Hull City v Norwich City: Tigers fans knew it would be tough – just not this tough
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Hull City Ian Jenkinson is our guest for this weekend's Q&A ahead of the Canaries' trip to Humberside:
QThis is not the sort of season you would have envisaged… where's it all going wrong?
ATo be honest, I think it is the sort of season many fans were fearing. Although our first manager of this season, Leonid Slutzsky, talked up an immediate return to the Premier League, the board were at the same time selling-off the 'stars' of a team that came close to escaping relegation. Only four regular first team players survived to play in our first game of the season, and despite two wins in the first five games, it's gone downhill from there. The fans lay the blame firmly with the board, and you can't help but question their desire and ambition (or lack of it) to go again at reaching the Premier League. A tough life back in the Championship was always on the cards this season – although we probably didn't imagine being in the thick of a relegation scrap.
QThe drop zone is only three points away – can you avoid it?
AI think we can avoid it, but only if our home form holds up, and hopefully we can also upset a couple of teams away from home and pinch a point or two. In the Premier League, a three-point gap is massive, but in this division, point gaps can be made up or lost in a flash. So I don't think any team at the bottom will pull away, or get cut adrift; it's going to be very tight at the end of the season.
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QNigel Adkins has been charged with turning it around – is he the right man?
AIt's hard to know after just a few months. Whilst Adkins has had two managerial fails at Reading and Sheffield United in recent times, you can't argue with his record at Scunthorpe and Southampton. He knows this division, the Premier League, and League One, so wherever we end up, he should do okay. That said, I wouldn't say he's turned us around so far. In his defence, he's inherited a squad that contains a number of youth players who are not quite ready for the grind of a Championship season, and a few older experienced players who haven't got the legs for two games a week. Then there's the handful of loanee Chelsea youngsters who Slutzsky signed in desperation – they probably can't wait for the season to end so that they can hand their Hull City kit back! Time (if he's given it) will tell with Adkins, but you have to be careful what you wish for when you're a club on the slide – a change doesn't always bring a positive turn-around.
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QStrangely, Hull are at home for the fourth game in a row - with the home fans' penchant for throwing tennis balls in protest, is that a good thing?
AThe fans only threw tennis balls at two televised matches, and it's probably only a core of about 200 doing this type of protesting. Judging by the booing when it happened, I would say that most Hull fans didn't support the tennis ball protest, and were quite embarrassed by it. What our club really needs is everyone pulling together, but all this protest seems to have done is drive a wedge between those who are for action against the club's owners, and those who are against it. So not only don't we like the board, I'm not sure we even like each other at the minute!
QSo, who should City be wary of in the Hull side?
A Well, we had two key players returning from injury on Tuesday against Millwall. Harry Wilson, a wide player on loan from Liverpool, looks real class in the couple of games he's played for us, and will give defenders the run-around. Our main striker over the last three seasons also made a comeback on Tuesday – Abel Hernandez returned from six months out with an Achilles injury, but managed to score in a cameo appearance. It's safe to say he'll keep any goalkeeper honest. All our hopes are on him now, if we can get him on the pitch for longer.
QAnd who should Adkins be warning his players to keep an eye on?
AI think Norwich are a bit like Hull, in that we are both currently short of real stand-out players. But when I have seen Norwich play, it looks like it's probably James Maddison who will keep Hull's midfield on their toes.
QAnd finally, a forecast please.
AForecasting a Hull City result is even tougher than usual this season, simply because of our inconsistency, but based solely on bias and blind faith, I'm going for a 2-0 win for the Tigers!