Hull City have given up the ghost of automatic promotion. After dropping 17 points in the last eight matches, the Tigers are now ten points adrift of second-placed Burnley, so the remaining six games are just a mission to regain some confidence and generate momentum heading into the play-offs. A routine home win against an insipid Wolves side should serve as the ideal starting point.
The precise cause of the recent slump is hard to pinpoint but it’s quite evident there’s an over-reliance on the goals of Abel Hernandez. The Uruguayan marksman netted his 17th of the season in a 2-2 draw at Huddersfield last weekend, ending a personal drought of 699 minutes, and that can only be a positive for Hull’s prospects of ending the season on a high.
Because Hernandez’s goals aren’t just any old goals. That tally of 17 includes eight that broke the deadlock, four equalisers and putting the Tigers 2-0 on a further four occasions. Only once has the former Palermo man scored a goal you might render meaningless. Needless to say, Hull average 2.33 points per game when he scores compared with just 1.36 points when he doesn’t.
Steve Bruce was under no illusions that the performance at Huddersfield was below the standards required to get out of the division but it was notable for a return to 3-5-2 with Hernandez working in tandem with Robert Snodgrass rather than ploughing a lone furrow ahead of Mo Diame in a 4-4-1-1.
Whether this system proves to be the winning ticket remains to be seen but it’s essential the Tigers find some sort of rhythm and their +28 goal difference at the KC Stadium - the best in the division - suggests they should be too strong for a Wolves side that has registered just 13 shots on target in the last five matches.
Indeed, it’s hard to name a club that’s endured a more pointless campaign than the Old Gold, their sense of purpose undermined from the moment Steve Morgan announced he was putting them up for sale in September. Kenny Jackett’s men head to the KC six unbeaten but it’s a sequence that includes three successive goalless draws at home for the first time in over 100 years.
Given the visitors’ inability to create meaningful chances, the 6/1 available on Hull to win 2-0 probably best represents the disparity between the two sides and their immediate objectives. With four of their remaining six matches at home, and 12th-placed Wolves the loftiest of those remaining opponents, the opportunity is there for Bruce’s men to finish with a flourish.
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