HISTORY is very much against Hull City today.
Not only do the Tigers have a truly wretched record at the home of Manchester United down the years but Steve Bruce has yet to taste victory as a manager in 20 previous meetings with his former club.
Throw in City’s Premier League fortunes having also suffered something of a slide in recent weeks and it is no wonder that Louis van Gaal’s side are odds-on favourites with the bookmakers to triumph.
Hull, however, do have one possible lucky omen and that comes via Michael Dawson, who is today looking to make it a hat-trick of victories at Old Trafford in the past three seasons.
“It is a tough place to go, there is no hiding from that,” said the 31-year-old defender about a venue where he helped Tottenham Hotspur to a 3-2 triumph in September, 2012, and then a 2-1 victory on the first day of this year.
“Spurs went 23 years or something silly without winning there and then we went and won two in a row. That shows what can be done.
“You have to have a go and get in their faces. You can’t show them too much respect. If you stand off them, with the quality of players they have got, they can find a pass and they can create.
“Manchester United can keep the ball and wear you down, so you have got to have a go at them. Defending well is the key, because the quality and the class they have up front can hurt you.”
Hull’s record at Old Trafford is even worse than that of Tottenham before those two recent triumphs. In 13 previous visits, the Tigers have won just once – an FA Cup tie in 1952 – and claimed a solitary draw in 1923. All the other trips across the Pennines have ended in defeat, including the last five, while City have conceded 38 goals and scored just 10.
Hardly a record to inspire confidence but Bruce’s men can point to last month’s battling performances at Arsenal and Liverpool as proof that United will not have it all their own way while pushing for what will be a 10th consecutive win against the East Yorkshire club.
For Dawson, his August switch from White Hart Lane has brought something of a culture shock with the one-time England defender more used to challenging for a European place at the top of the table.
“It is definitely a new experience for me,” he said. “But I am relishing the challenge. I think you can see in my performances.
“I have played in the Championship, when you are getting in among it. I played nearly 10 years at Spurs and, as a defender, it is no different, whether you are looking up the table or down.
“We haven’t won for a while and going on runs like this was something I never really experienced at Spurs.
“Hull’s aim is to stay in the Premier League. The second season is always tough but the gaffer has brought in good players. We have got a great squad here and two wins can climb you up the table in no time.
“We have played 12 games, so we can’t get carried away. We could quite easily be mid-table without a shadow of a doubt. There are no panic buttons being pressed just yet. We have got tough games coming up, December is a busy month for instance.
“I do believe that we are capable of getting back into mid-table because I believe in the squad of players we have. I said it from day one, I believed we could achieve things.
“It is no good having quality in the dressing room. You have got to go out and work hard and make things happen.”
Along with having to adapt to the demands of a safety battle, Dawson has also had to contend with the move north and the birth of his and wife Anna’s first child.
“It has been a bit of carnage,” said the smiling defender. “I had a key to my brother’s house (former Tigers defender Andy). I was here, there and everywhere. People were putting me up but I am settled now.
“Louie (Dawson’s son) came along four weeks ago, so it has all changed. He is a Hull City fan. He came to his first game last week against Spurs. He is a Yorkshireman, like me.
“Moving back up and trying to find a place, it has been a bit busy. But things are starting to settle down now.
“It is always tough, moving. When I left Forest to go to London, it took time to settle in. But I am loving it. I’m loving playing football and that’s what it’s all about. You are a long time retired.”
Asked if Louie was causing any sleepless nights in the Dawson household, the City defender replied: “It has not been too bad. I thought it was going to be a lot worse. But when you wake up in the middle of night and see the little man, it is all worth it.”
Fatherhood may not be giving Dawson any sleepless nights at the moment and the same applies to today’s trek across the Pennines.
“Manchester United are in transition, there is no hiding that,” he said. “It maybe feels a bit different (without Sir Alex Ferguson).
“They have got lots of injuries but we are still going to Old Trafford and they are still very strong.”
Dawson is likely to be up against a formidable strike force today with fit-again Radamel Falcao vying for a starting place along with Robert van Persie and Wayne Rooney.
He added: “We have just got to try to concentrate on ourselves and play as well as we can like we did last week in the first half.
“I have done it for the last 10 years and when I stepped up from the Championship to the Premier League, that was something you dream of doing. The challenge of testing yourself against the best players in the world is huge.
“Sometimes you come out on top, sometimes they score goals. But it is a great challenge and you have to be ready.”