Following the elation of promotion on the final day of the season, it has been an arduous summer for Hull City boss Steve Bruce. The early arrivals of Maynor Figueroa and Curtis Davies gave the Tigers some much-needed top-flight experience but Bruce's pursuit of a striker proved not quite as fruitful. Gary Hooper and Charlie Austin were singled out as targets, with the latter failing a medical after a fee was agreed, before Danny Graham joined on loan from Sunderland and Yannick Sagbo arrived from French side Evian. Bruce has also boosted his goalkeeping options, bringing in Allan McGregor from Besiktas and the experienced Steve Harper to provide competition.
In Bruce, the Tigers have a manager who knows the Premier League inside-out and is no stranger to the type of relegation battle which his side may face this season. The former Sunderland boss proved many of his doubters wrong in achieving promotion at the first time of asking with Hull, building an exciting young squad along the way. His use of wing-backs was almost revolutionary in the Championship and, at times last season, his men were arguably the best footballing side outside of the top flight. His experience is key.
Ins and Outs
- Curtis Davies - £2.25m
- Ahmed Elmohamady - £2m
- Tom Huddlestone - £5.2m
- Corry Evans - £750K
- Tom Cairney - Loan
- Sonny Bradley - Free
A £5m signing for Sunderland in January, Graham failed to find the net on Wearside, or indeed impress and he will be looking to re-discover the form which made him such a threat.
After a blistering start to the season, an injury in January ruled him out for the remainder of his debut campaign and Hull's prowess in front of goal accordingly dwindled. If he can find his form, he could be a handful.
The former Wigan defender was one of the stand-out performers in Roberto Martinez's side last season, and he earned himself a stay in the Premier League. The Honduran can be relied upon.
Strengths & weaknesses
The hunt for strikers this summer outlined exactly where Hull were needing to strengthen and although Bruce eventually brought in Graham and Sagbo, goals could still be an issue this season. Relying on the unproven Sagbo to fire Hull to safety could be a big risk, while Graham's struggles to find the net at Sunderland could also be a worry. Hull were very strong defensively last season, and in Brady and Elmohamady operating the wing-back roles, they boast width and pace which was key to their success.
The exits of midfield duo Tom Cairney and Corry Evans to Blackburn Rovers, coupled with the injury to Stephen Quinn means that Bruce has brought in Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore from Tottenham. In Davies, Figueroa and Graham, Bruce has signed solid, if not spectacular players this summer, while George Boyd, McGregor and Sagbo will be looking to make the most of their Premier League opportunities.
"I've said repeatedly that we'll deal sensibly and we'll be patient to make sure we get the right player."
"I'm really looking forward to testing myself in the Premier League again. When we got relegated from the top flight in 2010, it was always my aim to get back up there. Now I've got the opportunity to play up there again."
Facts and Figures
Hull's sixth highest points total in history was recorded in 2012/13
No Championship player made more assists in 2012-13 than Robbie Brady
Hull lost a Championship-low number of points from winning positions
Games Hull won against top-six teams in the Championship last season
I think you have to wish them all the best and hope they can create some kind of momentum from something. I think they can create a good home record and be difficult to play against. The only thing they should be thinking about is staying in the league and getting as many points as they can on the board. They are going to have a huge task to stay in the league and just need to focus on enjoying it and being as brave as possible. Steve Bruce is a realist and he knows they've got a tough season in front of them.