THE month of May will have proved to play a fateful role not just in Hull City’s present, but their on-pitch future too.
The Championship now beckons for the Tigers following last weekend’s shattering loss at Crystal Palace, but they are arguably approaching just as big a crossroad, namely whether head coach Marco Silva stays or leaves a club whose supporters have quickly taken to him.
Should the Portuguese remain in East Yorkshire, then the blow of relegation will be softened.
But if the popular 39-year-old moves on – with the smart money being very much on that after earning many admirers among rival clubs for his sterling work at the club – then Tigers supporters will not be contemplating life back in the second tier with much optimism. Quite the opposite.
Silva is believed to be coveted by several clubs. This week, he has already been linked with a move to managerless Watford, while Southampton are likely to make an approach should they part company with Claude Puel.
Wolves are also keen, according to reports in the West Midlands.
Silva remains coy on his future, but – speaking ahead of Hull’s final game of the season at home to Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow afternoon – he did reveal that a decision will be made, one way or the other, next week following initial talks with the Tigers’ hierarchy this week.
The former Sporting Lisbon and Olympiacos chief, who arrived at Hull as a virtual unknown back in early January, said: “We will have one more meeting next week and after we will announce to you (press) and to the fans our decision.”
Specifically on the Watford link, he added: “It is impossible for me to talk about the other clubs first because Hull City deserve all my respect and after we have one more game to play and this club, Watford in this case, have one more game to play as well and until now nothing has happened.
“This is the truth and it is impossible to talk about club A, B or C; the most important thing is that I stay here to work with Hull City and not talk about other clubs.
“It is not the moment to talk. I need to talk one more time, a couple of times more, with the chairman and we will see about the future.”
Should Silva leave, as seems most likely, he will go with the full respect of Tigers’ supporters.
It may have been a case of ‘Marco who?’ for many when he first came to the club shortly after the sacking of Mike Phelan, but he quickly earned kudos after putting some fight, organisation and pride back into the club’s listing campaign.
The contingent of travelling fans last weekend left Silva in no doubt as to where their affections lie with chants of ‘Marco Silva, we want you to stay’ aired at regular intervals during the 4-0 loss at Selhurst Park – proof of the impact made by the Iberian.
On the reaction of fans, he added: “They have been fantastic. If anyone deserved for this club to stay in the Premier League, first it was the fans.
“I don’t know what’s happened before, but since we came to work here, they have played with us.
“They support our team and what they did in the last game at Palace was amazing. The respect they showed, not only to me, but the players as well, was amazing.
“They need to wait for the decision.
“Now is the time to analyse and we will see the project we will have. We will respect Hull and after that we will decide.
“It was a big challenge for us when we came here to the Premier League to keep the club up.
“We knew we took a big risk when we took the decision, but we tried to do our best. Now I need to see what is the best solution for us as well. But first we need to also respect the club.”
If it proves to be Silva’s swansong, a final day victory over Spurs, who have not lost in East Yorkshire since 1977, would represent an impressive parting gift.
Ever the consummate professional, Silva is determined that his side finish the season with a strong performance against the Londone club at the KCOM, where his side have earned many plaudits since his arrival, before attention switches to his future.
He said: “It will not be an easy moment for me or the players. It’s been a hard week. We will try to do our best to finish the season with a good performance against a very good team.”