”
Asked if this recruitment had to get under way quickly, Silva replied: “Yes, it is important. More fast is better for us, I am sure about this.”
Silva has inherited a struggling team that has won just once in 18 league games and sit bottom of the table.
A wretched summer that saw Steve Bruce quit and the club’s recruitment stall before half a dozen signings, most way below the required standard, were made in the final 36 hours of the window is behind the club’s struggles. Silva’s task is to try to make light of this by leading a revival, albeit one that will not be done on the back of millions being lavished in the transfer market.
“We don’t have a lot of money to spend,” admitted the Portuguese, who has signed a contract until the end of the season. “But we will try to do what is best for the team and for Hull.”
Silva arrived in England with a coaching CV that includes a Portuguese Cup triumph in charge of Sporting Lisbon and last year’s Greek Superleague title success at Olympiacos.
Keeping the Tigers up this season is arguably an even tougher task, though one he insists can be achieved.
“My biggest ambition at this moment is this miracle,” he said when asked about keeping Hull in the top flight.
“We need the supporters to help. We will only win this challenge if we fight together. I have to make the fans feel happy.”
Silva has been joined at the KCOM by his own staff, Mike Phelan having been followed out of the club by his backroom team.
That means Hull lack any English input on the coaching side, something that foreign managers such as Aitor Karanka and Carlos Carvalhal were determined to avoid when taking charge of Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday respectively.
Asked if he felt having an entirely Portuguese staff could be detrimental to the Tigers’ hopes of staying up, Silva replied: “Maybe at this moment in time I don’t have an English assistant coach. But, maybe next week, I will have news for you.”
Carvalhal, meanwhile, believes Hull have made a wise choice with their new head coach and his team.
“I know Marco,” added Carvalhal, who grew up in the same city as new Tigers assistant John Pedro. “I wish him the best. One of his assistants is my friend. We played together in two teams as he is from my city. He has been my friend for a long, long time. They are a quality coaching staff. It is a very tough job and they know that but they will be ready.”