WITH a paltry nine victories between them all season, Hull City and Sunderland have had a miserable return to the Championship.
It could, though, be about to get a lot, lot worse with the threat of back-to-back relegations becoming more of a possibility with each passing week.
Hence the importance attached to today’s meeting as rock-bottom Sunderland host a City side sitting just three points higher in the table.
“Both teams need the victory,” said Hull head coach Nigel Adkins. “There will be a big crowd and we have to give it everything we have got.
“The league table will probably fluctuate from one week to the next depending on results. We have just to think about our performance and giving everything we have got for the team.”
Not since Notts County and Wolverhampton Wanderers tumbled from the top flight to the third tier together in the mid-Eighties have two clubs endured such a combined struggle after leaving the elite.
It is two teams that have been in the Premier League. They have had their challenges. Expectation from the home supporters will be that they have got to go and win.Hull City ma nager, Nigel Adkins.
Sunderland’s Achilles heel is clear, they have won just once in 13 months on home soil. It is a weakness that City simply have to capitalise on today.
Adkins added: “Listen, there is going to be 27,000 or 28,000 people at the game so it is going to be challenging.
“They have got Chris Coleman, who is a good manager. He took Wales to the semi-finals of the European Championships. He is an experienced manager and it is a big club. They will have a far bigger budget than what we have got.
“It is two teams that have been in the Premier League. They have had their challenges. Expectation from the home supporters will be that they have got to go and win.
“We have all sampled that so it is a case of who on the day can perform to their maximum and take their chances.”
Both teams will be much changed from the last clash at the Stadium of Light in November, 2016.
Only Michael Dawson of the City starting XI that day as the hosts won 3-0 is likely to be in Adkins’s line-up come kick-off.
The Hull chief, though, does not believe his side lack the necessary experience to prevail on both Wearside and in the fight to avoid the drop.
“We have got experienced players and we have got a leadership group,” he added. “Like anything, you need a balance.
“You need people who have experience and been successful and I think we have got those. You look at the club captain, Michael Dawson, and he has been outstanding for me.
“We have got David Meyler, an experienced player, along with Allan McGregor, Seb Larsson, Fraizer Campbell and David Marshall. That is to name six off the top of my head. That is important and they have got to come to the party.
“What we also have are some young players who are maybe finding their feet a little bit and they have got to take responsibility to show some leadership skills themselves. I try and encourage everyone to become a leader, to make decisions and also be part of a group in doing that.”