BONFIRES were being built the last time Hull City were out of the Championship’s bottom six and it is going to take a few fireworks to prevent a second successive relegation.
Yet an air of positivity remains around the KCom Stadium in spite of manager Nigel Adkins recording just one league win in seven attempts in charge.
Chelsea loanee right-back Fikayo Tomori, for instance, believes that the Tigers can achieve the target set by their new manager of recording 10 wins from their last 19 league matches.
That is a pretty tough demand considering they have won just one of their last 17 and that the goals have dried up from a side that was in free-scoring form early in the campaign.
What Adkins has achieved, however, is tightening the defence and Tomori is confident the strikers have the talent to start finding the net again.
“I don’t think it is an ambitious target. The manager knows the talent we have in the team and we know in ourselves that we are confident and know what we have to do,” he said after a third clean sheet in five games.
Ten wins is not such an unrealisitic target.Hull full-back Fikayo Tomori
“Ten wins is not such an unrealisitc target. Of course it will not be easy but for the manager to have such confidence in the team is a positive.
“It is hard to say if we will need 10. We could win five games and be clear or we could win 10 and still be down there. It just depends on other people but we have to concentrate on ourselves ultimately. Hopefully, we can get those 10 wins or more from those 19 games and just be sailing at the end of the season.”
A look at the Hull squad sees an abundance of talent and with players returning from injury –the latest being David Meyler – there is cause for optimism.
But why have the goals suddenly dried up? “I am not too sure,” said Tomori, who provides an attacking outlet along with fellow Stamford Bridge loanee Ola Aina. “The ball has not bounced for us a couple of times and the goalkeeper has pulled off good saves and the ball has just trickled away at times which is disappointing.
“But we have faith in our attacking players. People like Jarrod Bowen, with 12 goals, Frazier (Campbell) and Nouha (Dicko) as well so we have a lot of good goal-scoring talent going forward.
“I am very confident we can pull away from the relegation zone. People like Jarrod, Jackson (Irvine), Nouha and Fraze give us an option going forward and they are going to score goals so it is just a matter of time. We have moved a point further clear but we want to get real clear.”
Hull have a big opportunity in their next match at bottom club Sunderland and Tomori added: “We know we have to pull our socks up and dig in really deep for an away game at Sunderland. It is going to be a hard game though they are not doing too great at the moment. That is an opportunity we have to take.
“I won’t say the pressure is building. There is always pressure to play well and win games, that’s natural. But with the quality we have and the players that we have, we know that we are doing the right things and if we keep getting the clean sheets the wins will definitely come.”
Manager Adkins hopes to have strengthened his squad soon but is frustrated at being unable to clinch deals for any of the three wingers he has been chasing, believing the strikers need a genuine supply line from out wide.
He also has a bid in for Aberdeen’s 21-year-old central defender Scott McKenna but says: “We’ll have to wait and see. There’s several things we’re doing behind the scenes. I’m very happy with this group of players but we’ve got an opportunity to bring in the players we feel can improve us. I don’t want to sign someone just for the sake of it.
“That’s maybe why some clubs find themselves in certain situations and have taken someone they might not need at that moment in time.
“We won’t panic. We need to bring in a couple of players and we’re working very hard to do that. Maybe a player you look to target will think: ‘Maybe I can go and join another football club because I can get promotion to the Premier League now’ rather than going to Hull City at the wrong end of the table.”
His message to fans who booed at the end of Saturday’s game was: “Hull City were in the Premier League last season so the expectation is to bounce straight back.
“That is now not going to happen. Let’s not beat about the bush. We’re at the wrong end of the division and we’ve got to build strongly to get ourselves out of this position in the league table and put ourselves in a position where we can start next season and have a right good go at it.”
Hull were denied what could have been a 40th-minute winner when referee Darren England ruled that Jon Toral had illegally forced the ball out of the clutches of Vito Mannone and into the net after the goalkeeper had made a smart save down to his left from Jarrod Bowen, set up by Dicko.
Mannone also blocked from Bowen at the far post in the 60th minute but the former Hull loanee’s save was matched at the other end by Allan McGregor from Liam Moore’s powerful downward header which he first blocked and then pawed over the bar.
Hull City: McGregor, Tomori, Dawson, Hector, Aina; Meyler (Henriksen 71), Larsson; Toral, Irvine (Evandro 65), Bowen; Dicko (Campbell 65). Unused substitutes: Marshall, Diomande, Clark, Stewart.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, McShane (Ilori 30), Moore, Richards; Evans, Van den Berg; McCleary (Bacuna 77), Swift (Aluko 26), Barrow; Kermorgant. Unused substitutes: Jaakkola, Bodvarsson, Blackett, Kelly.
Referee: D England (South Yorks).