IF A team has not played well by Christmas, chances are that is unlikely to change any time soon.
For Curtis Davies, however, his half-term verdict of “indifferent” when it comes to Hull City’s performances to date in 2015-16 should be taken as a positive.
The 30-year-old defender is adamant that, despite not yet hitting the heights as a team, the Tigers possess the depth of quality to emerge from the assault course that is a Championship campaign sitting pretty come the end of May.
“I think we would have taken this position going into Christmas when we started the season back in August,” said Davies to The Yorkshire Post ahead of today’s festive clash with Burnley.
“We have seen in the past clubs who went down expected to challenge but it didn’t quite happen. We are up there.
“The big thing is we are not flowing yet. It might sound silly to say that halfway through a season, but it is the truth. We have been very indifferent.
“Results have come, in the main, but our performances have been a bit wayward.
“What we need to get back to is the team who doesn’t look like conceding. Then, when the chances come along, we take them. Only then can we say we have a really great chance of winning this league.”
Hull have stumbled in recent weeks since the season’s high that was the 3-0 home win over Middlesbrough. Steve Bruce’s men were worthy winners that day, albeit after a slow start that saw David Nugent miss a golden chance for the Teesside club when the game was still goalless.
That was the last action before the third and final international break of the season and since then the Tigers have been less than impressive.
Seven points have been gleaned from six games, back-to-back home wins over Bolton Wanderers and Reading in games when Hull were average at best having, in Davies’s words, “papered over the cracks”.
“The big credit to what we have in the squad is that we have been indifferent and yet we are up there,” added Davies. “When things aren’t quite going well, we do have those players who can turn a game on its head. Or at least get a goal to change a game.”
A major problem for Hull during the current run has been a tendency to start games slowly.
Bruce was furious after the defeat at Leeds United on December 5, labelling Hull’s first-half efforts, “The worst of my reign”.
In all fairness, however, the Tigers’ chief could have been similarly scornful about the opening 45 minutes against both Reading and Rotherham.
At the New York Stadium, it took 42 minutes for Hull to muster an effort on target – something that led to accusations from some among the 2,500 strong travelling army of fans that their team had been complacent. It is a charge that Davies refutes totally.
“It is not an attitude thing when we lose,” he said. “Definitely not. We won two games when we were average against Reading and very poor versus Bolton.
“The same lads played in those games, when we won, as was the case against Leeds and Rotherham. If you win a game, everyone pats you on the back and says, ‘well done’.
“But if you lose, it is the end of the world. I understand people’s concerns with the result and the performance, of course I do.
“In terms of effort, however, I don’t think you can ever say this group lack desire or effort in terms of getting back to the Premier League.”
Another theory doing the rounds among supporters at the KC Stadium is that the impending transfer window is distracting thoughts. Players who may be targeted by rivals in January, or so the suggestion goes, might not be 100 per cent focused on Hull’s promotion push.
A similar accusation was made in the wake of a poor defeat at Charlton Athletic in August, a week or so before the summer window slammed shut.
Davies is one of those players understood to be on the radar of Premier League sides as the transfer market prepares to spark back into life on New Year’s Day but, again, he totally rejects the suggestion.
“It is too simple to say results get better once the window is shut,” said the defender who joined Hull from Birmingham City during the summer of 2013 and led the Yorkshire club out ahead of the following season’s FA Cup final.
“You might have certain players injured, certain players fit or others suspended,” he said.
“So, you can look at statistics and results improving or whatever, but I don’t think you can say the window is the difference.
“I believe that, once the summer window was over, we started to get a grip in terms of people were settled.
“The new players had got used to how we play, and we had developed a pattern as a group.
“Since then, we have had injuries and suspensions. That has led to a chopped, changed team, and that is difficult at any level.”
With three games inside a week, Hull’s focus has to be on keeping up with the other pace-setters. Davies readily admits that, though he did last week find time to help out others less fortunate.
“We were given a turkey by the club,” he explained. “Me and my girlfriend were saying, ‘What are we going to do with it?’ So, we decided to give it to a homeless shelter.
“I asked a few of the lads if they needed theirs and a few donated theirs as well.
“Myself, (Allan) McGregor, (Isaac) Hayden, (Shaun) Maloney, (Moses) Odubajo and (Adama) Diomande. Luckily, I took six or seven turkeys down to the homeless shelter, Hull HARP.
“It was nice to give it to them and, hopefully, they will go to good use. They were delighted.”