West Brom v Hull City: Grant McCann shields Tigers from his harshest critics

WHEN you are having a rough time and a section of your own fans are calling for you to be dismissed, it is difficult to blank out the noise. It also hurts.

It is something under-fire Hull City head coach Grant McCann can attest to after enduring stinging barbs in the club’s last three games, which have all ended in punishing defeats.

Equally, the Ulsterman has had tough spells in management before and knows that part of the ticket is always taking the flak.

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His sole concern is for his players not to be affected by any criticism from supporters and it is why they are closing ranks amid a brutal run of form which has seen them win just once in their past 14 matches and sample defeat on ten occasions.

Hull City manager Grant McCann greets Coventry City manager Mark Robins after the final whistle of the Tigers' latest defeat (Picture: PA)

As is invariably the case in this type of situation, the fixture list does not usually afford struggling sides too many favours and tonight’s trip to The Hawthorns underlines that very fact.

Fortunately, McCann is a fighter if nothing else and not the sort to stop swinging.

The Tigers chief, whose side visit Barnsley in a big relegation six-pointer on Saturday, said: “I listened to Sean Dyche in the week and there are going to be a lot of experts out there who will tell us we should play this, play that and do that. For me, the only people I will listen to are my staff and players because that is where the answers are.

“People will criticise and that is fair enough. But we have got to make sure we keep things in-house and stay calm about it. We have a group of players and a lot of them here are playing in this division for the first time and are giving us everything.

Under pressure: Hull City manager Grant McCann (Picture: PA)

“We believe in them and the staff and we believe things will turn.

“At the end of the day, we are in a job where people are open to criticising in whatever way they want, but you have got to be big and strong enough to take it.

“Certainly, we have a squad of good characters who can take it on the chin, but what we have got is a lot of young boys who (also) maybe sometimes feel the heat.”

Just as listening to the experiences of a seasoned ‘football man’ in Burnley boss Dyche has proved enlightening, so a chat with the management staff of the team who beat his Hull side on Saturday has also provided some perspective.

Mark Robins’s Coventry – who won 1-0 in East Yorkshire on Saturday – are enjoying a stellar second season back in the Championship after being embroiled in a relegation scrap for most of last term.

For McCann, it indicates that the bad times do not last forever.

The Hull chief, who says he has never been more determined in his quest to turn around City’s fortunes – if he gets the chance – commented: “Mark has been there and done it and they have got to be a benchmark for us.

“Last season, they probably found it difficult and speaking to Adi Viveash and Mark – and I know Cliff (Byrne) speaks to them quite a bit as well – they were saying the same thing.

“Once you adjust and find your feet, you become better and stronger and adapt to the division a bit better.”

Last six games: West Brom WLWLWL; Hull DWLLLL.

Referee: D Whitestone (Northants).

Last time: West Brom 4 Hull 2, July 5, 2020; Championship.