BACK IN TOP SPOT
Leeds return to Championship summit after comeback win at Wigan
NO ONE quite exudes positivity like Hull City manager Nigel Adkins.
His glass is always half-full, never half-empty, and not even the various travails that have befallen Hull during his 11 months at the helm have got the 53-yearold down.
In that respect, Adkins has been pretty much on his own in the East Riding with even those who still make the fortnightly pilgrimage to support the Tigers at the KCOM Stadium giving the impression they do so more from habit than any belief better times lay ahead.
Suggest to those fans who have seen Premier League football morph into two successive fights against relegation from the second tier that there is light at the end of the tunnel and chances are there will be mutterings about said light more likely to be a train heading straight for their club.
Maybe, though, things are about to change. Back-to-back wins, together with two clean sheets, have not been enough to lift Hull out of the relegation zone.
But the upturn in performances since the last international break that culminated in this richly-deserved triumph over promotion-chasing West Bromwich Albion points to something positive finally beginning to stir on the north bank of the Humber.
Central to this change of mood is the takeover that The Yorkshire Post understands could be concluded as early as the end of this month.
Three bidders have been in discussions with the Allam family, but the Saudi consortium fronted by former chairman Paul Duffen is leading the way.
Work still has to be done before a buyout can be completed, with a report last week suggesting the Allams had already said their goodbyes to staff at the KCOM being wide of the mark.
Nevertheless, sources insist the original timetable for the Allams to be out well before what would be their eighth anniversary of taking charge on December 16 remains the target.
Providing no late hitches scupper a deal the tentative feelgood factor generated by these recent wins will surely go into overdrive.
Reece Burke, one of those in amber and black who played a key role in blunting the Championship’s most free-scoring attack on Saturday, said: “We are buzzing to have got the three points.
“As a team we have always remained positive. Nigel does a great job at keeping us positive.
“It is not nice losing games. It knocks confidence, but as a manager he makes sure we look forward. The more you think about the past the more it will relate to the future.
“Watching us lose can also be hard to take for the fans. But hopefully we can now keep this run going and keep things positive. Our performances have been getting better and we are starting to get more like a team. We will climb up the table.”
Hull hit rock bottom a month ago, a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United on October 6 leaving the club propping up the table.
Not since 2006 had the Tigers sunk so low. The response, however, has been admirable.
But for conceding stoppagetime goals against Preston North End and Bristol City the Tigers would have escaped the relegation zone even before the back-toback wins over Bolton Wanderers and West Brom.
As it is Adkins’s men remain second bottom, but if next Saturday’s trip to Birmingham City yields just a point then chances are the November international break will be spent looking down on at least three of their Championship peers.
Hull will certainly head to St Andrews with a renewed sense of belief following a hugely impressive display against Darren Moore’s Baggies.
Defensively the hosts were outstanding with Tommy Elphick a tower of strength against an attack that had plundered 33 goals before heading to East Yorkshire.
Jordy de Wĳs also personified the thou-shalt-not-pass mentality that gave goalkeeper David Marshall surely his quietest afternoon of the season, while Burke, slotting in at right-back, ensured Harvey Barnes was unable to bring his usual attacking swagger to proceedings.
The former Barnsley loanee had netted a dramatic late equaliser for Albion on their only previous visit to Yorkshire this campaign, last month’s 2-2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday.
But the best Moore’s men could muster against the disciplined hosts at the KCOM was an Ahmed Hegazi header that Eric Lichaj had little problem clearing off the line and a stoppage-time flick from the same Albion defender that landed safely in Marshall’s gloves.
Otherwise, all the attacking moments of note belonged to Hull. Jarrod Bowen saw an early header from a Kamil Grosicki cross turned on to the crossbar by Sam Johnstone before Hull’s Polish wideman twice shot wastefully over when well placed.
Hull struck the crossbar again six minutes before the break through Jackson Irvine, but this time Fraizer Campbell was on hand to smash the rebound into the net and secure a precious three points.
THAT’S MINE: Hull City’s Tommy Elphick wins a header despite a challenge from West Bromwich Albion’s Jay Rodriguez. Inset, Fraizer Campbell celebrates after scoring what proved to be the only goal of the game at KCCOM Stadium on Saturday