Second-season syndrome applies in reverse for Hull City, Manchester City and England Under-21 striker Liam Delap
For Hull City loanee Liam Delap, the opposite is applying in terms of his experiences at Championship level.
The 2022-23 season was nothing to write home about for the Manchester City striker, who plundered a stack of goals coming through the age groups with the Blues and earned himself a fair reputation in the process.
A host of clubs beat a path to City’s door when he was made available for loan to broaden his footballing education.
Temporary stints at Stoke – whom his father Rory played for – and Preston were tougher than many imagined last term.The goals dried up and Delap, in his first year in the Championship, mustered three in 15 starts and eight substitute appearances for the Potters and one in six starts and nine outings from the bench for North End.
It is to his own immense credit and that of his manager Liam Rosenior and his staff and players that Delap has finally found a home in the second tier in East Yorkshire.
Delap’s late match-winning goal against the Tigers’ White Rose rivals Huddersfield Town on Saturday took his season’s club tally to five.
It represents the best haul in his young career to date at senior level and it’s still only November.
In truth, it’s only a start for a player whom Rosenior thinks the world of. ‘One of a kind’ is how the Hull chief described him at the weekend. Happy in his work, Delap said: "I have been getting more sharp and confident as things have gone on.
"I have really settled here and got a good team behind me. I am doing well and just need to keep scoring goals. It's a great group, manager and fans and it's got a good feel.
"It's a really nice place. I am really settled into the group and how it works. I am really happy. We have such a good group and can do things this season.
"We are a young group and he (Rosenior) is a young manager, but you can see how good he is and he puts the belief in us that we can do well and he gives us all the information we need. Then, it's down to us to do what he asks of us.
"He knows what a good team requires and is always telling everyone individually how they can improve and get better and do the good things well. It's important that he and his staff keep instilling that into us."
Delap is one of three Hull players who have joined up with England under-21s squad during the international hiatus, alongside Tyler Morton and Jaden Philogene.
The Young Lions face two UEFA Under-21 European qualifiers. They visit Serbia on Saturday before facing Northern Ireland at Goodison Park next Tuesday.
On the international front, Delap has already found the net twice so far this autumn and while several of his team-mates are getting some valuable rest and recuperation ahead of the winter grind, the games cannot come fast enough for the young striker.
He continued: "It's always an honour to play for your country and to have another couple of boys coming from Hull is a nice feeling.
"It's always good to keep that sharpness and fitness up and come back here in good shape.”
Delap’s weekend goal was a triumph in terms of his fortitude and mentality on an afternoon when he fluffed one big early second-half chance and hit the bar with a late header.
It proved a case of third time lucky as he netted a third goal for City in five outings.
He added: "Always when I miss one of those, I know I am going to score and I knew it was coming. It was a relief as we worked so hard for 90 minutes and finally got what we deserved. It felt good for the team.
"We are so confident we will create chances as a team as we have good players.
"We have that belief and confidence and it is pushing us more and more as we strive for that promotion. If we keep going the way we are and getting these wins, three points and grinding out games, then we will be in a really good position.
"We have good enough players to create things and it worked out in the end. It showed what a good mentality we have."
Delap may have received a few bouquets from his manager after, but Rosenior has also provided a fair bit of tough love as well. It speaks volumes about his belief that there is so much more to come from the 20-year-old.
On Rosenior, who revealed on Saturday that Delap is the player who he shouts at the most in training, the loanee said: "As a manager, you always want the best for your players.
"When I do the wrong thing, he obviously gets on my back, but I know that is what is required from a manager.
“It's on my mind to go and put it right.”