Premier League 2014-15 preview: Hull City

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Hull City is in Europe (at least for a few more hours). The Tigers advanced to the UEFA Europa League by virtue of their trip to the FA Cup final last season, and host a home leg against FC Trencin on Thursday after a scoreless draw in Slovakia (that included this brutal penalty miss from Tom Huddlestone).

The first ever European run in Hull history is a cool story line, but the focus will be on two things:

1) Will controversial owner Assem Allam win over the fans with his purchases despite his continuing fight to rebrand the club?

2) Can manager Steve Bruce direct the club to safety and a mid-table finish?

[RELATED: Full PL season preview]

Transfers In: Tom Ince (Blackpool), Jake Livermore (Tottenham), Robert Snodgrass (Norwich), Harry Maguire (Sheffield United), Andrew Robertson (Dundee)

Transfers Out: Matty Fryatt (Nottingham Forest), Abdoulaye Faye, Robert Koren

Full PL schedule | Watch Hull City live via Live Extra | BPL on NBC schedule |

Last season: Hull survived scoring the fourth-fewest goals in the Premier League last season, while allowing a respectable 53 marks. The story of their season was a run to the FA Cup final — where they lost to Arsenal in a thriller — that included wins over, well, no one really. The Tigers blessed run up to the Gunners saw wins over just one Premier League team: Sunderland. See how they graded out in last season’s review.

Star player: Curtis Davies

Only Ahmed Elmohamady made more appearances for the Tigers last year than Davies, who is the leader of the club. At 29, Davies has found a home as Hull’s reliable center back (and may have deserved a look for the England team at the World Cup). His three goals in the run to the FA Cup final further cement his place in Hull lore, and Davies will be counted on the help shepherd young bucks Maguire and Robertson into the fold.

source: Getty ImagesCoaches’ Corner: Steve Bruce

At just over 2 years on the job, Bruce is the seventh-longest serving manager in the “win now” world of the Premier League. The rough-and-tumble former Manchester United mainstay as a player has become a well-traveled and vocal personality in the managing world. He may look like a guy you’d see at the pub, either looking for a fight or mowing down a plate of fries. But Bruce has done respected duty at a number of English spots, and is now managing his 29-year-old son Alex.

PST predicts: The Tigers simply must find a way to score more goals than the 38 they scored en route to a 16th place finish in 2013/14. And while Snodgrass and Ince are promising signings, Hull needs to find consistency from at least one of a number of strikers to stay alive in the Premier League. Can it be Shane Long? Nikica Jelavic? Sone Aluko? Something tells me we’ll be asking this question in January’s transfer window, too.

Francesco Totti on bench for final Roma match

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Sunday marks Francesco Totti’s final match with Roma after a stellar 24-year career, but the striker won’t be starting at the Stadio Olimpico.

[ MORE: Reus could miss at least six months after suffering knee damage ]

The 40-year-old was named to the bench for his club’s 2016/17 Serie A finale against Cagliari, with Roma needing a victory to capture second position in Italy’s top flight.

Napoli currently sits just one point behind the Giallorossi and hold a slight two-goal edge in goal differential, which could be a decisive factor in which side finishes second.

It would be quite odd for Roma to not give Totti playing time in his final outing, after a career that featured over 300 goals across all competitions for his hometown club.

Transfer rumor roundup: PL clubs losing ground for Dembele and more

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With all the major leagues across Europe either closing or already have finished it’s the season of transfer rumors once again.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s FA Cup win vs. Chelsea ]

Here are several of the juiciest pieces from Sunday:

Three London sides could potentially miss out on Celtic star Moussa Dembele as AC Milan has emerged as a favorite to sign the top-rated Frenchman. Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all expressed great interest in the promising attacker, who scored 17 goals this season for the Scottish champions.

After struggling at times this season to keep goals out, Liverpool could turn to France as a potential outlet to fix the cracks in their back line. AS Monaco’s Benjamin Mendy already has significant PL interest from Manchester United and Manchester City, but Jurgen Klopp‘s side could also put up a fight.

West Ham is looking to bolster its attack this summer, and with Pep Guardiola likely making significant changes at the Etihad Stadium, Kelechi Iheanacho could be on his way to the Hammers ahead of the 2017/18 PL season.

Manchester City higher ups are keen on having Guardiola bring back goalkeeper Joe Hart from Torino this summer. Hart spent last season on loan with the Italian club after Guardiola sent him away from England early in his managing tenure at the club.

Luis Enrique leaves with feeling of mission accomplished

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MADRID (AP) Luis Enrique leaves Barcelona with no regrets and the feeling of mission accomplished.

[ MORE: Arsenal edges Chelsea to earn FA Cup crown ]

The coach capped his three-year stint with the Catalan club by winning the Copa del Rey title with a 3-1 win over Alaves on Saturday.

Now it’s time to enjoy some much-needed time off after three “intense” seasons, and let the club move on under fresh leadership.

“There is no sadness at all, just happiness,” Luis Enrique said. “I’m the one who decided to stop, and I think that it was a wonderful decision for me, for the players and for the team as well. The intensity of this profession demands maximum dedication every single day and there is a natural wear out.”

He said players always need new challenges and will benefit from a change in leadership, and the club will certainly keep winning despite his departure.

After missing out on the league this season, the Copa del Rey was Barcelona’s second title of the campaign to go along with the Spanish Super Cup, but Luis Enrique has won nearly everything since replacing Gerard Martino in 2014. The former midfielder led Barcelona to the treble of the Spanish league, Copa del Rey and Champions League in 2015. He also managed the league-Copa double in 2016, and also won the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup in 2015.

He said he was “proud” to have helped Barcelona fans celebrate so many accomplishments during his time at the helm.

“If someone had told me when I arrived that I would have the opportunity to help my team win nine titles out of 13 that we played, I’d say that these would be good numbers,” he said. “It would have been nice to have won La Liga and contended for the Champions League title this season, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I believe that the fans recognized the effort and the sacrifice of all the players throughout the season. I have enjoyed the opportunity to make them happy.”

Luis Enrique said he was also lucky to have had the chance to coach a player like Lionel Messi.

“He is extraordinary, extraterrestrial,” Luis Enrique said about the Argentina forward, who scored the team’s first goal on Saturday. “I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy Messi at his best, performing at the highest level. He is the very best, without a doubt.”

Neymar and Paco Alcacer also scored at the Vicente Calderon Stadium to help Barcelona win its third straight Copa del Rey title, and 29th all-time.

Luis Enrique celebrated with his seven-year-old daughter by his side, waving his winner’s trophy and singing the club’s anthem in front of the Barcelona fans who traveled to Madrid.

Barcelona is expected to announce this week that its new coach will be Ernesto Valverde, who left Athletic Bilbao a few days ago.

Luis Enrique’s future remains up in the air.

“I don’t know what I’ll be doing, really. I’m open to every possibility, including changing sports,” the 47-year-old Luis Enrique said, with a smile on his face. “I do know that I’m very competitive and it’s been like this since I was born. Right now I’m looking forward to the opportunity of enjoying my friends and my family.”

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Report: Reus could miss six months after sustaining knee damage

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Marco Reus missed much of the 2016/17 season with injuries, and the Borussia Dortmund attacker had that unfortunate spell continue on Saturday.

[ MORE: USMNT tops Group F and more from the U-20 World Cup ]

The 27-year-old exited the club’s DFB Pokal final win against Eintracht Frankfurt at halftime after suffering a knee injury.

According to German outlet Bild, Reus will miss at least six months as he rehabs and prepares to make a comeback.

Despite the bad news for Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel’s men captured the title behind goals from Ousmane Dembélé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.