All you need to know about Saturday's opponents, courtesy of Ian Waterson (www.hullcityindependent.net)
What are your expectations for this season?
Obviously, as a newly promoted club, the main aim is simply to finish outside the bottom three. It took Hull City 104 years to reach the top league for the first time five years ago. With that wait came tremendous pressure and a lot of a gung-ho naivety among owners, fans and players alike. Adrenaline kept us up that first season. The comedown came the following term and we were never in the fight. It’s only three seasons since we were last living it large with the rich kids so we know this time that going down is not the end of the dream, merely a pause. Therefore, many fans are just going to enjoy the ride. There’s less pressure. In addition a little more stability within the club this time means that gathering the ten wins it probably takes to stay up seems neither impossible nor imperative, just a target.
Are you happy with the manager?
You’re not going to like this but we are. A lot of people were upset when Nick Barmby was sacked but Steve Bruce has taken us onwards and upwards. Even the most optimistic of us thought it would take two or three years from him taking over for us to be back in the Premier League but here we are ahead of schedule. He has bought well, managed well, and hasn’t laden us with the usual stuff and nonsense, excuses and riddles that other managers push out to the press. We do believe that with a little luck, a lot of hard work, under Steve Bruce, we can, over the next few years, establish ourselves in the Premier League in much they way teams like Norwich, West Brom and Fulham have.
Who are your key players?
Personally, I think it is vitally important that Sone Aluku remains uninjured this season. We signed Aluku from Glasgow Rangers at the beginning of last season and his quick thinking, passing and movement helped City produce some of the best football many City supporters had ever seen their team play. Unfortunately, he was out of the team injured from mid point in the season. Our dominance of the opposition dropped from that point. Aluku scores goals and creates and so we need him and Robbie Brady to scare defenders. We need Tom Huddlestone to be cool and calm in the middle, and the defence and keeper to play like they did last Saturday. If they do we’ve got a chance.
Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?
We’ve brought in strikers Sagbo and Graham to score the goals we need in order to make the most of the players I’ve detailed above. Curtis Davis has added experience to the defence and Huddlestone and Livermore look good signings. However, the massed and always cynical Hull jury is still out. It depends on if either of the new strikers score the goals.
Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?
To be honest a lot of your support probably haven’t heard of a lot of our ‘stars’. A few you’ll have come across playing against you in the past and James Chester and Robbie Brady are young lads who were once based at your neighbors across the City but we are not a team filled with household names so all are unkowns or hardly knowns looking to make their name against you.
Your Achilles heel?
Our big problem is not being able to compete not only with the likes of yourselves but also Fulham, and Stoke or even with Norwich and Cardiff. The latter two clubs can afford to splash out £8million on individual players this summer. The most we can afford is £4 million for Tom Huddlestone. Hopefully our manager's experience will prove decisive by picking the right players at the best. Apart from that I wouldn’t dream of telling you that Ahmed Elmohamady is a lot better at going forward from his full back position than he is at defending. You never know who might be reading!
If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
Why do you want to give us a couple? We wouldn’t mind taking a couple of your under played (over paid?) strikers on a loan with you paying the wages while they improve their sharpness. No? OK then what about we take Yaya Toure for a month?
What is your perception of City as a club?
A club with a generally great set of fans who have followed their team through thick and very thin and laughed in the face of adversity. Now we view you as a team playing the same sport as us but on a different playing field with different goals.
Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?
Ahmed Elmohamady: James Chester: Curtis Davies: Maynor Figueroa.
Robert Koren: Jake Livermore: Tom Huddlestone: Robbie Brady:
So, probably, barring injury, we’ll field the same side as last week but with the suspended Sagbo replaced by Graham. Who knows what score it will be? Cardiff proved you can be beaten but does that in turn mean we’ll suffer the backlash? I’ve no idea of the score. I presume you’ll win but live in hope we can get something. So, for the sake of having to stick my neck out for this article, I’ll say we’ll frustrate you and gain a 1 - 1.