WHEN any list of likely departures from Hull City in the wake of relegation was being drawn up at the start of the summer, Kamil Grosicki’s name was invariably near the very top.
The Polish international had arrived the previous January in a £7m deal from Rennes as part of then head coach Marco Silva’s much-needed overhaul of a struggling squad.
Unlike many of the new faces, however, his influence was limited and, if anything, the impression was given that without either Premier League football or Silva, the winger would not hang around.
Both of those attractions disappeared in May and yet, with just five days of the transfer window remaining, Grosicki is the last man standing of Hull’s most prized assets following a flurry of sales and Abel Hernandez’s ruptured Achilles. Last night, the Pole gave a tantalising glimpse of just how big a player he can be in the Championship with a scintillating display.
Two assists and his second goal of the season were just reward for his endeavours. Be it the pace that exposed a horribly flat-footed Bolton backline or his keen eye for an opening, Grosicki bordered on unplayable in the first half.
It is to be hoped, of course, that this does not prove to be the swansong for the 29-year-old, whose admirers will have taken note of the manner in which he ruined Phil Parkinson’s return to the club he managed for five months in 2006.
Quite simply, the supermarket really must now be closed, to borrow Leonid Slutsky’s own phrase, if there is to be any hope of a first-time return to the top flight.
As for Hull’s affable Russian head coach, last night was an opportunity to smile again after a few weeks in which the worry lines etched across his face had seemed to deepen with each passing hour.
Slutsky deserved his moment of satisfaction, his bold switch to a 3-4-3 formation paving the way for a much-needed victory in which his trio of strikers all got on the scoresheet. Adama Diomande, on his first start since January, broke the deadlock on 13 minutes with a ferocious first-time shot that former Sheffield United goalkeeper Mark Howard could not keep out despite getting a hand to the ball.
Grosicki had been the creator with a tantalising left-wing cross that had caught out the visitors’ defend and he was at it again just seven minutes later, this time linking up twice with Diomande out wide before whipping in a beautifully-flighted cross that Jarrod Bowen buried past Howard with a bullet header.
Both scorers rightly ran towards Grosicki in celebration after the two strikes and, soon the Pole was able to celebrate his own goal. It came just before the half-hour, and once again the winger’s pace was Bolton’s undoing.
Played in behind the visitors’ defence, Grosicki took one touch with his head to get beyond Reece Burke. After leaving the former Bradford City loanee trailing, he then showed tremendous poise to skip inside Dorian Dervite’s challenge before rolling a shot beyond Howard.
For Bolton and their 1,072 travelling supporters, those opening 30 minutes had been a continuation of the chaos and confusion afflicting their home town in the wake of a burst water main causing a railway embankment to collapse on Thursday.
The double whammy left roads gridlocked and train services cancelled, meaning the trip along the M62 was expected to bring some kind of respite.
It was nothing of the sort, the misery for Parkinson’s men being compounded late on when Bowen’s cool finish brought a fourth goal for the hosts.
For Hull, victory in a fixture brought forward to avoid a clash with today’s rugby league Challenge Cup final brought a much-needed lift following a dreadful couple of weeks.
The task now is to ensure the final few days of the window bring the additions that Slutsky needs to make the Tigers genuinely competitive.
Bringing in Arsenal attacking midfielder Jon Toral and Swansea City left-back Stephen Kingsley, who both made their debuts from the bench, on permanent deals has been a start.
Hull are also understood to have made a bid for Jackson Irvine, scorer of ten goals for Burton Albion last term as the midfielder was named Player of the Year.
Isaac Success, the Watford forward, is another Hull covet as the club look to make up for lost ground over a summer that has seen Harry Maguire, Curtis Davies, Tom Huddlestone, Andrew Robertson, Eldin Jakupovic, Ahmed Elmohamady and Sam Clucas all depart the KCOM.
Grosicki, though, is still here. And, on last night’s evidence, Hull need to make sure that remains the case beyond 11pm on Thursday.
Hull City: McGregor; Mazuch, Dawson, Hector; Aina, Larsson, Meyler (Toral 79), Clark (Kingsley 74); Bowen, Diomande, Grosicki (Weir 85). Unused substitutes: Mannion, Batty, Luer, Lenihan.
Bolton Wanderers: Howard; Burke, Beevers, Dervite; Morais, Karacan (Pratley 16), Buckley (Osede 46), Cullen (Le Fondre 59), Taylor; Madine, Armstrong. Unused substitutes: Alnwick, Little, Robinson, Wilbraham.
Referee: O Langford (West Midlands).