After Tuesday night’s defeat to Huddersfield, Hull are 13th in the table with 29 games on the board. How would you say the season has gone so far?
It’s an interesting one. If I’d have been asked this question a few weeks ago I’d have said it’s gone pretty well and, in general, I’d argue they have still overachieved. At the same time there have been opportunities where they could have been a lot nearer. There have been too many games at home and away where they’ve fallen short; Wigan at home in September was a prime example of that, when they went ahead twice and ended up drawing 2-2 against a side who have a dreadful record on the road. There was quite a big squad overhaul in the summer and, this season, 14 players have arrived, so it’s been a changed squad under a new manager in Grant McCann who has done a pretty good job so far. It’s been similar to last season under Nigel Adkins where there was a chance of reaching the play-offs after a winning run and then a drop off. So I’d say it’s been a mixed season but with plenty of positives in there.
You mentioned the slim hopes of a top six finish last season there; do you think there’s hope they might be able to sneak in there this time around?
Again, it’s one of those situations where I would’ve said definitely a few weeks ago but now there’s an eight-point gap, it’s becoming less likely by the week at the minute. Of course there is the possibility because it’s the Championship and it’s such a wild league, but there’s also that big pack of teams jostling to see who can be the most inconsistent. If they go on a winning run, all of that changes and it shows with the fact that if they’d beaten Huddersfield, they would have cut their deficit from seven points to five with Millwall, Sheffield Wednesday and Brentford all losing. I think the amount of both points and teams between Hull and the play-offs are the two big issues but you just never know.
There’s no doubt Jarrod Bowen is central to any hope of achieving that goal, so how crucial is it that he remained a Hull City player in January?
He’s been really quiet in the last couple of weeks and that’s a large reason as to why they have dropped off in form. I’ve been writing something on him this week and he’s scored one goal in his last nine games. Everyone treats him as though he’s a central striker purely because of his goalscoring rate and given he’s the sole source of goals in that team, you kind of have to treat him like that. One interesting part of his game this season has been creativity; normally it’s just about goals from him but he’s already chalked up six assists in the league, which is a season-best for him and we are only in January. It’s an area he’s massively improved on this season and it was his corner that led to the own-goal against Huddersfield. I don’t think City have scored from open play through one of their own players in 299 minutes and that was on New Year’s Day against Sheffield Wednesday – unsurprisingly, it was Bowen on the scoresheet.
Who should Brentford fans be keeping an eye on this weekend?
Jarrod Bowen! But no, across the team, I would’ve said Jordy de Wijs, who has been huge but will miss Brentford’s visit. Over the last nine Championship games he’s missed, City haven’t won and have picked up three points from a possible 27. In midfield, Leonardo da Silva Lopes – who has recently been linked with a move to the MLS – has come on a lot and, despite being only 21-years-old, has already played the best part of 150 EFL games. It’s his first proper season in the Championship and he struggled to get in the team at first, but he’s consolidated a place now. He’s got a lot of maturity, good positioning, a good turn of pace and he models himself on N’Golo Kante. There’s a bit of a quality difference but you can see the similarities between the two in the way that he runs about midfield and presses. He’s quick and also very agile. Quick word on George Long, too. In the last couple of games he’s made some big saves and I imagine he’ll be kept busy on Saturday as well, but if he continues in the same form, it might be a tough day for the front three.
How is Grant McCann likely to set up his side at the KCOM Stadium?
It’s normally a 4-2-3-1. It was Bowen on the right and Kamil Grosicki on the left, but he shuffled it up on Tuesday and it didn’t really work. Bowen played as a No 10 and obviously got more of the ball there, but he’s made a career for himself out on the right wing so I’d imagine he’s be back there at the weekend, with Jackson Irvine recalled. It was a surprise to see him on the bench as he’s normally a starter but was also rested against Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend. Da Silva Lopes and Herbie Kane have formed a bit of a partnership at holding midfield in the last few games and it seems that they are McCann’s trusted pairing in the middle now. Up front it’s a forever rotating carousel between Tom Eaves and Josh Magennis. From a fan’s perspective, it’s almost like when Eaves is playing, you want Magennis on the pitch and when Magennis is playing, you want Eaves starting! It’s a bit of a change from when they last played because then it was a 4-3-3 with one sitter, but it’s changed since October/November and they’ve stuck with that ever since.
Brentford haven’t won a game on Humberside since 1998 – what’s your score prediction for this one?
It’s a tough one! Since I last saw Brentford, they’ve come on a lot and they look like a promising team but they weren’t quite clicking back in August. If I’m honest, I think Brentford are more likely to win this, especially with Hull’s form. I’ll say a 2-1 Brentford win.
Advanced sales for the match have now ended. There will be Pay on the Day from the Pitch Side Bar, cash only. Collections and Duplicates are from the Ticket Zone which is situated next to the Tiger Leisure Club Shop.
We will be back in blue for our game at the KCOM Stadium this Saturday. Our commemorative kit’s first outing against Millwall in October was one never to be forgotten, with three late goals giving us the three points.
Don't miss out on a piece of Brentford history.