Premier League crisis team of the week: Hull

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images) /

Hull were enveloped in crisis off the pitch long before their troubles on the pitch started to show.

Hull’s off-field difficulties have finally caught up to them after a 3-0 loss away at Sunderland. The club is languishing in the Premier League’s bottom three and has won only a single game since August.

Off-field crisis — where it all began

The off-pitch crisis commenced when controversial owner Assem Allam came up with the alienating and unsympathetic idea to discard the club’s 109-year-old name, Hull City, in favor of Hull Tigers.

It’s a decision that infuriated Hull’s supporters. And who can blame them? Hull supporters would never stand for such a cold-hearted, business-first decision which was based on one thing and one thing alone: the bottom line.

Allam thought renaming the team Tigers would benefit marketing, creating higher merchandise sales and a wider support network across the globe.

The decision backfired.

Steve Bruce left the club in the summer after the owners failed to sign a single player for him, and then Assem, under increasing pressure, agreed to try to sell the club. He was unable to do that before the Premier League kicked off in August, which, months later, has led to Hull’s on-field unraveling.

Hull, led by then caretaker manager Mike Phelan, started the season with 14 eligible senior players. That number would barely suffice on a Sunday league team. It’s inconceivable to imagine a Premier League outfit starting with only 14 players. That’s just enough to make three subs in a single game, barring any possible injuries.

Incredibly, Hull, on pure adrenaline, will power and defiance, won their opening two Premier League games. The bite, however, has since left the tame Tigers.

On-field performance

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images) /

This was bound to happen. Phelan inherited a shipwreck and one of the most difficult jobs in soccer. Even after making six signings in the nick of time, the permanent scars were there for everyone to see.

Hull, since winning their first two games, have gained four of a possible 30 points. That’s the worst run of form in the Premier League. They lost six straight before beating Southampton 2-1 at home prior to the international break but followed that up with a resounding defeat away to Sunderland, another embattled relegation favorite.

Hull also have the dubious honor of the league’s worst offensive and defensive records, allowing 27 goals while only scoring 10. Only Middlesbrough have scored as few goals, but have a far superior defensive record.

Maybe even more forebodingly, Hull have the propensity to capitulate and get blown out. Their inability to keep games close further exacerbates Hull’s desperate situation. Losing 4-1 to Arsenal, 5-1 Liverpool, 6-1 to Bournemouth and 3-0 to Sunderland demonstrates exactly how fragile Phelan’s men are.

Next: Premier League Week 12 roundtable

Here’s a few more bleak numbers to absorb: Hull, level with Sunderland, have the fewest clean sheets (1), the second most blocked shots (74), the fourth most clearances (360) and the most conceded penalties (6).

Moreover, Hull have the league’s fewest yellow cards (15).

You can take this two ways. Either they’re really well-disciplined as a unit or don’t commit to enough challenges and aren’t getting close enough to get stuck in.

All things considered, it’s probably the latter.

Will it get any better?

Unfortunately for Hull supporters, the situation won’t significantly improve until the ownership situation is resolved and the manager is permitted to go out and strengthen his squad. Of all the relegation favorites, Hull are the team whose fate is probably already sealed.

Miracles do happen in the Premier League — just ask Leicester and Sunderland — but soccer, especially at this level, is unforgiving.

And without stability, an injection of funds or the supporters’ backing, Hull’s Premier League story won’t have a fairytale ending.