Saturday, 7 April 2018

The big verdict on the Hull City squad of 2018



Here’s my review of the current Hull City squad and my expectations and predictions for the future.

Image result for hull city meyler dawson
Goalkeepers

Allan McGregor (Contracted until 2018)

Undisputed number one this season. McGregor’s only fault is his lack of stature. Sadly being one of the high-earners, it looks a given that he’ll go in the summer. I’d try to keep him though. He’s a bold character and a long-serving squad member. Verdict: KEEP

David Marshall (2019)

He’s been an excellent goalkeeper but has never settled here and never will. There are too many bad memories in such a short space of time and too many people who groan the second he steps onto the pitch. He desperately needs to move on. Verdict: SELL

Recruitment

I’d give Will Mannion and Callum Burton a bigger role as back-up to McGregor. More likely though is that the club keep Marshall and bring in an experienced back-up.

Defenders

Ola Aina (loan)

He’s improved throughout the season particularly since Adkins moved him back to the right and his versatility has helped the team at times. He’s still a very poor defender compared to his predecessors in the position like Odubajo, Rosenior and even Elmohamady and his crossing leaves a lot to be desired. Another loan seems unlikely but I think we can do better in the short term. He should have a good career once he matures. Verdict: END LOAN

Fikayo Tomori (loan)

Probably the most promising of the Chelsea loanees given his age and pedigree already. He’s not ready for a battle at the bottom of the Championship though. I would definitely take him back next season but the relationship with Chelsea ended when Slutsky went. Verdict: PROBABLY OUT OF OUR HANDS

Brian Lenihan (2018)

Sadly hasn’t been involved this season and, in truth, hasn’t looked the prospect he did a couple of seasons ago. There are rumours explaining his absence but whether true or not, it’s probably the end of the line and if so - a waste of potential. Verdict: RELEASE

Moses Odubajo (2018)

By far the best full-back in our squad before his cruel injury. I hope he gets an opportunity to show what he can do before the end of the season. Regardless, the club need to make a decision with their hearts not their head. Give him at least a year to get back to his level. They’ll kick themselves if he does so somewhere else. He’s a ten million pound player at his best. Verdict: KEEP

Max Clark (2018)

A stubborn, hard-working left back. Max lacks a yard of pace but makes up for it in determination and reading of the game. This has been his first season at left-back since being converted to midfield in the U21s five years ago. He’s local, versatile and improving. Pay him what he’s worth. Verdict: KEEP

Stephen Kingsley (2020 plus)

He’s had a disappointing season but he’d be crazy to write him off. He came with good pedigree. He was (stupidly) signed late into the transfer window and had to do all his moving and settling after the season started and then picked up an injury that dragged on and on and on. He’s hopefully in for a change of luck. Verdict: KEEP

Michael Dawson (2018)

The skipper is going. That seems obvious. The club haven’t made him feel valued by letting his contract run down and attempting to replace him at the end of January. In some ways, I don’t blame them because he’s not the player he was and a two-year deal on big money isn’t smart business. Like some who’ve come before him though, the likes of Windass, Ashbee, Barmby and Meyler, it’s a pity the club haven’t acted to combine a playing and coaching role to take advantage of an intelligent, passionate and committed footballer. Verdict: NOTTINGHAM BOUND

Michael Hector (loan)

Rarely has a player made a more promising start to a career at City and gone downhill so fast. Not since the days of loan signings from Bury scoring off their arse on debut and then reverting to type anyway. I’d have happily signed him permanently, Anthony Gardner style, before August was over but fortunately I’m not in charge. He’s clumsy, over-confident and nowhere near good enough a defender for his age and physical attributes. Verdict: GOODBYE

Ondrej Mazuch (2019)

At his best an accomplished defender who relishes a battle and does the simple things well. Sadly, he’s made of glass. He’s injured every other week. If he can be wrapped in cotton wool, he’s possibly the best defender in the squad. Verdict: KEEP

Angus MacDonald (2020 plus)

Came from Barnsley with accusations of being a bit of a “Billy Big Boots” and it may not be coincidental that he’s the only player super-chipper Nigel Adkins has tried to take down a peg or two. That shambolic showing against Millwall though (when he was far from the only one) he’s looked good. He’s calm on the ball, strong in the tackle and reacts well to danger. Definitely has the potential to be amongst the best centre halves at this level. Verdict: KEEP

Recruitment

Another centre-half is needed to challenge MacDonald and Mazuch. Probably two given the Czech’s injury record. We definitely need a right-back regardless of what happens to Odubajo and a left-back if Clark moves on.

Midfielders

Seb Larsson (2018 plus)

He’s surpassed all expectations since he arrived after his release from Sunderland. He’s not as sprightly as he once was but he works incredibly hard in midfield, passes well and drives on those around him. He’s probably played more games without a break than you’d want from someone of his age but his experience has been invaluab le and when confident, his quality around the box has shone through. Verdict: ONE MORE YEAR

David Meyler (2018)

I’ve always made my view on Meyler well known. He’s massively under-appreciated. He’s not technically sound but has a massive heart, great attitude and will do any job asked of him. I can just about accept the club letting him go as a business decision but the way its gone about it has been as moronic as those in the stands who’ve given him stick down the years. Verdict: KEEP

Markus Henriksen (2019)

