After spending around £40m over the summer to try to improve a squad that finished 16th, while also reaching the FA Cup final last season, Hull were expected to continue to solidify their status as a Premier League club during this campaign. However, they underwhelmed and underperformed consistently throughout the season, eventually finishing in eighteenth on just 35 points to consign themselves to the Championship.
Hull City’s season started reasonably positively, and after nine league games they seemed reasonably comfortable in tenth after successive away draws with Arsenal and Liverpool, with club record summer signing Abel Hernandez showing promising glimpses of what he could provide.
After three goals in his first six games though, Hernandez; like Hull City, would struggle almost continuously for the rest of the season, as the mercurial Uruguayan would score only one more goal, while his team would win just six more games. While there final points total of 35 would have kept them up last season (and was just two less than what they managed last year), as soon as a dismal 1-0 loss to already relegated Burnley took survival out of their own hands in early May they seemed unable completely unable to dig themselves out of trouble.
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While manager Steve Bruce will stay on in an attempt to win back a place in England’s top division next season, he must shoulder much of the blame for the club’s poor season. He never really settled on either a formation or a core group of players, switching from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 and back again halfway through the season while failing to get anything out of numerous summer signings.
It was unfortunate that both Robert Snodgrass and Mohamed Diame, who cost a combined £10m, missed most of the season with knee injuries, but a mixture of ill-advised gambles – on players like Hatem Ben-Arfa and Gaston Ramirez – and overpaying for average talent like Jake Livermore (he really falls into both categories) and Michael Dawson meant that Bruce was left short of options in vital games at the end of the season.
How much of the failure in the transfer market falls on the manager is always hard to tell, but regardless Bruce was never able to mould his squad into a Premier League calibre side; something he admitted publically after the season, saying “the brutal fact is that me and my staff have not been good enough”.
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Furthermore, after a successful FA Cup run that Hull City them lose in the final last year, Hull were poor in cup competitions this time around. The fact that Arsenal qualified for the Champions League meant Hull took their place in the Europa League, only to get knocked out before the group stage by KSC Lokeren. In domestic cup competitions they were equally futile, losing in the third round of both the FA Cup and the League Cup to Arsenal and West Brom respectively.
Grade: F, given the expenditure in the summer and the fact that they lost almost no key players from the previous season, Hull’s poor results in every competition they entered means that an F is the grade that accurately reflects how comprehensively they underperformed more or less throughout.