Middlesbrough v Hull City: Meyler eyes overdue winning streak for Tigers

DESPERATE TIMES: David Meyler has seen it all in his six seasons with Hull City but says it is time for them to stop the Championship rot. Picture: Tony Johnson
DESPERATE TIMES: David Meyler has seen it all in his six seasons with Hull City but says it is time for them to stop the Championship rot. Picture: Tony Johnson
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AS the longest-serving member of Hull City’s squad, David Meyler has seen it all.

Two promotions take pride of place in his memories, along with the three appearances at Wembley that include scoring in an FA Cup semi-final.

We are where we are and there can be no arguing with the point we haven’t performed enough over the season

Hull City’s David Meyler

There was also an all-too-brief foray into Europe with the Tigers as beaten Cup finalists in 2014, while there can be little doubt that Meyler’s two relegations from the Premier League with the Tigers stand out as the lowpoints of his time in the East Riding.

Even the pain of those two falls from grace, however, pales alongside City’s current travails at the wrong end of the Championship.

“This season is hurting me,” admitted the Irishman to The Yorkshire Post ahead of tonight’s trip to Middlesbrough. “This is my sixth season. Obviously, I have had two relegations from the Premier League in that time and they were hugely disappointing.

“But this is different. It is in the Championship and very different to having to go to stadiums like Stamford Bridge to try and get a result.

“No disrespect to any team in the Championship but it isn’t the same. People say (Hull are in a) ‘false position’. But, look, the league table doesn’t lie. After so many games this season, we are where we deserve to be. Our job now is to rectify that, starting with Middlesbrough.”

City head to Teesside sitting fourth bottom of the table after winning just six of 31 league games this term.

It is a desperate record, even allowing for the huge upheaval in personnel that followed demotion from the top flight last May.

Meyler appreciates that more than anyone and he is desperate for Hull to build on the victory at Nottingham Forest 10 days ago that lifted Nigel Adkins’s men out of the relegation zone.

“We are where we are and there can be no arguing with the point we haven’t performed enough over the season,” added the 28-year-old. “In (certain) games, we have not been good enough. Not played well and made a lot of mistakes.

“There have also been games when we have been a bit unfortunate after not taking our chances. But that is down to us. We know why we are in this position and everyone is working hard to get out of it.”

Tonight bears the look of a huge one in the relegation scrap. Not only do Barnsley host Burton Albion in a battle between the sides sitting 22nd and 24th but second-bottom Sunderland head to Bolton Wanderers, who are one place above Hull.

Also in action are Birmingham City and Reading, 17th and 18th respectively, to underline the potential importance of this round of rearranged fixtures.

This all-Yorkshire clash at the Riverside also has potentially big ramifications for the hosts. Defeat at Cardiff City last weekend has left Tony Pulis’s men five points adrift of the top six.

With the two sides sitting directly above Boro in the table also in action tonight, anything less than three points is unthinkable for the Teessiders in their stuttering quest to bounce straight back into the Premier League.

“We have 14 games to go and we have to put a run together,” admitted Pulis, whose side travel to Sunderland at the weekend.

“They (Hull and Sunderland) were teams who were in the Premier League last year. No game is easy in this league and we have to play at our maximum and the players all have to play to their maximum to get results.”

As for Hull, the need to avoid a first return to the third tier in 13 years is focusing minds rather than a desire to regain a place among the elite.

The Tigers did, of course, have a brief reminder of the high life last Friday when tackling Chelsea in the FA Cup fifth round.

Nigel Adkins is planning several changes from that 4-0 loss as loan trio Michael Hector, Fikayo Tomori and Ola Aina come back into the reckoning after having to sit out the tie with their parent club.

Allan McGregor will return in goal, as Kamil Grosicki hopes to do the same in a wide role. Jon Toral, meanwhile, is pushing for a recall after a lively cameo from the bench at Chelsea.

Definitely out are Seb Larsson, Jarrod Bowen and Abel Hernandez, though the latter did come through 55 minutes of yesterday’s goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday for the Under-23s as part of his recovery from a serious Achilles injury.

“The league is not what it should be so we have to change that,” added Meyler, who had to fill in at right back against Chelsea. “We can take some positives from the second half (against the Blues).

“The first half (City trailed 4-0 at the break) cannot be ignored, we have to honest with ourselves about that. But we got better. It is up to us to rectify this situation in the league.”

Last six games: Middlesbrough WLDLWL, Hull City LWDLWL.

Referee: A Madley (West Yorkshire).

Last time: Middlesbrough 1 Hull City 0; December 5, 2016; Premier League.