Nigel Adkins’ Exit Damning Of Instability At Hull City

Gabriel Sutton by Gabriel Sutton / 08 June 2019, 17:53

Nigel Adkins’ exit from Hull City says more about the club than it does the manager.

Following Adkins’ controversial dismissal at Southampton, the ex-physio endured tough spells at Reading and Sheffield United, thus going to Hull with a point to prove.

Although he kept the Tigers up in his initial half-season in charge, he did not win fans over straight away – some mistrusted his persistent positivity amid huge ownership problems while others held him responsible for the lack of leadership on the field.

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As Christmas 2018 approached, though, we saw the likes of centre-back Reece Burke and midfielder Markus Henriksen grow into leadership roles and the team played good football to boot.

The ferocious commitment of Fraizer Campbell, the brilliant bursts of Jarrod Bowen and the great guile of Kamil Grosicki made for a compelling attacking trio, completed either by the selfless movement of Evandro in the 10 role or the delicate creativity of Marc Pugh.

Hull accrued 23 points from a possible 27 over December and January, meaning they were in the Play-Off reckoning until April and finished a season that had looked a likely relegation struggle comfortably in 13th.

Adkins therefore leaves Humberside with his head held high, his reputation improved and he will surely land himself another job – but what about Hull?

We assess the worrying situation as the Assem Allam regime continues to bring problems.

Small squad

There are 17 players contracted to the club for 2019-20; that number could extend to 19 if Campbell and David Marshall are willing to extend their stay despite Adkins’ exit.

Bowen is very likely to depart for the Premier League for an eight-figure fee while Grosicki will interest lofty Championship clubs.

Burke and centre-back partner Jordy De Wijs are both tied down to long-term contracts, but they too, could have suitors due to their high sell-on values.

In a worst-case scenario, we could be looking at 13 players from last season still being at the club come August.

Adkins cared passionately about Hull, he worked tirelessly, he connected with fans yet did not ask too much of the owners and also half-defended the Allam regime at times – the fact that even he did not feel he could continue working for the club seems telling.

That suggests Hull will be working with a very minimal budget this summer and, because of the uncertainty lingering over the end of last season plus May and early-June, they will be getting a lot of their new players late in the window, likely those that not many other clubs particularly want.

Unless, that is, they happen to execute brilliant last-minute loan deals for Premier League academy talents who have been doing pre-season training with their parent clubs – possible but unlikely.

Essentially, for a squad of 20 professionals which is the minimum realistically required for a full season in the EFL, Hull could need to bring in up to seven new players.

They might not get the quality they require with all of those deals, so they could help themselves by making proper use of the youth academy.

Pennock for the post?

Tony Pennock has been working at Hull since 2017; his knowledge of the current squad and youth setup could be advantageous.

He has worked with, for example, Brandon Fleming, who may be forced to start at left-back if Stephen Kingsley were to pick up an injury.

With Evandro released and Pugh’s loan expiring, teenager Keane Lewis-Potter might have to play a few games as an attacking midfielder – although we could imagine them bringing in somebody like Jacob Maddox on loan from Chelsea.

Lewis Ritson may need to step in if Burke or De Wijs left while Max Sheaf may follow Robbie McKenzie’s footsteps in terms of getting first team action in midfield.

McClaren an option?

Alternatives to Pennock would be League One specialists like Phil Parkinson or Simon Grayson, who might be willing to work the strife at Hull in order to be a Championship manager.

However, both employ a rather direct brand of football and like battle-hardened, experienced professionals, which would go against the grain of what Adkins tried to do last term with some success.

Another option, therefore, would be Steve McClaren, who typically encourages more football on the deck.

The former England manager is at times ridiculed externally, but his record is better than given credit for and, if we speak to anyone who has worked under him, most would say he is one of the best coaches they have encountered.

Although McClaren was dismissed in his last two jobs at Derby and QPR, it is important to remember that those decisions were based on poor form rather than overall performance.

With the Rams, he led them 10 places higher than their position when he first took over, while he guided QPR briefly into Play-Off contention when the initial target was mere survival.

McClaren has a similar mentality to Adkins, he would have the respect of a lot of the academy graduates and could be a reasonable option for Hull at this uncertain time.



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Graham Westley
Graham Westley
16th February
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