An exciting day in the diary of football fans up and down the country, the announcement of the fixtures for the upcoming season always inspires hope and belief.
However, for Hull City fans, it was a day where reality hit them hard. Relegated on the final day of the season, the fixture list is no longer filled with a star-studded names such as Manchester United or Arsenal.
Instead, Hull fans face a somewhat uninspiring away trip to Griffin Park on a cold Tuesday night in November. Nevertheless, there is still some reason for excitement among the KC stadium faithful. Whilst the fans may have had their issues with Dr Allam, the club are in a relatively stable position, and a look back at 2010 shows just how far the club has come in such a short space of time.
On the brink following relegation from the Premier League, Hull City were in financial ruin. A hefty wage bill and no immediate investment saw a number of big names, such as Geovanni and Boaz Myhill, leave the club for little to no money, making it difficult for new manger Nigel Pearson to build a squad capable of bouncing back instantly. However, despite the disappointment of relegation, the club enter the Championship this time round in a healthy financial position, with no immediate need to sell their stars.
Big name players such as Robbie Brady, Mo Diame and Michael Dawson look set to stay, making it an easier task for Steve Bruce to build a team capable of bouncing straight back. If Bruce manages to keep hold of his star performers and makes a couple of new additions to the team, it isn’t unimaginable that Hull could follow in the footsteps of Norwich and Queens Park Rangers, sides who have returned to the Premier League at the first time of asking in recent seasons.
The squad also has a host of young talent ready to prove their worth in the Championship. The likes of Harry Maguire, Tom Ince and Andrew Robertson come into the Championship with a point to prove. Opportunities may have been limited in the Premiership, but a freshening up of the side may provide more first-team opportunities for these rising stars.
Tom Ince will inevitably have a large part to play if Hull City are to achieve anything this season. Touted for stardom, Ince has come under some criticism for his lackluster performances in the Premier League, however, a loan spell at Derby last season reminded everyone of his talent. His 11 goals in 18 league appearances for The Rams was an impressive record, and given the chance this season Ince could replicate that form for Hull.
Although glamourous away trips to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge will be missing from Hull’s fixture list this season, relegation means that several Yorkshire rivalries will be reignited. Clashes against the likes of Leeds, Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday at the KC Stadium are likely to be hotly contested affairs, both on the pitch and in the stands. While the setting may not be as alluring as the Premier League, these fixtures will certainly make for some fascinating football.
Relegation from the Premier League is likely to bring an end to the name change debacle that has rumbled on Humberside for more than a year, dividing the fans. The aim of the planned change was to enhance Hull City’s status as a global franchise by changing the name of the club to Hull Tigers, which mimicked the branding used by many NFL teams, in order to appeal to fans overseas and increase interest and investment. However, the loss of their Premier League status is likely to have a much more adverse effect on the level of foreign investment.
The issue has split the fans down the middle, and their hostility was often blamed for the side’s poor performances on the pitch. A united fan base getting behind the team is a necessity if the club are aiming to push for promotion this season.
Whatever happens, the soap opera that is Hull City will certainly be a captivating watch.