HULL CITY manager Grant McCann conceded that his team face a monumental task when it comes to realising their ambition of finishing in the Championship’s top six.
The Tigers’ shortcomings were there for all to see on Saturday lunchtime as Brentford ran riot at the KCOM Stadium, dismantling their hosts in front of live television cameras.
This is probably the first time this season we’ve been totally outclassed. It was a rubbish result.Grant McCann
The visitors finished up victorious by a 5-1 scoreline, and although that margin could easily have been much wider, what will be of far greater concern to McCann is the fact that this latest result means that City now find themselves closer to the relegation zone than a play-off place.
The defeat was their fifth in succession and leaves Hull 14th, 11 points behind sixth-placed Bristol City but just 10 ahead of Wigan in 22nd.
“It is going be difficult now,” said the Tigers chief.
“It’s going to be a tough task to get into the top six.
“There are 16 games to go, a lot of points to play for and we’ve got belief in this group.
“We didn’t show it (against Brentford), we all under-performed, but the bigger picture is that the games come thick and fast and February is a big month.
“We need to re-group, we need to go again and see how many wins we can get.
“It’s my job and the coaching staff’s job to lift the group.”
Having lost four on the spin, things were already looking pretty bleak for City before the departure of their two most influential attacking players during the final throes of the January transfer window.
Jarrod Bowen, who contributed 17 goals and seven assists prior to his transfer to West Ham United in a deal that will eventually earn Hull in excess of £20m, followed seven-goal Kamil Grosicki out of the door on deadline day, the Pole going to West Bromwich.
The pair’s exit has obviously left a gaping hole in the Tigers’ squad, though McCann insists that it would have been “impossible” to keep them in East Yorkshire, and urged his remaining players to “get over” the loss.
“They were both impossible to keep, especially with the contract situations,” he added.
“In the January transfer window, everyone’s got a price. It was always going to have an impact but the players have got to get over themselves. We have to move on.
“It’s about time others stepped up to the plate and that’s what we’ve got to do.
“Although a lot of people will talk about Kamil and Jarrod, this club has been in the Championship for the last three years with Kamil and Jarrod. Others have got to step up and get the goals and assists for this team.
“We have recruited well. We need to find the next gems, the next ones coming through. That’s what we’ll try and do.”
City have indeed added five new faces during the January window, though having seen arguably their two greatest assests stripped as the team plummets down the table, there appears very little cause for optimism if you are a Hull supporter right now.
That feeling was reflected around the KCOM Stadium prior to kick-off.
The atmosphere was flat enough to begin with – something which McCann picked up on, and believes may have affected his players – and only deteriorated on 12 minutes when Brentford took the lead.
A left-wing corner was taken short to Said Benrahma, who strolled past George Honeyman and beat George Long all too easily with a strike from 22 yards.
Things got worse just eight minutes later.
Benrahma’s cross from the right was met by Ollie Watkins and then headed into his own goal by the hapless Reece Burke.
The hosts were offered a lifeline by some calamitous goalkeeping from David Raya, who failed to control Ryan Tafazolli’s over-hit pass, then could not recover in time to prevent the ball from rolling into the net.
The Spaniard’s gaffe meant that Hull were still in the game at the interval, though they could have been dead and buried but for a couple of excellent blocks by Tafazolli and some decent goalkeeping from Long.
The Tigers began the second period brightly, however the match was over as a contest on 58 minutes when Watkins was left unmarked to nod in Rico Henry’s centre.
Benrahma made it 4-1 five minutes later with a first-time finish from Bryan Mbeumo’s intelligent pull-back, then completed his hat-trick late on to round-off an absolutely wretched afternoon for City.
“It did feel flat. It felt flat when we got here and it maybe rubbed off onto the group. The performance wasn’t there,” said McCann.
“We were beaten by a good team, but we were nowhere near.
“This is probably the first time this season we’ve been totally outclassed. It was a rubbish result.”
Hull City: Long, Lichaj, Burke, Tafazolli, Kingsley, Da Silva Lopes, Irvine (Kane 67), Wilks (Maddison 58), Honeyman, Lewis-Potter, Magennis (Eaves 59). Unused substitutes: Batty, Ingram, McLoughlin, Balogh.
Brentford: Raya, Dalsgaard, Jeanvier, Pinnock, Henry, Jensen, Norgaard, Da Silva (Marcondes 72), Mbeumo (Valencia 72), Watkins (Dervisoglu 82), Benrahma. Unused substitutes: Yearwood, Daniels, Luca Racic, Roerslev Rasmussen.
Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).