caretaker manager Mike Phelan believes clarity over a potential takeover is key to Hull City’s hopes of survival after admitting the current squad cannot cope with the rigours of a full Premier League season.
The Tigers host champions Leicester City today with just 13 fit senior players, two of which are the club’s second- and third-choice goalkeepers.
A failure to make any signings during a summer that has seen talks held with a number of parties interested in buying Hull has left the Yorkshire club odds-on to be relegated.
It is understood that discussions with a Chinese consortium led by Dai Yongge and Hakwen Xiu Li are at an advanced stage over a £100m sale that would bring an end to the Allam family’s reign.
Representatives of the group were at Hull’s Cottingham training ground last Tuesday as part of those on-going talks.
If a deal can be struck, it is unlikely to be completed before the transfer window closes, but with a resumption of protests against the Allams planned for this lunchtime’s televised clash against the Foxes there can be no denying the appetite for change at the KCOM Stadium.
Phelan’s focus is solely on football matters after being handed the reins on a caretaker basis, but he admits clarity is needed amid a need to bring in at least six new players before the August 31 deadline.
“Everybody is looking at Hull and wondering what is going on,” said the 53-year-old, who spent 18 months as Steve Bruce’s assistant.
“So the quicker there are answers, the better it is to move forward, but I am not in control of that. That is for other people to do their duty and to get this up and running as a football club in the Premier League.
“All I know is that there are interested parties in taking over this football club. How they do their business is not for me to get involved in. My business is on the training ground and making sure this group stays together.”
Asked if he had met the new prospective owners during last Tuesday’s visit to the training ground, Phelan replied: “I walked past them as I was on my way to get a cup of tea and some business to attend to.
“I know there were people here but other than that, I have had no contact.”
Hull stand alone in the Premier League as the only club yet to make at least one addition to their senior squad.
A list of targets was drawn up by Bruce following Hull’s Championship play-off final triumph, but the failure to land any of them led to his shock resignation 22 days ago.
Since then, the Tigers have been searching for not only a permanent manager but also new faces to bolster a squad that has lost captain Michael Dawson, Moses Odubajo, Allan McGregor and Alex Bruce to long-term injuries.
Harry Maguire is also out for at least a fortnight, leaving Phelan with just one fit central defender for the visit of Leicester.
After admitting that Hull had not come close to making a new addition before yesterday’s noon deadline, Phelan added: “At this football club, everything is probably down to a change of ownership regarding what sort of quality and what sort of targets you are looking at.”
Jake Livermore will be pressed into action as an emergency centre back alongside Curtis Davies against the Foxes, underlining the critical need to strengthen.
“As it stands, we have got 16 to 18 first-team players if they are all fit,” added Phelan. “That possibly isn’t enough to go into a long, hard season. We are looking at maybe six or more.
“We talked about numerous targets when the previous manager was here. Some of the targets remain on the list, but everything is getting closer and closer to deadline.
“Maybe things will be a bit clearer after the first game of the season, when players find themselves on the bench or not involved in the first team. But let’s get the first game out of the way and build from there.”
Phelan’s own future, meanwhile, remains unclear beyond today’s game, but Sir Alex Ferguson’s former assistant would like a crack at the job.
“I feel as though I am ready for management,” he added. “I have been an assistant for quite a while now. I have been in the lower divisions, I have been in the higher divisions so I have got the experience.
“It is just a case of everything in the background being sorted out as to what they (the owners) want to do going forward. I am sure we will have further conversations.”