MARCO SILVA insists Hull City can handle the pressure that inevitably accompanies a scrap to stay in the Premier League.
The Tigers gave their hopes of remaining in the top flight a major boost with a 2-1 win over relegation rivals Swansea City.
In a fixture widely considered as ‘must-win’ for the East Riding club, Oumar Niasse came off the bench to score twice and move Hull to within touching distance of safety.
Just a point now separates City from fourth bottom Crystal Palace, while both Swansea and Leicester City are just a win away from Silva’s men.
“I was not worried,” said the Portuguese when asked about how high the stakes had been ahead of tackling Paul Clement’s men. “For me, the pressure is normal. I live with the pressure and all my players live with this pressure.
“It is not just us in this situation, I told my players at half-time to forget the pressure.
“I don’t care about the pressure. At this moment, Chelsea and Tottenham have pressure to be champions and the other teams at the top have pressures to get into European competitions. We have our own fight.”
City’s triumph over Swansea maintained Silva’s unbeaten record at the KCOM since succeeding Mike Phelan in early January.
He has won five and drawn the other of his half-a-dozen outings in league and cup but Hull remain in the bottom three.
“The table looks the same (as before the Swansea game),” added Silva. “Okay, we took three very important points and now there will come a moment when the other teams play and we will see (how they do).
“But we just need to put the focus on ourselves and prepare for the next game. We knew these points were important to us. But we keep the focus on ourselves and afterwards look at the table.”
The pitch was criticised by both Silva and Clement in the aftermath of City’s win, the Portuguese being particularly upset that Hull FC had hosted St Helens the previous night in the Super League.
There are no further weekend clashes between the two sports before the end of the Premier League season but Silva remains annoyed by the scheduling.
“It is impossible at this level to have two games in two days,” he added. “No more teams do this, to play rugby the day before is impossible.
I don’t care about the pressure. At this moment, Chelsea and Tottenham have pressure to be champions and the other teams at the top have pressures to get into European competitions. We have our own fight.Hull City manager, Marco Silva
“We wanted to put the intensity in our game but with the pitch it was impossible. It is one thing the club needs to fix fast.”
Hull’s goal-scoring hero, however, was not unduly fazed after experiencing the harsh realities of a Russian winter when at Lokomotiv Moscow.
“I have played on similar pitches,” added Niasse. “The weather in Russia is very difficult so I am used to it. I don’t think it is important because the pitch is not just difficult for us, it is difficult for the other team also. We just have to believe in ourselves.”
The race for the Premier League, meanwhile, took another twist over the weekend as Huddersfield Town maintained the pressure on the top two and Fulham made up ground on Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United in the play-off scrap.
Rajiv van La Parra’s first-half strike at Brentford was enough to earn David Wagner’s Terriers a 1-0 win that cut the gap to Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion to six points.
As Huddersfield, who also have a game in hand, look to rein in the top two, Wednesday are looking nervously over their shoulders at Fulham after the Londoners’ stunning 3-1 win at St James Park.
Another victory for Slavisa Jokanovic’s men tomorrow night at home to Blackburn Rovers in their game in hand will see the Owls, who lost 2-0 at Aston Villa on an afternoon when Vincent Sasso and Carlos Carvalhal were dismissed, drop out of the top six.
Leeds also had a frustrating afternoon as QPR claimed a point from a goalless draw at Elland Road. Six points now separate Garry Monk’s men in fourth place from Fulham.
“We didn’t do enough in the whole game (to win),” said the Leeds head coach. “We accept that. Even when we were pushing in the last 20 minutes, we were huffing and puffing.
“But it is another point. We have nine huge games now and what we will do is what we have always done – stick together, fight hard and keep pushing.”