Report card: Hull diligently set about their finest season ever
Nailed on as relegation certainties by bookies and pundits alike almost immediately upon clinching promotion as Championship runners-up last May, the Tigers have revelled in cracking egg onto the foolish faces of the pre-season doom-mongers (including FourFourTwo, it has to be said).
Steve Bruce’s men have produced the finest term in the Tigers’ history. Admittedly there hasn’t been much competition on that front – a 17th-place finish in 2008-09 was their previous best in 110 long, deeply average years – but Premier League survival, an FA Cup Final and European qualification still constitutes an impressive result. A fine goalkeeper, defensive solidity, palpable team spirit, great home record and some good tactical fluidity from Bruce have all been big positives that can be taken away from 2013-14. There’s been some fun, too, from Pardew’s crazy “pushing-away” of David Meyler to the ending of Tom Huddlestone’s 32-month goal drought and subsequent shearing.
It hasn’t all been perfect: the side has endured a horrible slump in form since the turn of the year, picking up just 14 points from the 19 games in 2014, and had the season been extended by a game or two, might well have faced the drop. Their away record has also been dire, with just three wins on the road. It’s also a crying shame that a season which should be remembered for its football has been marred by the mad meddling of an industrial generator manufacturer, bent on changing the side’s name to Hull Tigers. The owner and the fans will no doubt continue to clash, and until harmony is restored, City’s future remains uncertain. Nevertheless, a season that no Hull supporter will forget.
Would they have taken this in August?
YES (IN CAPITALS). They’d have bitten your hand off – and possibly gnawed right up your arm to the shoulder – for a season of survival.
Would they have taken this in January?
Yes (in lower case). Hull were 10th at the turn of the year, and supporters would have loved to have built on that; but most would have still cashed in on staying up.
FA Cup run aside, Hull 3-1 Liverpool. The Tigers have struggled this season against the sides above them, but their first win over the Reds in Hull history was exceptional.
Hull 1-4 Newcastle. How Steve Bruce must be grateful to his counterpart Pardew: the Toon gaffer’s moment of madness took the headlines, distracting from a woeful home performance by City.
Hero of the season
Curtis Davies. Player of the Season and Player’s Player of the Year, the rock-solid centre half has been the Humberborderers’ heartbeat.
Villain of the season
Step this way, Mr Allam, we’ve been expecting you. Somewhat overshadowed by Vincent Tan in the evil caricature stakes, owner Assem Allam still put on a strong showing, claiming that the ‘City Til We Die’ contingent could “die any time they like”.
The season in microcosm
George Boyd’s towering header against Swansea to secure a 1-0 win at the KC. Nothing fancy or dramatic, but narrow, hard-fought victories against their near rivals are what have defined Hull this season.
A-. An expectation-defying year, chastened only by fan-owner bickering and a late loss of form.