A revelation of late. Adkins has shown faith in him (like Slutsky) and given him the confidence to go out and show what he’s about. We saw flashes of ability prior but he’s also shown steel and maturity in midfield of late that gives us great hope for next season. In saying that, you just know that having taken 18 months to find a player in there – Ehab will now flog him. Verdict: KEEP

Evandro (2019)

An enigma. A talented player who has an un-Brazilian-like willingness to get stuck in but is constantly injured and doesn’t appear to have a favoured position. I don’t think another year of trying to accommodate is any good to us but equally, I don’t see anyone buying him. Verdict: FOR SALE

Jackson Irvine (2020 plus)

By far the best signing of the past year. Took a while to settle but his infectious work-rate, ability to challenge in the air and eye for goal have helped us marginally improve under Adkins. He can have a big season in a system that accommodates him. Verdict: KEEP

Kevin Stewart (2020)

Hasn’t worked out at all for him since he moved from Liverpool but he’s clearly a capable player. He has a lot of the same deficiencies as Aina – he plays like its academy football with time to turn on the ball and stroll around. He’s worth sticking with but he needs a rocket up his arse. Verdict: KEEP, FOR NOW

Jon Toral (2020)

He’s shown glimpses of his ability on the ball and his creativity but hasn’t made a position his own amid competition from the vibrant Irvine and the quality of Evandro the odd week he’s fit. He needs to really take games by the scruff of the neck otherwise he’ll be left with cameos on the wing again – which do not suit him at all. Verdict: KEEP

James Weir (2019)

He came in with a reputation of being a stand-out in the Manchester United U23 side but has rarely shone in ours. His attitude is questionable because he’s far more committed in his first team cameos. I’ve seen nothing yet to make it worth involving him in the first team. Verdict: MOVE ON

Recruitment

A battling, mobile midfielder who can run a game is badly needed. Otherwise we have a lot of options and quality in this area. That may not be the case if, as expected, Meyler is released, Larsson moves on and vultures circle around Henriksen. Daniel Batty needs to be given his head as a priority too. Certianly ahead of Weir and possibly Stewart if he doesn’t improve.

Forwards

Kamil Grosicki (2020)

The most divisive member of the squad. Has undoubtable ability and could bring pace and skill to wide areas. His attitude is disgraceful though. He hasn’t wanted to play for us since we were relegated and having seen most of his mates be sold or returned, I don’t entirely blame him. But his lack of appetite for earning his money since he didn’t move in August has been unforgivable. It’s damning that he’s still been our only threat at times even with his unwillingness to try a lick. Hopefully his World Cup impresses a Chinese club who throw money at us. Verdict: HAS TO GO

Harry Wilson (loan)

What a player. I’d ring Liverpool every day asking to keep him next season. They won’t agree because Klopp always likes to look over his squad in the summer – to his credit – but it’d be worth reiterating our interest hourly. Verdict: BEG

Jarrod Bowen (2020 plus)

He’s been a victim of the Adkins regime having had a wonderful first half of the season. He looks weighed down by the need to defend, defend, defend when we don’t have the ball. That’s probably not a bad thing if he’s to progress but we need to find a balance that enables him to get into positions around the box where he’s proven himself to be very dangerous with his movement off the ball, close control and smart finishing. Verdict: NO BRAINER

Abel Hernandez (2018)

Sadly, he’s off. I have it on good authority that if he hadn’t been injured, he was going in August. Such a shame its come to this but we were lucky he stayed last time and the cuts in budget, lack of ambition and shrinking squad aren’t going to appeal to him regardless. Verdict: HE’S GONE

Adama Diomande (2018)

Never really worked as a striker but no-one can ever criticise his commitment and his work-rate. It’s time to move him on though. Verdict: RELEASE

Fraizer Campbell (2019 plus)

It’s not really been the same, has it? He didn’t look fit when he arrived in the summer and through niggly injuries and reduced game time, hasn’t ever got close to 100%. He’s still a real grafter and has shown his ability in flashes but needs a big pre-season. Verdict: KEEP

Will Keane (2019)

Has never really settled. He was out of his depth last season, thrown into a situation he should never have been in and then has had to recover from a bad injury. If we can’t improve on him, we have to keep him because he’s the only striker we’ve got who isn’t an indenti-kit of the others. Verdict: REPLACE

Nouha Dicko (2020 plus)

Another solid hard worker who’ll take the knocks up front and do the hard running into channels. But he hasn’t been enough of a goal threat. At times, the team hasn’t been set up for him to succeed but he’s also missed golden opportunities. Has to be more ruthless. Verdict: KEEP. PROBABLY

Recruitment

We’re crying out for a striker who can play on his own, get hold of the ball and help our wingers and midfielders get around the box. They’re not common or cheap and we probably aren’t going to be trying to buy one. The difference between a guy like Lee Gregory recently and our forwards was stark. Let’s home someone has been watching players far and wide. Otherwise its going to be necessary to get Campbell in better shape than he has been so far and keep him fit. Tyler Hamilton from the U23s is a wide player who is worth a cameo here and there, particularly if Wilson isn’t replaced.

My squad for 2018/19:

McGregor, Mannion, Burton.

Odubajo, New right-back, Kingsley, Clark, Mazuch, MacDonald, New centre-half/ves.

New midfielder, Larsson, Meyler, Henriksen, Toral, Irvine, Stewart/Batty.

New Striker, Campbell, Dicko, Wilson, Bowen, New winger/Hamilton.