Grant McCann reflects on a 'mixed' first year in charge of Hull City

The last six months will likely have been the most challenging of Grant McCann's career as both a player and a manager.

Hull City head coach Grant McCann. Picture: Getty Images

The 40-year-old Northern Irishman made an extremely positive start to life as Hull City's head coach, guiding the club to within touching distance of the play-offs before their form fell off the edge of a cliff in January.

The untimely combination of an injury crisis and the sale of his two most influential players - Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki - derailed the Tigers' promotion push and they have not recovered.

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City have failed to win a Championship game since New Year's Day, a run that saw them sucked into a relegation dog-fight before McCann was left to negotiate an unprecedented three-month period where football was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.

When the season resumed last weekend, a 1-0 home loss to fellow strugglers Charlton Athletic dumped Hull into the bottom-three 24 hours before their manager should have been celebrating the anniversary of his first year in charge at the KCOM Stadium.

Yet, for everything that he has had to endure, McCann remains positive about what he describes as a 'mixed' 12 months with the Tigers.

"It’s been really enjoyable," he said.

"I’ve had great support all around me. First half of the season, we did quite well. I probably expected more, that’s the sort of person I am.

"The second half of the season, it's been frustrating for us all with the amount of injuries we’ve had. It's not an excuse, it's a fact.

"All in all, it's probably a mixed bag. Decent first half of the season, second half, not so good from everyone really."

Having retired from playing in 2015 and begun his managerial career a year later, McCann is a long way from being a rookie, but admits he is still learning on the job.

The former Peterborough and Doncaster boss feels that his time at Hull has taught him plenty, including how to deal with the pressure that comes with being involved in a fight for survival.

"I've learned a hell of a lot," he added.

"I actually learned a lot in the 12 weeks we were off, probably more than I would have done if I was around the training ground.

"You learn from every aspect of your management career. Learning about pressurised situations like the one we're in at the minute and people writing how many games we haven’t won for but we’ve got to focus on the next one.

"We’ve got to find that inner belief that we’re good enough to get out of this situation.

"We feel more comfortable now and confident. Yes we’ve had a setback against Charlton but we’ve got to move on from it.

"We’ve got eight games to make it better."

The first of those eight matches comes at Birmingham City on Saturday, with a first victory in 13 Championship fixtures an outcome that both McCann and his players desperately need.