One of the most exciting aspects of any summer months for any football fan is the prospect of buying and selling players to build a squad for the challenge ahead.
For Hull City fans this aspect will take a backseat this summer (again) to the question of the ownership of the club, which I previously wrote about here, and easing doubts over the manager’s position, which is covered here.
Only then can budgets be agreed, contracts renewed or ended and targets identified. The budget in itself will be an interesting topic of discussion and it’s perhaps telling that within minutes of securing promotion, Steve Bruce was already publicly calling for financial backing. Ours is a club that has financially over-stretched after every Premier League promotion so it wouldn’t be surprising if a level of caution was being considered – particularly if the Allam family retain ownership.
That said, here’s a look at what needs to change in the Tigers squad in the various positions. I’m not going into specific targets but feel free to leave your ideas in the comments and I’ll use them in a future blog.
While I have no doubt that City can do better than Allan McGregor as number one there are probably higher priorities in squad strengthening than replacing someone who is still a very capable keeper. We’ve not seen much of Dusan Kuciak yet and what little we have seen has been unimpressive but he’s under contract for another year.
The biggest question mark is over the future of Eldin Jakupovic. He’s been a figure of fun for much of his City career but is developing a bit of a cult and his phenomenal showing at Arsenal in the FA Cup in February and his strong showings in three crucial play-off matches will enhance that. We’ve been keen to bring in a successor to McGregor in previous transfer windows (Southend’s Daniel Bentley a year ago) so Jakupovic may be dispensed with to make that happen which would be seriously harsh.
This is City’s strongest area by far. We have an experienced and capable centre back partnership in Michael Dawson and Curtis Davies and a natural successor and alternative in the talented Harry Maguire. Alex Bruce, who’s contract expiry date isn’t known because the club were too scared to release it last summer, never lets City down and is adequate back-up.
Maguire’s contract is up in 2017 so the only urgent action here is to make sure he signs a long-term deal this summer. That may be harder than it sounds given how often Harry is overlooked for “Daws” and Davies.
Moses Odubajo has been a superb signing at right back while Andy Robertson is inconsistent but capable of being a fantastic attacking left back. For a combined £6.35m they represent incredible value at the top level. Like Harry Maguire, Robertson is approaching the last year of his contract and given his age and potential value in the market - it’s crucial that he too is signed up for the long-term.
Ryan Taylor has already hinted that his unremarkable year with The Tigers has come to an end so the only cover remaining at full-back comes in the shape of wingers Ahmed Elmohamady and Sam Clucas and youngsters Brian Lenihan and Josh Tymon. A utility full-back is very high on the wanted list.
A quality ball-winning midfielder would be a tremendous addition to a solid set of midfield options. I suspect every club in the country is out looking for an N’Golo Kante but we could also do with a player of that ilk – strong, mobile and brave.
Jake Livermore has quality but needs to find Premier League consistency while David Meyler will fill in anywhere and give it his best shot. Livermore is another who is out of contract in 2017 so it’s vital that the club protects their investment with some fore-thinking this summer.
Tom Huddlestone is a divisive player whose supreme natural ability is constantly at odds with his lack of mobility and lethargy. His contract is up in July and I’d be tempted to give him a new one. He’s much better suited to the top flight and players with his ability are hard to come by – especially for “free”.
Thinking further into the future, our midfield isn’t getting any younger and this would be a good time to recruit a younger player with plenty of potential. We could do worse than buying all-rounder Isaac Hayden who will otherwise go back to Arsenal after his loan ends.
The obvious question with out and out wide players is whether City need any at all. They’re not a common sight in Premier League football unless you work to accommodate them in a 4-5-1/4-3-3 system. Robert Snodgrass (another key 2017 expiry) is talented and flexible enough to fit most systems so will continue to be a key player.
Elmohamady is out of contract this summer and for 90% of the current season has looked like a player counting down the days until he can move on. However, of late he’s given everyone a timely reminder of what he’s capable of and he brings cover and competition at full back, wing back or right wing. I didn’t think I’d say this but I’d offer him at least another year.
Sam Clucas is a great lad who has really earned his crack at playing in the top flight. Judging by the way his season tailed off in the Championship after some effervescent performances up to January – the Premier League might be a step too far for him. He deserves the chance to sink or swim though and when you look at how a player like Matt Ritchie has taken to the top flight – you’d be crazy not to find out.
Calaum Jahraldo-Martin is out of contract and likely at the end of the line with City. At 23, he’s just too old to be a youngster and as far away from the first team as ever.
The outgoings here are easy. Sone Aluko is out of contract and has run out of chances – lovely kid though he is. Adama Diomande isn’t good enough and needs to move on. Shaun Maloney hasn’t worked out either an I’d send him packing too. Chuba Akpom’s loan is up and it’s hard to see City seeking another one.
Mo Diame continues to be enigmatic and while that’s often frustrating – when he’s good, he’s bloody marvellous. We need options so we can pick and choose Mo’s games but he needs to be part of the squad.
Abel Hernandez took a while to come good for City but we can take heart not only from his goals this season but the heart he’s shown to be a part of the squad. He’s another with just a year on his deal so if an offer came in for him, it would probably be considered but otherwise, he needs to be helped rather than replaced.
We always need a striker. I wrote that last summer. And the transfer window before that. And the one before that. And probably the one before that. This summer we need at least two. One would be a partner/alternative to Hernandez. Someone with a bit of size and strength who can play the lone role on his own and impose himself on opposition defences. The other should be someone with pace who will turn defenders for fun and can play right up top or wider in a front three.
What I’m really looking for is Dean Windass and Fraizer Campbell from 2008. Though the “Deano” would be ten years younger and the Campbell wouldn’t be a cock!
Rick’s Released List
Chuba Akpom (End of loan)
Rick’s Transfer List
Rick’s Shopping List