2015/16 season preview

kcsoul

We invited a selection of the great and good to give us their thoughts ahead of the 2015/16 Championship season, plus the wholly unfair task of predicting a final League position for Steve Bruce’s side for us to look back at in May and guffaw at. Here’s what they said…

Rick Skelton (@HullCity Live)
The disappointment of needlessly surrendering of our Premier League place didn’t linger for very long with the realisation that there were new grounds to visit and local rivalries to resume in the Championship. However, standing by and watching genuinely admirable players (and Tom Ince) leave the club did hurt. James Chester was the saddest exit – I’m not sure when we’ll ever own a defender as good as him again.

Steve Bruce is really fortunate to still have a job but is probably the right person to have a go at winning promotion again. He’s working under what are, for him, financial restrictions but has identified good (mostly) young players who will bring much needed freshness to a squad that still has the stink of failure all over it. To succeed in the Championship, we’re going to need energy and pace but also massive balls and so Michael Dawson and David Meyler will be our most crucial players.

It’s a cliché but the Championship is a tough league. Not just the schedule but it’s full of big clubs. I think it’s tougher than ever and I can’t wait for it to start now.

Prediction: 6th

James Mooney (Head of Marketing & Communications at Hull City)
I’m delighted to have football back in my life this weekend and I’m feeling very optimistic about the campaign.

The manager has started to recruit a decent mix of youth and experience to add to those we have managed to retain from last season. I love derbies and this year we have an abundance of those starting with Huddersfield Town on Saturday at The Circle.

I’m unable to bet but if I could I would be looking to bounce back up to the Premier League in May and my tip for player of the season is Andy Robertson.

Prediction: Champions

Rich Cundill (@RichCundill)
I feel pretty negative about City’s on-field prospects this coming season. The inevitable fall out after relegation somehow feels worse than it did last time, despite the precarious financial position we were left in back then.

Losing highly paid under performers is what tends to happen and that should feel like a good thing. But City have lost a lot of the heart and soul of the team that got us promoted, had two seasons in the top flight, two visits to Wembley and our first ever European trip.

Making a shedload of profit on James Chester and Robbie Brady may make good business sense, and nobody can deny those two their Premier League aspirations, but you have to add to that the selling of McShane, Rosenior and Quinn to Championship rivals which feels very wrong and surely will come back to bite us. Sure, the new signings are starting to come in and the rebuild commences, and I guess having Steve Bruce in charge of that should be a positive thing but there is a heck of a lot to do to compete in the most competitive division in football.

Prediction: I can’t see higher than 10th and that is being optimistic.

Andy Medcalf (@AndyMedcalf)
Last season I fell out of love with Hull City AFC after 35 years. It felt like a wretched, often squalid, affair on and off the field – our ineluctable destiny of relegation compounded by fans regularly cuckolded by club owners.

So a return to Division Two was hardly unexpected, and even welcomed given the dearth of entertainment generally witnessed over the last couple of years. Surely a chance to see some goals, some wins, some entertainment – all away from the wearying dazzling lights and patronising media frenzy of the Premier League. The early summer departures of McShane, Quinn and Rosenior amply demonstrated that all was not well in last season’s dressing room, and it’s hoped that Bruce has managed to patch things up with those remaining – but perhaps the sooner we finally despatch our three Premier League forwards to more lucrative pastures the greater chance we’ll have of bonding together an actual team for the long-haul.

It has to be admitted the last time Hull City dropped to this level we were not defensively prepared; any team carding Kamil Zayatte and Liam Cooper, along with a half-fit Anthony Gardner, is always going to leak at the back, and so it proved. But this time it feels like the understandable summer fire sale of our most valuable talent has still left us with a decent enough playing core, and certainly a team of far higher quality than that of 2010, plus Allan McGregor. The Brady and Chester sales were likely consequences of our shit season, but for once we received decent moolah and I’ll admit I know frankly sod all about the summer recruitments other than their tender ages. Maybe Bruce will rediscover his transfer mojo on young players he simply must improve.

The bookies have us short odds for a swift return to ThePromisedLand™, and the squad looks capable of doing just that, but for me the thing I’ll look forward to the most could be the return of matchday supporter unity. And then maybe, just maybe, 2015/16 will be the season I nervously again ask The Tigers out on a date.

Prediction: 5th, with a towering Michael Dawson header seeing us beat QPR at Wembley.

Mark Gretton (Chair, Hull City Supporters’ Trust)

I used to think the phrase ‘life might be tolerable, were it not for its pleasures’ was clever cynicism designed to appeal to too-cool-for-school adolescents. But age brings wisdom and I now recognise it as a simple, self-evident truth.

It applies better for us who seek enjoyment watching a football than it does to most other hedonists. And it sits particularly well for fans of Hull City AFC. Consider the hopes at the outset of last season as we were comfortably ensconced as doughty premier league mid-tablists, contemplating a European campaign on the back of a brave and impressive FA Cup final appearance. Instead the club hierarchy embarked on their work with all the sure-footed élan of a Labour Party election strategist, bemusing the core support by ignoring what was important to them whilst simultaneously cocking up the ill-considered alternative. On the pitch, a European debacle failed to stave off relegation, off the pitch a comically bad reprise of the name change stupidity scraped the rockiest bottom with Hull Tigers India and poor Deano shoved out in a doomed attempt to placate the faithful.

So, perhaps oddly, I’m rather looking forward to this season. I’m looking forward to a lot of proper local battles with Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough, Rotherham, Leeds and numerous saturnine-featured East Lancastrians. All of them seeing us as Fancy Dan Prem Giants, each of them desperate to beat us for proper, tribal, footballing reasons. I’m looking forward to the fact that most of the time they’ll fail as our squad, even when strip-mined of some of its heart and mind, will still be stronger than most of what we’ll face. I’m looking forward to seeing us win plenty of games in what may well be the most competitive division in world football. I’m looking forward to see if Robert Snodgrass will play a game for us. I’m looking forward to finding it out if he actually still exists. And you’d better believe I’m looking forward to standing up whilst watching football and recording a ground tick and club tick at Accrington Stanley, the most evocative name in football bar none. In fact I shall award myself two club ticks as I count the current club as the spiritual descendants of the Football League founder members team, so I shall be ticking like a boss. Whilst standing up. No-one will have enjoyed their fey, gap year style mucking about in Lokeren more than I will enjoy next Tuesday’s train journey through East Lancashire and a night’s stopover in Whalley Rd.

And I’ll enjoy the fact that when my team run out on Saturday,  they’ll still called Hull City AFC. And that’ll help remind me that sometimes good things happen and that, despite the cynicism, there’s always more to fun to be had than you think and it’s not always as difficult as it seems. I’m going to enjoy the season.

Prediction: 3rd

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