I've asked four questions about The Tigers' business with the transfer window set to open again. In addition to my own thoughts are some ideas and comments from the "Tiger Nation" on Twitter.
What areas do Hull City need to strengthen?
The Tigers always need a striker. Even when we’ve bought one, we still need one. It is genuinely the case again though. Chuba Akpom isn’t the answer as a partner or alternative to Abel Hernandez. The Uruguayan is the best we have and his return of ten goals from eighteen starts this season is outstanding. However he struggles to complete games, has difficultly with playing Saturday-Tuesday as demanded by the Championship and keeps jetting off to the other side of the world. So other than young Greg Luer and the so far untried Adama Diomande, we have few options.
Bruce likes to use attacking midfielders as second strikers so the likes of Diame, Aluko, Maloney and Snodgrass fill gaps but they’re not really the answer.
Barring injuries and sales (more on that below), City have solid defensive options. There is only one out and out left-back in the squad though. I’d be looking to improve that situation but Steve Bruce seems happy to rely on versatile players like Sam Clucas and Moses Odubajo to fill gaps.
Aside from the striker, I think the biggest problem Bruce has is in midfield. Jake Livermore is currently the outstanding player in the squad and David Meyler is generally a reliable partner for him but given the decline of Tom Huddlestone – there is no cover and no competition. It’s difficult to demand Bruce makes a signing because of the dent Huddlestone makes in the wage bill but it might just be the difference between promotion and another season in the second tier.
@mattyhumpleby "not anywhere I'd say we need someone desperately. With everyone fit I still believe we have the strongest squad in the league"
@Chris_Ransom "think we've needed an experienced No10 all season."
@david_penter "A centre half (and leader) - can't rely on Dawson staying fit, cover at LB and proven championship striker"
@Deoxyribo87 "an experienced captain like midfielder and a striker."
@sash338 "Another left back needed"
Will Steve Bruce be given funds to buy players?
I’m sure the manager is banging on some doors asking this question as it stands. Only the Allams know the answer. They have stopped attending matches and Assem Allam seems to have lost all interest in it day to day since his re-brand plan was foiled but they still wish to sell the club and would surely be in a better position with Premier League football and the record television income behind them.
At this point, investment would be a gamble. The Allams are owed around eighty million pounds by the football club and despite relegation clauses limiting the playing staff’s wages and sales totalling almost twenty-five million quid in the summer, the club is still carrying huge costs on vastly reduced income. Unless there is surplus on the balance sheet (unlikely) then any money promised for transfers in the January window is going to be added to the club’s massive debt to Allamhouse. That sort of gamble would make promotion imperative. In all likelihood, Bruce is going to be working in the loan market or having to generate cash from sales before he can buy.
@BriHanhanrahan "squad is good enough as is!! Can't expect Owners to put anymore money in - must be biggest wage bill in league."
@Ull_91 "we will have to sell to buy, so say buy to hudds and diame and maybe even elmo"
Who needs to go?
Several players are out of contract in the summer and aren’t worth a new deal regardless of what division The Tigers are in next season – Tom Huddlestone and Sone Aluko most obviously. If either of those have admirers, I’d take any reasonable offer. Ryan Taylor, Calaum Jahraldo-Martin and Conor Townsend are probably not going to get another deal at City but don’t especially have a sell-on value.
Other sales would depend on the willingness of players to sign the new contracts that Bruce said the club were discussing with the squad recently. Curtis Davies and Ahmed Elmohamady should be sold if they don’t want to stay and replaced whereas David Meyler and Allan McGregor would be worth keeping until the summer and losing for free. That’s not to suggest that they won’t sign new deals. Meyler seems particularly happy at City and Curtis Davies recently said he “loves the club”.
As I recently wrote here after the Rotherham defeat, I’d actively look to move on Mo Diame. His talent is unquestionable but he’s difficult to accommodate in the team and can have little effect on games as a result.
Abel Hernandez, Jake Livermore and Michael Dawson all presumably still have buy-out clauses in their contracts following relegation last season and any interest in either of those three would be very unwelcome.
@RicardoHCAFC "Huddlestone for me. He's not in the team. He's on good money and we can get a fee."
@Football_Musing "ship Elmo, Hudd, Davies, Aluko & probably Akpom too."
@dan1el88 "if we can rid of a few, I think we'll have funds! Huddlestone should go"
@hullcityfan789 "send Akpom back and replace him as first priority, I'd sell Hudds & Davies, bring in experience to replace them"
@bentos_j "I would let Elmo, Diame, Hudds and Aluko go. Cancel Akpom loan. Davies dependent on contract talks"
Any specific players we should go for?
There aren’t many players who’d “guarantee” promotion but I really think Charlie Austin is one. He’d be expensive and probably have Premier League offers so it’s highly unrealistic but in a dream world – I’d buy him.
In reality, City are probably going to be looking at Premier League loans or another mystery foreign gamble in the Proschwitz/N’Doye/Diomande mould. Patrick Bamford, who recently cut short a loan spell at Crystal Palace and has scored goals in the Championship consistently in previous loan deals, immediately comes to mind but his former clubs Middlesbrough and Derby will be actively courting him I’m sure. His former teammate at Palace and ex-Hull City loanee, Fraizer Campbell, is someone we can’t got a transfer window without being linked with and despite every fibre of my being telling me to dislike him – I’d still take him.
A couple of left-field suggestions. Peter Odemwingie doesn’t get a game at Stoke City. He’s 34 now but still has some of the pace that made him a huge threat a couple of seasons ago. If Bruce wants someone with physical presence then Cardiff’s Kenwyne Jones is a player he’s worked with before who they’ve let out on load previously despite him being a regular starter there.
In midfield, I’ve written several times about my admiration of Mile Jedinak. The Australian international was once the lynchpin of the Crystal Palace midfield but has fallen down the pecking order there. He’d be a tremendous addition to our team and would bring fight and leadership as well as technical abilities.
@dazzar86 "It's a shame Fulham's Dembele would cost a fortune - he'd be the perfect partner for Hernandez."
@AidanMcDonald2 "Loans for Chester and Patrick Bamford"
@steveacko1975 "definitely Bamford and Chester on loan. Aluko and Huddlestone out. Maybe try for Ross McCormack..makes his own chances."
@paulwyld "I'd like to see us get rid of a few 'big names' and go all out for Jordan Rhodes"
@Benj_Green "Crouch till rest of season would be perfect, and it's more than possible to sign him"
@adam_brookes "Look to bring in Bamford/Lafferty."
@15wilson "Would look at Clough at Bolton, team that's in desperate need of the funds so may be open to selling. Young, direct attacker."