CHARLES DICKENS’S famous line ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ from his historic novel A Tale of Two Cities may resonate with Fikayo Tomori.
The Chelsea loanee’s season-long loan at Hull City is drawing to a close. It has been rewarding and enjoyable, but also challenging and soul-searching at the same time.
The 20-year-old will head back to Stamford Bridge next month with memories aplenty from his time in East Yorkshire. It has certainly not been boring.
A microcosm of his rollercoaster stint arrived last weekend in Hull’s remarkable 5-5 draw at Bristol City, which showcased the free-flowing attacking traits that have sporadically come to the fore this season from those in the Tigers jerseys, but also the defensive soft centre and feebleness that has also pockmarked 2017-18 for the club.
In Tomori’s previous three appearances the Tigers waltzed to a 5-0 victory at Burton – the club’s biggest away win in over a century – took a point at runaway champions Wolves in a 2-2 draw and rolled over 3-1 at Middlesbrough.
Given that context Tomori would be forgiven for not knowing quite what to expect against promotion-chasing Cardiff today.
Tomori, still laying claim to a rare goal in last weekend’s 10-goal thriller at Ashton Gate, said: “There have been a lot of ups and downs, good and bad results. I think last week’s game said it all; we are scoring goals, but conceding a lot as well. It has been difficult at times, but I have enjoyed the experience.
“It was my first proper loan for a full season and I have played a lot of games. For someone of my age it has been a good season.
“I have learned a lot and played against different oppositions; teams who pass the ball and ones who are a bit more direct. It has been enjoyable.
“I feel like I have learned a lot about the game. Maybe not as much on the technical side, but more on the physical side and on positioning, awareness and concentration. I feel my game has improved a lot.”
I have learned a lot and played against different oppositions; teams who pass the ball and ones who are a bit more direct. It has been enjoyable.Fikayo Tomori
It has also been a season in which Tomori feels he has has grown as a person.
Part of a Brighton squad whose every touch seemed to turn to gold in the second half of last season when Albion won promotion to the Premier League for the first time, Tomori was part of a dressing room high on belief where wins and good experiences flowed – even if he was a bit of a ‘cheerleader’ for the most part.
This time around it has been far less straightforward for the defender, who spent the second half of 2016-17 on loan on the south coast.
“But you learn more from the hard times, especially in a notoriously unforgiving Championship environment.”
In and out of the side at various junctures this term, it has been a mental challenge for the young defender in handling being jettisoned from the side and coping with the pressure of a relegation battle throughout late autumn and the whole of a bleak winter.
But Tomori feels that he has come out the other side as a more streetwise, mature footballer than the one who came to the club last summer.
On the contrast to his loan spell at Brighton, he added: “It was a different time and I came in in January (2017) and the team was really settled and doing well.
“This season, I have come in from the beginning and been a bit more involved. It has been different and difficult at times.
“There were the times when we conceded a goal in the last 10 minutes and everyone comes in the next day and are a bit down and it is hard to get everyone up.
“But as a team we have helped each other a lot and managed to get out of it (relegation trouble).
“When everything is going well it is easier to come in 10 minutes earlier in the morning and stay 10 minutes after. When it is not going so well everyone kind of wants to retreat into themselves and do their own thing.
“At first I was in the team and then out and then had an extended run and then time out. Now it is a bit of both again. It has been mentally challenging at times. But that is football and you have to be able to deal with those things when you are playing to stay in the team. When you are not playing you must work that extra bit harder to make the team.
“It has been a big test. Sometimes it is hard to motivate yourself to get going again when you are feeling a bit down.
“But I feel like I have tried hard to give my best and do the stuff that has got me to where I am now.”