With the title wrapped up bar a PSG like collapse and the relegation battle ending sooner rather than later as teams like Palace and Leicester begin to pull away I thought I’d take an early look at the three best ways to improve the current 20 teams in England’s premier football decision. I will break it down into 20 separate articles as a series of sorts in order to keep it shorter and more manageable to read so keep an eye out!
Sign Defenders – It is quite difficult to truly evaluate Hull because it is in no way representative of the team Marco Silva would wish to possess having taken over late in the season. Over the course of the whole year, Hull has average nearly conceding 2 goals a game whilst only netting around 1 themselves; not entirely surprising they find themselves in a relegation scrap. Certainly Silva has tightened them up at the back since taking over the reins and their defiant home form is the main reason they look most likely to avoid the drop but if they are to stay up their need defensive help.
Harry Maguire is an underrated player whose footballing abilities are often overlooked. John Stones is the luxury footballing defender but Maguire is better defensively and a lot less hazardous on the ball making few mistakes. Curtis Davies has great leadership skills and is that typical life-on-the-line defender that relegation threatened teams would kill for but at age 32, him and Michael Dawson  are starting their career decline.
Loan signing Andrea Ranocchia has been impressive and it would supposedly only cost £8.4 million to sign him permanently in the summer from Inter Milan. This would appear to be a no-brainer if Hull can stay up this season.
I like Andrew Robertson at left back but I think I’d look to strengthen at right back with no clear options defensively there with Hull often deploying Ahmed Elmohamady who is more of a natural midfielder/winger. It’s fine when you’re a talent loaded team like Chelsea who can afford to trial Victor Moses at wing-back but as a team constantly fighting for invaluable points they need a sturdier, more consistent option.
Having returned to Arsenal last year Carl Jenkinson would be a solid signing for Hull whilst both former Manchester United fullback Rafael and ex-Watford player Miguel Layún may also be seen as reasonably priced additions, especially with the latter featuring in the Portuguese league that Silva may feel comfortable shopping from.
Either way, it would help to bring in reinforcements to continue to make the KCOM Stadium a fortress and establish themselves in England’s top division for years to come.
Increase depth of squad – Hull are by no means in need of a squad size to rival that of those competing on multiple fronts such as the Manchester clubs but they do need one big enough that it allows them to rotate whilst sustaining a level of play that wont see a fatal drop off midway through the season.
When looking at their squad, the first thing you notice is that it looks small. Based on the Hull City website they have a first team squad of 32 which sounds reasonable until it’s looked at under scrutiny.
8 of those players are forwards. They also have 6 players on loan. Immediately come seasons end you are down to a squad of 26 of which a fair few are hitting and going beyond the 30+ mark.
Whilst Snodgrass was always likely to leave at some point, the position of the squad made it all the more strange that they allowed Jake Livermore to leave in January because whilst he has had his issues he had always been a solid player in a partnership with Huddlestone.
With players leaving the club in all phases of the field except goalkeeper once their loan period has been completed Hull need to try and acquire some replacements in order to refill and increase the depth of their squad; preferably with players contracted and owned by the club rather than merely borrowed.
Provided they stay in the Premiership for another year, the bump in TV revenue plus it would make them a more tempting purchase if Assem Allam is still looking to sell – in turn giving Hull an owner willing to invest this summer! That gives them better opportunities to sign players much better than the departing loanee Lazar Markovic!
Sign a striker – It’s becoming a bit of a theme for this series with a lot of teams in need of a striker in order to take the next step in the evolution of the club. Defensively, I think a team of average players can defend well provided they are disciplined and drilled well with the European Championship winning Greece of 2004 being the prime example. Marco Silva has clearly got the ability to turn this team into a pretty strong defensive unit, especially with a full summer preseason and transfer window to do so considering what he’s already achieved since January even with Curtis Davies ruled out.
Their remaining issue however lies at the other end of the field going into next year. Hull should be very wary about the problems of not addressing the lack of goal-scoring options. They need only look at fellow relegation rivals Middlesbrough who under the guidance of Aitor Karanka were impressively solid at the back keeping clean sheets yet have been left facing the drops due to an embarrassing goal haul of merely 26.
Hull it must be said have not fared that much better only scoring an additional 10 meaning they average roughly 1.03 goals per game. Regardless of how good you are defensively, over the course of a season, scoring 1 goal per game is unlikely to yield too many points unless you’re the Chelsea team of 03/04.
Hull City’s top goalscorer in the league this year (not counting goals Snodgrass scored whilst playing for the Tigers) is Abel Hernandez/Oumar Niasse (on loan from Everton) who places in the charts at a joint 63; their goal tally is 4. To put this in perspective, players who have scored more than them this season include Gareth McAuley, Peter Crouch and Gary Cahill.
Basically they are in dire need of forward help. Jermain Defore would be an ideal signing but I can’t see him looking to sign up for consecutive relegation battles especially when his goal haul has earned him national side call ups and interest from bigger fish.
A player I brought up in a previous post was Bas Dost who I’m sure Marco Silva is familiar with as a goalscorer in the Primeira Liga. He has picked up the baton from the departed Islam Slimani and netted 31 goals for Sporting Lisbon. Another intriguing option, again depending on the club’s financial position, is Rodrigo of the ever disappointing Valencia. He’s only managed 6 goals this season but that’s only 1 back from the team’s top scorer showing how poor they have been – ask Gary Neville! He’s fast, relatively good on the ball and can finish given the opportunity and would be an exciting player to partner the physicality of Abel Hernandez.