Premier League preview – Hull

Last season:

Championship: 2nd

FA Cup: Fourth Round

League Cup: Second Round

Regardless of whether they are now referred to as Hull City AFC, Hull City, Hull Tigers or Hull City Tigers, the club enjoyed a tremendous year of success last season as they returned to the Premier League.

Following their relegation to the Championship in 2010 the Tigers, under manager Steve Bruce, have managed to negotiate safe passage through the difficult terrain that is the second tier of English football.

However they had to wait until the final day of the 2012/13 season to confirm their place in the top flight. Following a tense 2-2 draw with table toppers Cardiff City, Hull were promoted when third placed Watford lost to Leeds. Since that day in May, Bruce has been working to improve his squad for the challenge of the Premier League.

This summer has seen the Tigers spending in the transfer window as they have brought in no fewer than eight new faces at a cost of approximately £8m. Manager Bruce has looked to his old clubs to strengthen his league newcomers, bringing in the likes of loanee Danny Graham and Ahmed Elmohamady from Sunderland, as well as Maynor Figueroa from Wigan.

Bruce has also looked to bring in Premier League experience, with the additions of Figueroa, ex-Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper and Curtis Davies from Birmingham. Davies will be a welcome addition to the KC Stadium as they will need his leadership qualities to shore up a defensive line which struggled away from home last term.

Hull’s travel sickness and slightly leaky defence saw them ship more goals than they scored when on the road last season. With this being the case Bruce will be looking to strengthen his defence further in the remainder of this transfer window. While the inclusions of Elmohamady and Davies will go some way to aiding this situation, big seasons will also be expected of James Chester the experienced Paul McShane.

The latest transfer rumours surrounding Hull link Bruce with another return to Sunderland, as he hopes to get a deal done for Jack Colback. The 52-year-old boss is looking to strengthen through his midfield, with Stoke’s Wilson Palacios – also formerly of Wigan – continually linked with a Humberside move.

One area where it looks like Bruce is happy with his business though is his forward line. The addition of Yannick Sagbo from French club Evian for £1.6m is a welcome inclusion – the powerful forward netted six times in 35 appearances in Ligue 1 last term. The loan switch which has seen Graham join the Tigers looks like a deal which could be exactly what both parties needed.

Graham struggled to emulate his Swansea success on Wearside; however in this deal he now has a year at a club which will be looking to him to score their goals, rather than competing with Michu and, at Sunderland, Steven Fletcher. Hull fans though will be hoping that they have signed the player who left Swansea and not the one who stuttered at the Stadium of Light.

Steve Bruce will need to call on his experience to keep Hull up

Manager – Steve Bruce:With more experience of the top flight than the other promoted managers, Bruce will know the importance of making the KC Stadium a fortress. Keeping the club owners happy though is the main objective of Bruce’s season. With big changes on the horizon, sustained Premier League status is imperative.

Key signing – Danny Graham: The Englishman found goals hard to come by in his Sunderland career and this temporary move will see him lead the line for the Tigers which may be exactly what he needs. Considering Hull’s top goal-scorer last season was Robert Koren with nine, goal-getting looks like an area Bruce has targeted for improvement.

Key sale – the club’s youngsters: One issue many fans will have had with the departures at the KC this summer is loss of so many young players. Corry Evans and Tom Cairney, both 22, were key components of the club’s midfield last term, so seeing those two depart will be hard for some followers to stomach.

Keep an eye out for…Robbie Brady: Dynamic 21-year-old winger Brady is a quick, well-equipped passer of the ball, whose running style and crossing ability could see him link up famously with Danny Graham and Yannick Sagbo. Brady made his Republic of Ireland full debut last year following good performances for the Under-17s, 19s and 21s.

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