Plymouth Argyle v Hull City: Process-driven Tigers heading the right way and have plenty to look forward to - whatever happens at Home Park

THE LAST time Hull City faced Plymouth Argyle at the end of a Championship season, things were rather different, it’s fair to say.

After a second successive year of struggle at the wrong end of the second-tier table in 2006-07, the Tigers, who finished one place above the relegation zone, were grateful that there was nothing on the line going into the final day.

With their safety having been assured the previous weekend, City lost 2-1 at home to Argyle, who finished in the 11th spot, their highest league finish since 1986-87.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Almost exactly 17 years on, Plymouth are most definitely sweating over their divisional status ahead of what promises to be a significant day in Devon, both for Argyle and for football in the south west, with the region’s flagship side having fought so hard to reclaim Championship status last spring after a 13-year absence.

Hull City head coach Liam Rosenior, pictured at the end of their Championship game with Middlesbrough last month. Picture: Tony Johnson.Hull City head coach Liam Rosenior, pictured at the end of their Championship game with Middlesbrough last month. Picture: Tony Johnson.
Hull City head coach Liam Rosenior, pictured at the end of their Championship game with Middlesbrough last month. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Hull, meanwhile, are fighting for something else, namely a late-party ticket to the play-offs.

To claim it, they must win at Home Park and hope West Brom lose at home to Preston or record an unlikely eight-goal swing over Norwich, should they slip up at Birmingham.

Whatever transpires on what could well be a climatic last day, City will be able to look back on a season of progress across many aspects of the club.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Tigers followers won’t need any reminding of what followed that aforesaid 06-07 campaign either.

The East Yorkshire outfit were promoted to the Premier League at the end of the following season with the amber and black flag planted on the nationwide footballing map.

That will be within their remit, for sure, next term, should Hull not quite make it this time around.

Led by a bright and tactically smart young head coach in Liam Rosenior whose teams play the way how most observers think the game should be played, Hull have plenty going for them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ambitious owners, a re-engaged fanbase, stylish footballers, youth and, critically, momentum.

The best Premier League clubs are trusting them with leading young players and there’s much to look forward to. They are heading the right way.

Rosenior, whose side finished 15th at the end of 2022-23 and are growing incrementally, said: "The real reward we have all worked hard for is the play-offs.

"But I refuse not to speak about the progress that everyone at the football club has made in the short space of time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We have a really, really good reputation in the game about how we operate from Acun (Ilicali) and Tan (Kesler) through to myself and the staff through to the young players we have developed and their physical development because of the staff in terms of the sports science.

"Everybody has been together and we are building a platform for everyone at the club to be successful in the long term.

"I don’t want this to sound like a defeatist interview. I still believe. But I am really proud of my team every time I watch them play and we can set a real benchmark moving forward that we can’t fall below.

"You get caught up in ‘are we going to make the play-offs, are we not going to make the play-offs?’

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The reason we are attracting the calibre of players we are attracting is because of the style of play, simple as that."

While Saturday is about the result, it will not stop Rosenior sticking to the process.

If City express themselves as they can and their marquee players in the likes of Jaden Philogene and Fabio Carvalho come to the party, then it could well be an arduous afternoon for Argyle, who are effectively pitted in a three-way fight to avoid taking the last relegation place alongside Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham.

Rosenior’s side have won an impressive 11 times on their league travels, only Leicester and Ipswich have triumphed more in 23-24.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Stick to the process and there is a good chance of Hull doing their bit in Devon. Although it is the last day, so you never quite know.

Rosenior, whose side could line-up against Leeds United in an all-Yorkshire semi-final if things so transpire, added: "For me, this has always been a process and now we are seeing the benefits of that.

"We are building something. Our away record is top. If you look at the surfaces we play on, when we play on good surfaces - and I said this towards the end of the season that it’s when the pitches get good - that’s when we will be at our best.

"When we are on good surfaces, we play some magnificent football.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We just want to keep the season going. We can’t affect what Norwich or West Brom do, I can only affect my team’s performance.

"One of the hardest things to do as a coach is that sometimes, you can’t affect the result, you can only do so much to affect the performance.

"That’s all I can focus on. Anything can happen on the last day.”