MIKE PHELAN insists Hull City have the necessary fight to get out of relegation trouble despite matching an unwanted club record with a sixth straight Premier League defeat.
An own goal by captain Michael Dawson condemned the Tigers to a 1-0 loss at Watford that means the Yorkshire side has taken just one point from a possible 24.
Such a wretched run has left City in the bottom three but Phelan is adamant there were plenty of grounds for optimism in defeat.
“I can’t fault the effort, commitment and determination of the players,” said the Hull head coach to The Yorkshire Post. “We also had the right attitude. I got all that against Watford on the back of a couple of games where we haven’t shown that.
“I was pleased from that point of view. We had a gameplan and I thought from that perspective it worked. We created the two best chances but didn’t take them.
“If we had been stood here now after a 0-0, I would have been pleased as punch. But I do also believe we could have won the game. I felt we played extremely well, but got nothing for it
“We are in the big league and things have to develop fast. We are on a losing spell but we have to try and stick together.”
Phelan’s frustration at the final whistle was understandable.
After surviving a Watford onslaught in the opening 10 minutes that saw the woodwork rattled twice in quick succession, Hull matched the hosts but still slipped to a sixth consecutive defeat – matching an unwanted record set by Phil Brown’s side in the top flight during the 2008-09 season.
“We are who we are and know where we have come from,” added Phelan. “We are trying to perform and will continue trying to do so.
“Injuries have not helped. We have lost players that would be regulars and that affects a squad like ours.
“We started with 13 players but then got six signings on the last day of the window. Without those signings we would now be in a sorry state.
“We got off to a good start, which was against all the odds. But now we are in a position where, deep down, all you guys (in the press) thought we would be with the squad we had.
“The challenge for us is to react and add to the squad in January with a bit of investment. But that is January and not now.
“What we have shown by getting those seven points (before the current run of losses) is that we can win games in the Premier League. We have to come through this and show we can come to Watford to get a result. I thought we could have had that.”
Hull’s woes were shared by some of the county’s clubs but not others on a mixed weekend.
Middlesbrough boosted their own survival hopes with a deserved 2-0 victory over Bournemouth, while in the Championship both Huddersfield Town and Sheffield Wednesday suffered setbacks in their respective quests to reach the top flight.
Town crashed to a 5-0 hammering at Fulham, while the Owls were beaten at Derby County. Barnsley and Rotherham United both had to settle for a point apiece.
It meant Leeds United were Yorkshire’s only winners in the second tier on Saturday, Burton Albion being beaten 2-0 at Elland Road to leave Garry Monk’s men just a point adrift of the play-offs.
“We are just coming out of October,” said the Leeds head coach when asked about his side’s rise up the table in recent weeks.
“Everyone says it, but there are no prizes handed out at this point. We all know this league – you have a great week and everyone talks like this but then you have a bad week and we could be talking about something totally different.
“You have to be mindful of that and realistic.
“We are three months into with a new group which is no time at all when you think about it but we have grown very quickly.
“That is important because in football you don’t get a lot of time.”
Yorkshire’s two representatives in League One also had an excellent weekend. James Hanson netted twice late on to earn Bradford City all three points at AFC Wimbledon, while Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United beat Milton Keynes Dons 2-1 at Bramall Lane.
Billy Sharp was again among the goalscorers, his 10th goal of the season being the fifth in the last three outings for the lifelong Blades fan.
“Billy has unfinished business here,” said Wilder. “He has played here, scored goals, but he wants a bit of success at the end of the season to go with a decent career.
“He still has a lot to offer and I really think he is grabbing (the opportunity) by the scruff of the neck.
“The way he has been off the pitch, and on it, using his experience and holding the ball up, has been outstanding.
“You do hear bits and pieces, ‘Billy Sharp, oh he’s only interested in himself’. Obviously, he is interested in doing well individually, that’s what he has to do.
“But he is a team player, a Sheffield United man. And, as a manager, I am absolutely delighted with what he has given to this football club.”