Hull City stars will be targets after handing Leeds United reality check

HULL CITY chief Nigel Adkins is bracing himself for '˜mass speculation' regarding the future of several players after his side continued their stirring winter revival with a fine 2-0 win at Championship leaders Leeds United.

Nigel Adkins: Led Hull City to famous Elland Road victory.
Nigel Adkins: Led Hull City to famous Elland Road victory.

The Tigers became just the second side to triumph at Elland Road in the league this season on Saturday, thanks to a goal in each half from Jarrod Bowen as Leeds’s bid to record an eighth successive victory for the first time since 1931 was abruptly halted.

Leeds, who failed to score in a home league fixture for just the second time in 2018-19, were afforded some solace following the news of second-placed Norwich City’s dramatic 4-3 loss to Derby County, after a floodlight failure delay, while third-placed West Brom failing to significantly cash in after drawing 1-1 with Sheffield Wednesday.

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The Whites remain three points clear of the Canaries and five ahead of the Baggies, with in-form Sheffield United seven points behind their Yorkshire neighbours at the end of 2018.

Fifth-placed Middlesbrough are nine points behind Leeds.

Bowen – who took his season’s goal tally to 10 – and fellow winger Kamil Grosicki were outstanding in Saturday’s win, a result which extended Hull’s own unbeaten run to seven matches.

Tigers chief Adkins is understandably keen to retain the likes of the talented duo in the January transfer window, but despite being given assurances that the club do not have to sell, he is philosophical enough to admit that a big-money bid could change the picture.

Adkins said: “There will be mass speculation about everyone. Jarrod Bowen has scored two great goals and Grosicki has looked a massive threat again. Together, they are a potent force coming forward.

“We are an in-form team, so I imagine a lot of clubs will be looking at several of our players. We will just see what happens and look to keep the momentum going.”

On whether he expects to lose Bowen and Grosicki, he added: “We are not looking to. The owners have said we do not need to. However, we all know what football can be like.

“Jarrod has scored 14 last season, he’s got 10 this season. He is a young English player who is exciting and has got flair. Who knows what will happen?

“As far as I am aware, there has been nothing (approaches). I am sure his representatives would love to have him touted around everywhere, that is football. But I am really pleased that he is working hard for the team.”

Adkins admits that his hopes of incoming arrivals over the next month hinge on the completion of a club takeover and he is none the wiser as to whether he will be able to add to his squad in the new year and push on for the top 10 in 2019.

On the prospect of new signings, Adkins, whose side have lost just once in their past 11 matches – winning an impressive seven – said: “I have talked about it before and the club is all about sustainability. There is a budget in place.

“There is a potential sale of the club that has been going on. Is it going to happen, isn’t it going to happen? That affects the budgets and the finances. Who knows?

“We would like to do business. We wanted to do business when I came in last year, I wanted to do business in the summer. I want to do business now.

“But we cannot lose sight of what we have got. We are all having a right good go, but now is a great chance to go and kick on.”

Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa elected not to be overly-critical of his side’s efforts after witnessing a first home league loss since September 22.

The result ensured that United dropped points for the first time since November 10.

Bielsa said: “The performance of the team and the kind of game we played was not particularly different to our other games. Usually, we have three times more chances to score than the opponent and we dominate the game. This game was not different in that sense.

“Maybe we should have taken more shots from distance because our play in the centre put us in good positions to shoot from outside the box.”

Leeds may have been handed an end-of-year reality check, but Hull chief Adkins believes that it represents just a blip in their strong season and fully expects them to go on and be promoted.

Adkins, who led Southampton to the top-flight in 2011-12, added: “They are spot on. We have played all the top teams and we have done all right, but Leeds have to go up this year. This is their year.

“That is probably why it makes it more special that we have come to a packed Elland Road and got the win with a clean sheet.”

Match report: Page 2