My Preffered Hull City Starting Eleven
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on September 29, 2016
It is bizarre to think that the fit first team player drought is over at Hull City and now we have a polar opposite problem. After wins against Leicester and Swansea Hull City’s starting squad picked itself however after the introduction of new players, players recovering from injury and 2 straight losses in the league Mike Phelan now has a dilemma. In the following article, I will be dissecting each position alongside the formation of the squad.
The formation of the squad is one that has inspired theories from Hull City fans. Seen as the Bruce era is over I find it unlikely that Phelan will revert to a 3/5 at the back formation; also the lack of quality fit central defenders are concerning. Therefore I feel a 4 at the back defensive line is essential. My whole formation in complete form is the 4-5-1/4-3-3 formation that Phelan has used in the opening games of the season. This formation is particularly effective for our side because the 4-5-1 can be used when defending and playing against a club who are expecting to beat us. On the flip side, Hull can use a 4-3-3 formation when attacking and applying pressure.
The competition for the number 1 jersey at Hull City is the best it has been in years. Both Edlin Jakupovic and David Marshall are in a fierce battle to become Hull City’s starting goalkeeper. Last season, Alan McGregor was Hull City’s first choice goalkeeper with Edlin Jakupovic being his understudy. However due to an injury in May McGregor is set to be sidelined until January, however, it is likely McGregor will never be Hull’s first choice ‘keeper ever again. So far this season Jakupovic has started 5 of Hull City’s 6 games this season. The Bosnian-born Swiss made match-winning saves in Hull City’s two victories against Swansea City and Leicester City respectively. In these 5 games, Jakupovic has conceded 7 goals. However, it is important to point out that Jakupovic is adored by fellow Hull City fans and they would very much like him to do well as his adoration for the club is evident. Scotland international David Marshall is contesting with Jakupovic for the ‘keeper spot. Marshall was impressive with Cardiff City in their one Premier League season in 2013/14, however, he was unable to prevent Cardiff’s relegation. Since his £3.5m arrival the day before deadline day, Marshall has featured twice for Hull City both in the cup and in the Premier League. Marshall was part of the Hull side who defeated Stoke City in the Capital One Cup 2-1 however he did concede 5 goals against a rampant Liverpool side on his Premier League debut on Saturday. Personally, I do not think there is much in it between Marshall and Jakupovic. Jakupovic’s love for the club and fans is admirable however Marshall is overall a better goalkeeper. If I was Mike Phelan I would rotate them both regularly and then see who performs best.
For me, the right back position is fairly obvious. In a perfect world, Moses Odubajo would hold down that position however due to the cruelest of injuries the young man is injured until January. Due to this, the competition is limited for the spot. With injuries to Brian Lenihan becoming a regular occurrence, Ahmed Elmohamady is an obvious choice now. The Egyptian has been incredibly loyal to Hull City with over 100 appearances made since his transfer from Sunderland. However his recent performances in the last season or so have concerned many Hull fans, so the sooner that Moses Odubajo is back the better.
The two central defender spots in the starting eleven have also created debate amongst Hull City fans. The first spot is an absolute definite, no Hull fan will disagree that Curtis Davies is vital to the whole squad let alone the defence. So who will partner him? For the opening few games of the season, Jake Livermore played alongside him in place of the injured Harry Maguire and Michael Dawson. However due to impressive performances Livermore has made the position his own. However, my somewhat controversial opinion on the squad is that Jake Livermore is crucial in the midfield. Therefore, until Michael Dawson is match fit Harry Maguire should play with Curtis Davies in the back four.
The left back position is the most obvious one in the whole squad for me. Andrew Robertson without a doubt should play there. The only competition there is young played Joshua Tymon, although the youngster is a very bright spark he is nowhere near Robertson’s level. I feel that Robertson will thrive in this squad as the formation allows him to rush forward when attacking which is when he is at his strongest.
