THE 10 managers Tom Huddlestone has played under reads like something of a footballing ‘Who’s Who’.
Glenn Hoddle, Fabio Capello, Harry Redknapp, Martin Jol, Andre Villas-Boas and Steve Bruce are just some of those to have taken a liking to a midfielder, who is fast approaching the landmark of 400 senior appearances
All have made a big impression on Huddlestone, who is similarly indebted to George Burley for handing the then teenager his senior debut and Juande Ramos for the 2008 League Cup triumph that remains his only major silverware.
After playing for such a stellar – and, let us not forget, hugely successful – list of managers, someone who arrived in England as a relative unknown just two months ago could struggle to make a similar impact on a player now into his 30s.
But Marco Silva, despite having had just a dozen games at the helm of Hull City, has done exactly that.
“The lads have all bought into what the new manager is doing,” the former England international told The Yorkshire Post.
“Tactically, this has been the most intense I have known. I would say AVB (Villas-Boas) is the closest to him of the managers I have played under.
“He was very thorough (at Spurs) in his training and tactics. They are similar in that respect. The manager here has opened our eyes to different tactics, different ideas on the pitch and different ways to play.”
Silva, despite success in his native Portugal and leading Olympiacos to the Greek title last season, was an unknown quantity in this country when appointed as Mike Phelan’s successor.
That much was evident at his first couple of press conferences, where most of the questioning from the national media centred on fellow countryman Jose Mourinho and any possible similarities between the pair.
As Carlos Carvalhal had done when facing a similar enquiries on taking over at Sheffield Wednesday during the summer of 2015, Hull’s new head coach politely straight-batted those looking for an easy headline before insisting he should be judged by results on the pitch.
Five wins and two draws later from those 12 league and Cup outings, the KCOM Stadium faithful have been firmly won over by the 39-year-old. As have the players.
“The lads are enjoying it,” added Huddlestone. “At the beginning, the manager got a lot of information into us – particularly in the two days before the Swansea (FA) Cup tie.
“Then, after that, it was a gradual progression. I didn’t find it too much (in one go) or anything like that. It has been enjoyable.
The experience from a couple of years ago can help us succeed this timeHull City’s Tom Huddlestone
“As a player, once you get to first-team level then a lot of the tactics or ideas go out of the window. So, it has been nice to be reintroduced to technical game-plans.”
Considering Everton have lost just once in 11 league outings and taken 18 points from a possible 21 on home soil since mid-December, Hull are likely to need one of those game-plans today.
The Tigers are desperate to go into the international break on a high after breathing fresh life into their survival fight with last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Swansea City.
Huddlestone, in his fourth season at Hull, is adamant Silva can lead the club to safety and ensure there is no repeat of that 2015 relegation from the Premier League.
“The experience from a couple of years ago can help us succeed this time,” he added. ”There were also five or six new additions in January who are all fighting to make the transfer permanent or keep themselves in the shop window and come to the Premier League on a full-time basis.
“That will help, especially as they all settled so quickly. A lot of that is down to the manager. With the new signings – many who hadn’t played in England before – it could have potentially been difficult to bed them in but that hasn’t happened.
“On the training pitch, the manager also got his ideas across quickly and that helped everyone go into a game on a Saturday knowing exactly what was expected. There are no excuses.”
Hull’s relegation in 2015 came as a bitter blow – especially as, with 10 games remaining, the Tigers were 15th in the table with 27 points. Burnley and QPR, relegated along with City come May, were already in the drop zone along with Leicester City, who propped up the top flight with just 18 points.
Asked why it can be different for the Tigers this time around, Huddlestone replied: “I would say we have better attacking options than a couple of years ago. Hopefully, that can be enough to get us over the line.
“A couple of years ago, when we beat Palace and Liverpool (in April) we all thought it was done and dusted. But then Leicester went on an incredible run that lasted for 18 months and we went down. Of course, we would love to have a few more points. But we are fairly confident that we can get over the line.”
Huddlestone’s own form under Silva has been excellent and among his best in a City shirt.
“I do feel confident at the moment,” he added. “If you are a bit unsure and confidence is low, you might hesitate over a pass – or not have the confidence in your first touch.
“But, at the minute, I feel good and if the ball is played into me then I am confident of retaining possession.
“That mindset helps you enjoy games. You only fully enjoy it if winning matches but since the manager came in I would say everyone has bought into his ideas.
“There is a reassurance that if anyone makes mistake, we have the organisation and cover behind to rescue those mistakes. That brings added confidence and helps us all.”