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
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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.
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.