The three midfield roles can be the most crucial part of the squad. The midfield must be balanced yet work well together, I feel I have hit that balance with my choice of midfield. In the first central midfield position, I have selected Ryan Mason. Ryan Mason has all his career ahead of him and after a record transfer to Hull City, he will be getting a lot of game time. Ryan Mason can play a box to box midfielder role as he occasionally grabs a goal and assist or two and he can collect the ball well from his own half and create chances. In my personal opinion, I feel that if Ryan Mason were to succeed at Hull he may be in contention for another England cap so the motivation should be there for Ryan. The next midfield position for me picks itself, I would play Sam Clucas with Ryan Mason in midfield. Although he is a versatile player, Clucas may not be used to an unfamiliar deep midfield role in an extremely challenging league. However, Clucas has particularly stood out in the matches against Leicester City and Arsenal for his ability to win the ball from attackers and play passes to promising positions from his own half. My final midfield position is controversial however I feel it adds a lot of quality to the team. I would finally play Jake Livermore in midfield alongside Sam Clucas and Ryan Mason. Livermore is a fantastic winner of the ball, as proven in his performances in defence this season. Also, he is a lot more physically powerful than Sam Clucas and Ryan Mason, therefore, he would win the ball in tackles very often and he would have the passing ability to create chances.
For me, the right midfielder spot picks itself. Without a doubt, Robert Snodgrass should be the first name on the team sheet for Hull City. To say Snodgrass has had a good start to the season would be an understatement. So far this season, Snodgrass has scored the winner against Leicester City and a free kick equaliser right at the dying moments of the game against Burnley. On top of this, Snodgrass takes all of the free kicks, corners, and penalties for Hull and he is certainly a dead ball specialist. If Hull City are to avoid relegation, the Scot will have to remain injury free and continue his fantastic form.
The left side of midfield is much more difficult for me. So far this season, Adama Diomande has made this position his own however despite a goal against Leicester City he is simply not good enough for the Premier League. Therefore this leaves me with two options, either playing new signing Markus Henriksen there or playing last season’s top goalscorer Abel Hernandez out of position. First of all, I will discuss Markus Henriksen. The Norwegian international joined Hull City on deadline day on a loan deal which will be made permanent from AZ Alkmaar. So far Henriksen has featured only once for Hull City against Stoke in the Capital One Cup, in that game he assisted the aforementioned Ryan Mason with a splendid cross and Markus himself scored the winner. Last season at AZ Alkmaar he was awarded the player of the year award for the Dutch side, this was against new Spurs signing Vincent Janssen who cost the North London club for around £18m. Clearly, Hull City fans would love to see more of Henriksen after a promising debut. The other choice is Abel Hernandez. The benefits of this would be that this would allow Dieumerci Mbokani to feature more after he looked positive in a substitute appearance against Arsenal. However, the biggest downfall of this is the fact that Hull will lose goals, which will be vital if Hull were to be successful this season. Therefore I would play Mbokani over Abel Hernandez and Adama Diomande in the left midfield spot.
The final position left in the squad is the striker position, for me, it is a toss up between Abel Hernandez and Dieumerci Mbokani. Mbokani has Premier League experience after a loan spell with Norwich City last season, although his 7 goals in 29 appearances impressed the Norwich fans he was unable to prevent their fate and were relegated to the Championship. Since joining on a season-long loan from Dynamo Kyiv, Mbokani has featured in the league once off the bench. He looked positive when he replaced Abel Hernandez at home to Arsenal and did, in fact, win a penalty for the Tigers. Although he is fast Mbokani can also be useful as a big striker to win headers from Snodgrass’s corners and free kicks and he can also hold the ball up on the counter attack. Despite this, I believe Abel Hernandez should be Hull’s first choice striker this season. The 26-year-old scored 22 goals last season in the Championship and was a key player in Hull City’s promotion-winning campaign. On top of this, he also scored 4 goals in the 2014/15 Premier League campaign and so far has scored once this season. In my opinion, Hernandez and Mbokani should be rotated considering who Hull are playing and how they are playing. If Hull are going to pursue with playing on the counter, perhaps Mbokani should feature, however, if Hull are playing against a team they are expected to beat, then Hernandez may be a more sensible option.