Hull City in freefall because Grant McCann has had rug pulled from under his feet

It was pretty clear what the 513 Hull City supporters at Stoke City thought as their team slid to an ignominious 5-1 defeat against one of their own relegation rivals.
Needs support: Grant McCann.  Picture: Tony JohnsonNeeds support: Grant McCann.  Picture: Tony Johnson
Needs support: Grant McCann. Picture: Tony Johnson

“This is embarrassing,” they sang.

When the die-hards who spend a fortune travelling the country watching their team irrespective of how it performs turn on you, you know you are in trouble.

It was pretty obvious anyway.

Sold by Hull City on deadline day - Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen. (Picture: Tony Johnson)Sold by Hull City on deadline day - Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen. (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Sold by Hull City on deadline day - Kamil Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen. (Picture: Tony Johnson)

If conceding four goals inside 50 minutes to a side with one win in five previous matches was not enough of a clue, the league and form tables spelt it out.

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Had the Championship started on New Year’s Day evening – when Hull players were giddily talking about automatic promotion – the Tigers would be bottom with two points. Next would be Middlesbrough, with four times as many. It is Hull’s worst run in 25 years.

In the notoriously unpredictable second tier, that sort of consistency should be impossible.

It leaves Hull two points above Charlton Athletic in the relegation zone. It hardly needs saying which team will be at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday. Football can be very cruel sometimes.

Under-pressure Hull City manager Grant McCann (Picture: Tony Johnson)Under-pressure Hull City manager Grant McCann (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Under-pressure Hull City manager Grant McCann (Picture: Tony Johnson)

Coach Grant McCann has had the rug pulled from under him. It is no coincidence this dismal run started when the transfer window opened.

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To sell your best player and top goalscorer, Jarrod Bowen, on deadline day is asking for trouble. To sell your second-best player and second-top goal-scorer, Kamil Grosicki, as well is practically begging for it.

Almost predictably, a horrendous run of injuries followed.

If Hull go down, McCann is an ideal manager to bring them back up. But they really do not want to go down.

They have played in five of the last 12 Premier League seasons, and the Europa League. League One is no respecter of reputation, though – ask Sunderland, Ipswich Town, either Sheffield club or Leeds United.

Relegation will make it harder still for owner Assem Allam to sell the club at a price he can swallow and that is something the Tigers and their supporters have been crying out for for years. It is hard to see how they can properly move on without it.

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Those McCann signed in January were to supplement, not replace, Bowen and Grosicki. As usual, he largely went for players he had worked with before.

The problem is, McCann had not managed in the Championship until this season. Herbie Kane was a novice, Martin Samuelsen had made 12 appearances, Mallik Wilks 15. James Scott and Marcus Maddison, added once Grosicki left on deadline-day morning (Bowen’s deal was not signed off until after the cut-off) were new to the division, too.

Most of those signed in the summer had similar profiles. Until the Bowen money was banked, it was all Hull were prepared to stretch to.

It says much about the boardroom mismanagement of the club that it is increasingly geared for a division it does not want to be in.

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This is a squad and a coach learning on its feet. If they can stay in the Championship, they will be better for the experience. At the moment, it is a very big if.

McCann needs a big performance quickly to get Hull’s players and fans believing. With so little assistance from above, he needs all the help he can get.

Allam might yet get what he deserves, but it will be cruel if he takes everyone else down with him.