A SUMMER that brought the severing of the last links with not only Hull City’s 2014 FA Cup final appearance but also the Championship play-off triumph at Wembley two years later means these are uncertain times in the East Riding.
Losing the likes of Abel Hernandez, Michael Dawson, Allan McGregor and David Meyler as the club looks to cut their financial cloth accordingly has left the Tigers with big boots to fill.
Nigel Adkins, parachuted into the job last December, is the man charged with a rebuilding job that follows two years in which Hull fielded a staggering 46 players. A further 11 appeared in the 2015-16 campaign that culminated in victory over Sheffield Wednesday under the Wembley Arch and a return to the Premier League.
“Coming into a club midway through the season is never easy,” said Adkins about taking charge of a team sitting fifth bottom at the time of Leonid Slutsky’s dismissal.
“You inherit someone else’s players and morale is obviously low because of how things have gone.
“When I joined Hull there were 17 players injured. That is not ideal. You want to play a certain way, but, ultimately, you also have to get results as quick as you can.
“Results did turn. In the end we didn’t concede as many goals and we scored a lot of goals. The most, in fact, Hull City had scored in ten years.
“For me, though, the big thing is we left things in a better state at the end of last season than we had found it.”
The best part of 35 years have passed since Adkins took his first steps into management on the park pitches of Birkenhead, but his mantra has hardly changed.
“Five positives and one negative are needed to flourish,” added Adkins. “I have always said that, and how I firmly believe that you need a negative experience to truly learn. If you just stay in your comfort zone you are not going to get anywhere.
A negative experience is different because it means you can learn from it. And successful people learn from negative experiences.Nigel Adkins
“A negative experience is different because it means you can learn from it. And successful people learn from negative experiences.”
Such an outlook has, of course, served Adkins well in a coaching career that began as a teenager when he took the unusual step of agreeing to coach a local Sunday side in his native Wirral.
Renbad Rovers were in the Birkenhead Sunday League fifth division when Adkins, then just starting his own playing career with Tranmere Rovers, took over, but five promotions later it was clear the young goalkeeper had something about him.
That apprenticeship with Renbad included everything from hanging the goalnets to sweeping the changing room and even producing a four-page programme complete with manager’s notes.
“I was 19 at the time and the club was going to close because the manager – Alan Dabner, a great guy – didn’t want to take what had been a youth team into men’s football,” said Adkins.
“So, I took over and did it for ten years. I even carried it on when I went to Wigan. It was a great time, something I really enjoyed. I was getting my coaching badges at the same time.
“Later, when I looked back on it, I had earned ten years’ experience of picking teams, while making substitutions and leaving players out, plus (implementing) different tactics.
“All those things helped me when I later moved into (full-time) management because it is all about experience.
“I had to make decisions at Renbad and if you want to be the manager you have to do that, as it just isn’t possible to sit on the fence. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. People like you, people don’t. Just as it is in management for me today.”
Adkins’s first few months at Hull hardly provided the desired five-to-one ratio of good and bad experiences. It was more like the other way round, particularly when the club slipped into the bottom three in early February on the back of a nine-game winless run.
A month later a truly horrible home defeat to Millwall left the usually upbeat Hull chief unable to hide his anger.
The tongue-lashing did the trick, the Tigers rallying to secure safety with a couple of games to spare. Now Adkins is looking to the future and, in time, hopefully repeating those double promotions with Scunthorpe United and Southampton.
“You need a long-term plan and you need some stability,” he said.
“We have to put something in place. It can take time to change things round. But you need to have that period and only then can you build on it.”