Do Hull Stand A Chance Of Survival?
Every season, it seems like there is one newly-promoted team that makes a solid case for staying afloat right from the first match.
In 2005, it was Wigan keeping Chelsea at bay until the 92nd minute of their opener, and then going to second in the table by November.
Reading won their first match in spectacular fashion during the 2006-2007 season, coming from two goals down to beat Middlesbrough. The Royals also held Manchester United and Chelsea to draws, making many believe in their chance for survival.
Sunderland opened their 2007-2008 campaign with a 1-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur. Though they didn't secure survival until late April, the early season result made them seem a favorite to survive.
This year, Hull City AFC got off to the torrid start. Well, torrid by newly promoted Championship club standards. Hull currently sits with four points from three games, a very respectable haul. It's currently good enough for 12th place in the English Premier League, six spots above the relegation zone.
Hull started the season with a 2-1 home win against Fulham. Next week, they went on the road to Ewood Park and took home a 1-1 draw against Blackburn. There has also been a 2-1 victory in the Carling Cup against Swansea.
So with those results, there isn't any cause for concern, right?
Wigan absolutely thumped Hull over the weekend, recording a 5-0 win. To make it worse, Wigan manager Steve Bruce was quoted as saying, "That's probably the worst we've played this season." So if Wigan was clicking on all cylinders, they might have pushed across seven or eight goals, which would not have been pretty for Hull. Not least of all because they were at home.
So what happened?
Basically, everything that could have gone wrong for Hull went wrong. They started ten players who played in the Championship last season. George Boateng and Marlon king were absent through injury and 'loan-tie', respectively. Hull out-shot and out-possessed Wigan, yet had nothing to show for it. And then there was the defending.
Wigan's first goal came via a huge mental mistake by Hull defender Sam Ricketts. He left the post on a corner kick, opening up space for Wigan to score. There's no excuse for that. Players learn how to defend corners at a very early age. A mistake like this should be as rare as a botched throw-in at this level of football.
The goalkeeping was sub-par as well. According the match report on ESPNsoccernet, Wigan only managed four official shots on goal. Where was the keeper during all of this?
That said, things could potentially be looking up yet again for Hull. They just completed the signing of former Rangers striker Daniel Cousin. He has had experience in the French top flight as well, and arrives in Yorkshire fresh from scoring in the Old Firm match.
Will adding another piece with top flight experience be enough for Hull, or were the first two results of the season a fluke?
I think it might just be enough to keep them in the Premier League for one more season. This is not by virtue of the talent at their club, it's because of a lack of talent in so many other places. Their only win of the season was against Fulham, a team who had to pull off a miraculous escape at the end of last season to survive. They then drew with Blackburn, who isn't top of the table material, either.
But...Fulham is defintely weak enough to make the drop. So is Bolton, Stoke and West Brom. Sunderland is also not a solidly mid-table Premier League team yet either, so they can't be considered safe. There is not room for all of these teams to make the drop, so Hull may be able to do just enough to survive.
Like the famous joke goes, if you're in the water with a shark, you don't have to out-swim the shark. You just have to swim faster than Fulham.
I've given my thoughts on Hull. Let's hear some of your predictions.
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