Looking at the predictions that are currently flooding the world of Premiership football, two teams are entrenched in a dogfight for who will finish bottom. No-one, but no-one thinks both Hull City or Burnley will stay up. One if not both of them, in the eyes of everyone think they’re dead and buried before a ball is kicked.
I have to say, I’m more concerned about Hull staying up than Burnley. The run that they embarked upon from the win against Middlesbrough on December 6th was frightening. 9 points from 22 games was relegation form, no doubt about it, but thankfully Newcastle, Boro and West Brom were worse. Yet were Hull that bad? Only 3 teams put more than 2 goals past them during the last 22 games, Arsenal, Liverpool and Middlesbrough and lost 9 games by just one goal.
That cries out that all the Tigers needed was a consistent goalscorer, someone who could nick a goal off a shin, a backside or a deflection. Phil Brown has made no secret of his desire to add to the firepower at his disposal, but saw moves for Michael Owen, Bobby Zamora, Frazier Campbell and Marlon Harewood fail. In the last week though, he seems to have had more luck in his attempts and he’s taken the promising American striker Jozy Altidore on loan and is close to signing former Wigan striker Henri Camara.
Ideally though, looking at the Tigers front line, even with the two additions, looks still weak. Cousin, Fagan, Garcia, Folan and Kendall don’t seem to have the prowess between them to win matches. Why are Hull struggling to bring the required players to the club? The loss of Craig Fagan after Danny Guthrie’s cowardly tackle broke his leg was a big loss. Fagan’s pace can cause most teams problems, but that alone won’t keep them up. Geovanni has the skill and guile, but lacks the consistency. He needs to show more for the cause for longer. The attempts to sign Ross McCormack from Cardiff City seem to have stalled, the clubs a couple of million apart in their valuations. McCormack was immense for the Bluebirds on Saturday and City will be loath to lose him.
Of course in addition to the striker issues, Hull now face the fact that Liverpool have begun to unsettle Michael Turner in their usual way. Once again Benitez has begun to court a player in the media before making a bid, so no doubt Turner’s head will be turned. Most players would be delighted to play for Liverpool, so it would seem a matter of when Turner leaves. That would be a big blow for Brown’s men, but with Benitez claiming that he now has very little to spend, Hull need to try and get the price they want.
Strikers are always a premium in football, but surely it can’t be this hard to recruit one? Perhaps the solution to Browns issue is a quick one hour drive westwards on the M62 to Leeds. Would risking £3-£4 million on Jermaine Beckford at Leeds United be such a risk for the Tigers? 56 goals in less than 100 games for Leeds shouldn’t be sniffed at, regardless that he plays in League One. He doesn’t have to up root to Hull, living within easy distance of the K.C. Stadium and it surprise me that Brown hasn’t gone after him. He scored two on Saturday, both pure predatory goals, something Hull miss.
Sometimes you have to cut your cloth accordingly and sometimes the obvious solution can be staring you in the face and you miss it.To preserve Hull’s Premiership status, Beckford could be a hugely important signing. Worst case scenario, Beckford signs for Hull and they go down. Then they have the perfect striker to score the goals to fire them back to the Premiership. Take a risk Phil, what’s £4 million when a £50 million carrot is waiting for them once again if they stay up.