MICHAEL DAWSON admits Hull City’s current squad can only justify their much touted billing as the best in the club’s history by performing on the pitch.
The Tigers, who splashed an unprecedented £35m plus on new signings in the summer, have lost their last four games and sit just outside the relegation places on goal difference.
Considering that Hull shattered their record transfer fee twice during the transfer window, the hope at the KC Stadium was that a squad which, by common consent, had more pedigree and quality than ever before would not be dragged intro trouble this term.
This, though, has not proved the case and there is every chance that by the end of tonight – when all three of the teams below Hull in the table are in action – that the East Riding club will be in the relegation zone for the first time under Steve Bruce.
With trips to Everton tomorrow night and leaders Chelsea on December 13 sandwiching Saturday’s home clash with West Bromwich Albion, life is not going to get much easier any time soon and Dawson concedes the time has come for Hull to dig in and show some character.
“This is the Premier League,” said the 31-year-old defender. “We have had a tough run of games, but now we have to make sure we stick together.
“Going to Manchester United and losing will not define our season. We have some big games coming up through December so we have to keep going. Like everyone says, we are in the Premier League.
“It is the best league in the world and that means every game is going to be tough. It is a test, whoever you play. Losing at Old Trafford was disappointing, but we pick ourselves up and go again on Wednesday.
“With so many games in the next month, the league table could look very different. Especially with the home games we have coming up. The home games are big for us. West Brom at the weekend is big, as are all the others.”
Asked by The Yorkshire Post if it was time for a squad that has been widely praised for its quality to deliver, Dawson replied: “People say it is the best squad but it is only the best squad if we achieve things and perform – and pick up results.
“It is down to individuals and the team to do that. You win or lose, you can’t get carried away. Where we end up after 38 games is where we will deserve to be. You have the run of luck sometimes and it goes against you on another occasion. There is a lot of football to be played.”
Hull were poor at Old Trafford in losing 3-0 at the weekend. Basic errors and a lack of belief characterised Hull’s display and there will have to be big improvements tomorrow night if the club’s fourth visit to Goodison Park in the Premier League is not to yield a fourth defeat.
Dawson said: “We never really got going (on Saturday). Old Trafford is a tough place to come and you have to stay in the game longer than we did.
“To concede from a set-piece was a massive disappointment. When you go to United, you know they will have an awful lot of possession and they didn’t disappoint in that respect.
“They were really at it, in terms of their game, and we struggled to deal with it.”
For Dawson, Hull’s struggles are proving to be something of a culture shock after nine years at Tottenham Hotspur when it was the top of the table and not the bottom that was his focus.
He added: “It is completely different, in terms of losing and having to pick yourself up possibly more than has usually been the case.
“But I am in it with the lads and relishing the challenge. You have to be up for it and ready to put your body on the line every game. We also need to play with no fear.
“At the end of the day, Hull City’s aim is to stay in the Premier League. There are an awful lot more games to play.”