HULL CITY’S transformation on home soil under Marco Silva could not be more marked.
After beating champions Leicester City on the opening day at the KCOM Stadium, the Tigers went on to collect just six points from nine fixtures in the East Riding under Mike Phelan.
Performances may not have necessarily been reflected in those results, particularly in draws against Crystal Palace and Everton. Phelan also had the misfortune of hosting Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United during that period.
But, nevertheless, such a sorry record was undoubtedly dragging Hull back towards the Championship. Enter Silva, whose haul of 13 points from five league games has given the Tigers, who have also beaten Swansea City and Manchester United in the Cups at home under the Portuguese, a fighting chance of staying in the Premier League.
“West Ham was a big example,” said Ahmed Elmohamady when asked about Silva’s impact. “Beating them was massive but it was very tough in the first half.
“The manager changed a few things at half-time. He also told us to calm down and relax. He is one of the best at talking to players in that situation, he is very clever and calms everything down quickly.
“He gave us all huge confidence to go back out in the second half. That is what happened. We also changed the system and everyone was on fire in the second half.
“We showed in the second half that we can fight for every single point. We were much better and earned ourselves a great result.
“We have said for some time that the home games are massive for us – and that it is important to win all our home games, as that will help us stay in the Premier League.”
City’s improved fortunes in front of their own fans will be put to the test tomorrow night against Middlesbrough.
Interim manager Steve Agnew, assistant to Steve Bruce when the Tigers reached the 2014 FA Cup final, would dearly love to ape Silva’s impact in the East Riding by breathing fresh life into a struggling side.
To do so, though, the former Barnsley midfield player’s side will have to end a quite remarkable run that has seen Silva, at the helm of several clubs, go 39 league games unbeaten on home soil.
Stretching back to a 1-0 loss at home to Rio Ave in March, 2014, for Portuguese minnows Estoril, the 39-year-old has won 32 of those matches.
A season apiece at Sporting Lisbon and Olympiacos makes up the lion’s share of this unbeaten run but it is his work at Hull that has most impressed.
Victories over Liverpool, Bournemouth, Swansea and West Ham plus a 1-1 draw with Burnley mean another three points against Boro tomorrow night could take the Yorkshire club out of the relegation zone for the first time since mid-October.
“In the last few weeks of a season, everyone is fighting for their lives,” added Elmohamady. “That includes at the top of the league – look at Palace’s win at Chelsea.
“It is going to be tough for everyone but we just focus on ourselves and look forward to Middlesbrough.
“If we can win that game, we can drag a few teams back towards us. Middlesbrough is a good team and we will play against one of our former coaches, Steve Agnew. He knows the club inside out so that will make it tough. We have to be focused.”